Major Illegal Marijuana Bust in 3 Central Washington Counties

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illegal Marijuana

EPHRATA, Wash.– An organized, multi-agency response between Grant, Franklin, and Adams counties has resulted in over 41,000 pounds of illegal marijuana, 56 illegal firearms, ammunition, and many hazardous and banned chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers which cause damage to the environment and wildlife, in a series of warrants and arrests spanning from early August of this year through the end of September.

illegal Marijuana

The statistics across thirty-six Grant County Sheriff’s Office reports include:

• 27 search warrants;
• 24 arrests;
• 56 illegal guns and a tremendous amount of ammunition including magazines for automatic, semi-automatic and assault rifles;
• Over 41,000 pounds of marijuana in plant or packaged form;
• $55K in cash;
• Numerous vehicles, backhoes;
• And large quantities of hazardous chemicals including fertilizers and pesticides.

Coordinated by Grant County’s Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (INET),n crackdown uncovered and dismantled illegal grow operations in all areas of Grant County including Ephrata, George, Mattawa, Moses Lake, Quincy, Soap Lake, Schwana, Warden, and Wheeler. The campaign also included warrants in Othello, Adams County and Mesa in Franklin County.

Sheriff Tom Jones said, “This highly-coordinated operation didn’t just dismantle illegal marijuana operations, it also removed the associated pervasive criminal element growing, guarding, and processing these large and unregulated grows. These operators are often guarding their grows with illegal or stolen firearms, some of them fully automatic assault rifles and sub-machine guns, as well as using manufacturing processes involving hazardous quantities of chemicals that pose a genuine health and safety risk to the communities around them.”

illegal marijuana
photo provided
Illegal marijuana
Photo provided by INET

The investigation also uncovered a tactic where illegal growers, posing as legal growers with appropriate-looking documentation that were in fact fake, were leasing land space from unsuspecting land-owners. Sheriff Tom Jones said, “It’s important for our landowners to understand that more due diligence is needed on their part. With the legalization of marijuana in Washington State, the former illegal grows hidden in the hills are now down in our communities but with no less criminal intent.”

Partnering in this effort included: Washington State Patrol Marijuana Eradication Team (ERAD); Moses Lake Police Department Tactical Response Team (TRT); Ephrata Police Department; Soap Lake Police Department; Adams Co. Sheriff’s Office; Tri-Cities Regional SWAT, Franklin Co. Sheriff’s Office; Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); U.S. Army 10th Civil Support Unit, Washington State Department of Ecology, and anonymous tipsters to the CRIME TIPS line.

Sheriff Tom Jones said, “Our sincerest gratitude to our partnering agencies for their professionalism, commitment, and integrity throughout this complex operation, as well as those citizens in our community reporting suspicious activity. Together it’s working.”

CRIME TIPS MAKE A DIFFERENCE:
Anyone who may have information can send information to crimetips@grantcountywa.gov. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

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Steve Hair

Steve Hair is a 40-year veteran broadcast journalist who comes to NCW LIFE TV after a long career in radio. Steve and his wife Lynette and their three sons moved to the Wenatchee Valley from Central California in 1992. Steve served as News Director for KPQ News where he covered a multitude of stories of importance to North Central Washington, including two of Washington State’s largest wildfires. During his radio career Steve has received many awards from organizations such as the Associated Press, (Sacramento and Seattle Bureaus) The Washington State Farm Bureau, and the California Medical Association. Steve is a sports addict. Time off usually finds him sprawled out on the couch watching the Seahawks, Mariners or anything that prevents him from doing house chores.