State of Oregon Grant Funding Helps Authorities Shut Down Large-Scale Marijuana Operations With Ties to International Criminal Activity. (Photo) – 03/17/23
In 2022, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office was awarded a limited amount of funding by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission to investigate and shut down large-scale criminal marijuana manufacturing operations. The Sheriff’s Office has utilized this funding to shut down several operations that have negatively impacted our community and without the grant funding, LCSO would not have the resources needed to conduct the investigations. Investigative resources are focused on large scale operations that illegally sell their product on the black market undermining licensed growers and producers. Often these unregulated operations negatively impact the environment, violate land use laws, construction safety codes, and labor laws. The following case summaries are recent examples of how this limited funding has been used.
LCSO Case # 23-0047
On February 15, 2023, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office, Eugene Police Department, Springfield Police Department, Oregon State Police, Drug Enforcement Administration, Douglas Interagency Narcotic Team and the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed search warrants at 7 locations throughout Lane County after a year long investigation into large criminal marijuana manufacturing and processing ring. During the execution of the warrants law enforcement seized over 16,000 marijuana plants growing in 9 buildings on a property off of Crow Road outside Eugene. Approximately $280,000 in US currency, firearms as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in vehicles and grow equipment were discovered to be directly involved in the operation. During the investigation it was learned that marijuana from the operation was being sold out of state to places including Texas, Minnesota, Arkansas and even as far away as France. One of those arrested was already on probation in Texas after he was caught shipping marijuana through the United States Postal Service.
An illegal professional-scale marijuana refinement facility was located and shut down on W. 12th Ave. in West Eugene as part of the operation. This site is located just feet from the Amazon Canal (See attached photos). The refinement facility contained large volumes of unregulated highly flammable materials that requires a full scale Hazmat crew to safely clean up. The cleanup process is ongoing.
Seven people were arrested for their involvement in the operation and more arrests are expected. Law enforcement was assisted at the scenes by Lane County Code Enforcement, the State of Oregon Watermasters, Eugene/Springfield Fire, and Eugene Code Enforcement. Several code and water violations were located, and the agencies are working to obtain compliance with those responsible.
LCSO Case # 23-0039
On March 15th, 2023, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office, Springfield Police Department, Eugene Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Douglas Interagency Narcotic Teams Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed search warrants at numerous residences in the Eugene-Springfield area, a residence in Happy Valley (Clackamas County) and a grow location south of Eugene. Investigators seized over 12,000 marijuana plants and 3600 pounds of processed marijuana. Deputies had become aware of the grow location after several complaints from neighboring properties. The property contained two 60’X300’ buildings built strictly for marijuana production. LCSO began an investigation and through surveillance determined those responsible for the operation in Lane County resided in three houses in Lane County and one house in Happy Valley, Oregon. The three residences in Lane County were searched with the agencies listed above, while the Happy Valley location was secured by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. During searches of the involved residences, firearms, marijuana and over $400,000 in US Currency was located.
During the investigation deputies learned that several of the suspects had been involved in a 2017 organized criminal ring in King County Washington in what was described as a ‘TCO’ or Transcontinental Drug Trafficking Organization. During the Washington investigation it was learned that over 9 million dollars had been wired to China under different LLC names.
At two of the locations Law Enforcement found occupants unwilling to exit and in one case, at a residence on Q Street, a flash sound diversionary device was used to gain compliance.
Lane County detectives were assisted by Chinese interpreters from the FBI. During interviews it was learned that the workers at the grow had been promised between $3000-$5000 per month. One of the workers indicated he hadn’t been paid for 3-4 months and hadn’t received his promised pay for about one year. The worker indicated that they were made to work 7 days a week and 13 hour days to increase production. The worker told detectives he would like to leave, but couldn’t or he would never be paid for his work. The same worker revealed that the grow location off Dillard Road was the target of two armed robberies in the last two years that went unreported to police. In one of the robberies, the suspects pointed firearms at the workers and told them that they were police officers.
Three people were arrested for their involvement in the operation and investigations are ongoing.
These are very large-scale criminal operations. Individually, each of these grows was consuming approximately $500,000 per year in electricity.
Lane County Code Enforcement and the Oregon State Watermaster’s Office responded to these grow locations and are dealing with numerous violations regarding water use and building safety codes.
LCSO would like to thank all the partner agencies that assisted in these investigations as well as analytical help from the Oregon National Guard. Without the assistance of our partners, LCSO would not have adequate resources to investigate and dismantle these highly complex operations.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is currently conducting search warrant service on a large scale criminal marijuana operation. Deputies are presently at multiple undisclosed locations within Lane County. This investigation is in its infancy and additional details cannot be released at this moment. More information will be provided when available. There is no threat to the public.
LCSO Case #23-1342 — Missing Endangered Person from Marcola area (Photo) – 03/09/23
With the help of tips from the community, Winn was located this evening in good health.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in finding a missing endangered person. 23-year-old Aleha Marie Winn was last seen at her residence in the 39000blk of Ann Lane north of Marcola last night at approximately 10:00pm. Winn is developmentally disabled and functions as a 13-year-old.
Winn is described as a Hispanic female standing approximately 5’03” and weighing about 200lbs. She has shoulder-length brown hair and brown eyes. She may be wearing a light blue Captain America hooded sweatshirt. She also may have her pet hamster with her.
Anyone who has seen Winn or knows of her whereabouts is asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150 opt. 1.
Vandalism at Mount Pisgah Horse Arena (Photo) – 03/08/23
Lane County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse members were recently disappointed to learn that vandals damaged their horse arena located at Mt. Pisgah. The vandals used spray paint to write hateful rhetoric designed to slander police on Sheriff’s Mounted Posse signs and storage containers. Damage is estimated to be over $1,000.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse is a non-profit 501(c)(3) group made up entirely of volunteers. This group donates their time and animals to serve our county in many ways. Not only does this group provide a space for equestrians to ride and improve their horsemanship skills, but they regularly donate the funds that they raise to other community organizations.
The Sheriff’s Mounted Posse also provides a vital service to our community in times of emergency. During the Holiday Farm Fire and Cedar Creek Fire, Sheriff’s Mounted Posse members volunteered their vehicles and expertise to transport the animals of evacuated residents that had no means to quickly move their animals to safety.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Posse is currently accepting applications for both adult and youth auxiliary members.
Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150 opt. 1.
23-1201 — New Lane County Sheriff’s Office K9 Team tracks and finds hiding suspect (Photo) – 03/06/23
On 03/01/2023 just prior to 6:00pm, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Gettings Creek Rest Area on Interstate 5 to assist the Springfield Police Department in locating a stalking suspect. The suspect, 48-year-old Shawn Tull, had fled from his car and disappeared somewhere at the rest area. Deputy Luke Thomas and his K9 partner, Bruno, arrived to assist with the search. Bruno immediately began tracking Tull’s scent past the rest area buildings, over a fence, and onto a trail through thick brush and located him hiding in thick blackberry bushes. Tull was taken into custody without further incident.
Deputy Thomas and Bruno are the newest K9 team at the Lane County Sheriff’s Office. They were certified and officially began working together in the beginning of February.
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office K9 program is funded almost entirely through donations from citizens and local businesses. These funds go directly towards purchasing the K9s, training, necessary equipment, food, medical care, and other expenses related to the care of our K9 partners.
Information about the Lane County Sheriff K9 Team and how to donate can be found at:
Lane County Jail tours open to the public (Photo) – 02/27/23
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office would like to invite you to tour the Lane County Jail.
“We have a lot of great, innovative things going on in our jail.” said Lane County Sheriff Cliff Harrold. “I want our community members to see what their tax dollars support and how vital this facility is to the health and safety of our entire county.”
Tours will occur on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings starting on March 15.
Those age 18 and over can reserve their spot at:
Available Tour Dates/Times:
Wednesday 3/15 5:45pm
Saturday 3/18 8:45am
Wednesday 3/22 5:45pm
Wednesday 4/5 5:45pm
Saturday 4/8 8:45am
Wednesday 4/12 5:45pm
Saturday 4/15 8:45am
Saturday 4/22 8:45am
Wednesday 5/3 5:45pm
Saturday 5/13 8:45am
LCSO Case #23-1070 — Man who charged deputies with knife safely taken into custody (Photo) – 02/24/23
This morning just after 6:30am, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a resident in the 1500blk of Concord Ave. in Eugene stating that an unknown man had been pacing back and forth on the resident’s property. The caller told the man to leave via their video doorbell speaker, but the man declared the property belonged to him, and he was going to start killing people.
Deputies arrived and contacted the man, at which time he brandished a knife and charged at the deputies. The deputies quickly maneuvered to create distance but remained in verbal and visual contact. Deputies continued conversing with the man in attempts to de-escalate him and convince him to put his knife down. Springfield Police Officers and Oregon State Police Troopers responded while deputies were in contact.
The presence of a Springfield Police K9, use of less-than-lethal pepperball and sponge impact projectiles, and deputies’ verbal crisis intervention techniques deescalated the man’s behavior. He eventually sat down and threw the knife out of his reach. He was then taken into custody.
No one in the incident received serious injury. Lane County Sheriff Cliff Harrold said, “This was an example of our deputies suddenly being faced with a lethal threat that could have ended tragically. We are thankful for the quick-thinking of our deputies and the other responding officers. We are proud of the way they quickly recognized and responded to this highly unpredictable, violent situation and possible mental health crisis. The Lane County Sheriff’s Office appreciates the assistance provided by the Springfield Police Department and Oregon State Police in successfully resolving this critical incident”.
The man was identified as 49-year-old Paul Fitzgerald Smith. Smith was transported and lodged at the Lane County Jail on charges including Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree, Menacing, and Unlawful Use of a Weapon.
Public Information Session for Proposed Lane County Public Safety Levy Renewal — Lowell (Photo) – 02/23/23
Public Information Session for Proposed Lane County Public Safety Levy Renewal
Lowell High School
Tuesday, March 7, 2023
Lane County Sheriff Cliff Harrold is visiting communities within Lane County to provide information regarding the proposed Lane County Public Safety Levy Renewal, which is to be placed before voters on the May 16, 2023 ballot.
Sheriff Harrold will be at Lowell High School (65 Pioneer St., Lowell) on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 at 6:30 p.m.
Following a short presentation, the Sheriff will be available to answer questions and speak with community members.
Passage of this measure would not increase the tax rate and renews a current local option tax.
Measure renewal will maintain a minimum of 255 local jail beds for the five-year period, providing the Sheriff with improved ability to hold those arrested for violent felony offenses until their cases are resolved.
Levy renewal would also:
- maintain investment in medical mental health services within the Jail to help those in custody make positive improvements and build life skills in an effort to reduce recidivism
- continue to provide counseling, secure treatment, and detention services for youth offenders
Levy funds are placed in a restricted fund earmarked for the Jail and Youth Services. An annual independent financial audit of levy spending is required and presented publicly.
The estimated tax rate for this levy is $0.55 per $1,000 of assessed value. The median Lane County homeowner is estimated to pay an average of $118 per year for five years.
Additional information sessions will be provided by the Sheriff at different locations throughout the county in the upcoming weeks.
Investigators have determined that yesterday’s report of an armed subject at Lane Community College was the result of a series of miscommunications prior to the initial 911 call being placed. The miscommunications were not maliciously made and involved the passage of 2nd and 3rd hand information leading people to believe there was an armed subject at the school with intent to harm a student. During the investigation deputies learned there were not any threats made towards the school nor was an armed subject actually observed on campus. Once this was determined, deputies communicated the information to LCC Public Safety who lifted the lockdown as deputies and Oregon State Police Troopers helped to notify those on campus.
The Sheriff’s Office remains committed to the safety of our community. We are thankful for our community and professional partners that assisted with yesterday’s response and investigation.
As of 3:30pm the lockdown at Lane Community College has been lifted.
Authorities have determined there to be no credible threat.
Circumstances surrounding the initial report of an armed person on campus are under investigation.
02/22/2023 – 2:06pm
Lane County Sheriff’s deputies are currently on scene at the LCC Main Campus after receiving the report of an armed person on campus.
There have been no reports of shots fired or injuries.
Authorities are asking the public to avoid the area until additional information becomes available.
On Saturday 02/18/2023 at approximately 4:22pm, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office received a report that a man had fallen off a cliff located between the Aufderheide Hwy (USFS Rd. 19) and Cougar Reservoir, near the Terwilliger Hot Springs. First responders arrived and were able to see the man lying motionless on the ground at the bottom of a cliff, but due to the extreme terrain, the rescuers were not able to immediately reach him. Lane County Sheriff Search and Rescue personnel had also been enroute and upon arrival used ropes to rappel down the cliff.
The victim, a 22-year old man from the Salem area, was determined to be deceased. His identity is being withheld at this time.
Preliminary investigation shows that the man’s fall was likely accidental.
LCSO Case #23-0300 — Deputies seek help identifying theft suspect (Photo) – 02/16/23
Surveillance Video is Viewable at:
Lane County Sheriff’s deputies are asking for the public’s help in identifying a suspect in a theft investigation. The theft occurred on 01/10/2023 from the front porch of a residence in the 34000blk of Del Monte Ave. off of Seavey Loop. Rd.
The primary suspect appears to be a white male adult in his 20’s or 30’s. The involved vehicle appears to be a newer silver Mazda sedan.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact the Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150 opt. 1. Reference LCSO Case #23-0300.
*UPDATE 02/16/2023* – Lon ‘Katana’ Coffey charged with additional child sex crimes (Photo) – 02/16/23
Correction – Spelling is: Lon ‘Katana’ Coffey
*UPDATE 02/16/2023* – Lon ‘Katana’ Coffey charged with additional child sex crimes
Lane County Sheriff’s Office detectives have uncovered additional evidence indicating that Lon Curtis Coffey sexually abused other children in addition to those related to his January 20th arrest. Coffey has remained in the custody of the Lane County Jail since that arrest.
Detectives established probable cause to believe that Coffey sexually abused a child under the age of 12. He has been charged with the crimes of Sex Abuse in the First Degree and Unlawful Sexual Penetration in the First Degree in addition to his original charges of Encouraging Child Sex Abuse.
45-year-old Lon Curtis Coffey frequently goes by the nickname of ‘Katana’. He has most recently lived in the Veneta, Junction City, and Albany areas.
Investigators have reason to believe that there may be additional victims. Please contact Lane County Sheriff’s Office detectives at 541-682-4150 if your child has had contact with Coffey.
Lane County Sheriff’s Office detectives recently received information from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force that approximately 30 separate files of child pornography had been uploaded to the internet using the messaging platform ‘Kik’ from a residence in Veneta. Detectives served a search warrant on the house and were able to develop information indicating that a former resident, 45-year-old Lon Curtis Coffey, had uploaded the images.
Detectives additionally learned that approximately two years ago, Coffey had attempted to groom an 11-year-old girl to solicit sex. With permission from the child’s guardian, detectives used the child’s Facebook account to message with the suspect. Within two days of messaging, Coffey stated he wanted to have sex with the now 13-year-old girl and advised he would drive down to the Eugene area from Albany to meet. Detectives confronted Coffey upon his arrival and he was taken into custody.
Coffey admitted to uploading the child pornography from the house in Veneta. He additionally advised he has been involved in child pornography for over 10 years and has exchanged thousands of files.
Please contact Lane County Sheriff’s Office detectives at 541-682-4150 if your child has had contact with Lon Coffey.
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