SACRAMENTO — Hundreds of federal and local law enforcement agents have seized roughly 100 Northern California houses purchased with money wired to the United States by a Chinese-based crime organization and used to grow massive amounts of marijuana illegally, authorities said Wednesday.
The raids culminated a monthslong investigation focusing on dozens of Chinese nationals who bought homes in seven counties. Most of the buyers were in the country legally and were not arrested as authorities investigate if they were indebted to the gang and forced into the work, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said.
Much of the pot was shipped to Georgia, Illinois, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania through Atlanta, Chicago and New York City, he said. The drug is legal in California but requires permits to grow and can’t be sent across state lines. It is still banned by the U.S. government.
Black-market pot-growing houses have proliferated in the inland California region where authorities carried out the raids, and many of them were traced to Chinese criminal organizations from the Bay Area in the mid-2000s, Scott said. The high number of