By Natalie Johnson / firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of the Lewis County Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team seized an additional 600 marijuana plants and 50 pounds of processed buds as part of an ongoing investigation with partner agencies as far away as New York.
JNET executed a search warrant Wednesday at a barn in the 1900 block of state Route 506 in Vader in connection with the ongoing investigation into illegal growing and production of marijuana.
Officers found the growing plants and processed product in several growing rooms in the converted 4,200 square-foot barn.
Deputies arrested Jing Ming Gao, 55, of Brooklyn, New York, in a “makeshift bedroom” in the barn. Gao was scheduled to be charged with illegally possessing marijuana with intent to sell it on Thursday but the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office declined to charge him pending further investigation.
“Additional suspects have been identified in this investigation and warrants will be requested for their arrests,” according to a news release from JNET.
Since December 2016, JNET has executed search warrants at five locations in Lewis County involving illegal large-scale indoor marijuana growing operations, according to the news release.
Since then, approximately 6,000 plants and hundreds of pounds of processed marijuana have been seized.
Law enforcement agencies from New York and elsewhere on the East Coast have recently aided in the investigation.
In late September, JNET executed a similar search warrant on Senn Road in Napavine, seizing 2,500 growing plants and arresting two men Jian Ming Zhu, 61, and Jin Liang Tan, 36, who most recently lived in San Francisco.
The men were suspected of being part of a marijuana trafficking operation on the West Coast between Washington and California.
According to court documents, Tan told police he tends both of the grows raided on Sept. 27 and said he transports “large amounts of marijuana to Seattle in exchange for $900 per pound.”
Tan and Zhu were released from the Lewis County Jail on unsecured bail and are scheduled to be back in court for their arraignment on Oct. 26.
To provide information on the ongoing investigation, contact JNET at 360-330-7680 or 360-748-9286 or South Sound Crime Stoppers at www.P3TIPS.com.