Police seized 49 pounds of high-grade marijuana worth $245,000 in a series of raids this week that also netted more than $60,000 in cash and nine guns, including military-style rifles.
The North Charleston police narcotics unit launched the investigation in May and uncovered a sprawling operation that imported potent, pricey pot from the West Coast, Sgt. Brian Adams said. Investigators suspect the marijuana was grown in states like California, where it’s legal, and shipped here to take advantage of the higher price point.
Police hit 11 locations around the Charleston area in a series of pre-dawn raids Tuesday morning, Lt. Greg Gomes said.
Arrested that day were two suspects whom police identified as the ringleaders of the scheme. They are Summerville residents Thong Ho, 39, and Jackie Nguyen, 40. Both are charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, police said.
Ho remains in the Charleston County jail, with bail set at $250,000. Nguyen was released from the Dorchester County jail on Wednesday after posting $15,000 in bail, authorities said.
Nine others were arrested as well in the operation, though investigators have not released those names. They were arrested on charges ranging from simple possession to marijuana trafficking, police said.
Ho and Nguyen traveled back and forth to California and allegedly arranged for shipments of weed to be delivered to an assortment of rented houses, businesses and other locations in the Tri-County area, Detective Jason Roy said. They used hired-hands to distance themselves from the dope and spread out their shipments and supplies to avoid being caught with large quantities of marijuana, he said.
The investigation started after North Charleston police came across some high-test weed in May. Their investigation led them to Nguyen and Ho, Gomes said. Sheriff’s offices in Charleston, Dorchester and Dorchester counties participated in the investigation and raids, as did Goose Creek police.