Crackdowns occur on Washington state gangs running illicit operation attempting to exploit the legalized cannabis market.
U.S. police have arrested at least 50 Chinese nationals and seized US$80 million worth of marijuana plants. This raid was for a massive illegal growing operation in Washington state, according to local media reports.
Prosecutors suspect the growers in the northwestern US state operated as a business that sold products to east coast cities such as New York.
The police seized 35,000 plants valued at US$80 million and more than 22 kg of processed cannabis. Police also confiscated 26 vehicles and more than US$400,000 in cash and gold, the report said. This is the biggest crackdown on illegal marijuana growing in Washington State history.
In the last four months, GHCDTF discovered multiple homes purchased for housing marijuana growing sites. Most of these homes had been purchased by Chinese Nationals and were paid for in cash. A county drug task force served search warrants at about 50 locations. This included 38 in Grays Harbor, eight in King County and four in Thurston County.
Chinese Gangs are a Problem for US Police
States that have made cannabis legal are magnets for Chinese gangs that set up illegal plant-growing operations. The past few years have seen police in Colorado and California crack down on major illegal operations run by Chinese nationals, Komonews said.
There are no official figures for the amount of the plant China produces each year but plantations are flourishing – both for commercial and illicit drug use. This growth has in part been made possible by government-funded scientists who study the plant’s military uses, including as medication and fabric for uniforms.
Washington legalized the growing and selling of recreational cannabis in 2012. They are joining California, Colorado, Oregon, and Nevada as US west coast states that have either already embraced legal marijuana or are very close to.