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State dismantles illegal vape oil operation near Dexter


State and federal officials discovered and shut down an illegal marijuana processing operation in rural Lane County, regulators said Thursday.

Oregon State Police searched a makeshift outdoor operation last week near Dexter, where they found about 216 pounds of marijuana extracts, two oil extraction machines and 10 guns. They also found items related to manufacturing and selling counterfeit vape cartridges, according to the agency that regulates marijuana, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

“The good work of our inspectors and swift action by Oregon State Police has closed down a dangerous medical grow operation,” Steve Marks, the commission’s executive director, said in a statement.

The bust began with a proactive inspection of the site, which had been registered as a medical marijuana grow site. OLCC inspectors called state police when they saw what they called a “suspicious marijuana processing operation.”

The facility was not licensed to process cannabis, the agency said in its statement.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Eugene office helped state police in the bust, along with the Lane County Sheriff’s Office.

An Oregon State Police spokesman said the agency will forward charges of unlawful possession of marijuana, unlawful delivery of a marijuana item and unlawful manufacture of a marijuana item forward to the county prosecutor. There were two suspects at the property, state police said. The agency is not releasing the suspects’ names, at least not until the prosecutor’s office reviews the case.

The bust comes months after a vaping-related lung illness epidemic has struck nearly 1,900 people in the country, 14 of them in Oregon. Two of the state’s victims died. Eight of the victims used THC purchased at legal retail stores, said a spokesman for the Oregon Health Authority, which is leading the state’s investigation into the crisis.

— Fedor Zarkhin

fzarkhin@oregonian.com

desk: 503-294-7674|cell: 971-373-2905|@fedorzarkhin

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