Willamette Valley News, Friday 10/8 – South Western Oregon Missing Persons Crisis, Marijuana Seizure in Canyonville

The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Willamette Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting’s WillametteValleyMagazine.com

Friday, October 8, 2021

Willamette Valley Weather

Today– Mostly sunny, with a high near 64. Light and variable wind.

Saturday– Sunny, with a high near 68. Light and variable wind.

Sunday– A 40 percent chance of rain. Partly sunny, with a high near 61. Calm wind.

Monday– A 30 percent chance of showers. Snow level 3900 feet. Partly sunny, with a high near 54.

Tuesday– Patchy fog before 9am. Areas of frost before 10am. Otherwise, sunny, with a high near 61.

South Western Oregon Missing Persons Crisis

There are many women over the age of 30 missing in Southern Oregon and all these cases need to be thoroughly investigated.

Though there are many missing persons in Oregon, there does seem to be an inordinate amount of women over 30 missing, especially in the last two years. There are 63 women over the age of 30 missing in Oregon since 10/8/2019.

37 of them are from Southern Oregon. That is just for the past two years.

This doesn’t account for women who may have come here from other parts of the region and are missing in the Southern Oregon area.

9 Women From Jackson County Missing since 10/8/2019
3 Women From Josephine County Missing since 10/8/2019
4 Women From Douglas County Missing since 10/8/2019
19 Women Missing From Lane County since 10/8/2019
2 Women Missing from Coos County since 10/8/2019

Medford Police Now Asking for Help Finding Missing Woman

The Medford Police Department says that it is still trying to find a local woman who has been missing since she left the hospital in late August.

31-year-old Marlen Sandoval was last seen on August 26 at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford. She has not been in contact with family or friends since her release from the hospital.

Sandoval is described as standing 5-foot 6-inches tall, weighing about 180 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. She may be using the name “Josephina,” MPD said.

Sandoval’s family and friends have expressed that they are extremely concerned about her well-being. Anyone with information regarding her whereabouts is asked to contact Detective Hull at (541) 774-2283.

Oregon Missing Persons List- https://www.oregon.gov/osp/missing/pages/missingpersons.aspx

Marijuana Seizure in Canyonville

On Tuesday, October 5th, 2021, members of the Douglas Interagency Narcotics Team executed a search warrant at a large scale illicit marijuana growing operation in the 9000 block of Days Creek Cutoff Road in Canyonville.  The activity was being conducted on two parcels of historical farmland along the South Umpqua River just a few miles east of Canyonville.  There were two residences involved along with numerous outbuildings, RV’s, and barns.

The operation consisted of more than 100 “hoop house” style greenhouses, most of which were full of illegal marijuana. Police officers contacted and interviewed numerous individuals at the scene, most of which were low level immigrant workers who were released.  31 year old Carlos Flores Santacruz, who lives at the site, was arrested and lodged at the Douglas County Jail on charges of Unlawful Possession and Unlawful Manufacture of Marijuana.    

In total, DINT seized over 66,000 live marijuana plants, and over 11,000 pounds of processed marijuana.  

Approximately two weeks ago in a related investigation, DINT seized over 56,000 live marijuana plants at a nearby location in the 4,000 block of Tiller Trail Hwy.  The two locations are similar in nature and operated by the same individuals.  The investigation is ongoing and further arrests are anticipated.

This operation, like many others in southern Oregon, was designed to look like a legal hemp cultivation business since it is difficult to distinguish between legal hemp, and illegal marijuana.  Black market marijuana producers regularly hide behind the legal hemp market as camouflage for their illicit activity.  Hemp producers are required to be permitted, and are regulated by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA).  None of the locations mentioned today had legitimate hemp permits through the ODA.  Marijuana can also be legally grown in Douglas County through the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.  OMMP permit holders are allowed to grow small amounts of marijuana for personal use, based on medical need.  There were no OMMP permits for these sites.  Recreationally, any location in Oregon is allowed to grow 4 marijuana plants, also for personal use. However, locations like the ones described above are illegally growing tens of thousands of marijuana plants at a time and selling them on the black market for millions of dollars.

These illicit marijuana operations have sprung up recently in southern Oregon causing numerous problems for our communities and the neighboring areas.  These operations are largely operated and controlled by notorious foreign drug cartels.  Additionally these operations are causing significant environmental damage due to the volume of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, the buildup of garbage, and even the high volume of human feces.  These operations are often illegally overutilizing the precious water resources, which is particularly concerning during a time of drought like this year.  

DINT was assisted on this case by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Roseburg Police, Winston Police, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Douglas County Public Works Division.

This year, DINT and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office have investigated 22 illegal marijuana growing operations, eradicated approximately 300,000 marijuana plants, and seized approximately 50,000 pounds of dried, processed marijuana.  Douglas Interagency Narcotics Team (DINT)

Grants Pass Woman Lodged in Eugene Jail after Attacking Another Woman

Eugene Police say a Grants Pass woman is in jail Thursday night after attacking a woman near a homeless camp in the Washington-Jefferson Park area.

Taylor Faye Shay

Police say that woman was hit by a wooden club and chased by other people into a pub.

That lady was reportedly coming from the park, literally running for her life. She was injured, her clothes were torn. She ran to Old Nick’s Pub for safety.

Eugene Police say the woman was walking north on Washington Street.

She stopped and asked a group of people near tents a question, and she knocked over a cup of coffee, resulting in a verbal dispute as she offered to help clean it up.

Another woman in the group, later identified by police as 23-year-old Taylor Faye Shay, began yelling racial slurs a the woman, who is black.

The victim reported Shay assaulted her and chased her. Shay was charged with a felony and misdemeanor assault.

The Lane County District Attorney is reviewing the investigation to see whether bias crimes charges will be considered.

Suspect Arrested for Assault with a Machete in Blachly

On 10/06/21 at approximately 1:57 pm, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office received the report of an assault that occurred at a residence in the 18100blk of Hwy. 36 in Blachly. 

A caller advised that 20-year-old Ethan Wolcott attacked another person with a machete, causing multiple injuries. 

Upon arrival, deputies located the victim and determined him to be Wolcott’s 76-year-old grandfather. The victim had multiple injuries and was transported to an area hospital.  Although serious in nature, his injuries do not appear to be life-threatening at this time.

Deputies located Wolcott nearby and he was taken into custody without incident.  He was transported and lodged at the Lane County Jail on the charges of Assault in the First Degree and Unlawful Use of a Weapon.

The cause of the attack remains unknown at this time.  LCSO Case #21-5668 Lane Co. Sheriff’s Office

Oregon reports 1,453 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 59 new deaths

There are 59 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 3,959. The Oregon Health Authority reported 1,453 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 339,556.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (18), Benton (16), Clackamas (69), Clatsop (10), Columbia (26), Coos (34), Crook (29), Curry (3), Deschutes (71), Douglas (61), Grant (2), Harney (13), Hood River (19), Jackson (73), Jefferson (20), Josephine (28), Klamath (64), Lake (8), Lane (123), Lincoln (9), Linn (85), Malheur (38), Marion (116), Morrow (7), Multnomah (151), Polk (69), Tillamook (2), Umatilla (71), Union (14), Wallowa (6), Wasco (13), Washington (134) and Yamhill (51).

OHA releases new COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough report

OHA’s most recent update on COVID-19 breakthrough cases, released today, found that 75.6% of the 10,411 reported COVID-19 cases between Sept. 26 through Oct. 2, occurred in people who were unvaccinated.

There were 2,542 breakthrough cases, accounting for 24.4% of all cases.

The average age of the breakthrough cases during that period was 46. Forty-nine breakthrough cases involved residents of care facilities, senior living communities or other congregate care settings. There were 91 breakthrough cases in people ages 12 to 17.

To date, there have been 28,075 COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases in Oregon. The average age of all cases is 48. Breakthrough cases have been reported in all 36 counties.

Cases of COVID-19 are far more common in unvaccinated people. The report shows that the rate of COVID-19 in unvaccinated people is currently approximately four times higher than in vaccinated people.

To date, 4.5% of all vaccine breakthrough cases have been hospitalized and 0.8% have died. The average age of vaccinated people who died was 81.

Vaccination remains the most effective tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The number of vaccine breakthrough cases identified in Oregon remains very small when compared to the more than 2.75 million Oregonians who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The latest breakthrough report can be found here.

Social Card

The Get Vaccinated Oregon (GVO) tool has been a great resource to find vaccine events and providers and conveniently stay up to date on the latest COVID-19 news. 

In case you haven’t used it before, the GVO is a website that connects you to maps, websites, hours of operation and phone numbers of vaccination sites, including pharmacies, clinics and community “pop-up” events.

With more important news about booster shots and pediatric (11 years and younger) vaccines expected in the coming weeks, now is the time to become a GVO subscriber. It’s easy to sign-up and once you do, you’ll have the most up-to-date information at your fingertips to help keep you and your family protected against COVID-19. 

Testing providers added to the locator map 

  • Now GVO subscribers are also able to search for COVID-19 testing service locations convenient to them on the GVO locator map.

For details on how to sign up for a GVO account, check out this guide.  

  • Now is the time to resubscribe, add someone to your account or create a new account, and please spread the word to friends and family, especially those who may not be vaccinated yet!

For more information and to create an account, visit Get Vaccinated Oregon.

Statewide, – Health officials say the weekly average number of new COVID-19 cases in Oregon is down along with hospitalizations and deaths. The Oregon Health Authority says new cases declined nine-percent and hospitalizations are down ten-percent. There were 114 deaths reported last week, which is one less than the week before. The number of positive tests was eight-point-eight percent, only down a tenth from the week before.

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Communities across Oregon impacted by wildfires and drought are now in line to receive billions of dollars in relief, according to Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden.

The two senators have announced key legislation to fund the federal government until December and respond to recent natural disasters has passed both chambers of Congress and will be signed into law. Merkley serves as chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, one of the key subcommittees directing the funding.

The legislation includes billions of dollars in funding for wildfire disaster response, drought relief, public lands restoration, and other critical needs for Western states that have been hit hard by record wildfires and drought in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

“Today’s passage of this legislation is a major victory for Oregon and the entire Western United States,” Merkley said. “Our communities should not be left on their own to struggle with the aftermath of historic disasters, and this funding will go a long way in helping rebuild now and prevent devastating wildfires in the future. I have been looking for every possible avenue to deliver this disaster relief, and I’ll continue to do everything I can to make sure Congress does right by Oregon as we deal with fires, smoke, and drought, and to make sure the U.S. does our part to tackle the root causes of our climate crisis.”  

“Oregon and the West have been hit hard by the climate crisis, with temperatures soaring into the stratosphere, drought drying up our waterways and melting our mountain tops, and massive infernos devastating our communities,” Wyden said. “The funding passed today is much-needed in helping to rebuild our communities and make them stronger against future disaster. I’m going to keep fighting tooth and nail to make sure Oregon has the resources it needs for its continued recovery and keeping Oregonians safe from the effects of the climate emergency with climate action.”

The funding that was passed today addresses many areas of critical need in helping Oregon communities recover, including:

· $5 billion for Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR).

o   This funding is critical for recovery from the 2020 Labor Day fires, and can be used for a wide variety of pressing needs for communities that have been hit hard by fires—including some that were burned to the ground. Not only can these funds be used to help recover from the physical damage of fires, like rebuilding destroyed homes or repairing local infrastructure, they can also be used to help recover from the economic damage, through uses like workforce training or small business loans.

· $200 million for the Bureau of Reclamation to assist with drought relief, including in the Klamath Basin and Central Oregon.  

o   This funding comes as many areas of Oregon are experiencing yet another year of record drought, putting severe strain on farmers, ranchers, and entire communities.

· $10 billion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide relief to agricultural producers impacted by drought, wildfire, smoke, and heat.

o   This will help family farms and ranches stay afloat after an extremely difficult two years, providing direct payments to cover qualified losses. Producers will be able to apply directly to the USDA to receive assistance.

Merkley also fought to include funding to help prevent future wildfire disasters, and was able to secure $230 million for hazardous fuels reduction. Hazardous fuels reduction is critical to making forests more resilient to wildfire and preventing wildfires from spreading out of control, and Merkley has made investing more in this work one of his key priorities on the Appropriations Committee.

Additionally, after the White House’s Office of Management and Budget failed to request any funding to restore public lands and repair damage to trails, roads and bridges from two back-to-back years of historic wildfires, as well as other Department of Interior and Forest Service lands and facilities damaged by hurricanes and other disasters, Merkley used his position and his subcommittee chairmanship to ensure that wildfire recovery on public lands would not be left behind—supporting jobs in the outdoor economy, protecting drinking water supplies, and restoring habitat for salmon and other species. These investments include:

· $1.545 billion for badly needed repair and recovery work, including debris removal, hazardous materials clean-up, and recovery and restoration of natural resources.

o   This will include invasive species management, revegetation, critical habitat protection, burned area recovery, and watershed restoration, all of which must occur to restore these public lands to their previous state and to prevent further damage.

o   Funding will also be used for the repair and rehabilitation of federal facilities, roads, bridges, trails, levees, and visitor areas.

· These funds specifically include $1.185 billion for the Forest Service, $229.5 million for the National Park Service, $58 million for the Fish and Wildlife Service, and $26 million for the U.S. Geological Survey.

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State of Oregon warns about advance fee lending scam; fraudsters using name of real company

Salem – The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation is warning consumers about fraudulent activity from an alleged Internet-based mortgage lending and consumer finance company that is committing an advance fee scam, as well as impersonating a legitimate company.

The division has received five complaints from victims of the advance fee scam. Four of the five complaints were filed in the past year. The scammers have co-opted the name and address for a real Portland-based company named Canyon Investments. The real Canyon Investments has nothing to do with the lending scam.

The fraudsters, whose identities the division has not been able to determine, have set up an imposter website to make it look like the real Canyon Investments. They use Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP),  phone apps, spoof emails, and stock photos to give the appearance of a legitimate company offering funding for real estate purchases and investments. The real Canyon Investments does not have a website and does not offer loans to consumers.

As part of the fraud, the scammer convinces its victims they have been approved for a loan, but, in order to receive the loan funds, the victims must pay various upfront fees. Those fees are not sent directly to the scammer or the purported company, but rather to accounts in the names of people who serve as intermediaries in the scam. These intermediaries, or money mules (people who transfer or move illegally acquired money on behalf of someone else), then forward most of the funds on to the scammers after keeping 5 percent to 10 percent as their fee. The scammers also occasionally require the victims to send cryptocurrency, typically Bitcoin, as payments of these alleged fees.

“Information provided by victims of the scam indicated that payment of the fees leads only to requests for more money in order to pay a continuous list of never-ending fees,” said TK Keen, administrator for the division, which is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services. “In reality, there is no loan, and once a victim discovers this hard truth and stops paying the fees, the scammers stop all communication.”

The investigation has also found that the money mules who received and transferred the funds from the victims are often victims themselves. In the most recent complaint, the money mule was the victim of an online romance scam. He believed he was in a relationship with a woman who asked him to receive and transfer funds for a business deal she was working.

“He did receive some commission from this transfer, but it was small and it seems that he was not aware that he was participating in this fraudulent, criminal activity,” Keen said. “Do not transfer money for people you do not know to other people you do not know.”

State and federal laws require that certain consumer finance lenders and all mortgage brokers, mortgage lenders, and mortgage loan originators be licensed. The division recommends that people check into any consumer finance or mortgage company before signing any documents or sending money. People can verify a company’s license or registration by going to the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) database https://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org. Also, it is best to contact that company directly to confirm payment instructions before sending funds to any intermediary claiming to receive funds on its behalf. 

“It is important for consumers to not work with a lender until they have confirmed it is a legitimate, licensed company.” Keen said. “The best way to protect against being defrauded is to verify the lending company is legally licensed to engage in the mortgage lending or consumer finance business.”

Consumers can also contact the division’s advocates at 888-877-4894 (toll-free) to ask questions, file complaints, or check the license of a broker, lender, or loan originator.

The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and dcbs.oregon.gov.  Oregon Dept. of Consumer & Business Services

Oregon Court Ruling Could Eliminate Death Penalty

The Oregon Supreme Court struck down the death sentence of an inmate in a ruling Thursday that found lawmakers had fundamentally altered “prevailing societal standards” for executions with a 2019 law change.

Experts believe the decision could eliminate the death sentence for all inmates facing the penalty State lawmakers passed SB 1013 in 2019. The bill narrowed what crimes qualify as aggravated murder — the only charge that carries capital punishment in Oregon. While the law change included a provision that did not make it retroactive, the court’s ruling appears to do that, relying on a section of the state’s Constitution that prohibits disproportionate punishments.

Gov. Brown Requests Disaster Relief for Salmon Industry

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is requesting disaster relief from the federal government for the state’s strained commercial salmon industry. The governor submitted the formal aid request this week to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

Brown wrote that the economic return from commercial salmon fishing along most of the coast since 2018 has been less than one-third of what it was in previous years. She said the trend is having severe effects on already distressed rural communities and businesses that depend on salmon.

State Rep. David Gomberg, D-Otis, is the chair of the Oregon Legislature’s Oregon Coastal Caucus, which urged Brown to seek disaster aid. If the relief money comes through, Gomberg said it will help buy time while longer-term solutions are worked out.

Some of Oregon’s most accomplished musicians are being inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame this weekend

Oregon Music Hall of Fame

Eleven more inductees will be brought into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, including 7 musicians or groups and 2 radio legends.

The October 9 ceremony at the Aladdin Theater will be a star-studded event honoring those who have cemented themselves among the pantheon of people who have been instrumental in Oregon’s musical health and vitality.

Among the 2021 inductees are Beaverton native Tommy Thayer, the guitarist from the legendary rock band KISS; LaRhonda Steele, Portland’s First Lady of the Blues; Vursatyl along with one of Portland’s first successful hip-hop groups, Lifesavas; Portland alternative rock band The Dandy Warhols; Todd Snider; saxophonist Renato Caranto; and The Decemberists.

The late longtime radio hosts Gloria Johnson from KGON and Steve Pringle from KINK will also be inducted, along with big band leader Carl Smith and vocalist “Sweet Baby” James Benton.

Music Millennium’s Terry Currier started the Oregon Music Hall of Fame in 2003. “Our motto is to promote and preserve the musical arts in the state of Oregon,” Currier said. “I’ve called people on the phone to tell them they were going to be inducted and you can feel the emotion through the telephone.”

The Oregon Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony also raises money for music education and scholarships.

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