Numerous law enforcement personnel from the Lane County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO), Springfield Police Department, and Drug Enforcement Administration busted massive illegal cockfighting and marijuana growing operations at a rural property in the 36000 block of Shoreview Drive, southeast of Cottage Grove. A residence in the 1400 block of Deal Street in Junction City was also searched and inspected by the police.
“During the execution of the search warrant on Shoreview Dr., several individuals fled into the wooded area while several others hid in crawl spaces within the numerous structures on the 13-acre property,” LCSO said.
Deputies stated that they had to use chemical agents to flush out the people in hiding. After several hours, 10 individuals were detained and the property was secured.
The deputies found about 1,700 marijuana plants, along with a room being used for cockfighting operations. Several firearms were also found scattered throughout the property. According to the deputies, they found evidence that the property owner, Thongkhahn Phandanouvong, had been hosting cockfights at the property several times a year. Often, the events attracted attendees from outside Oregon.
One of the attendees was allegedly Pheng Luangaphay of Lacey, Washington, who investigators said had traveled to the location and was planning to stay to watch a cockfight on Saturday. He was cited and released for participation in cockfighting, according to the deputies.
“Many of those detained on the Shoreview property were migrant workers that appeared to be victims of human trafficking,” LCSO said. “As with many of the illegal marijuana grows located in Oregon, the workers had been promised pay which they were not receiving.”
One worker told the detectives that they wanted to leave but had no money and hadn’t been paid for over six months. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, the workers were allowed to leave the property in their vehicles.
The deputies seized a total of five guns and 11,000 USD associated with the operation. LCSO also cited Phandanouvong for marijuana manufacturing crimes, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and participation in cockfighting.
The investigation is ongoing.