Law enforcement confiscated more than 33,000 marijuana plants worth over $80 million last week after executing 50 search warrants during a three-county drug bust involving a suspected illegal grow-op run by Chinese nationals.
The ongoing operation netted 47 arrests between Tuesday and Friday, when searches yielded additional illegal grow-op sites throughout the week, according to the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office.
Police also confiscated 26 vehicles, multiple guns and over $400,000 worth of cash and gold.
Search warrants were conducted throughout Grays Harbor County, as well as related locations in King and Thurston counties. In King County, eight search warrants were executed, including three in Bellevue, one in Medina, and one in Kent.
According to a press release from the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office, the operation, which is being overseen by the Grays Harbor County Drug Task Force, was started following numerous complaints from throughout the region:
This investigation first originated when east Grays Harbor County citizens reported to the Sheriff’s Office possible illegal marijuana grows occurring in the outlying area of Elma. Later in the year, McCleary Police also received similar complaints from their citizens. Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Deputies as well as officers with the McCleary Police Department identified several possible locations where suspected illegal marijuana grow operations appeared to be occurring. Aberdeen and Hoquiam Police Departments received similar complaints from their respective citizens as well.
Since the task force took over the investigation on Aug. 1, police suspect that Chinese nationals involved in organized crime purchased numerous homes with cash that were used for setting up the illegal marijuana grows, according to the sheriff’s office.
Police said the proceeds from these illegal grows may be funding other criminal enterprises, and those investigations are ongoing as well.
We will update this story when more information becomes available.