Hiep Duc Doan

Driver’s License Found at Pot Bust Leads to Grow Less Than a Block From Vader City Hall

By Natalie Johnson / njohnson@chronline.com

Evidence seized during widespread raids late last month in Grays Harbor, Thurston and King counties recently helped the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office bust an illegal marijuana grow in Vader — located less than a block from city hall. 

Detectives from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant Friday at a house and outbuildings in the 700 block of B Street in Vader, resulting in the seizure of 674 plants and $2,500 and the arrest of suspect Hiep Duc Doan, 33, most recently from San Jose, California.

According to court documents and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, Doan showed up at the Vader house while deputies were executing a search warrant and seizing evidence. 

“Doan had looked at the back of the transport truck and said, ‘you’re taking my stuff,’ ” according to court documents. “When detectives complimented Mr. Doan about how nice the marijuana grow was … he was smiling and saying thank you.”

Doan was charged Monday in Lewis County Superior Court with manufacture of marijuana.

He was granted $25,000 bail by Superior Court Judge Joely O’Rourke. Doan has some outstanding misdemeanor cases but no known criminal history in Washington, attorneys said Monday. 

Defense attorney Rachael Tiller, representing Doan for the day, asked for lower bail, citing his lack of criminal history and honorable discharge from the Navy. Doan plans to retain at attorney. His next court hearing is scheduled for Thursday. 

Doan’s brother was arrested during raids in the past month in Grays Harbor County, according to court documents. 

On Nov. 29, detectives from dozens of agencies led by the Grays Harbor County Drug Task Force served 50 search warrants and arrested numerous suspects in the high point of a months-long investigation into illegal marijuana cultivation with ties to Chinese organized crime. 

In one particular case, a detective from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office worked with Pacific County Sheriff’s Office detectives to execute a search warrant in the 1000 block of Pine Street in Grayland in Grays Harbor County. 

The detectives found a “large operating marijuana grow,” according to court documents and arrested two men. They also found a driver’s license belonging to a third man — Doan. 

On Dec. 4, Lewis County detectives made the connection between the Grayland grow and a suspected grow in Vader. Records from the Lewis County Public Utility District showed two current and past electricity customers at the B Street address in Vader — Doan, and one of the men arrested at the Grayland grow where Doan’s license was found, identified in court documents as Linh D. Nguyen.

Detectives also noticed the electricity bill was high — $600 for a two-month billing cycle.

Later that day, the detectives visited the address and found it contained a residence and two outbuildings. The residence appeared to be vacant, but detectives later found occupants were primarily using the back door. 

On Wednesday, detectives returned, walking close enough to the property to detect the smell of “unburnt marijuana,” according to court documents. 

They walked up to one of the outbuildings and heard “a humming noise emitting from within the structure. The noise was consistent with the noise and vibrations produced from in-use electrical equipment such as lights, ballasts and several ventilation fans,” according to court documents. 

The windows were blacked out. Through windows of another outbuilding, detectives reported seeing fertilizer and metal ductwork. 

The following day, they applied for and were granted a search warrant. On Friday, the executed the warrant, seizing the growing plants and cash. 

Doan wasn’t at the address at first, but returned as deputies were searching the property. He reportedly told deputies he was aware of the grow and was renting the house from his sister-in-law. 

He also told detectives he had “multiple” grow operations while living in California but “had not yet started the paperwork to get permits for the ones he has here in Washington,” according to court documents. 

This is the second large marijuana grow busted in the Vader area in as many months. On October 11, detectives from the Lewis County Joint Narcotic Enforcement Team executed a warrant at a barn in the 1900 block of state Route 506 in Vader as part of a large investigation into illegal grows. 

They seized 600 marijuana plants and 50 pounds of processed buds from the 4,200 square-foot space. One suspect was arrested but not charged pending further investigation.