More details, locations released on massive drug raid

Nearly 300 officers involved in biggest bust in county history

By Craig Brown and Paul Suarez

Published:

Updated: October 13, 2011, 11:46 PM

 

Did you see a raid?

Did you see one of the raids in your neighborhood? Would you be willing to talk to us about it? Let us know by e-mailing metrodesk@columbian.com.

photoPolice escort two men who were arrested in Thursday's massive drug sweep. A special court session for all of the suspects will be held Friday.

(/The Columbian)

Buy this photo

These addresses were involved in Thursday's Operation Gang Green raids:

10017 N.E. 67th St. Vancouver

10207 N.E. 65th Ave. Vancouver

10518 N.E. 21st Court Vancouver

10607 N.E. 67th St. Vancouver

11209 N.E. 107th Circle Vancouver

11504 N.E. 30th Court Vancouver

12809 N.E. 101st St. Vancouver

12810 N.E. 40th Circle Vancouver

13001 N.E. 76th St. Vancouver

13407 N.E. 83rd St. Vancouver

13421 N.E. 49th St. Vancouver

13902 N.E. 65th St. Vancouver

14003 S.E. 20th Way Vancouver

14417 N.E. 9th Court Vancouver

14707 S.E. 5th Circle Vancouver

14910 N.E. 73rd Circle Vancouver

15011 N.W. 1st Ave. Vancouver

15315 S.E. 3rd St. Vancouver

16404 N.E. 82nd St. Vancouver

16411 N.E. 44th St. Vancouver

16608 S.E. 35th Way Vancouver

17416 N.E. Edmunds Road Vancouver

18317 S.E. 24th Way Vancouver

2009 S.E. 185th Court Vancouver

2117 N.E. 166th Ave. Vancouver

2204 N.E. 110th Ave. Vancouver

2238 N.E. Trout Court Camas

2304 N.E. 94th St. Vancouver

2402 N.E. 91st St. Vancouver

2537 N.E. 127th Ave. Vancouver

2706 N.E. 147th St. Vancouver

2906 N.E. 157th Court Vancouver

308 N.E. 148th Ave. Vancouver

3407 N.E. 165th Ave. Vancouver

3511 N.E. 41st Way Vancouver

3907 N.E. 157th Ave. Vancouver

3918 S.E. 191st Ave. Vancouver

4420 N.E. 133rd Court Vancouver

4504 N.E. 123rd Ave. Vancouver

506 N.W. 153rd St. Vancouver

509 N.W. 148th St. Vancouver

5705 N.E. 64th St. Vancouver

5801 N.E. 64th St. Vancouver

6112 N.E. 132nd Ave. Vancouver

617 N.E. 143rd St. Vancouver

6409 N.E. 139th Court Vancouver

6411 N.E. 139th Court Vancouver

6415 N.E. 139th Court Vancouver

6609 N.E. 57th Ave. Vancouver

6905 N.E. 165th Ave. Vancouver

6916 N.E. 100th Court Vancouver

7304 N.E. 148th Ave. Vancouver

7306 N.E. 131st Ave. Vancouver

910 N.W. 15th Ave. Battle Ground

9208 N.E. 45th Ave. Vancouver

9401 N.E. 56th Ave. Vancouver

An interagency task force comprising 300 law enforcement officers and federal agents swept across Clark County Thursday morning in what police say is the largest drug bust in local history.

It’s the result of Operation Gang Green, an investigation by the Clark-Skamania Drug Task Force that netted around 6,800 marijuana plants and put at least 43 people behind bars after morning raids on 56 Clark County locations, officials said.

“The massive scale of this marijuana-growing operation is staggering and unprecedented in the history of Clark County,” said task force Cmdr. Mike Cooke. “When viewed on a map of Clark County, it’s clear that this group has made Clark County a major producer of marijuana on the West Coast.”

The number of warrants served in one day in such a concentrated area is unheard-of, Cooke added. Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp added it was “huge” and “unprecedented.”

Around 300 officers from 16 agencies set up at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Orchards in the early-morning hours. The rolling sweep of raids started around 7 a.m. and continued throughout the morning. Most raids were finished by noon.

Police targeted houses rented and purchased by people with connections to a Vietnamese crime ring, police said. The investigation, launched in 2009, allegedly found that marijuana was being grown for distribution throughout the United States.

The Clark County group earns an estimated $27 million annually, Kapp said.

Many raids were in clusters in Orchards and Salmon Creek, but there were a few locations in Battle Ground and east county, Cooke said.

One group of four houses, on Northeast 139th Court, drew at least 80 police officers in an early-morning raid.

Police activity was visible from a living room window of Kent Shannon’s home.

Shannon was asleep when the raids started, but quickly woke up to banging sounds and police warnings, he said.

“I thought it was a dream,” he said Thursday afternoon.

Shannon looked out his window and saw dozens of police on his block. Police cars were lining his street, he said.

He wasn’t surprised when police confirmed that the homes were raided in connection with a marijuana grow, he said.

His neighbors were pretty private, but he said that the homes were frequented by different “fancy cars” and came alive at midnight.

Chris Hyde reported a similar situation on his east Vancouver block.

He was backing out of his driveway when he spotted a SWAT team parked up the street, he said.

Three houses were raided in his neighborhood. He said the people who lived in the houses weren’t seen very often after they moved in. At one point in the past, a neighbor suspected they might be growing pot, he said.

“When I saw the police cars out there today, I thought ‘OK, they’re getting busted,’ ” he said.

It was the second drug issue he’s seen on the street, which he said you wouldn’t expect.

“It’s kind of freaky,” Hyde said. “We’re a very regular, middle-class neighborhood.”

Processing

A ringing cellphone in an evidence bag went unanswered as several sheriff’s deputies processed burlap sacks full of marijuana plants and other items outside a house off Northeast 76th Street. Students from a nearby school walked past the house, which was barricaded by several police vehicles and a rental truck.

The scene was repeated throughout the county Thursday afternoon as police teams returned to houses to process evidence. Some remained on the scene into the evening.

Police hoped to uncover evidence related to marijuana grows, organized crime activities, money laundering and the hiding of proceeds from unlawful drug sales.

Since he investigation began in 2009, the task force monitored grow locations, investigated finances and worked with other law enforcement agencies around the country.

Even before Thursday’s raids, 150 pounds of dried marijuana had been seized and several arrests made, some in other states.

The people who were arrested Thursday were taken to a processing facility to be fingerprinted, photographed and bused to the Clark County Jail.

Many of them will make their first court appearances Friday morning. People arrested on felonies before midnight generally make first appearances the next morning.

‘Largest action’

Prosecutor Tony Golik said that the Superior Court is anticipating such a huge number of suspects that they may have to hold two morning dockets Friday.

Golik, who has worked at the prosecutor’s office since 2000, can’t remember another time the court has had to accommodate such an influx in defendants.

“This is the largest action that I can recall,” Golik said.

Golik said his office will meet with federal prosecutors in the coming weeks to decide which defendants to charge locally and which federally.

Laura McVicker of The Columbian contributed to this report.

'Gang Green' drug bust map