Illegal Marijuana Task Force Raids Former Licensed Hemp Grow, Seizes Black-Market Cannabis, Cocaine, Guns, Cash

IMET Case 23-3239

GOLD HILL, Ore. – Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET) detectives raided a former licensed hemp grow last Thursday morning just after 9:00 a.m. outside Gold Hill, Ore. IMET Detectives and Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) deputies served the search warrant at a residence in the 1400 block of North River Road in rural Gold Hill.

While searching, IMET detectives discovered 1.8 lbs. of cocaine, $12,000 in cash, approximately 94 lbs. of processed black-market marijuana, and 998 illegal cannabis plants. On scene, IMET detectives also located 10 firearms including an illegal short-barreled rifle and one with obliterated serial numbers. The property is suspected of having connections with a drug trafficking organization. There was no licensing for any type of cannabis growing, handling, or processing at this location. 

While serving the warrant, one suspect fled the property and detectives attempted to apprehend by calling in K9 and Drone search teams. The suspect was not located after an extensive search. At this time, there is no reason to believe the suspect is a danger to the public. IMET detectives detained and released two people on scene and arrested one, Sergio Avila-Perez, 29, from Mexico. He was lodged in the Jackson County Jail on felony charges of unlawful possession and manufacture of marijuana, as well as unlawful possession of prohibited firearms.

Jackson County Code Enforcement responded to the scene to conduct an independent investigation. Code Enforcement issued citations totaling $9,000 for violations including failure to obtain approvals for non-habitable space converted to living quarters, multiple unpermitted electrical installations, unpermitted plumbing installations, unpermitted greenhouse structure, and failure to obtain land use approval for marijuana production.

While regulatory agencies investigate permitted cannabis operations, IMET is focusing on the black-market marijuana trade in the Rogue Valley. IMET is a multi-agency task force funded by a grant from the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission. The task force includes personnel from JCSO, Medford Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, Jackson County Code Enforcement, Oregon Water Resources Department District 13 Watermasters, and the Jackson County District Attorney’s office. 

Investigations are open and ongoing with detectives working additional leads. No further information is currently available for release.