By Natalie Johnson / firstname.lastname@example.org
An investigation of an illicit marijuana cultivation organization reaching from California to Washington resulted this week in the seizure of thousands of plants at three growing operations in Lewis County and criminal charges against two men.
The investigation began in May, according to a press release from Lewis County’s Joint Narcotic Enforcement Team, which includes officers from the Centralia and Chehalis police departments and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.
As part of the investigation, the Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant at a location in the 100 block of Senn Road and seized more than 2,500 growing marijuana plants as well as processed marijuana and grow equipment.
The investigation led JNET to two additional locations.
On Wednesday, JNET, Lewis County’s SWAT team and the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Control Board executed search warrants in the 400 block of Centralia-Alpha Road and the 200 block of Pattee Road in Chehalis.
Officers reportedly found more than 2,200 growing marijuana plants, 28 pounds of dried marijuana and thousands of dollars in grow equipment.
On Thursday, two men at the Pattee Road address — Jian Ming Zhu, 61, and Jin Liang Tan, 36, both of Chehalis — were charged in Lewis County Superior Court with one count each of manufacturing marijuana.
Neither has criminal history in Washington. Both were released on $10,000 unsecured bail. Their next court appearances are scheduled for Oct. 26.
According to a news release from JNET, both men were San Francisco residents before coming to Chehalis. Both appeared in court Thursday with the help of a Cantonese language interpreter.
According to court documents, Tan told police he tends both of the grows raided on Wednesday and said he transports “large amounts of marijuana to Seattle in exchange for $900 per pound.”
Tan said Zhu gave him money orders to pay for the utilities at the two grows, according to court documents.
According to JNET, the marijuana grown in the operation is eventually shipped by mail and on highways to the East Coast.
It is legal in Washington state for a person 21 years of age or older to possess one ounce of dried marijuana or marijuana infused items, or for a person to have between six and 15 plants for medicinal use.
However, private, large-scale growing operations and sales are not legal without a license through the state.
The case is still under investigation by JNET and other state and federal law enforcement agencies, and more suspects are being sought.
To provide information on the case or possible suspects, contact members of JNET at 260-330-7680.