Law enforcement shut down six indoor grow operations across North Georgia and seized more than $7 million in marijuana, according to authorities.
“Operations such as this are proof that large-scale drug networks are not just operating in Hall County, but are invading our quiet neighborhoods,” Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch said in a statement. “Among our biggest concerns in these types of cases is the fact that they occur in normal, residential neighborhoods and have the potential to bring violent crimes with them. I will continue to support multijurisdictional, interagency efforts such as this in order to make sure that our neighborhoods remain safe for our citizens to live in and raise their families.”
An estimated $7,168,900 of marijuana was seized, and another $329,735 in cash was seized or frozen in bank accounts. More than 300 pounds of marijuana and more than 1,500 plants were seized.
The first search was on Sept. 18 on Ashford Way in Gainesville, where the Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad found more than 500 plants, 36 bags of sealed marijuana weighing 59 pounds and 129 pounds of harvested marijuana.
An estimated $3,190,500 in marijuana was seized, as well as $6,992 in cash.
Five people were arrested: Minh Luong, 53, of Gainesville; Phi Ngoc Luong, 25, of Hoschton; Henry Nguyen, 48, of Gainesville; Hang Nguyen, 53, of Duluth; and Thao Phoung Nguyen, 26, of Hoschton.
The charges were manufacturing, trafficking and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
The FBI North Georgia Major Offender Task Force and the Georgia National Guard Counter Drug Task Force aided Hall County’s squad.
A search warrant was executed the same day in Barrow County on Beringer Drive, where more than 400 plants and $1,000,000 in marijuana were seized.
Three grow operations were found from Sept. 19-20 on Blanc Way in Braselton, Davis Bridge Drive in Gainesville and Shag Bark Trail in Gainesville.
Almost $36,000 in cash was frozen after a BB&T bank search warrant on Sept. 22, more than $237,000 was frozen in a Bank of America account Sept. 25 and almost $50,000 was seized Sept. 26 from a safety deposit box at Bank of America.
Lt. Don Scalia said the investigation started about three weeks prior to the first search warrant. When estimating the $7,168,900 street value, Scalia said each plant is expected to yield a pound of marijuana.
“This was higher-grade marijuana, so it’s about $4,500 per pound,” he said.
Trung Bui, 47, of Flowery Branch, was arrested by Jackson County authorities. Hall County issued warrants for manufacturing, trafficking and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
Nam Van Dao, 46, of Gainesville, and Binh Van Hoang, 52, of Flowery Branch were also arrested and charged with manufacturing and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
Thu Thi Phan, 50, of Flowery Branch, was arrested and charged with trafficking and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute.
Arrest warrants were issued for Vinh To, 63, Sen Thi Do, 46, and Dung Nguyen, 47, all of Flowery Branch.