Raid of 75 Residential Marijuana Grow Operations Seizes 61,050 Marijuana Plants in Sacramento Region, Elk Grove

Today, FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan (center) participated in a multi-agency press conference announcing a multi-agency effort to eradicate criminal enterprises operating in neighborhoods throughout the Sacramento region. | 

April 4, 2018 |  

A joint law enforcement operation involving Federal, state, county and local law enforcement agencies in the Sacramento region over the last two days has resulted in the seizure of over 61,050 marijuana plants, 200 kilos of processed product, and 15 firearms at approximately 75 residential dwellings in the greater Sacramento region.

Along with the seizure, civil forfeiture actions were filed against more than 100 houses in the Sacramento region suspected of being related to this criminal organization and used as indoor marijuana grows. Some of the houses searched during this operation are subject to the forfeiture action, and it represents one of the most extensive residential forfeiture efforts in the nation’s history.

According to information presented by McGregor Scott, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California, the operation of the grow houses are funded by money from China. Scott said the operation has been under investigation since 2014 and during that time law enforcement agencies have been able to connect the activities.

“When criminal organizations funded by money from China reach into our cities to profit from illegal activity, our communities suffer,” Scott said. “These marijuana grow operations are illegal under federal and state law and are used to distribute marijuana all over the United States. They are a blight on our neighborhoods and create an unsafe environment for the men, women, and children who live there.

Common elements in the operations found that the down payments on the houses were financed by wires mainly from Fujian Province, in China and they used a number of unnamed Sacramento realtors. The sales used so-called hard-money lenders rather than traditional banks and the purchasers were typically straw buyers. 

After securing the purchase, the dwellings were converted into large-scale marijuana grows that often occupied a substantial portion, if not all, of the house and frequently involved hundreds or thousands of marijuana plants. Once the marijuana had been harvested and processes, it was distributed outside of California, particularly to the East Coast of the Eastern United States.

“This was a large-scale operation, with millions of dollars coming into the US from China,” Cindy Chen, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation said. “This criminal organization used foreign money to purchase homes and turned them into marijuana grow houses; all at the cost of innocent neighborhoods. We are proud to provide our financial expertise as we work alongside our law enforcement partners to bring criminals to justice.”     

The operation, which was led by the FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency and included over 500 people, also included personnel from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the IRS Criminal Investigation with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, the Elk Grove Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations. 

According to information posted on social media by the Sacramento Bee, the majority of 75 houses raided were in Sacramento and Elk Grove. There were 41 in Sacramento, 16 in Elk Grove, three in Wilton, and two or less in Galt, Herald, Rio Linda, Lincoln, Fiddletown, Acampo, Valley Springs, Sloughhouse, Linda, and Garden Valley.

Elk Grove Police Chief Bryan Noblett was not immediately available for comment regarding the EGPD's role in the operation. 

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