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Six figures found in seized suitcase

Federal prosecutors are working to keep more than $200,000 seized at the Medford airport that the Drug Enforcement Agency said was tied to a Cave Junction marijuana operation that had been applying for certification with state regulators.

No criminal charges have been filed in the case.

A suitcase containing $200,080 was seized at a Million Air hangar, and $4,195 was seized at what investigators said was a commercial marijuana grow on Dick George Road in Cave Junction.

The seizures occurred last spring after Medford Police Detective Mark Cromwell “received information from a law enforcement officer” that cash was being flown into Medford on an airplane, according to court documents.

Based on the tip, the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement task force in April “began a surveillance operation at the Rogue Valley International Airport in Medford.”

May 2, detectives followed a pilot and passenger being driven from the airport to the Dick George Road property, according to a statement filed by Joseph Lyons, a Medford-based DEA agent, in a civil forfeiture case.

MADGE detectives said a pilot and an aircraft passenger landed in Medford following a flight from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, and exited the airport with one medium suitcase. A driver picked up the two men in a black Hummer H3 SUV, and police stopped the three men.

A police dog allegedly detected traces of marijuana odor on the cash in the suitcase, according to police.

The men in the SUV were not arrested, court documents say, and court records show they have not been charged with any crimes.

MADGE and the Rogue Area Drug Enforcement team out of Josephine County searched the Cave Junction property seeking evidence of importing and exporting marijuana and money laundering, according to the DEA statement, but no marijuana was found at the site.

Police found partially tilled fields, a “No on-site consumption of marijuana” sign in English and Spanish, 30 firearms, ammunition, night-vision goggles, ballistic panels, a money counter and a Kodiak safe containing $4,195 in cash.

Eight individuals were found working at the Cave Junction site, performing tasks such as tilling the field and installing security systems, and some said the money was for payroll, according to court documents.

A recreational marijuana producer application filed with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission contained four business names tied to the address: MNG Holdings LLC, SJT Agriculture LLC, Grizzly Agriculture LLC and Tie Die Farms LLC.

The pilot told investigators he’d been hired by an operations manager for a medical marijuana dispensary out of Santa Ana, California, and was paid $4,000 a month to fly cash and people associated with the manager to Oregon. The man told investigators he’d made cash deliveries to Southern Oregon a half dozen times, but had never transported drugs.

Three employees at the site, including a security guard, told investigators that approximately 500 pounds of marijuana had been grown at the site, placed into vacuum-sealed bags and transported off the property in 30- to 40-pound barrels, according to the DEA.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

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