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. The search warrants were conducted as a result of suspected illegal marijuana grow operations by Chinese Nationals that were occurring in the respective 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 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 I-502, 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 police departments from Aberdeen, Cosmopolis, Elma, Grays Harbor County, Lewis County, Hoquiam, McCleary, Montesano, Ocean Shores, Pacific County, Port Angeles, Raymond, South Bend, Thurston County, Washington State Patrol, the FBI, Westport and the US Marshalls.
Other agencies that assisted included Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Grays Harbor Communications Center, Grays Harbor County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Grays Harbor Fire District #2, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Lewis County’s Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team (JNET), Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team (OPNET), Washington State Department of Ecology, Washington State Patrol, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, Western States Information Network.