Five people are facing federal drug-trafficking charges after the discovery of an underground marijuana growing operation in this town, 15 miles southeast of Moses Lake.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and Grant County sheriff’s deputies seized 2,000 plants in the 200 block of Airport Way at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The crop had a street value of between $1.6 million and $2 million, Sheriff William Wiester said.
Arrested were: Daniel Staat, 35; Thomas Grant Oliphant, 33; Guadalupe Tapia Paez, 33; and James Clifford Denton, 55, all of Moses Lake; and Gregory Haynes, 36 of Warden.
The bust follows a three-year investigation, which began in 1994 with a 2,200-plant seizure in Stanwood, Wash., by the Snohomish Regional Narcotics Task Force. That led to information on a statewide network of marijuana operations, authorities said.
Investigations continue in Snohomish and Spokane counties.
“We’ve taken out some of the major players,” Wiester said. “The 1994 investigation obviously was the tip of the iceberg.”
The marijuana found Wednesday was being grown in trailers buried in a field. Authorities believe it was intended for sale in Spokane and Seattle.
The underground farm, cultivated since 1989, was capable of producing three crops per year, authorities said.
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