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$6 million in Oregon properties forfeited due to illegal marijuana trafficking

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(The Center Square) – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon forfeited 14 properties located in Oregon — worth over $5.7 million. The properties had been used to illegally grow marijuana for redistribution and sale in other states, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Additionally, an owner of a 15th property will pay the government $400,000 instead of forfeiting their property.

From an unknown time until September 2021, properties in Clatsop, Columbia, Linn, Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties were used as illegal marijuana grow houses by a drug trafficking organization.

Fayao “Paul” Rong, 53, of Houston, Texas, led that interstate organization. Rong was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison, plus five years of supervised release, in July 2023.

“This prosecution and yearslong effort to forfeit properties used by the Rong organization to grow and process thousands of pounds of marijuana demonstrate the long reach of our commitment to holding drug traffickers accountable and mitigating the damage these criminal organizations inflict on neighborhoods and communities,” Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, said in a statement.

Rong bought many residential houses in Oregon using different identities. He and others in his organization used them to grow marijuana and transport it to states that haven’t legalized it to sell it.

The organization trafficked over $13.2 million of black market marijuana in the 12-month period starting in August 2020.

Law enforcement took action against Rong’s organization in September 2021. It executed search warrants on 25 Oregon residences, plus Rong’s Houston home. During its investigation, it seized nearly 33,000 marijuana plants, 1,800 pounds of packaged marijuana, 23 firearms, nine vehicles, $20,000 in money orders, and over $591,000 in cash, the release said.

The investigation was triggered after many residences had excessive electricity use, causing transformer explosions.

Citizens complained that they thought the houses were being used for a black-market marijuana operation.

Law enforcement found associated marijuana grows in Clatsop, Columbia, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, and Polk Counties. Rong was arrested in Houston in February 2022.

Proceeds from forfeited assets go to the Justice Department’s Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF). AFF uses that money to restore funds to crime victims and for various law enforcement purposes.