Law enforcement agencies at the state, local, and federal levels on both sides of the Columbia River joined forces for a huge drug bust Thursday in Clark County.
Police counted at least 43 arrests. That number is so large that Clark County prosecutors were considering a special arraignment schedule for this Friday.
Authorities say they collected at least 6,800 marijuana plants, worth at least $27 million.
The 16 law enforcement partners included the FBI and federal Drug Enforcement Agency. County investigators and sheriff’s offices from Multnomah, Clackamas, Clark, and Skamania counties helped, too.
The Washington State Police and city cops from Vancouver, Washougal, and Camas chipped in on a record number of search warrants in Southwest Washington. Kim Kapp is the spokeswoman for the Clark-Skamania Drug Task Force.
“We had about 300 law enforcement personnel go out on 56 individual search warrants of 56 individual residences involved in this one case of drug distribution — basically, organized crime,” she said.
Kapp says authorities believe a Vietnamese drug cartel is behind the massive indoor marijuana growing operation. She says it involves dozens of homes in Clark County, but reaches well beyond the Northwest.
“So, a multi-state effort, spanning across the country – and Clark County clearly was a hub for this organization to be able to grow their supply,” Kapp explained.
Officials say the investigation is continuing, and more arrests could follow. For now, Clark County is handling prosecution, but it could go to state or federal attorneys.