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A coast-to-coast crew of black market cannabis distributors was busted by federal authorities this week, after prosecutors say the men trafficked more than 100,000 of weed, paraphernalia, and accessories.
According to the New York Daily News, the San Francisco and Las Vegas-based operation moved tens of thousands of pounds of pot on tractor trailers. Since February 2015, feds say they sent more than 200 semi-truck loads to Queens, New York, with the weed concealed in boxes labeled with fake business names like “Furniture Brothers,” “Coastal Designs,” and “New Century Design.”
To get the stacks of cash back to the West Coast after unloading their weed on the East, police say the indicted men used connections at commercial airlines to sneak huge sums of cash past transportation security.
But after at least four years of alleged criminal enterprise, court papers indicate that it was that same airport insider that eventually caused the downfall of the entire operation. The unnamed airline worker and co-conspirator became a federal informant at the request of Homeland Security investigators, eventually wearing a wire and turning on the whole crew.
Thanks to their new informant, federal police arrested San Francisco resident Kenneth Tam, 35, and Jack Thai, 39, who lives in Las Vegas. But while prosecutors are confident that they’ve detained two high ranking members of the illicit operation, police say that the leader of the cannabis distribution ring, Kevin Lau, 34, is still at large, despite warrants out for his arrest.
Gallery — Photos of Cops Smoking Weed:
In addition to the West Coast busts, police raided the organization’s stash warehouse in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, New York, where they arrested a man named Alexander Crispi, who quickly pled guilty to participating in the drug trafficking scheme.
As states like California and Nevada continue to refine their legal cannabis markets, local and federal authorities have shifted focus to the black market, with similar raids on illicit grow operations and cross-country transportation making headlines every week.
Tam and Thai have since been released from holding on bond while they await trial. Police are still searching for Lau.
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