This week authorities raided a large, illegal cannabis growing operation spanning dozens of homes in King, Thurston, and Grays Harbor counties.
Authorities seized over 32,000 in illegal cannabis plants worth an estimated $80 million, as well as $400,000 in cash and gold, 26 vehicles, and an unknown number of guns. According to Lewis County Chronicle, over two dozen agencies were invovled in Tuesday’s raids, which led to 44 arrests, and authorities suspect the operations were part of an international organized crime ring.
Those arrested include Chinese nationals suspected of being part of organized crime, as well as immigrants who may have no idea the pot operations where they worked were illegal; cannabis cultivation is legal in Washington state, but not without a license.
The Grays Harbor Drug Task Force, which led the investigation, says all the properties involved were purchased in cash by international buyers, and that cannabis was moved east and sold on the black market. Investigators believe proceeds from the grows are funding other criminal enterprises, according to the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office.
More arrests are expected to follow.