In Sacramento, during several police raids, houses housing cannabis crops have been found to be held by Chinese nationals. Some did not speak English and were reluctant to help the investigators.
A recent indictment indicates where the funds are coming from. Money from a southern Chinese bank account was transferred to California. These amounts were used to pay down payments on houses that would later become places of cannabis cultivation.
"These are sophisticated operations," said Thomas Yu, an Asian gang investigator in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. “When we hear about Asian gangs, we think of young people doing drive-by shootings. It's not like that. They are organized ad hoc enterprises run by businessmen. They are there for profit. "
In Colorado, police also arrested Chinese nationals involved in this underground culture. These cultures are sometimes distant from major cities. An example: Garfield County in the northwest corner of Colorado.
Last year Garfield's sheriff Lou Vallario and his assistants raided an illegal cannabis farm, arresting 14 suspects. To Vallario's surprise, all were Chinese citizens.
Cannabis cultivation has always involved nationals of countries all over the world. However, Chinese operators appear to be expanding their production.
Whether it's California, Yolo County, Roseville or Elk Gove, or the Sacramento area, Yuba County, and even Nevada or Colorado, arrests and trials are on the rise. In all cases, Chinese migrants are involved, settling in quiet suburbs.
During three separate raids in September, authorities in Yolo County, California, and the cities of Roseville and Elk Grove arrested 13 Chinese immigrants during raids.
In some cases, thousands of cannabis plants have been seized, along with weapons and thousands of dollars. In July, a federal jury in Nevada convicted 66-year-old Chinese man, Jianguo Han. He was accused of running a large-scale cannabis production operation at two Las Vegas homes.
A month earlier, Colorado indicted five Chinese immigrants and 69 others. They are believed to have participated in what Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has called "the largest illegal cannabis trafficking ring" since the state legalized it in 2015.
Coffman and other law enforcement officials say illegal cannabis growers are targeting states like Colorado and California on the assumption that they can operate in the shadows of commercial businesses that are licensed to legally cultivate the cannabis. plant.
"This is a prime example that the black market in marijuana has not gone away since recreational marijuana was legalized in our state," Coffman said.
These Asian gangs are ad hoc companies organized and run by businessmen. They can reap huge profits. A single house can produce three crops per year. This makes a million dollars or more, depending on the size of the crop and the quality of the bud. Cannabis is being shipped to markets on the East Coast, a possible reason Chinese immigrants from New York City were recently arrested in raids in the Sacramento area.
Chinese people become stateless
Many are experienced farmers, aged between 50 and 60 years old. They came from the poorest Chinese provinces. Some have been smuggled into the United States, but many arrive with Chinese passports.
They were granted B-1 or B-2 visas, allowing them to stay in the United States for up to six months. In the event of an arrest, they often provide little assistance to investigators, even when Mandarin translators are brought in.
After their arrest, they can not return in China. Indeed, they are considered fugitive criminals. Regularly, they report themselves to an immigration officer and continue with their lives. But they have no legal status. Some are stateless. Their Chinese passports have expired.