PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland police announced a major drug ring bust Friday, saying a long-term operation by the Drugs and Vice Division yielded over $1 million in pot plants and five arrests.
In a press release, police said they seized a total of over 1,000 marijuana plants, one vehicle and approximately $6,500USD during execution of the search warrants. The people arrested were all Chinese nationals involved in a "Drug Trafficking Organization," or DTO, police said.
Police said they made the arrests Friday at five locations across Northeast and Southeast Portland and that the investigation started about 18 months ago after a tip came from local residents concerned about drug activity in their neighborhoods.
Police said their investigation revealed the marijuana was being cultivated in several "grow houses" in the Portland area and was then distributed throughout the region. Investigators said they are seeing a growing trend of rental homes being turned into grow houses.
They said the operation has no connection to medical marijuana and the operation was strictly a "for profit" venture.
Police used their Facebook page to post photos of the suspects and the large amount of evidence found during the operation, including burlap bags stuffed with pot plants and indoor horticulture lighting equipment.
Charges for the suspects included manufacturing marijuana, delivery of marijuana, possession of marijuana, and aggravated theft of services. The suspects were identified as:
25-year-old Xinhuo Huang
61-year-old Liu Huan Tan
36-year-old Weishe Tan
34-year-old Yue Long Zhen
A fifth person was arrested, but later not indicted by a grand jury.
"Each year, the Portland Police Bureau receives numerous complaints about marijuana grow houses and associated odor, foot and vehicle traffic and violence," police said in their press release. "These things affect neighborhood livability and the Police Bureau is committed to addressing these concerns. The violence associated with grow houses is of particular concern as thieves are committing home-invasion robberies to steal marijuana and cash from growers."
Police said that citizens with concerns about drug houses in their neighborhoods should call the Drugs and Vice Division at (503) 823-3784 or visit www.portlandpolice.com to file on online Drug and Vice complaint.