Auburn police officer Jamie Douglas and his drug-sniffing dog Gunner, walk past containers of fertilizer during an investigation inside Scitek Garden Supply in Auburn.
The owners of two garden supply shops, charged with conspiracy and money laundering, appeared before a U.S. Magistrate today while police and Drug Enforcement Administration agents searched more than two dozens cars and homes during early morning raids.
At a news conference this afternoon, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Bartlett, flanked by DEA Special-Agent-in-Charge Arnold Moorin, said the 13-month investigation involved seizure of more than 15,000 marijuana plants — more than 800 this morning alone — and $65,000 cash. A number of cars and homes were seized and agents expected to arrest more than dozen others on state and federal charges by the end of the day.
The investigation also led to the search of a Kent mortgage company. Agents say 19 of the 27 marijuana grow-houses raided in the past year were financed using the services of the mortgage company. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Vogel, who has overseen the investigation, said no charges have been filed against mortgage company officials, but that the investigation is ongoing.
Agents raided and shut down Scitek Garden Supply in Auburn and Greenhouse & Garden Supply in Tukwila. Between August 2006 and February of this year, agents allege more than $1 million moved through personal and business accounts associated with Scitek Garden Supply
The defendants are charged with conspiracy and money-laundering.
Already in custody before today's raids were Thiet Van Tran and Quyen The Nguyen. The indictments identified Nguyen as the owner of Greenhouse & Garden Supply, and is accused of providing horticultural supplies to indoor marijuana growers, including "starter marijuana plants." Similar allegations are made in the indictment against Scitek and its various owners.