A 30-year-old Houston man pleaded guilty this week in Portland federal court to organizing and leading a multimillion-dollar conspiracy to traffic marijuana grown in Portland to Texas, federal prosecutors said Friday.
According to court documents, 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 the investigation, federal authorities have seized about 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.
Jody Tremayne Wafer pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count each of conspiring to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and distribute marijuana, maintaining drug-involved premises and using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
Conspiring to manufacture, possess with intent to distribute, and distribute marijuana and maintaining drug involved premises carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, a $5 million fine and a lifetime of supervised release. Using or carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime carries a maximum sentence of life in prison with a mandatory minimum of seven years, a $250,000 fine and five years’ supervised release.
Wafer will be sentenced on Jan. 8, 2020 before U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Jones.
As part of his plea agreement, Wafer has agreed to forfeit any criminally derived proceeds and property used to facilitate his crimes identified by the government prior to sentencing.
Co-defendants Trent Lamar Knight, 31, and Brittany Lesanta Kizzee, 29, also of Houston; Paul Eugene Thomas, 39, and Raleigh Dragon Lau, 33, both of Portland; and Cole William Griffiths, 31, of Hood River have all pleaded guilty on related charges. Knight and Kizzee with be sentenced on Oct. 22 and Jan. 7, 2020, respectively; Lau and Thomas will be sentenced on Dec.10 and 18, respectively; and Griffiths will be sentenced on Nov. 20.
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.