Federal officers raided nine Sacramento-area homes Wednesday, seized 7,750 marijuana plants and arrested nine suspects in an operation that began when an agent noticed unusually high electricity bills at some of the homes.
A criminal complaint filed in federal court in Sacramento on Thursday morning says Drug Enforcement Administration agents and other law enforcement officials began their raids at 6 a.m. Wednesday, using a Mandarin interpreter in some homes and seizing “evidence of sophisticated marijuana grows” that included plants, bags of pot, high power fans and lights.
The raids stretched from Roseville to Elverta to Elk Grove, court documents say, with huge amounts of plants found at each of the nine homes.
The investigation began last October, when DEA Special Agent Alicia Ramirez learned that three different Sacramento-area homes – all owned by suspect Xiu Ping Li – “were consuming an unusually high amount of electrical power per month, indicating that the residences were probably being used to manufacture marijuana,” according to an affidavit filed in federal court.
That led to a probe involving SMUD investigators, property record searches, surveillance and trash searches that culminated in Wednesday’s raid, the affidavit says.
Here, according to the affidavit, are the addresses and amounts of marijuana seized at each:
7810 Elsie Ave. in south Sacramento: 1,433 plants seized, along with 18 bags of processed marijuana.
8638 Bradshaw Road in Elk Grove: 790 plants seized.
2860 Central Ave. in Roseville: 1,406 plants seized.
10315 Baseline Road in Elverta: 1,131 plants seized.
4849 Ammolite Way in Elk Grove: 917 plants seized.
8114 Suarez Way in Elk Grove: 259 plants seized.
3433 La Cadena Way in the Natomas Creek area of Sacramento: 404 plants seized.
2752 52nd Ave. in the Woodbine neighborhood of south Sacramento: 976 plants seized.
8967 Sonoma Valley Way in the Vintage Park East neighborhood of south Sacramento: 434 plants seized.
The complaint charges nine suspects with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute controlled substances, manufacturing and possessing controlled substances with intent to distribute, and maintaining a place for the manufacture and distribution of controlled substances.
Court papers and Sacramento County jail booking records identify the suspects as:
Xiu Ping Li, a 40-year-old woman with a New Jersey driver’s license.
Gui Wen Pan, a 44-year-old man with New Jersey and Massachusetts driver’s licenses who was arrested in 1993 for illegal entry into the United States.
Yong Jie Lui, a 41-year-old man with a Louisiana driver’s license and a 2005 arrest for an immigration violation.
Dao Zhong Wei, a 48-year-old man with a Pennsylvania driver’s license.
Xiu Ru Li, a 44-year-old woman with a Pennsylvania driver’s license.
Guangzhao Li, a 35-year-old man with a New York driver’s license.
You An Li, a 52-year-old man with a Texas driver’s license.
Kong Liang Li, a 52-year-old man with a Texas driver’s license.
Chen Huang, a 35-year-old man with a New York driver’s license.
None of the suspects had a drug-related criminal history, court papers say.
The raids come as Sacramento city officials estimate there may be 1,000 illegal growing operations within city limits and as an ordinance is being drafted to limit legal residential marijuana growing to six plants per household. Commercial marijuana growing operations will be allowed with a city permit. Fees from those enterprises are expected to pay for additional police hiring to crack down on illegal grows.