Feb. 23—MOUNT VERNON — Four men were charged Monday in Skagit County Superior Court with multiple drug charges after a yearlong investigation resulted in the seizure of thousands of illegally grown marijuana plants, hundreds of pounds of processed marijuana and more than $1 million in cash.
Weisheng Li, Jiaben Chen, and brothers Guang Sheng Luo and Guang Cia Luo have each been charged with one count of money laundering, manufacturing a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver, conspiracy to manufacture and/or deliver, and maintaining a vehicle or premises for drug trafficking.
Some of the charges also include a school zone enhancement, which could increase any potential punishment the men face.
The brothers, the alleged leaders of the group, are each also charged with one count of leading organized crime.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, an investigation by the State Patrol and the Skagit County drug task force revealed the brothers owned several Mount Vernon residences that were being used to grow and process marijuana, including in the 14000 block of Riverbend Road, the 4800 block of Monte Vista Place, and the 16000 block of Blodgett Road.
A search warrant served Thursday on one of the houses resulted in the seizure of about 2,500 plants and 400 pounds of usable marijuana, court documents state.
Another of the houses appeared to have been used solely for growing purposes, the documents state. At that residence, detectives seized about 500 plants.
The third location, which had been purchased in early February, was in the process of being set up with modifications to accommodate the grow operation that matched those of the other residences, the documents state.
At that location detectives found 500 plants, court documents state.
Detectives believe the group was producing approximately 1,500 pounds of usable marijuana bud each month, documents state.
Skagit County prosecutor Trisha Johnson alleged Friday that marijuana from the group was headed for the East Coast, where it would sell for between $4,000 and $5,000 per pound.
Guang Sheng Luo was arrested at his home in the city of Newcastle in King County, where his wife allegedly admitted to their involvement in the Mount Vernon grow operation, documents state.
Guang Cia Luo was arrested at his River Vista Loop home in Mount Vernon.
Between the brothers' homes, detectives seized about $1.5 million in cash, in addition to assets they owned outright, the documents state.
According to court documents, the brothers were allegedly bringing foreign nationals into the country to tend to the plants and the various locations.
Documents state that while the brothers ran and funded the operation, Li and Chen were the main tenders of the plants and mentored others on how to do the same, documents state.
Li and Chen are reportedly Chinese nationals, Johnson said in a previous court hearing.
They are each being held in the Skagit County Community Justice Center on $250,000 bail.
The brothers are being held on $500,000 bail.
According to court documents, Johnson has filed a notice to seek an exceptionally high sentence for each of the men based on the alleged "major" violation.
Detectives are investigating what court documents say are the group's "far reaching" connections, which they believe may include multiple states and countries.
All four are set to be arraigned March 5.