Suspect Arrested, Two Guns and 1,250 Plants Seized in Adna Marijuana Grow Bust Case
By Emily Fitzgerald / [email protected]
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) and the Washington State Patrol (WSP) Marijuana Enforcement Squad arrested a man and secured a large number of marijuana plants, along with weapons fire, from a grow operation in the 100 block of Carroll Way near Adna on Thursday afternoon.
Between the primary residence, a detached garage, and a pole barn on the property, law enforcement located approximately 1,250 growing marijuana plants, 32 vacuum-sealed bags containing approximately 1 pound of processed marijuana in total, and several marijuana plants hanging dry, according to court documents. Law enforcement also located a Glock 9mm pistol and a Wilson Combat AR-style multi-caliber rifle in a bedroom closet, along with a money counter and several documents with the names of the owners – Huagui Chen and Yalian Fan.
Chen, 58, of Chehalis, was present at the property when law enforcement arrived with the search warrant on Thursday. He left the residence of his own free will and was detained, according to court documents.
“We know there are other grow operations in our communities and we will be pursuing each one,” Sheriff Rob Snaza told The Chronicle at the scene Thursday. “Marijuana cultivation is not legal unless you have permits and licenses and people work very hard to get those permits and licenses and unfortunately those people didn’t.”
“As the sheriff said, these are becoming more and more common in our community and it’s a way to circumvent the legal trade and a lot of the marijuana that comes from it is sent back to states where it’s not ‘is not legal,’ Field’s operations bureau chief Dustin Breen said Thursday. “Luckily we were able to execute the search warrant and everyone is safe and everything went as planned.”
A WSP detective monitoring the property on April 18 reportedly “smelled green growing marijuana” coming from buildings on the property and an LCSO detective later requested electricity and subscriber records for the property from the Lewis County Public Utility District (PUD), according to court documents.
PUD records showed the current owners have an average monthly usage rate of 6,024 kilowatt hours (kwh) for the house and garage and 4,574 kwh for a pole barn on the property. The previous owners of the property had an average monthly usage rate of 664 kwh for the house and garage and 476 kwh for the pole barn from January 2019 to June 2021.
Investigations with the state Alcohol and Cannabis Control Commission and the federal Department of Agriculture determined that neither Chen nor Fan had permits or licenses to manufacture marijuana in Washington, according to sources. court documents.
Investigators then applied for a search warrant, which was approved by Lewis County District Court Judge Wade Samuelson.
“We are continuing to investigate and information will become available, but we have sufficient resources here and our partnerships with the State Patrol and other agencies that led us to this investigation,” Snaza said Thursday.
Regarding the firearms found at the residence and why officers were wearing tactical gear while searching the property, Snaza said, “It just goes to show that although people are downplaying illegal grow ops like nothing violent or anything the reason is my questioning would be why do you have these guns and you have a big grow operation and probably what you are doing is protecting your grow. That’s why you see all these men and women here doing their jobs and they’re going out there with their tactical gear to make sure everybody’s safe.
Chen was taken to the Lewis County Jail just before 4:10 p.m. Thursday. He has since been charged in Lewis County Superior Court with one count of manufacturing marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to manufacture or deliver, and unlawful use of a building for drug use purposes.
He was scheduled to appear in Lewis County Superior Court for a preliminary hearing on felony charges on Friday afternoon.
No charges had been filed against Fan on Friday morning.