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News Release
Living Space
Living Space
** Update 2/6/23 ** Large Illegal Marijuana Grow Controlled By Cartel Dismantled in Alfalfa (Photo) - 02/06/23

2/6/23 UPDATE 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

On Friday, February 3rd, 2023, the Deschutes County Illicit Marijuana Enforcement Team made an additional arrest in the case of the Alfalfa marijuana grow operated by and affiliated with a foreign Mexican drug cartel. Most laborers found working on the grow site were Mexican nationals and illegally trafficked into the United States to work in the illegal marijuana trade involuntarily. The laborers were found living in primitive wooden structures and dome tents with limited clean water sources and dumping wastewater directly into the soil.  

At the scene, Denise Elaine Johnson, of Bend, Oregon was arrested for illegally manufacturing marijuana plants and cannabinoid products. Ms. Johnson has since pled guilty to the charges in the Deschutes County Circuit Court. 

Detectives identified several additional people involved with this case as suspects.

Robert Dale Scheeler, age 30, of Houston, Texas, was one of the people identified for allegedly being responsible for facilitating the grow location and managing the operation. It was confirmed Mr. Scheeler fled the United States after the Search Warrant was executed on the Alfalfa marijuana grow. A warrant was issued for his arrest after being indicted by a Deschutes County Grand Jury and later failing to appear in court. 

In June of 2022, Mr. Scheeler was detained for this warrant by US Customs and Border Protection Agents when he attempted to re-enter the United States from Mexico through a port of entry in Texas. However, the Harris County Jail refused to house him due to ongoing COVID protocols. Ultimately, he was released into the United States.

DCIME Detectives continued to search for Mr. Scheeler and located him living in a Houston, Texas, RV park. 

On February 3rd, 2023, Robert Nicholas Scheeler was arrested by the Harris County (TX) Sheriff's Office Violent Persons Task Force / Criminal Warrants Section for the outstanding arrest warrant. Mr. Scheeler is currently held at the Harris County (TX) Sherrif's Jail pending his extradition to Deschutes County. An initial appearance will be scheduled once he returns to Oregon and is booked into the Deschutes County Jail. 

Additional arrests are forthcoming.  

The Deschutes County Illegal Marijuana Enforcement (DCIME) program is a partnership between the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, the Bend Police Department, and the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office to address illegal marijuana activity in Deschutes County.

CONTACT FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:   Sgt. Kent Vander Kamp, 541-550-4869 or kentv@deschutes.org  

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ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE 

On Thursday, September 2nd, 2021, Detectives with the Deschutes County Illegal Marijuana Enforcement team concluded a long-term investigation involving a large-scale illicit outdoor marijuana grow near Dodds Rd and Alfalfa Market Rd in the Alfalfa community. 

On September 2nd, 2021, DCIME detectives, with the assistance of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team, executed a Search Warrant on the 30-acre property and located 49 greenhouses containing 9,227 marijuana plants in various stages of growth. In addition to the plants, 2,800 pounds of processed marijuana were also found. Also concerning, two pistols and an AR-15 rifle was found within the marijuana grow operation.

During the investigation, it was determined that this particular illegal marijuana grow site was operated by and affiliated with a foreign Mexican drug cartel attempting to cultivate illegal marijuana for sale throughout the United States commercially. Most of the laborers found working on the grow site are Mexican nationals and illegally trafficked into the United States to work in the illegal marijuana trade involuntarily. The laborers were found living in primitive wooden structures and dome tents with limited clean water sources and dumping wastewater directly into the soil.  

Approximately twenty-one people were detained and later released by Detectives at the scene. Some laborers fled into the neighboring property and offered no resistance when contacted by detectives. Several suspects, both foreign and domestic, have been identified. One person was arrested at the scene and released with a citation to appear in court. Detectives expect arrests to be forthcoming once additional follow-up investigations are complete. 

The possession of small amounts of marijuana is legal for recreational use in Oregon. However, large, unlicensed marijuana operations remain illegal. Due to these operations being unregulated, they pose dangers to the public and the environment. 

The Alfalfa community and surrounding areas in Deschutes County have been struggling with consistent groundwater sources. Since the beginning of DCIME, investigators have found illegal marijuana grows diverted or stolen significant water from nearby homes, commercial farms, or directly from pumps connected to underground sources in the arid central Oregon high desert. This particular grow site used underground water and maintained a complex watering system that supplied several on-site 15,000-20,000 gallon cisterns. 

Additionally, Illegal marijuana farms, including this one, often use pesticides and insecticides that threaten residential water supplies and endanger the end user. 

Illegal marijuana grow facilities have a very high electrical demand due to the lights, fans, and other equipment used. This grow site used jerry-rigged copper wire, extension cords, and power strips as permanent exterior wiring for processing equipment, lighting, fans, etc. Overloaded electrical wiring has caused fires in other marijuana grow facilities. 

The Deschutes County Illegal Marijuana Enforcement (DCIME) program is a partnership between the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, the Bend Police Department, and the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office to address illegal marijuana activity in Deschutes County.

DCIME Detectives were assisted by the Deschutes County Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team, Bend Police Department, Redmond Police Department, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police, Crook County Sheriff’s Office and the Alfalfa Fire Department, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration with the investigation, eradication, and dismantling of this site. 

CONTACT FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:   Sgt. Kent Vander Kamp, 541-550-4869 or kentv@deschutes.org  

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is a full-service organization providing patrol, criminal investigations, corrections, civil and search and rescue. Special operations include a Marine Patrol, K-9 units, and Forest Patrol. Founded in 1916 and today directed by Sheriff L. Shane Nelson, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office serves over 157,000 residents in the unincorporated areas of the county. The agency has 221 authorized and funded personnel, including 175 sworn employees who provide services to the 3,055 square miles of Deschutes County.

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Attached Media Files: Living Space , Rifle , Bathroom , Section 2 , Section 1
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