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2 Oregon men plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute pot


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Two men who grew marijuana in Oregon and shipped it to Texas, Virginia and Florida have entered guilty pleas in federal court to marijuana distribution and money-laundering conspiracy charges.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland says Cole Griffiths of Hood River and Raleigh Lau of Portland pleaded guilty Monday.

Prosecutors say Griffiths shipped pot to Florida that was cultivated and stored in Hood River. He concealed the drug proceeds by smuggling cash back to Oregon in the mail or in luggage on commercial flights. He also concealed proceeds through vehicle sales.

Prosecutors say Lau manufactured over 1,000 marijuana plants and conspired to ship them for sale in Texas and Virginia.

Two other defendants have pleaded guilty. Another is set to plead guilty while a final defendant has a trial set.

None of those charged were licensed by the state to grow marijuana.

News release from the US Attorney’s Office:


PORTLAND, Ore.–In related criminal cases, Cole Williams Griffiths and Raleigh Dragon Lau pleaded guilty today for their roles in a conspiracy to traffic marijuana grown in Hood River, Oregon and Portland to Virginia, Texas, and Florida.

Drug proceeds, in the form of bulk U.S. currency, were returned to Oregon via U.S. mail and passenger luggage on commercial airlines. As part of this investigation, federal authorities have seized approximately 11,000 marijuana plants, 546 pounds of processed marijuana, more than $2.8 million in cash, 51 firearms, 26 vehicles, trailers, pieces of heavy equipment, a yacht, and three houses used as marijuana grow sites, all since August 2017.

Griffiths, 30, of Hood River, and Lau, 33, of Portland, both pleaded guilty to conspiring to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and distribute marijuana, maintaining drug-involved premises, and money laundering.

Conspiring to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and distribute marijuana and maintaining drug involved premises carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $10 million fine, and a lifetime of supervised release. Money laundering carries a max sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years’ supervised release.

Griffiths and Lau will be sentenced on August 5 and 7, 2019, respectively, before U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Jones.

As part of their plea agreements, Griffiths and Lau have agreed to forfeit any criminally-derived proceeds and property used to facilitate his crimes identified by the government prior to sentencing.

Co-defendants Brittany Lesanta Kizzee, 28, of Houston, Texas and Paul Eugene Thomas, 38, of Portland, pleaded guilty on November 27, 2018 and April 10, 2019, respectively. Thomas will be sentenced on August 6, 2019, and Kizzee will be sentenced on August 7, 2019. Co-defendant Trent Lamar Knight, 30, of Houston, is scheduled to plead guilty on May 8, 2019. Finally, co-defendant Jody Tremayne Wafer, 29, of Houston, is scheduled for trial on June 18, 2019.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

This case was brought as part of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, the centerpiece of the department’s strategy for reducing the availability of drugs in the U.S. OCDETF was established in 1982 to mount a comprehensive attack on drug trafficking by disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in coordination with state and local law enforcement.

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