A response to a report of child abuse in Klamath County revealed a marijuana grow operation that deputies say may have illegally used 5 million gallons of water over the past four years.
The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office said deputies responded to the property in the 13000 block of Falvey Road in Merrill to investigate the child abuse report. Merrill is just a few miles north of the California border.
When they arrived, they found six greenhouses in what they believed to be an unlicensed and illegal marijuana grow operation, KCSO said.
Multiple agencies including the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Liquor and Cannabis Commission and State Water Master were called in to investigate. KCSO said it was determined there were no permits for a legal marijuana operation at that site.
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More than 2,500 plants were destroyed. The sheriff’s office said this season alone, this site illegally used about 600,000 gallons of water.
The owner of the property, identified by KCSO as 61-year-old Raul Garcia of Merrill, was cited and released for Possession and Manufacturing Marijuana.
KCSO said detectives were told that the site has been up and running since 2018. It’s believed some 5 million gallons of water was illegally used in that time.
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“We have been more aggressive this year in taking down grows and working to hold people accountable for the illegal use of water. At a time when many residents in our county are struggling to get water for basic needs it is reprehensible that people continue to steal this precious resource for an illegal enterprise,” Klamath County Sheriff Chris Kaber said in a statement.
The reported child abuse that led deputies there in the first place is still under investigation, KCSO said.