Ex-Narcotics Detective, Another Man Charged With Illegally Growing Marijuana

A former narcotics detective in Oregon was arrested and faces felony charges accusing him of illegally growing approximately 1,200 marijuana plants.

Former detective Peter Michael Shepherd, 63, and Eric Smith, 41, who is accused of leasing the property where the plants were grown, were both arrested Tuesday by the Klamath County Sheriff's Office.

The two men face the same charges: unlawful manufacture of marijuana and "engaging in a financial transaction in property derived from unlawful activity," Klamath County District Attorney Eve Costello told the Herald and News.

The Klamath County Sheriff's Office and Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (BINET) discovered the illegally grown marijuana after a September 16 visit to Shepherd's property outside of Dairy, Oregon.

Though Shepherd claimed the plants were hemp and that Smith was licensed to grow them, investigators found this was not true, documents showed.

Shepherd worked for the Klamath County Sheriff's Office from 1990 to 2004 in a variety of positions, including narcotics detective, patrol officer, marine deputy and civil deputy. He has been working part-time for the Malin Police Department since 2007, the Herald and News added.

Ron Broussard, the Malin Police Department's chief of police, put Shepherd on a leave of absence on Tuesday after he posted a $10,000 bond.

Currently, it remains unknown whether the two men have lawyers representing them.

The Klamath County Sheriff's Office and BINET visited Shepherd's rural property on September 16 after receiving a tip alleging illegal activity there.

Investigators say there was no permit and the plants were not hemp.

Oregon State Police Sergeant Cliff Barden, who is also the BINET supervisor, said the property was leased to Smith, who was not licensed to grow hemp or marijuana at the location.

Barden said the grower, Smith, had a legal permit to grow hemp elsewhere.

Klamath Falls, Oregon
Two men are charged with illegally growing marijuana on property east of Klamath Falls, Oregon. Above, Klamath Lake appears to be at full capacity as viewed on August 13 near Klamath Falls, Oregon. Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

According to police, Shepherd said Smith was growing legal hemp on the property while fully licensed and in legal compliance. However, Barden said Shepherd did not check for documentation.

After test results conducted by the Oregon State Police showed the plants were marijuana, Shepherd and Smith were indicted by a grand jury, according to Costello.

Local law enforcement has been struggling to get a handle on illegal marijuana operations in southern Oregon. Last week, the Oregon Legislature dedicated $25 million to help law enforcement agencies and community organizations pay for the costs of dealing with thousands of industrial-scale, illegal pot farms.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.