BEND, OR -- Investigators are searching for a woman suspected of trying to steal plants from a licensed industrial hemp farm, just north of Redmond, Tuesday. Deschutes County deputies were called to the farm on O'Neil Way, after the property owner confronted a couple in a pickup, at about 12:25 p.m. They say 31-year-old Mitchell Ballard Jr. produced a weapon and threatened the owner, who then tried to hold the pair at gunpoint until deputies arrived. They drove off, crashing into several vehicles.
Following an extensive search and a short foot chase, deputies arrested Ballard near the Negus Landfill Transfer Station; he faces several charges, including Trespassing, Robbery and Attempt to Elude. The woman’s identity has not been released; she remains at large.
Deputies believe the suspects thought they were stealing marijuana. Industrial hemp is a variety of cannabis containing very low levels of THC and does not produce a high.