The Lane County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant on Wednesday, August 2, 2023, related to an Illegal large-scale marijuana growing operation. The warrant included service at a rural property in the 36000blk of Shoreview Dr. southeast of Cottage Grove and a residence in the 1400blk of Deal St. in Junction City.
Given the substantial size of the operation, officials from several area law enforcement agencies to include the Springfield Police Department and Drug Enforcement Administration assisted with execution of the warrant.
During the execution of the search warrant on Shoreview Dr., several individuals fled into the wooded area while several others hid in crawl spaces within the numerous structures on the 13 acre property. Firearms were found scattered throughout the property within the structures and vehicles. Despite numerous admonishments, several people remained hidden and the use of chemical agents was required in order to safely gain their compliance and detain them. After several hours the property was finally secured and 10 individuals were detained.
Approximately 1700 growing marijuana plants were found at the Shoreview Dr. location. Investigators also located a room at the location that was being used for an organized cock fighting operation. Evidence revealed that the property owner, Thongkhahn Phandanouvong, has been hosting organized cock fights several times a year on the property, attracting attendees from outside states. Investigators contacted Pheng Luangaphay of Lacey, Washington and learned that Luangaphay had traveled to the Shoreview location last week to watch the cockfighting and that he had stayed to watch another fight this upcoming Saturday. Luangaphay was cited and released for participation in cockfighting.
Many of those detained on the Shoreview property were migrant workers that appeared to be victims of human trafficking. As with many of the illegal marijuana grows located in Oregon, the workers had been promised pay of which they were not receiving. One worker told detectives that they wanted to leave but had no money and hadn’t been paid for over six months. Upon conclusion of the investigation the workers were allowed to leave the property in their vehicles.
Portions of this illegal marijuana grow had spread onto nearby Weyerhaeuser property and a nearby stream was found to have been dammed and diverting water to the marijuana plants.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office seized 5 firearms and $11,000 in US currency associated with this large scale criminal operation.
Phandanouvong was cited and released for the marijuana manufacturing crimes, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and Participation in Cockfighting. Lane County Code Enforcement, the Oregon State Watermaster, and Weyerhaeuser representatives responded to the scene as well to assist with the investigation. This investigation remains ongoing.
LCSO Case #23-3863 — Suspicious Death (Photo) – 08/02/23
The suspect in this case has been identified as 53-year-old Troy Dean Erne of Eugene. Erne turned himself into detectives along with the involved vehicle, a 2015 BMW sedan, on Monday. He was lodged at the Lane County Jail on the charge of Hit & Run (Fatal). The vehicle is no longer considered outstanding.
*UPDATE* 07/28/2023 – LCSO Case #23-3863 – Fatal Hit and Run Crash on Prairie Rd.
Investigators have identified the victim in this case as 45-year-old Alisha Diane Rife of Junction City. Rife was killed on the evening of July 20th when she was struck by a vehicle on Prairie Rd. near Leghorn Rd.
The vehicle in this case is believed to be a 2015–2019 BMW 3 Series car, mineral gray in color. It is likely missing a passenger side-mirror and possibly has front-end damage or damage to the passenger side.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150 opt. 1 and reference LCSO Case #23-3863.
Investigators have determined that the victim in this case was struck by a vehicle at approximately 11:00pm on Thursday night on Prairie Rd near Leghorn Rd. They are hoping to contact the occupants of a late model sedan that was involved in the crash. The car is believed to be charcoal or gray metallic in color. It is likely missing a side-mirror and possibly has front-end damage or damage to the passenger side.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150 opt. 1 and reference LCSO Case #23-3863.
Correct Case # 23-3863
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office responded to Prairie Rd. near Leghorn Rd. shortly after 5:30am this morning. An employee at an area business had advised that a deceased female had been located near some shrubbery.
Upon arrival, deputies were able to identify the involved female. Her identity is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
The involved female has several recent injuries. An active investigation is under way and additional information will be released as it becomes available.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150 opt. 1.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office responded to the report of a kayak that had flipped over on the Willamette River on Saturday afternoon at about 4:30pm. A male had been kayaking downstream from the Middle Fork Boat Launch when his kayak struck a log and overturned. A second person had been floating on an inner-tube that was attached to the kayak by rope. After striking the log, the kayak became entangled in the log and the male riding in it did not resurface. The person riding on the inner-tube was able to find their way to shore.
Lane County Sheriff’s Marine Patrol and Search and Rescue responded to the area and were able to locate the involved male underwater. They pulled him from underwater and brought him to shore but he was unable to be revived.
The victim in this case was not wearing a life jacket. A life jacket was found attached to his kayak.
The victim’s identity is being withheld at this time.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office responded to the report of a possible drowning at Triangle Lake on Thursday evening. At about 7:45pm, a caller advised that a boat had tipped into the lake and one person had not resurfaced after going into the water. Bystanders immediately began searching the area where the boater was last seen, approximately 50 feet from the main boat ramp.
Divers located the victim at approximately 10:45pm and found him to be deceased. The identity of the victim, a 17-year-old male, is being withheld at this time.
Initial investigation has revealed that the male had fallen into the water when the canoe that he was riding in capsized. He was not wearing a life jacket.
Lane County Sheriff’s Office – National Night Out Community Event (Photo) – 07/27/23
Please join us on Tuesday, August 1st at 6:00pm for National Night Out 2023!
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is excited to participate in this very fun event that celebrates the partnership between Law Enforcement and the communities that they serve. National Night Out takes place on the 1st Tuesday of every August.
Official events are being hosted in both Veneta and Creswell! Family friendly fun for all ages!
Between the two locations, planned activities include dunk tanks, K9 teams, Patrol Vehicles, Marine Patrol equipment, Sheriff’s Mounted Posse, Crisis Negotiation Team, Armored Vehicles, Live Music, Firefighters and equipment. Free hotdogs and sno-cones or ice cream will also be served at both events!
Veneta City Park – 25192 E. Broadway Ave. – Veneta 6-8PM
Holt Park – 5th St. & A St. – Creswell 5-8PM
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office would like to advise the public that firefighting aircraft will be scooping water from Lookout Point Reservoir as flight conditions allow in relation to the Bedrock Fire east of Lowell. Those recreating on the reservoir are asked to use extreme caution and consider recreating at a different location until further notice. If you are on a body of water that firefighters are retrieving water from, please allow them as much space as possible.
23-3930 — Lane County Sheriff’s Office Serves Search Warrant on Illegal Butane Hash Oil Operation off of Prairie Rd. (Photo) – 07/25/23
Correction – This warrant was served on the morning of Monday, 07/24/23.
Lane County Sheriff’s Office Detectives served a search warrant at an illegal butane hash oil operation (BHO) in the 29800blk of Kelso St. this morning. Authorities found extremely dangerous conditions that included the use of highly volatile chemicals within the immediate proximity of poorly constructed and unpermitted electrical work.
“It’s a miracle that this lab has not exploded yet”, stated an LCSO detective that wishes to remain anonymous at this time. This lab was located in very close proximity to residences and businesses including a large lumber mill.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office responded to the report of an explosion of a very similar lab in the Fall Creek area in January of this year. Clandestine labs such as these pose an extreme hazard to the communities in which they operate. Misuse of hazardous chemicals not only carry the risk of explosion but poison the environment when not properly maintained and disposed.
During the execution of this morning’s warrant, large quantities of BHO in various stages of processing were seized. The site also contained a large-scale psilocybin mushroom manufacturing operation.
Investigators took 47-year-old Brandon Dylan Whitmer into custody for a warrant out of Linn County for Arson in the First Degree. This warrant is related to a butane hash oil lab explosion that occurred in May of 2021 in Linn County. Whitmer had also been injured in a BHO lab explosion in Eugene in August of 2021.
A search warrant was also served on Whitmer’s residence in the Coburg area. Additional processed marijuana and evidence related to the manufacturing of marijuana products was discovered.
Whitmer received new charges today for the illegal manufacture of marijuana products and unlawful possession of marijuana related items. He was lodged at the Lane County Jail.
Lane County Land Management has been involved in the investigation and will be following up regarding the multiple code violations located at the site.
The Bedrock Fire continues to be active in the Fall Creek area. While there are no evacuation notices in effect at this time, the public is asked to avoid Big Fall Creek Rd. to allow emergency personnel necessary access for suppression. Several campgrounds along Big Fall Creek Rd. are closed due to fire activity.
If an evacuation notice becomes necessary, information will be released by the Lane County Sheriff’s Office. Anyone in the immediate vicinity is asked to remain vigilant, as the Bedrock Fire continues to be an evolving incident.
Please take a few moments to brush up on evacuation level information and be prepared in the event of an emergency.
Visit https://www.lanecounty.org/government/county_departments/lane_county_emergency_management to learn more about evacuation levels and to sign up to receive emergency alerts.
UPDATE – The previously posted advisory regarding fire-fighting air resources on Fern Ridge Reservoir is being lifted at this time.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office would like to advise the public that fire-fighting aircraft will be scooping water from Fern Ridge Reservoir starting this afternoon in relation to the Haight Creek Fire near Alma. Those recreating on the reservoir are asked to use extreme caution and consider recreating at a different location until further notice.
LCSO Case #23-3799 — Missing Climber (Photo) – 07/20/23
Utilizing intel gathered from drone footage, Lane County Sheriff Search and Rescue personnel have located the body of the missing climber on the North Sister. He has been identified as 21-year-old Joel Tranby of Bend. Tranby died after falling several hundred feet down a loose and rocky slope earlier this week. Search and Rescue personnel were able to observe his body from helicopter this morning; however, extremely loose and steep rocky terrain rendered reaching him on foot impossible.
Lane County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue personnel are consulting expert climbers from a number of various sources to determine if a recovery mission can be safely conducted.
We are saddened by this loss of life and extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.
Lane County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue received the report of an injured climber near the summit of the North Sister on the afternoon of July 17, 2023 at approximately 12:18pm. The caller reported that her boyfriend had fallen approximately 300-500ft down the slope and was severely injured. The caller was unable to see where the victim had fallen or reach him due to the extremely steep and rocky terrain.
A Lane County Sheriff’s Office SAR Coordinator and a Mountain Rescue volunteer arrived in the area via LifeFlight Network helicopter and immediately began searching. The victim is believed to have fallen into a very steep ravine that is made up of extremely unstable large boulders. Unfortunately he stopped responding verbally before searchers arrived. The search team as well as an Oregon National Guard Blackhawk crew were unable to locate him. This area is extremely dangerous and inaccessible to searchers by foot. Additional teams from Lane County SAR, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Mountain Rescue, and an AirLink Helicopter also assisted in the search.
The search was resumed yesterday with the Civil Air Patrol utilizing a high-resolution camera, and a ground team comprised of volunteers with Corvallis Mountain Rescue and Eugene Mountain Rescue. They utilized a small Unmanned Aircraft System (drone) to further search the area where the victim is believed to have fallen. No new clues were located; however, searchers will closely analyze the high-resolution photographs utilizing specialized software to attempt to detect possible clues.
Future plans will be dependent upon the data analysis and resource availability.
LCSO CASE #23-3754 — Fatal Traffic Crash on Row River Rd. (Photo) – 07/18/23
Lane County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a multi-vehicle traffic crash in the 37500blk of Row River Rd. on Saturday shortly after 11:00am. Initial investigation reveals that a white Honda Accord had been traveling westbound on Row River Rd. when it failed to negotiate a right hand curve and struck an oncoming gray Dodge Avenger.
A passenger in the Dodge Avenger was killed in the crash.
Additional details will be released as they become available.
This crash is still under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150 opt. 1.
Deputies located the suspect vehicle from this case in the Cottage Grove area and determined it to be a gray 2009 Honda Civic. Deputies also identified the driver as 24-year-old Modesto Ramos-Lopez.
Deputies contacted Ramos-Lopez yesterday afternoon and took him into custody without incident. He was lodged at the Lane County Jail on charges including Assault in the 2nd Degree, Hit & Run, Reckless Driving, and Assault in the 4th Degree.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office would like to express our appreciation to the community for their assistance in this case.
Phone number correction – Anyone with information is asked to call 541-682-4150 opt. 1.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office received the report of a motorcycle vs. car crash this evening at approximately 6:30pm in the 77000blk of London Rd. Responding units learned that the involved car, believed possibly to be a dark colored sedan or coupe, fled the scene southbound on London Rd. following the collision.
The motorcycle’s operator was transported to an area hospital via helicopter with life threatening injuries. The motorcycle’s passenger was also transported to an area hospital with serious injuries.
Anyone with information about this crash or the vehicle that departed the scene is asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4179 opt. 1.
72-year-old Dean Allan Wiskow of Cottage Grove has been identified as the victim in Tuesday’s crash on London Rd. Wiskow was killed when he was involved in a head-on collision near Milepost 11 on London Rd.
This morning shortly after 3:00am, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office received the report of a two-vehicle traffic crash on London Rd. near milepost 11.
Preliminary investigation reveals that a white Ford pickup had been driving southbound on London Rd. when it failed to negotiate a curve. The pickup crossed into the oncoming lane and struck a northbound Dodge pickup head-on.
The driver of the Dodge pickup died at the scene.
The driver of the Ford pickup was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries.
This crash is still under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4179 opt. 1.
2023 OCF Traffic Patrol Post-Event Statistics
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office conducted overtime patrols in the Veneta area around the Oregon Country Fair beginning Friday, July 7th and continued through Monday, July 10th. With grant monies provided through Oregon Impact and the Oregon Department of Transportation, deputies focused on dangerous driving behaviors including speeding, cell phone usage, safety belt usage, and impaired driving.
Activity from Sheriff’s Deputies during the event includes:
Driving While Suspended / No License: 17
No Safety Belt: 26
Cell Phone Usage / Distracted Driving: 14
Vehicle Equipment Violations: 1
Misc. Other: 17
The funding for these patrols is provided through the Oregon Department of Transportation Traffic Safety grants, administered by Oregon Impact.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police will be conducting high visibility traffic enforcement patrols in the Veneta area during the Oregon Country Fair, held on July 7th, 8th and 9th, 2023.
Deputies and Troopers will be focusing on unsafe driving behaviors including impaired driving, speeding, and cell phone use. Extra patrols will continue through Monday, July 10th, as attendees remain in the area.
The funding for these patrols is provided through the Oregon Department of Transportation Traffic Safety grants, administered by the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association. The federally funded grants provide overtime funding to participating Sheriff’s Offices for DUII and traffic enforcement.
The patrols aim to reduce the number of vehicle crashes and related injuries.
Annually, the Oregon Country Fair brings extremely high volumes of vehicle and pedestrian traffic to the area. Due to the resulting congestion in the area surrounding the Oregon Country Fair, speed limits have been reduced and posted as such. Restrictions are also posted for no parking and no U-turns along Hwy 126 and Suttle Rd. in the area.
Drivers attending the event or traveling through the area should anticipate heavy traffic congestion. Flaggers will be present on Hwy 126 (near milepost 45) at the Fair’s main entrance during peak times to control traffic flow through the area.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office wants to remind drivers to slow down, wear your seat belt and drive sober without distraction.
LCSO Case #23-3599 – Sheriff’s Office Seeks Assault Suspect (Photo) – 07/10/23
On July 6th Lane County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the report of an assault in a wooded area near the 5300blk of Franklin Blvd. 53-year-old Matthew Lawrence Kubal reportedly struck two different people in the head with rocks before fleeing the scene on a bicycle. Both victims were transported to an area hospital and treated for head injuries.
Kubal is described as a white male adult with brown hair and brown eyes. He stands approximately 5’07” and weighs approximately 180lbs. Kubal’s whereabouts are currently unknown and he is believed to be transient.
Anyone with information regarding this case or Matthew Kubal’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150 opt. 1.
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