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Total seized in marijuana raids: nearly 10,000 plants

The sting found 19 growing operations, most located in middle-class neighborhoods in south Snohomish County.

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By Eric Stevick
Herald Writer
Published:
It wasn’t the largest yield, but it was tucked away in an apt location.
The illegal indoor marijuana growing operation on Poppy Road near Bothell included 336 plants.
It was smaller than most of the 19 grows that were hidden in middle-class neighborhoods in south Snohomish and north King counties.
Nearly 10,000 pot plants were seized during Wednesday’s massive sweep of related indoor marijuana growing operations that stretched from Everett to Seattle. Most were found in rental homes in the south part of Snohomish County.
The sophisticated growing operations are linked and were being run by growers with ties to Southeast Asia, police said.
Search warrants give a snapshot into the burgeoning bounty of buds: a home on 190th Place in Lynnwood had 609 plants; a rental off 88th Avenue W. in Edmonds had 728 plants. More than 860 plants were seized from a Bothell residence.
All told, the eight-month investigation spearheaded by the South Snohomish County Narcotics Task Force and federal Drug Enforcement Administration netted 36 arrests. Suspects range from 19 to 75.
No charges have been filed and it hasn’t been determined whether the cases will be taken to state or federal court, said Shannon Sessions, a spokeswoman for the Lynnwood Police Department. It could take weeks to forward the case to prosecutors as officers try to determine different levels of criminal responsibility.
“This marijuana investigation is one of the biggest in the region, let alone for the South Snohomish County Narcotics Task Force,” Sessions said. The task force includes the Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace police departments.
Search warrants were served on 25 homes and one business.
Roughly $70,000 in cash was confiscated, including $31,081 at one Lynnwood home.
The Snohomish PUD estimates electricity valued at up to $250,000 was stolen by the pot growers.
Police are reluctant to place a dollar value on the total operation. They do say, however, that the street value of a mature and healthy plant is around $1,000.
In an affidavit seeking the search warrants, a task force detective said the investigation started with a tip to a DEA agent in November that “a Vietnamese marijuana manufacturing organization” was operating in the Lynnwood area.
The marijuana-growing operations are not believed to be connected to 10 indoor farms that were raided earlier this month in Snohomish and King counties. Those raids came after a three-year investigation. They turned up 1,500 plants, 60 pounds of marijuana and cocaine.
All the recent grows appear to be part of a trend in the suburbs — drug traffickers with ties to Canada and Southeast Asia establishing sophisticated operations in quiet neighborhoods in the U.S. The hidden grows are being set up to avoid tightened security at the U.S.-Canada border.
Canadian-grown pot — also known as B.C. Bud — is among the most potent marijuana available and fetches high prices in the region.
People involved in the hidden pot operations often are paid a monthly sum to live at the homes and tend the crops. They use high-tech equipment to mask the pungent smell of growing marijuana.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » BothellEdmondsLynnwoodDrug TraffickingPolice

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