News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 11, 2007
Contact: Steve Hooten
206 553-1155

Garden Shop Owners Indicted In Marijuana Manufacturing Conspiracy
DEA: Defendants Offered Advice and Equipment to Dozens of Marijuana Growers

APR 11 -- (SEATTLE) – The DEA’s Seattle Field Division announced six people were arrested this morning after being indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The arrests stem from a year-long investigation in which law enforcement officials seized thousands of marijuana plants at over 30 indoor locations in and around South King County.

It is alleged that at the center of the conspiracy was Kent Distributor, Inc., also called Kent Garden Supplies, which is located at 18840 72nd Ave. S., Kent, Washington. According to the indictment, the company purchased supplies and equipment from the U.S. and Canada and then resold them to other conspirators for use in marijuana grows.  The store’s owners and employees also allegedly provided advice to co-conspirators about how to grow marijuana and protect their assets while avoiding law enforcement detection. Some conspirators were even allowed to get supplies and equipment on credit and pay back the debt with profit from their marijuana crop. 

“Today, the DEA, along with our federal, state, and local partners, short circuited a very sophisticated, expansive, and organized drug trafficking network,” said Rodney G. Benson, DEA Special Agent in Charge. “By providing subject matter expertise to marijuana cultivators, this organization was in the process of altering the landscape of marijuana manufacturing in the northwest, further endangering our neighborhoods and communities.”

The indictment also charges that more than $5,000,000 was laundered through Kent Distributor Inc. and associated personal bank accounts from 2003 to 2006.

DEA agents searched the warehouse and offices of Kent Distributor today, as well as storage locations leased by the business.  In addition, agents also searched five residences (in Federal Way, Auburn, Renton, Packwood, and Glenoma) suspected of housing marijuana grows operated by clients of Kent Distributor Inc.  Agents discovered growing marijuana plants at each of those sites, and seized a total of more than 1800 mature plants, and more than 1000 starter plants.

Agents seized the company’s entire inventory, and are seeking to forfeit it along with five residences in South King County.  In addition, agents seized and will seek to forfeit the contents of more than thirty bank accounts controlled by the company and associated individuals.

The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United states Marshals Service, King County Sheriff’s Office, Seattle Police Department, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Valley Narcotics Enforcement Team (VNET) and detectives from the cities of Kent, Auburn, and Renton.