Raid turns up large marijuana operation
Two men and a woman are in custody in connection with an illegal marijuana grow and distribution cases that a Mesa County prosecutor said are suspected to be part of a large-scale cultivation operation.
Junhui Liu, 38, Hai Wan, 38, and Long Venh Luong, 62, are each facing drug distribution, cultivation and conspiracy charges after a Western Colorado Drug Task Force raid at 352 29 Road early Thursday morning turned up several hundred marijuana plants, according to court records.
Most records related to the case have been sealed, including search warrants. However, an arrest report for Luong said the 62-year-old was arrested Wednesday afternoon after a traffic stop near the intersection of Elm Avenue and Melody Lane.
In the back of the car, the deputy found five bags of stems, buds and leaves that weighed more than 43 pounds, the report said.
Luong allegedly said his friend had asked him to throw the marijuana away.
While authorities have said Luong’s case is connected with Liu’s and Wan’s, it’s not clear whether Luong’s arrest launched the investigation, or whether authorities had been looking into the home at 352 29 Road. An arrest report for Liu said that drug task force officers served the warrant at about 12:30 a.m. Thursday at the 2,100-square-foot house, which county records say is registered to a Hui C. Chao.
“Upon initial contact at the residence, Junhui Liu ... and Hai Qui Wan ... exited the upstairs apartment of the building on the north end of the property, closest to 29 Road,” the report said.
Authorities found five grow rooms in the house containing several hundred plants ranging from 4inches to 5 feet in height.
Liu, who was arraigned Thursday afternoon before Mesa County Judge Craig Henderson, owns a home in Mesa County and works as a chef at a local Thai-Chinese restaurant, according to Deputy Public Defender Tyler McAnelly. McAnelly asked for a personal-recognizance bond for Liu, citing his lack of a criminal history and apparent ties to Grand Junction.
Chief Deputy District Attorney David Waite asked for a high cash bond.
“All three of these individuals … are part of a larger conspiracy,” Waite said. “I am told we are talking about 100 pounds or more of marijuana. … All three of these individuals pose a huge public safety risk to the community.”
Henderson ordered Liu held on a $100,000 cash or surety bond.
Information about Wan and Luong is limited. Both appeared before Henderson Thursday afternoon, but problems with a remote interpreter — who spoke in Mandarin for Liu and Wan and into Cantonese for Luong — hampered an advisement of Wan and Luong’s charges.
Wan and Luong will return at 3 p.m. today to have bond set, according to Henderson’s division clerk.