Police seize gold bars, guns during search in massive marijuana grow-op bust

Police searched 10 King County locations during investigation; 60 arrested so far

Hundreds of thousands of dollars, jewelry, cars, guns and 72 1-ounce gold bars.

As police continue to investigate a multi-county drug bust on Nov. 29 involving a suspected illegal marijuana grow-op run by Chinese nationals, more details have emerged about what investigators found during their searches of the 10 King County locations involved.

More than 50 search warrants were conducted earlier this month in King, Grays Harbor and Thurston counties at homes that police say the suspects purchased with cash for setting up the illegal marijuana grows.

At two of the locations in Bellevue and another two in Federal Way, investigators found active marijuana grow operations, according to Steve Shumate, chief criminal deputy of the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office.

In Bellevue, police seized over 700 marijuana plants in the 9500 block of Lake Washington Blvd., and over 400 plants and grow equipment in the 15000 block of SE 15th St.

In Federal Way, police confiscated 718 marijuana plants and some tools in the 33000 block of 43rd Ave. SW. During this search, investigators determined another grow was occurring next door, in the 4300 block of 333rd Ave. SW, where they seized an additional 600 plants.

The remainder of the King County locations also have ties to the organized crime, Shumate added.

At three additional sites in Bellevue, police seized several documents in the 14000 block of NE 8th St.; documents, $29,900 in U.S. currency and a Toyota Sienna in the 1700 block of 144th St. SE; and four guns, jewelry, 72 1-ounce gold bars, a 2017 Toyota Tacoma and approximately $218,936 in cash in the 9400 block of Lake Washington Blvd.

Cell phones, computers, documents and over $132,00 were seized at a Medina location in the 8000 block of 80th Ave. NE.

Police also appropriated documents and over $16,500 at a Seattle site in the 6000 block of 22nd Ave. S., and more electronics, documents, an undisclosed amount of processed marijuana and $3,600 in Kent, in the 23000 block of 56th Ave. S.

All told, detectives so far have confiscated over 33,000 marijuana plants worth more than $80 million and over $400,000 worth of cash and gold. Police have also arrested approximately 60 suspects.

The Grays Harbor County Drug Task Force-led investigation was initiated when east Grays Harbor County residents reported possible illegal marijuana grow operations occurring in the Elma area. McCleary, Aberdeen and Hoquiam police also received similar complaints.

Police believe the proceeds from these suspected illegal grows may be funding other criminal enterprises; those investigations are also ongoing.

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