California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Thursday that 14 arrests had been made across three states in connection with a multi-state drug trafficking ring.
The operation also seized 1,300 pounds of processed marijuana, eight firearms, $415,855 in cash, $35,000 in gold bars and silver coins and three generators worth $20,000, a press release stated.
“At the California Department of Justice, our special agents target criminal enterprises running drugs, guns and human beings up and down California,” Harris said. “In this case, we have shut down a large-scale drug trafficking operation that went beyond California’s borders.”
On March 8, the Mountain and Valley Marijuana Investigation Team, a California Department of Justice drug task force, received a tip concerning a large crate being shipped from West Sacramento to Chicago via a private shipping company. Upon investigation, MAVMIT found 80 pounds of high-grade marijuana.
The empty crate was then shipped to Chicago, where authorities followed Dylan Hudson and Jon Stansfield to Milwaukee, Wis. The two individuals were arrested, resulting in the team recovering an additional 120 pounds of marijuana and $300,000 in cash. Both are in custody in Chicago.
Hudson, 26, was charged by a federal grand jury with conspiring to grow, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute, announced in a press release from U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner and the Office of Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Clark Settles. According to court filings, Hudson was in charge of the drug trafficking ring.
If convicted, he faces a statutory mandatory minimum prison term of five years and a maximum prison term of 40 years and a $5 million fine, Lauren Horwood, spokesperson for the United States Attorney, Eastern District of California, said in the same press release.
Stansfield is being held in custody pending federal charges.
The same day, a search warrant was served on Hudson’s Placerville ranch, where 946 pounds of processed marijuana, 2 pounds of hash, eight firearms, $100,000 in cash, $35,000 in silver bars and gold coins, three generators and two all-terrain vehicles were seized. The property, worth an estimated $300,000, was seized.
Eleven other adults were also arrested in California in connection with the ring. According to the press release, they had been employed to trim and process the marijuana, being paid $250-$400 per pound. Those arrested face felony charges of cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sales, sales and trafficking of marijuana, conspiracy, and being armed in the commission of a felony. They were booked into El Dorado County Jail.
The investigation also identified a large Pilot Hill ranch as also belonging to the ring. A search warrant revealed an indoor marijuana growing operation, packaging materials for shipping marijuana and 73 pounds of processed marijuana. The property, worth an estimated $450,000, was seized.
Through the investigation of the ranch, agents identified Kenneth Hayes as being involved with the ring. He was arrested by MAVMIT agents without incident at Sacramento International Airport upon his return from Wisconsin on felony charges of cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sales, sales and trafficking of marijuana and conspiracy. He was booked into El Dorado County Jail. A condo belonging to Hayes located in Indonesia, worth an estimated $17,000, was seized.
Several bank accounts connected to the drug trafficking organization were also seized.
MAVMIT is currently seeking federal indictments on the 13 individuals in custody. They are currently being held on state charges.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations in Sacramento, Chicago and Milwaukee, Wis.; the California Department of Justice; the Mountain and Valley Marijuana Investigation Team; the Chicago Police Department; El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department; and the Dane County, Wis., Sheriff’s Department all took part in the investigation of the ring.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Thomas and Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin Lee, Alex Lozada, and David Petersen are prosecuting the case.