Complaints from East County residents led investigators to a large-scale illegal grow operation by Chinese nationals. Chief Criminal Deputy Steve Shumate said in a press release that on November 28, 2017, at approximately 8:30 am, the Grays Harbor County Drug Task Force (GHCDTF) oversaw an operation that resulted in numerous search warrants being conducted throughout Grays Harbor County, as well as related locations in Thurston and King Counties.
This investigation first originated when east Grays Harbor County citizens reported to the Sheriff’s Office possible illegal marijuana grows occurring in the outlying area of Elma. Later in the year, McCleary Police also received similar complaints from their citizens. Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Deputies, as well as officers with the McCleary Police Department, identified several possible locations where the suspected illegal marijuana grow operations appeared to be occurring. Aberdeen and Hoquiam Police Departments received similar complaints from their respective citizens as well. On August 1, the GHCDTF took over the investigations.
Throughout the last four months, GHCDTF developed information that numerous homes were being purchased for the purpose of setting up these illegal marijuana grows. The majority of these homes were purchased with cash and information was developed that these purchases were conducted by Chinese Nationals involved in organized crime. The proceeds from these illegal grows appear to be funding other criminal enterprises. Those investigations are on-going.
With the citizen’s passage of I502, the law enforcement community supports the legal operations of marijuana producers, processors, and retailers in this state. They are required by Washington State Law to be licensed and follow strict guidelines. The search warrants conducted today were on marijuana grow operations that not only operated without the proper licenses, but in some cases, the illegal grow operations were set up in restricted areas such as near schools.
Given the scale of this illegal activity, GHCDTF sought assistance from many other law enforcement agencies as well as other entities. Those who assisted with today’s operation included:
GHCDTF, Aberdeen Fire and Police Departments, Cosmopolis PD, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Elma PD, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Grays Harbor Communications Center, Grays Harbor County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office, Grays Harbor Fire District #2, Hoquiam PD, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Lewis County’s Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team (JNET), Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, McCleary PD, Montesano PD, Ocean Shores PD, Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team (OPNET), Pacific County Sheriff’s Office, Port Angeles PD, Raymond PD, South Bend PD, Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, US Marshalls Office, Washington State Department of Ecology, Washington State Patrol, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, Western States Information Network, Westport PD.
Law enforcement teams will remain in their respective areas today, processing the scenes, and removing and destroying any illegal marijuana.
A total of 50 search warrants were executed among the three counties. There were 44 arrests made, 26 vehicles confiscated, along with multiple guns and other items of value. There was over $400,000 worth of cash and gold seized. A total of 32,449 marijuana plants were confiscated. It was estimated that the value of these particular plants was in excess of $80,000,000.
Of the 50 search warrants, 38 were in Grays Harbor County, 8 in King County, and 4 in Thurston County. The general locations where the search warrants were conducted are listed below. In some cases, there were multiple search warrants on the listed streets. This is not an all-inclusive list as some search warrants were completed late last night and there locations may not have been reported in yet.
There is a tremendous amount of work left to do for this massive investigation. We again want to thank all of our federal, state, and local partners who assisted with this significant operation.
Chief Criminal Deputy
Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office
P.O. Box 630 / 100 W. Broadway Suite 3
Montesano, WA 98563
Ph. 360-964-1738 / fax. 360-249-3288
GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY
ABERDEEN CITY / SURROUNDING ABERDEEN AREA
Aberdeen Lake RoadNorth Bank RoadTrentland Park DriveScammelH StreetCherry Street
S. HarborWishkah RoadSumner Ave
HOQUIAM CITY / SURROUNDING HOQUIAM AREA
Queets AveAberdeen Ave.22nd Street
O StreetLawrence StreetB Street
W. ChenaultPacific AveEast Hoquiam Road
GRAYLANDOCEAN SHORESChester AveNarwhal Loop
CITY OF COSMOPOLIS / COSMOPOLIS AREA
2nd StreetHolly LaneLund Road
CITY OF MONTESANO / MONTESANO AREA
S. Glenn StreetGeissler Road
SURROUNDING ELMA AREA
Cloquallum RoadMiddle Earth Lane
CITY OF MCCLEARY / SURROUNDING MCLEARY AREA
W. Simpson AveElma McCleary RoadE. Elma Hicklin Road
Larson Road (Multiple locations)
56th Avenue S (KENT)
144th Avenue SE (BELLEVUE)
NE Lake Washington Blvd. (BELLEVUE)
NE 8th Street (BELLEVUE)
80th Avenue NE (MEDINA)
10th Court SE (OLYMPIA) / Multiple locations
Laynard Dr NE (LACEY)