Prosecutors today indicted six people on federal drug trafficking charges for shipping Oregon-grown cannabis across borders to Virginia, Texas and Florida.
Two Portlanders, Raleigh Dragon Lau and Paul Eugene Thomas, were indicted along with Houston residents Jody Tremayne Wafer, Trent Lamar Knight, and Brittany Lesanta Kizzee for conspiring to grow cannabis in Portland and ship it to Texas and Virginia. Hood River resident Cole William Griffiths was separately indicted for shipping Oregon-grown weed to Florida.
They have all been charged with multiple counts related to illegally distributing marijuana and some face other charges, including money laundering, kidnapping, and using a firearm during a crime of violence and drug trafficking crime.
During the drug sting, federal investigators seized more than "11,000 marijuana plants, 546 pounds of processed marijuana, more than $2.8 million in cash, 51 firearms, 26 vehicles, trailers, and pieces of heavy equipment, and a yacht."
The indictments come after months of emphasis on cracking down on illicit cannabis sales from the U.S. Justice Department.
In May, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Billy Williams made clear he did not intend to punish businesses that follow Oregon's state regulations on cannabis, but would aggressively pursue anyone funneling marijuana into the black market.
"These cases provide clear evidence of what I have repeatedly raised concerns over: Oregon's marijuana industry is attracting organized criminal networks looking to capitalize on the state's relaxed regulatory environment" Williams said in a press release. "Dismantling criminal organizations is a key focus of our marijuana enforcement strategy. We will continue to work with our federal, state, local and tribal partners to disrupt overproduction and the illegal export of marijuana out-of-state."
Oregon's cannabis market has been flooded with more product than residents and tourists can consume, leading to dramatic price drops and desperate businesses.
The federal indictment provides evidence that Oregon's over-saturated industry is leaking some of the unwanted flower across state lines. State regulators pointed to other evidence this week, clamping down on how how much pot medical cardholders can buy each day and pointing to huge volume of sales to single customers at a handful of shops.