Drug Enforcement Administration

Seattle

Keith R. Weis, Special Agent in Charge

May 18, 2018

Contact: Jodie Underwood

Phone Number: (206) 553-5443

Raids On Multiple Marijuana Grow Houses In Investigation Of International Money Laundering And Interstate Marijuana Trafficking

Money from China Financing Criminal Drug Distribution Organization

SEATTLE - Over the last few days investigators executed search warrants at 17 different Puget Sound area locations, and a commercial property in New Jersey, in connection with an internationally funded drug trafficking organization sending thousands of pounds of marijuana grown in Washington to the New York City area.  One defendant, 37-year-old Xiamin Huang of Seattle, is in custody and her husband and his brother are being sought by law enforcement.  All three are charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana.

According to records filed in the case, in 2016 and 2017 investigators identified several homes in King and Pierce Counties being used for indoor marijuana production.  The homes, such as one on S. 124th Street in Burien had unusually high electrical bills - as much as $2,500 in one two-month billing period.  On another property, members of the conspiracy made cash payments of more than $37,000 for electricity in a three month period.  On May 16, 2018, law enforcement served search warrants on locations in Seattle, Burien, Kent, Tacoma, and Renton.  More than 3,000 marijuana plants were seized as well as business records and equipment associated with the marijuana trafficking.

At the detention hearing today, prosecutors revealed that some of the homes had been purchased with large wire transfers of funds from the People’s Republic of (PRC). The source of the money is still under investigation.  An analysis of the email accounts and bank accounts utilized by the criminal group show efforts to structure cash deposits in order of avoid bank reporting requirements on suspicious transactions.  Huang was determined to be a flight risk and was detained pending trial.

This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved.

The Investigation was led by DEA and Homeland Security (HSI).  Significant investigative assistance was also provided by the Seattle Police Department and FBI.

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