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A Commerce City resident arrested in May 2019 as part of what has been described as the largest collective marijuana bust in Colorado history was sentenced to just over a year in prison last week.
Zhiming Wang, a 26-year-old Chinese national and legal resident of the United States, was arrested during an investigation by a black market marijuana production and distribution ring in eight counties. Wang had 809 marijuana plants and about 1.5 pounds of marijuana product in his Commerce City residence when the Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement officers raided him, according to the Justice Department, leading to the two-year investigation that resulted in 42 arrests as well as the destruction of over 80,000 illegal marijuana plants and 4,500 pounds of finished marijuana product.
“Growing marijuana is a violation of federal law,” said Jason Dunn, US attorney for Colorado District, in a sentence announcing Wang’s verdict. “Mr. Wang grew marijuana in a residential area without caring about the consequences. He was caught and is now paying the price.”
Found guilty of growing over thirty illegal marijuana crops can result in two to six years in prison in Colorado, while owning over 25 pounds of marijuana with the intention of distributing it can take eight to 32 years can. The federal charge for growing 100 to 999 marijuana plants is five to forty to four years in prison.
But Wang was only given fourteen months in federal prison and three years’ custody release, despite the fact that he was found to be growing marijuana “for the purpose of selling for a profit.”
According to his agreement with the US Attorney General and US Assistant Attorney Aaron M. Teitelbaum, Wang agreed to plead guilty to “maintaining a drug-related building related to the cultivation of marijuana” and
will “assist the government in all litigation” related to the investigation, according to records from the Colorado District Court.
Wang is the third participant in the marijuana crime ring whose verdict was announced by the DOJ. In February, Huanyu Yan and his wife, You Lan Xiang, were sentenced to the federal prison for their role in the operation. Authorities found 878 marijuana plants and 9.72 pounds of finished marijuana product in their Aurora home last year. As part of their plea agreements, Yan was given three years in prison, while Xiang was given thirty months.
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Thomas Mitchell has been writing about everything cannabis-related for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate, and general news en route to publications like the Republic of Arizona, Inman, and Fox Sports. He is currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.