▶️Police: Bend man charged in theft ring of 44,000 stolen catalytic converters

A Bend man is one of 14 people indicted in a multi-state theft ring that trafficked more than 44,000 stolen catalytic converters since 2021 from up and down the West Coast, police said Friday.

According to Beaverton Police, the investigation centered in the Portland metro area, but spanned over six Oregon counties. It also reached Washington, California, Nevada, Texas and New York. The street value of the parts stolen and trafficked was estimated to be over $22 million.

The fourteen people who were indicted face charges of Racketeering, Aggravated Theft, and Money Laundering.

Beaverton Police Public Information Officer Matt Henderson identified one of them as Casey T. Smith, 32, of Bend. He’s facing charges of Racketeering and two counts of 1st Degree Aggravated Theft.

Henderson described Smith as the head of the Deschutes County arm of the operation.

We know that he received catalytic converters that had been stolen in Bend and stolen in Madras and was bringing them up to Portland from where they were ultimately shipped off to the East Coast,” said Henderson.

RELATED: Precious materials: Bend Police see uptick in catalytic converter thefts

According to Washington County court documents, the racketeering charge indicates Smith was associated with accused ring leader Brennan Patrick Doyle of Lake Oswego along with several others. The charge involves activities spanning from January 1, 2021 to July 28, 2022.

Smith is also accused of theft of catalytic converters in Washington County sometime around June 16 and July 13, according to the court documents.

Detectives searched Doyle’s Lake Oswego home and seven other properties last week, Beaverton Police said, resulting in the seizure of 3,000 catalytic converters, hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, a high-end vehicle and jewelry.

Catalytic converter thefts have grown across the country due to the valuable metals used to make them, including rhodium, platinum and palladium. They are widely used in hybrid vehicles.

According to the website moneymetals.com, an ounce of rhodium is worth $14,900 per ounce. Palladium is at $2,282 per ounce and platinum is at $975 per ounce.

▶️ Wildland firefighter killed by falling tree in Oregon blaze

OAKRIDGE, Ore. (AP) — A firefighter who was hit by a falling tree while battling a wildfire near Oakridge, Oregon has died of his injuries.

Authorities said Thursday that Collin Hagan, who was with the Craig Interagency Hot Shots from Colorado, died Wednesday while working on the Big Swamp fire in the Willamette National Forest.

The 27-year-old firefighter was from Michigan.

The Big Swamp fire was started by a lightning strike on Monday and fire crews have kept it to about two-tenths of a square mile in size.

RELATED: Detroit’s recovery 2 years after wildfires

RELATED: ‘Big responsibility’: An inside look into slowing wildfires with air tankers

▶️ Deputies: People flee into woods as marijuana grow ops busted in Klamath Co.

The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office on Friday said it busted a marijuana grow operation at two locations. Thousands of illegal plants were discovered and deputies believe hundreds of thousands of gallons of water were illegally used.

See the full statement from Klamath County below. And watch this report by Central Oregon Daily News’ Allen Schauffler about the growing illegal marijuana grow industry in Central Oregon, many of which are run by international cartels using trafficked labor.

On Thursday, August 11, 2022 the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office served search warrants at the two properties located near Beatty, Oregon. Surveillance of both locations showed numerous temporary greenhouses containing what appeared to be an illegal marijuana grow operation.

Upon arrival, several people fled on foot into the wooded area and were not located. Deputies proceeded with executing the search warrants and after confirming both sites were illegally producing marijuana, deputies oversaw the complete destruction of the plants and grow operation.

RELATED: International gangs, trafficked labor behind many local illegal pot grows

Both locations yielded a combined total of 13,300 illegal marijuana plants in various stages of maturity. Also discovered was the illegal use of ground water to irrigate the marijuana. It is estimated that over 600,000 gallons of water, over several months, was illegally used to grow this amount of marijuana.

This case was the result of an extensive investigation into illegal/black market marijuana growing operations. Deputies believe that the illegal product was destined for markets outside the area and carries an estimated value in excess of $60 Million.

The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by Klamath County Solid Waste, Klamath County Code Enforcement, Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon State Waster Master. 

Oregon monkeypox outbreak declared: 95 cases, none in Central Oregon

Oregon health officials announced the state has 95 cases of monkeypox Thursday, less than a week after declaring an outbreak.

“The number of cases among individuals who’ve had close intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox in increasing,” Oregon State Epidemiologist Dean Sidelinger said.

The cases involve 92 men and three women.

Symptoms include lesions and rashes that can be painful. Less severe symptoms include fever, sore throat and fatigue.

Online claims that monkeypox only impacts the LGBTQ+ community are simply not true.

“Anyone with skin is susceptible to the virus,” said Katie Cox, Executive Director of the Equi Institute. It’s an advocacy group for the LGBTQ+ community. “We need to be focusing on risk based on behavior and not identity.”

RELATED: What is monkeypox? A microbiologist explains what’s known about smallpox cousin

Monkeypox primarily spreads through prolonged skin-to-skin contact, but can also be transmitted through bedding, clothing or items such as towels used by an infected person. In rare cases, it can be contracted through large respiratory droplets. 

OHA reminds people that this is not what was faced at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is an outbreak where we already have an FDA-approved vaccine and antivirals,” Lane County M.D. Patrick Luedtke said. “That doesn’t always happen with outbreaks in the past, COVID-19 certainly being one of them.”

The declaration also comes shortly before the school year begins. 

“We are having discussions with our Oregon Department of Education colleagues, but we don’t anticipate that schools will be places where monkeypox transmits commonly,” Sidelinger said.

Cases have been reported in seven Oregon counties:

  • Multnomah – 57
  • Lane – 17
  • Washington – 15
  • Clackamas – 3
  • Columbia – 1
  • Coos – 1
  • Marion -1

Monkeypox has not yet been reported in Deschutes, Jefferson or Crook Counties. Deschutes County has created a web page with monkeypox information. 

 

▶️ New, fossilized insect discovered by Oregon State University

Researchers at Oregon State University discover a new type of insect fossilized in amber.

The 100 million-year-old specimen has unique features like bulging eyes with 360-degree vision, sticky feet to find and snare its food and an elongated mouth.

It measures a whopping five millimeters — less than a quarter of an inch..

It’s called Palaeotanyrhina Exophthalma.

The insect is so different from anything alive today that it needed to be placed in its own extinct family.

RELATED: Meet the Robber Fly, a predator of insects in Central Oregon

RELATED: ‘Most destructive’ pest in North America now in Oregon, threatens ash trees

 

▶️ Oregon dogs eat winning lottery ticket; Still a winner

Oregon Lottery officials showed dogged effort in piecing together a torn up, winning ticket that the owners said was eaten by their two dogs.

Lottery officials said Nathan and Rachael Lamet of Salem sent in the damaged ticket with a note and a picture of their two Alaskan Klee Kias, 11-month-old Apple and 2-year-old Jack. 

“For some reason we left the ticket on the ottoman and they decided it was delicious,” Rachel said in a statement from the lottery. “I went to bed and when I woke up it was eaten to the point that I thought it was unable to be checked. But my husband thought it was hilarious and someone might get a good laugh at at the very least. He said it’s for sure a winner.”

RELATED: One $1.337 billion jackpot-winning ticket sold in Mega Millions

The lottery said workers put the pieces back together and confirmed that the ticket was, in fact, a winner.

“That’s too funny,” said Rachel “We are definitely getting more chew toys, they go through a lot. We love them, but they are crazy sometimes.”

Lamet_Letter

The $3 Pharoah’s Gold Crossword scratch ticket won — $8. The lottery is sending a check to the Lamets.

The lottery says it does accept mail-in claims. Usually these claims are processed and paid within 10 business days. 

The Oregon Lottery suggests that players always sign the back of their tickets to ensure you can claim any prize you may win.

▶️ Destination Oregon: Detroit’s recovery 2 years after wildfires

Do you remember what you were doing Sept. 9, 2020? The people of Detroit, Oregon sure do. They were being evacuated from their homes and their town as a massive forest fire bore down on them. The flames incinerated dozens of homes and businesses in the small tourist town on the shores of Detroit Lake. 

Three separate forest fires joined evil forces and leveled 1,500 structures in the Santiam Canyon. Locals had to evacuated and were allowed to come back three months later.

That was then.

This is now.

The flames spared Luke Lunski’s boat rentals and docks. But if it wasn’t in the water, it was a goner.

Josh Joshstone used to work in a restaurant here that fell victim to the fire. Seeing a need for food service, he decided to open the River Run Grill, a food cart, just in time for summer tourism.

RELATED: New Detroit community center project offers hope for healing after fires

RELATED: Detroit’s wildfire recovery a slow, painful and expensive process

Last summer was bust for these tourism-based businesses trying to bounce back. The drought emptied Detroit Reservoir and with no water, no tourists and no ringing cash registers.

This year, the late spring-early summer heavy rains brought smiles to local faces and visitors to their businesses.

Detroit is seeing a rebuilding boom these days and that, along with the normal influx of tourists, is keeping local businesses hopping.

Nearby Detroit Lake State Park has been busy with boaters. paddle boarders and people fishing.

One of the two local stores survived the fire. None of the brick and mortar restaurants dodged the flames.

But new homes are going up. A new community center has been built. Detroit’s second marina is also doing a brisk business.

RELATED: ‘Surreal’ scene in fire-ravaged Detroit as HWY 22 reopens

RELATED: Detroit Dam operator survives wildfire sheltering in place…inside the dam

Businesses here are working together. They support one another because they know that, together, Detroit is stronger. And they’ve got a full reservoir and all the summer tourism services you could ask for. Yes, Detroit looks different and if you haven’t been here since the fire, prepare to be a little shocked.

Once the shock wears off, you’ll be inspired by the spirit of the folks here. Detroit-strong is a real thing.

Detroit is 80 miles northwest of Bend on Highway 22 — an easy day trip or nice camping excursion.

▶️ Red-eye: Oregon fire detection plane looks for new starts in dead of night

Lightning storms and drought conditions are a recipe for wildfires, a mix Central Oregon has seen over the last few days. But what if firefighters could detect those fires before sunrise?

The Oregon Department of Forestry has a small aircraft that looks for wildfires. And what it lacks in amenities, it makes up for in technology.

It’s a red-eye flight utilizing a thermal imaging camera and night vision goggles.

“We’re taking the two and blending them. The military’s been doing that for a long time,” said Dan McCarron, ODF’s Chief Pilot.

Mix in some weather data and what you get back is highly-accurate location information and a detailed look at really small fires.

When storms like the one we experienced this week pass, they crew saddles up and gets airborne. 

“We’ve found as many as 10 or 11 new wildfire starts in a night,” said Cole Lindsay, ODF’s Northwest Area Aviation Coordinator.

RELATED: Eyes in the sky: Married Deschutes fire lookouts share day in their life

The FLIR system on board is from military surplus.

The Italian-built Partnavia P68 has been with ODF since 1984. It’s been doing post-storm night detection flights for three years.

“We just fly a path through the lighting and as we’re looking we’re just doing one of these looking for sources of light.”

“We’ve found as many as 10 or 11 new wildfire starts in a night,” said McCarron.

RELATED: Remote Oregon wildfire cameras become key to finding new smokes quickly

The plane is strategically based in Redmond for much of the fire season and is dispatched all over Oregon.

ODF is one of the few agencies in the country blending those technologies for nighttime fire detection. Daytime detection flights are still used for spotting fires, but those crews are usually looking for smoke.

▶️ Historic Pendleton flour mill destroyed in fire

PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — A historic flour mill in northeast Oregon was destroyed in a fire Wednesday morning.

KHQ reports according to the Pendleton Police Department the fire at the Grain Craft Flour Mill in Pendleton started around 2:55 p.m. Tuesday.

The Pendleton Fire Department responded to a report of visible black smoke and quickly extinguished a small fire. Officials say the fire reignited around 4 a.m. Wednesday and the building was soon fully engulfed, because of the amount of dry grain in the mill.

Grain Craft says no injuries have been reported.

Pendleton Fire and eight other agencies responded to the fire.

Officials say the building is a total loss.

RELATED: ‘Big responsibility’: An inside look into slowing wildfires with air tankers

RELATED: Eyes in the sky: Married Deschutes fire lookouts share day in their life

▶️ Reward offered after wolf found shot dead in Eastern Oregon

(Editor’s note: An image of the dead wolf appears at the bottom of this story. It may be disturbing for some to see.)

A reward is being offered to help find whoever shot and killed a female wolf in Eastern Washington near the Idaho border.

Oregon State Police say troopers and Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel found the dead wolf on an embankment on Forest Service Road 66 between Twin Lakes and Fish Lake on Aug. 5. It was roughly seven miles north of Halfway, Oregon. 

The wolf was known as OR112. It’s a two-year-old gray-collared female that was part of the Keating Pack.

OSP said the wolf appears to have been shot, likely on the morning on Aug. 4.

RELATED: Adult wolf, 5 pups spotted together on Oregon trail camera

The Oregon Wildlife Coalition and conservation partners are offering to pay an $11,500 reward that leads to an arrest or citation, OSP said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Turn in Poachers (TIP) hotline at 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP (*677), or email TIP@osp.oregon.gov and reference case number SP22201971.