A federal grand jury indicted four people, two of them from the Sacramento area, on suspicion of conspiring to commit international money laundering in a scheme that involved a local real estate agency serving as an apparent front for indoor marijuana grows.
Heidi Phong, 36, of Elk Grove and Feng Li, 48, of Sacramento, and two others face indictments on money laundering and marijuana manufacturing, according to a news release by the U.S. Department of Justice. Those indictments were made Dec. 13 and unsealed Thursday.
Phong operated HP Real Estate and Skye Investment LLC out of Sacramento, and used those companies “to arrange for the use of wires from China to purchase residential real estate throughout the region that was intended to be converted into indoor marijuana grows,” according to the DOJ release.
Phong is allegedly involved in three separate marijuana manufacture conspiracies, two of them involving Zhen Shang Lin and Li Juan Wang, both of Riverside. Lin and Wang, both 37, were charged earlier in 2018, according to the release.
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The scheme involved homes in Yuba and Sacramento counties, the release said. The money was laundered using wire transfers in China.
The DOJ says this is the third indictment resulting from “Operation Lights Out,” which has already led to 100 Sacramento-area homes being seized by or forfeited to the feds.
The case resulted from cooperative investigations by the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and the Internal Revenue Service. The Yuba County Sheriff’s Office also assisted.
Each money-laundering charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, and each marijuana-related charge carries up to 40 years and a $5 million fine, if convicted.