Key Grant In Drug Fight Shrinks

Already beset with the loss of millions in federal timber money, southern Oregon counties say they now face a steep reduction in a critical grant that helps them combat Mexican drug gangs and other public safety problems.

Police seized a record 262,013 marijuana plants last year in Oregon, rounding up scores of growers who toiled, often with firearms, in the southwest corner of the state. Most were linked to Mexican drug cartels, identified as the state's leading organized crime threat.

A 67 percent drop in the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant comes as cannabis planting season looms and Mexican drug gangs are taking bigger roles in shipping methamphetamine through southwest Oregon.

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