Police are arresting large numbers of Chinese nationals in raids on illegal marijuana operations in California, Colorado and other states, raising questions about who is financing these grow houses and recruiting the immigrants to tend them, McClatchy Newspapers reports. One recent indictment charges that money from a southern China bank account was transferred to California to pay for down payments on homes that later become grow houses, suggesting that some investors in China are putting money into the illicit U.S. marijuana market. “These are sophisticated operations,” said Thomas Yu, a longtime Asian gang investigator with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “When we hear about Asian gangs, we think about young guys doing drive-by shootings. This isn’t like that. These are organized ad hoc enterprises, run by businessmen. They are in it for the profit.”
In and around Sacramento, police have arrested many Chinese suspects in recent raids on indoor pot farms. Raids have also taken place in more far-flung locations, such as Garfield County in Colorado’s northwest corner. Last year, Garfield Sheriff Lou Vallario and his deputies descended on an illegal marijuana farm, arresting 14 suspects. To Vallario’s surprise, all 14 were Chinese nationals. Vallario and other law enforcement officials note that people from many backgrounds — U.S. citizens, Mexicans, Russians — are involved in the illegal marijuana trade. Chinese operators seem to be expanding their reach. In three separate raids in September, authorities in California’s Yolo County and the cities of Roseville and Elk Grove arrested 13 Chinese immigrants in raids on marijuana grow houses.