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Oregon maternal health employee indicted in Texas

An Oregon Health Authority employee has been accused of exporting marijuana to a Texas crime ring
The Oregon Health Authority headquarters in Salem on Nov. 8, 2023. | JAKE THOMAS
April 9, 2024

A longtime Oregon Health Authority employee, Meuy Swafford, has been arrested on behalf of Texas law enforcement in connection with allegations of growing cannabis for a purported crime ring in that state.

Swafford, a data systems analyst assigned to the Maternal and Child Health unit, has worked for the authority since 2010. She also worked with the WIC Program and the nurse home visiting program. She has presented at national conferences on early hearing detection and intervention, and co-published research on the topic.

She and her husband —who also has been indicted in the wide-ranging Texas case — have additionally  been active in Oregon’s lu-Mien community, an ethnic group originating in China and southeast Asia.

Swafford did not respond to efforts to contact her for comment on the situation. Her Oregon attorney in the Texas extradition case, Joseph Westover, specialty court chief for the nonprofit public defense law firm Metropolitan Public Defender, declined to comment.

A spokesperson for the health authority also declined to comment.

Oregon is one of about two dozen states that have legalized cannabis within the state, but it remains criminalized elsewhere. Swafford represents just the latest Oregonian accused of unlawfully exporting the crop. 

She is not the first Oregon Health Authority employee to face indictment. However, it is highly unusual that an active state public health employee would be arrested as a result of a state extradition request in connection with alleged organized crime, a request that records show reached the governors’ offices in Texas and Oregon.

Police and prosecutors in Bowie County, Texas, have accused local individuals of being connected to robberies and three murders while also importing drugs from the Pacific Northwest. The organization reportedly sold not just cannabis, but “methamphetamine, cocaine, Xanax, hydrocodone and promethazine,” according to media coverage of the case.

Swafford has not been accused of any connection with the alleged murders or drugs other than cannabis. The only specific allegations against her involve growing cannabis and participating in “money-laundering.”

According to a filing in Multnomah Circuit Court, Swafford was indicted in Texas on Oct. 5, 2023, for allegations of engaging in “money-laundering” since 2016. According to an affidavit signed by a Texas state law enforcement officer, Swafford is thought to have maintained a “marijuana distribution organization” with another defendant named Courtney Derell Hope. Texas police  claim Hope ran an “organized crime” organization called LCB, purportedly standing for “Loyalty Cash Business.”

A prosecutor in Bowie County claimed that the Swaffords constituted the group’s “main source of marijuana supply” and that sales created “aggregate illicit revenue in excess of $300,00.00 annually.”

According to media accounts, Hope in December pleaded guilty to a murder, leading to a 40-year prison sentence. Prosecutors claim the ring has been connected with other murders as well.

The charges against Swafford are the result of an unusual racketeering case police are pursuing in Texas. Under the strategy, anyone associated with any alleged crime connected to the ring can be charged for “organized crime.”

Normally an indictment in another state would create a warrant for arrest but wouldn’t trigger an immediate effort by local authorities to execute it.

In Swafford’s case, Texas authorities went to Gov. Tina Kotek to make sure Swafford was arrested and returned to Texas.

In November, in an unusual move, Kotek’s General Counsel, Richard Lane, signed a “Governor’s Warrant” issued on behalf of an extradition request received from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, in effect enlisting local law enforcement in securing Swafford’s arrest. 

According to court records, Texas officials worked with Gresham police to track down Swafford.

According to Multnomah County, she was booked at the county jail on Nov. 21, 2023 and transferred to Texas officials’ custody on Dec. 1, 2023.

The state agency placed Swafford on leave on Dec. 4.

You can reach Nick Budnick at [email protected] or at @NickBudnick on