SPECIAL REPORT: Marijuana By Mail
MEDFORD, Ore. —
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Oregon makes three times more marijuana than is legally consumable in the state.
The over production is creating low cost product and a temptation to make sizeable profits by sending it to states where marijuana is illegal.
This federal crime is committed right around the corner from where you live.
Whether it's the holidays, a birthday, or really any special occasion, if we need to get something cross country, we find ourselves here at our local post office.
Well, so do drug dealers.
And they’re not necessarily the cold hard criminals that come to mind.
"Some people have more extensive criminal histories but other people don't have any criminal history," said Marco Boccato, the Jackson County Deputy District Attorney.
Would you believe if we told you even some high school kids are using household items to ship marijuana across state lines?
"A lot of times they're your typical home vacuum sealer. I mean I've seen almost like the Russian nesting doll-style packaging of these things where it's in another package, another package, another package where they're hiding it to conceal the odor and really avoid detection down the line," said Boccato.
The illegal shipping may surprise you and I, but not police.
"Oregon is the supplier of weed throughout the United States. So when they say money grows on trees in Southern Oregon it pretty much does," said Lieutenant Mike Budreau, the director of Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement (MADGE).
Lt. Budreau is tasked with stopping the illegal drug distribution with Medford Police’s specialized drug team known as MADGE.
"So I've been with MADGE since May of 2016 but I've been with the department about 24 years," said Lt. Budreau.
Determining whether packages are legitimate or if they contain marijuana requires all 12 members of MADGE including one with a very keen sense of smell.
But K-9 narc knowing whether or not these packages do contain marijuana is just as important as knowing exactly where they came from.
The next stop for police is tracking down who is sealing this package of marijuana and it's a pretty complex game of guess who.
"Usually the ‘to’ address it correct but where it's coming from is not accurate and that's just in case the package gets intercepted," said Lt. Budreau.
One of those random addresses, used just last year, is Medford's Old School Barber Shop and Salon.
"That's probably the scariest thing you could ever encounter as a business owner and just a normal person,” said Zach Owens, the Old School Barber Shop and Salon owner.
Thinking it's a regular day at work and getting the call you're a suspect in a drug investigation.
"That you could possibly be thrown in jail because of somebody else did something like send a box full of pot,” said Owens.
In Owen’s case, MADGE cleared the barbershop but wasn't able to track the sender.
Not as much of a loss as one might think.
"Some cases we're just dead in the water and we seize that drugs or that money and that's going to the impact we're going to have in that particular case is we're able to take that drugs and money off the street," said Lt. Budreau.
In 2017 alone MADGE seized $1 million cash, the majority of which came from marijuana busts.
"Hitting them in the pocketbook and hopefully that will be a deterrent to their activities," said Lt. Budreau.