Massive raid takes out illegal mail order weed ring that supplied nine states

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A massive raid involving hundreds of investigators and 27 simultaneous search warrants in nine communities in Washington State has taken down an illegal weed-mailing ring based out of Seattle.

“Illegal grow operations such as these, with their extensive networks, have a wide-reaching and destructive impact to the communities they inhabit.  With these arrests and seizures of illegal marijuana grow operations, we bring down one of the largest networks in the region,” Tony Galetti, inspector in charge at the United States Postal Inspection Service, notes in a statement from the United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington.

The illegal operation was ambitious and targeted multiple states for receipt of millions and millions of dollars of illegal marijuana, reports Galetti, according to KIRO7. The evidence collected includes processed cannabis, thousands of marijuana plants and related documents.

Many of the targeted locations in Washington were illegal grow houses, while others were businesses that allegedly served as front companies, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reports. There were also searches in New York.

Weed was being grown in homes throughout King County, Washington before being distributed through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Georgia and Missouri, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Massachusetts and Illinois are the only states of the aforementioned nine where recreational weed is legal.

“Members of the group turned homes in the Seattle area into illegal grow houses, damaging neighbourhoods, and competing unfairly with honest buyers who are just trying to afford their first home,” U.S. Attorney Brian Moran says in the statement.

“They can sell a product for $1,000 a pound here, but $3,000 a pound in a state on the East Coast,” Galetti reportedly said of the accused. Some suspects apparently used money from the illegal sales to buy houses to become grow sites so that more illegal cannabis could be cultivated.

The joint raids were the result of concerted efforts by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, other federal agents and members of the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Eleven people have been indicted in connection with the operation for allegedly shipping illegal cannabis across the country, the U.S. attorney’s office reports. The defendants were cited for their parts in manufacturing, distributing and profiting from the production and distribution of illegal marijuana, Moran says.

Eleven people have been indicted in connection with the operation for allegedly shipping illegal cannabis across the country. / Photo: Getty Images / Photo: Getty Images

Raymond Ng, 49, and QiFang Chen, 32, have been charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana. Wei Quan Wu, 46, and Da Biao Wu, 52, faces several federal counts involving conspiracy, manufacturing and possessing marijuana for distribution at different locations throughout the Puget Sound region. And Wobiao Lei, 35, Xinming Wu, 35, Yi Jun Chen, 33, Guo Gui Yu, 39, Chee Choong Ng, 52, Guolong Lee, 31, and Lingfeng Lei, 26, have been charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana, as well as possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and manufacturing marijuana with intent to distribute.

“Due to the amount of illegal marijuana involved, if convicted, the defendants face a mandatory minimum 10 years in prison,” notes the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which adds the government has filed for forfeiture of properties associated with the conspiracy and other proceeds of the crimes.

Investigators are anticipating more arrests.

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