By Carrie Rodriguez / Bellevue Reporter
BELLEVUE — Hundreds of thousands of dollars, jewelry, cars, guns and 72 1-ounce gold bars were seized after a Nov. 29 multi-county drug bust that involved more than 50 search warrants in King, Grays Harbor and Thurston counties.
As police continue to investigate the case, which involves a suspected illegal marijuana grow operation run by Chinese nationals, more details have emerged about what investigators found during their searches of the 10 King County locations involved.
The search warrants were served earlier this month in the three counties at homes police say the suspects purchased with cash for setting up the illegal marijuana grows.
At two locations in Bellevue and 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 Boulevard, and over 400 plants and grow equipment in the 15000 block of SE 15th Street.
In Federal Way, police confiscated 718 marijuana plants and some tools in the 33000 block of 43rd Avenue 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 organized crime, Shumate said.
At three additional sites in Bellevue, police seized several documents in the 14000 block of NE Eighth Street; documents, $29,900 in cash and a Toyota Sienna in the 1700 block of 144th Street 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 Boulevard.
Cell phones, computers, documents and over $132,00 were seized at a Medina location in the 8000 block of 80th Avenue NE.
Police also appropriated documents and over $16,500 at a Seattle site in the 6000 block of 22nd Avenue S, and more electronics, documents, an undisclosed amount of processed marijuana and $3,600 in Kent, in the 23000 block of 56th Avenue 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 received similar complaints.
Police believe the proceeds from these suspected illegal grows may be funding other criminal enterprises; those investigations are also ongoing.