City to surplus two properties seized from Auburn marijuana-grow operation

Last September the Auburn Police Department busted several people who were conducting illegal marijuana grow operations in Auburn homes.

As state law allows, on Jan. 5 of this year, Auburn Police seized cash, two parcels, a vehicle and items of electrical equipment from 400 N St. NE and 3350 19th St. NE, both of which belong to Zebin Mei.

Because police seized the properties as drug houses, it could only use them or the proceeds of their sales for drug-interdiction efforts. As Auburn Police had no law enforcement use for the property, its administration felt it was in the public interest to surplus them, so the police and Mei reached a settlement agreement wherein Mei agreed to transfer of title for the properties to the City and police agreed to return to him his car and some of the seized cash.

On Monday night, the City Council declared the properties surplus, and authorized Mayor Nancy Backus to negotiate and execute purchase-and-sale agreements, conveying the properties to would-be buyers through a fair-market process.

“This was a very large-scale, marijuana-grow operation,’ said Assistant Police Chief William Pierson. “Most of the persons who own these homes we believe are from China, and they were using these residences to grow marijuana.”

Pierson said Mei’s were not the only homes the grow operation employed.

“When we do an investigation and make an arrest, we express our intent to seize the property under Title 6 of the Seizure Code, and that’s what we are in the process of doing,” Pierson said.

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