Many illegal marijuana grows in one Oregon county are operated by national and international criminal organizations, according to state law enforcement.

Sgt. Cliff Barden of the Oregon State Police Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (BINET) told the Herald and News that the illicit cultivation operations in Klamath County are linked to drug cartels.

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Barden said the cartels intend to overload local law enforcement with so much illicit cannabis cultivation that the agencies can’t keep up, thus allowing much of the production to escape notice.

Barden also told the Klamath Falls newspaper that BINET has connected many of the illicit grows in the county to operations in California that are run by drug cartels in Mexico.

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BINET’s short-term goal, according to Barden, is to correct the trend of lax law enforcement of illegal marijuana operations.

The large-scale illegal marijuana operations in Klamath County parallel issues in other southern Oregon counties.

That includes Jackson County, which declared a state of emergency and asked the National Guard to help with the problem.