Jury finds 5 guilty of unlawful Marijuana manufacture, possession, organized crime
A jury in a Thurston County trial has found five defendants guilty of unlawful manufacture and possession of marijuana, six years after the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force was alerted to a marijuana grow operation in Rochester.
Trung Dang, 35; Trang My Le, 38; David Le, 29; Ken Lu, 35; Mathew Tran, 31; and Michael Huynh, 35, were convicted of unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance – marijuana, while armed with a firearm, and unlawful possession of a controlled substance – marijuana, with intent to deliver while armed with a firearm.
The jury also handed down a special verdict that all defendants committed the crimes within 1,000 feet of a designated school bus route. Dang’s charges also included leading organized crime and money laundering.
Sentencing will likely be scheduled for June, according to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
“Illegal marijuana operations undermine the legal framework established to safeguard the well-being of our community, and we hope these verdicts will serve as a deterrent to keep organized crime out of our area,” the office said in a statement.
In November 2017, authorities started surveilling 18431 Old Highway 99 due to a neighbor’s concerns about marijuana growing at the residence.
The Narcotics Task Force observed the same people going to and from a total of four residences: the Old Highway 99 address in Rochester, 721 101st Avenue SW in Olympia, as well as 184 Capitol Ridge Lane and 63 Downey Lane, both in Oakville.
Assessors’ records showed that the Olympia house and Capitol Ridge in Oakville house were owned by Dang and Trang My Le, while the Old Highway 99 residence was owned by Trang My Le and another individual, and the Downey Lane home in Oakville that was investigated was owned by another person.
The investigation found that the houses smelled of marijuana and had high power consumption despite a lack of commercial activity, which was “consistent with indoor marijuana growing operations,” according to the probable cause statement.
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Authorities executed a search warrant on the four houses, on March 15, 2018, leading to the arrest of the suspects. A search of the four houses yielded over 1,300 marijuana plants, marijuana growing equipment, and loaded firearms, along with gold bars worth $30,000 and other valuable objects such as watches.
The suspects were booked into the Thurston County Jail.