Law enforcement confiscated over 33,000 marijuana plants worth more than $80 million on Wednesday after executing 50 search warrants on Tuesday during a three-county drug bust involving a suspected illegal marijuana 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 Thurston and King counties. In King County, eight search warrants were executed, including three in Bellevue at 144th Avenue Southeast, Northeast Lake Washington Boulevard and Northeast 8th Street; one in Medina and one in Kent.
The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office could not be reached for immediate comment.
This investigation, which the Grays Harbor County Drug Task Force is overseeing, first began when east Grays Harbor County citizens reported to the sheriff’s office possible illegal marijuana grow operations occurring in the Elma area. McCleary Police also received similar complaints from residents later in the year.
Both departments identified several locations where they suspected illegal marijuana grows were occurring.
In addition, Aberdeen and Hoquiam police departments also received citizen complaints.
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.
The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office urges anyone with information concerning similar issues to call the Grays Harbor County Communications
Center at 360-533- 8765. Police are concerned about unattended grows where equipment such as heat lamps are still on.
The Reporter will update this story when more information becomes available.