Federal agents busted a multistate marijuana distribution ring early Thursday, arresting 19 suspects across Washington, Oregon and California during “Operation Green Jam,” according to a news release. An unknown number of arrests were made in Yakima County, where the suspects are accused of using vineyards as cover for growing marijuana. The Drug Enforcement Administration worked with federal, state and local law enforcement to make the arrests. Sixteen of the suspects are charged with conspiracy violations, including the manufacture and distribution of marijuana, aiding and abetting, money laundering and structuring financial transactions.
Those arrested in Yakima County will appear in federal court in downtown Yakima at 9 a.m. today, said Jodie Underwood, a Seattle-based spokeswoman for the DEA. She could not say exactly how many arrests were made in the county. According to the indictment, the suspects helped or were directly involved in the purchasing and leasing of grape vineyards in Yakima County under the guise of conducting normal farming operations since 2004. Revenue from marijuana sales was used to purchase and finance additional vineyards in which to grow marijuana, officials say.
The U.S. government filed a money judgment against the suspects for nearly $3.5 million in drug proceeds, according to the news release, in addition to property forfeiture allegations that include vineyards. Underwood said Thursday evening she did not have the location of the vineyards, but said that information would likely come out today. The arrests were the result of a three-year investigation targeted at the drug trafficking organization, officials said.
via : Yakima Herald
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