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Marijuana grow busted in Oregon House

Monica Vaughan
Special to The Union

Local law enforcement, tipped off by police in Illinois, busted a marijuana grow operation near Oregon House; the case serves as an example of Yuba County’s role as a supplier of high-quality, high-price marijuana to nationwide distribution channels, an official said.

Yuba-Sutter narcotics agents were contacted Tuesday by Illinois State Police, who intercepted 35 pounds of marijuana grown in the Yuba County foothills on its way to Philadelphia.

That led the local agents to a 97-plant outdoor grow site, where they arrested Jonathan Fairoaks, 63.

“This is very high-quality weed we’re talking about,” said NET-5 Task Force Commander Martin Horan. “The marijuana coming from our part of the country is known as being top quality and bringing in top dollar.”

Fairoaks’ wife, Merry Stehling, 63, was stopped by police in Illinois and found with packaged marijuana in the trunk of a rented car, Horan said.

She was arrested on suspicion of transportation of marijuana, conspiracy and possession for sale.

As a result of the seizure and Stehling’s cooperation, the Illinois State Police made a controlled delivery of marijuana to a residence in Philadelphia, where officers seized heroin, hash oil, and $90,000 cash.

Illinois police advised Yuba-Sutter agents that Fairoaks was at his residence in the 9700 block of Wildwood Trail in Oregon House, leading to a search warrant.

NET-5 agents served the warrant Tuesday afternoon, leading to the arrest and seizure of property related to the grow operation.

“Wildwood Trail is off the dirt road in the boonies,” Horan said. “The guys had to walk in a half mile and caught (Fairoaks) on a four-wheeler and arrested him.”

Horan said Yuba County is a major supplier for channels across the nation to distributors, particularly on the East Coast.

“It’s going for $4,000 a pound back there,” he said.

Last week, he received a call from police in Nashville looking at Yuba County as a source of marijuana to their jurisdiction.

Last December, Yuba-Sutter drug agents aided Texas investigators in busting a marijuana growing operation in the Yuba County foothills.

Agents seized 150 pounds of high-grade marijuana, 1 pound of marijuana buds, business records and a .40-caliber pistol from a 20-acre ranch.

In another residence, authorities found 30 pounds of high-grade marijuana buds and 50 pounds of processed marijuana.

In the second seizure, police also found equipment that was used to convert processed marijuana into hashish.

Members of a Texas family were later indicted on drug charges. Phillip Larry Koss, his wife, Le’Ann, and their son, Conner, pleaded guilty and are set for sentencing on Oct. 22 in federal court in Waco, Texas.

Monica Vaughan is a reporter with the Marysville Appeal-Democrat.


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