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News / Northwest

Eastern WA officers responding to a shooting find multi-million dollar illegal pot farm

By Cory McCoy, Tri-City Herald
Published: July 27, 2023, 7:34am

KENNEWICK — Grant County police responding to a call about two men with gunshot wounds discovered a lot more than they bargained for.

Early Monday the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, Moses Lake Police Department and Ephrata police were called about men being shot in the 14000 block of Road C N.E., about 30 miles north of Moses Lake.

When officers arrived just after 4 a.m. they found two men had been shot in an apparent robbery at an illegal marijuana growing operation, according to a social media post from the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.

Personnel from the sheriff’s office, Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team and several state agencies are investigating.

They found more than 5,000 marijuana plants, 1,200 pounds of processed marijuana, an “AR-style ghost gun” and a variety of fertilizers and chemicals.

There was no electricity connected to the property, but generators were found at the site.

The Grant County Sheriff’s Office estimates the total value of the marijuana at more than $9 million.

Juan Cabrera Calderon, 49, of Hillsboro, Ore., and Martin Chacon Martinez, 38, of Yelm, were stopped and arrested in the area.

They were booked into the Grant County Jail on suspicion of second-degree assault and first-degree robbery. They are each being held on $1 million bail.

INET is investigating the grow operation, and the Grant County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit is investigating the shooting and robbery.

The Department of Ecology is disposing of the chemicals and fertilizer and removed the illegal grow operation, with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and Bureau of Reclamation.

The Grant County Sheriff’s Office said that law enforcement focuses on grow operations like this in part because there is a substantial risk of fires caused by unpermitted and hazardous electrical modifications, as well as contamination introduced by chemicals and fertilizers.

The sheriff’s office also said that such operations often bring risk of violence and robbery.

Despite recreational cannabis being legal in Washington, it is still against the law to grow marijuana without a permit.