More Chinese Nationals busted in crackdown on illegal pot grows
ABERDEEN, Wash. -- The crackdown on suspected illegal pot grows involving Chinese Nationals continues with several more arrests Thursday and 600 plants seized. Neighbors said they were suspicious of the house, but nothing was confirmed until the cops moved in.
"They got busted," shouted Jolynn Damm who lives across the street. "600 plants, they got busted." Damm is spreading the news after we told her police had just raided her neighbor's home as an illegal pot growing operation.
"I always was suspicious," she said. "You didn't see people come and go. You never saw company."
Acting on a tip from the public, police moved in on the home just north of downtown Thursday morning. They found the plants and three suspects, all Chinese Nationals, believed to be part of the international drug ring that's been the focus of arrests for more than a week.
Police and deputies have hit more than 50 different locations with search warrants executed in Grays Harbor, Thurston and King counties. Fifty-four people were arrested with three more from Thursday morning's raid.
Despite the fact that these busts have been widely publicized, they still found individuals inside. "I'm shocked, really," said Lt. Kevin Darst of Aberdeen Police. "I can't believe that after all of these people getting arrested that this many of them are still active."
Investigators say the drug ring buys homes for cash, turns them into grow operations and then sells the pot on the lucrative New York City market.
"It's too close to the school," said Aberdeen resident Jim Justason. "It's pretty amazing really. Like the school is right here."
Robert Gray Elementary is just a block away within the 1,000 foot drug free zone.
"I don't think that they're doing any type of local selling so that's not a concern that way. It's the fact we have that kind of illegal activity going on by a school is always a concern," Darst said.
The police say a big reason to stop this is the fact that Washington state has legalized marijuana where growers are regulated and pay taxes. This illegal activity means the loss of huge sums of money in tax revenue.
The regional drug task force says it continues to get citizen tips and more raids and arrests are expected.