SALEM, Ore. — An Oregon man pleaded guilty Thursday to marijuana and money laundering charges in what federal prosecutors said was a vast conspiracy to traffic marijuana from Oregon to Texas and Virginia.
Federal authorities said they seized 11,000 marijuana plants, 546 pounds of processed marijuana, more than $2.8 million in cash, 26 vehicles, trailers, a yacht, and three houses used as marijuana grow sites since August 2017.
Paul Eugene Thomas, 38, of Portland, and other defendants grew marijuana in Oregon, transported it to Texas and Virginia, and received cash payments through the mail and in luggage on commercial flights, the U.S. attorney’s office in Portland said.
Growing and selling marijuana is legal in Oregon but only with a state license. The licensing commission said the defendants were not licensed. Shipping marijuana out of Oregon remains illegal — licensed or not.
Prosecutors said Thomas pleaded guilty to conspiring to manufacture, possess and distribute marijuana and to money laundering.
Sentencing was set for Aug. 6, when Thomas could face a maximum of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine on the pot charge and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for money laundering.
Co-defendant Jody Tremayne Wafer, 29, is scheduled for trial in June. Brittany Lesanta Kizzee, 28, entered a guilty plea Nov. 27 and is scheduled to be sentenced May 7.
Trent Lamar Knight, 30, and Raleigh Dragon Lau, 33, have scheduled change of plea hearings.
In a related case, Cole William Griffiths was charged with conspiring to manufacture marijuana in Hood River, Oregon, and shipping it to Florida. He has scheduled a change of plea hearing for April 22.