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Pair arrested in marijuana bust

Two Curry County residents were arrested on drug charges this week after authorities discovered a marijuana grow operation on private timber land off Hunter Creek Road southeast of Gold Beach.

The Curry County Sheriff's Department, acting on an anonymous tip received two weeks earlier, began surveillance of the property. After gathering enough evidence, sheriff's deputies served a search warrant on a Hunter Creek Road residence, arresting Zachery Clough, 27, and Leslie Van Vliet, 41.

Clough has been charged with possession and manufacture of marijuana, two counts of possession of methamphetamine, conspiracy to possess methamphetamine and felon in possession of a firearm. Van Vliet was charged with possession of methamphetamine and conspiracy to possess methamphetamine.

Authorities said the marijunana garden measured 100 feet by 70 feet and contained 50 mature plants.

"You couldn't see it from the road," said Lt. John Ward. "You wouldn't know it existed unless you stumbled on it."

The sheriff's department was assisted by the South Coast Interagency Narcotics Taskforce and officers from Brookings and Gold Beach police departments.

Ward said the grow site had been in operation for two or three years. The growers had dug a hole in a dry creek bed near the site and watered the plants by hand using water fetched from the hole. The site was littered with growing equipment, jugs, pans, bottles, pesticides and a water hose, Ward said.

Authorities observed vehicle traffic in the area and set up cameras and soon learned the suspects' identities.

At the time of Clough and Van Vliet's arrest, there was a 13-year-old girl living in the house where the pair resided. The child was taken into the custody of human services and later released to a friend of the mother.

On Friday the pair were awaiting prosecution by the Curry County District Attorney.

Meanwhile, the Sheriff's Office and the South Coast Interagency Taskforce continue to investigate the possibility of additional grow sites in the Hunter Creek area.

13731689
The Curry Coastal Pilot
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Sunday July 31, 2016

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