3 jailed in pot bust worth about $25.7M near Dayton

By Tri-City Herald staff August 23, 2011 

More than 25,000 marijuana plants were recovered in the state's largest pot bust this year, and three suspects, including one from the Tri-Cities, have been jailed in connection with the investigation.

A multi-agency team removed 25,765 marijuana plants from the Eckler Mountain area of Columbia County, southeast of Dayton, on Thursday, said a news release.

The team include the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Forest Service and the Washington State Patrol's marijuana eradication team.

"I've been advised that this is the biggest grow eradicated this year in Washington state," said Columbia County Narcotics Deputy Jeff Jenkins.

Using state standards for calculation, the plants seized have a combined street value of about $25.7 million, Jenkins said.

The bust followed an earlier grow bust of 2,300 marijuana plants worth about $2.3 million on Wednesday.

Two suspects armed with handguns were taken into custody in connection with the bust by the Washington State Reconnaissance Arrest Team, a division of the state's Cannabis Eradication Response Team. They were out in the lower Tucannon Valley area of Columbia County investigating a tip.

Miraz-Farias, 42, and Martin Madriz, 43, are being held in Columbia and Garfield counties on suspicion of being aliens possessing a firearm and manufacturing marijuana. It is unknown where the suspects live permanently.

A third marijuana grow bust happened in the Robinette Mountain area of Columbia County on July 26. About 6,800 plants, with a street value of $6.8 million, were eradicated, said police.

In other recent operations, law enforcement officers seized about 2,000 marijuana plants in July and about 4,600 last summer from the upper Tucannon River watershed in Columbia County.

Santiago Orozco, 41, of the Tri-Cities, was arrested in connection with the July 2011 bust. Orozco was booked into the Columbia County jail on suspicion of being an alien possessing a firearm and manufacturing marijuana.

All three suspects are being held on $150,000 bail.

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