A Commerce City resident arrested in May 2019 as part of what law enforcement described as the largest collective marijuana bust in Colorado history was sentenced to just over a year in federal prison last week.
Zhiming Wang, a 26-year-old Chinese national and lawful resident of the United States, was arrested as part of an eight-county investigation into a black market marijuana production and distribution ring. Wang had 809 marijuana plants and around 1.5 pounds of marijuana product at his Commerce City residence when the Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement raided it, according to the Department of Justice, which led to the two-year investigation that resulted in 42 arrests as well as the destruction of over 80,000 illegal marijuana plants and 4,500 pounds of finished marijuana product.
“The cultivation of marijuana is a violation of federal law,” Jason Dunn, U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, said in a sentence announcing Wang's sentence. “Mr. Wang grew marijuana in a residential neighborhood without concern for the consequences. He was caught and is now paying the price.”
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Being found guilty of cultivating over thirty illegal marijuana plants can carry two to six years in prison in Colorado, while possessing over 25 pounds of marijuana with the intent to distribute can bring eight to 32 years. Federal charges for the cultivation of 100 to 999 marijuana plants carries five to forty to years in prison.
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But Wang received just fourteen months in federal prison and three years of supervised release, despite it being determined that he operated the marijuana grow "for the purpose of selling it for profit."
Per his agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office and Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron M. Teitelbaum, Wang agreed to plead guilty for "maintaining a drug involved premises related to the cultivation of marijuana" and
will "assist the government in all proceedings" related to the the investigation, according to U.S. District Court of Colorado documents.
Wang is the third participant in the marijuana crime ring whose sentence has been announced by the DOJ. In February, Huanyu Yan and his wife, You Lan Xiang, were sentenced to federal prison for their roles in the operation; authorities found 878 marijuana plants and 9.72 pounds of finished marijuana product in their Aurora home last year. Under their plea deals, Yan received three years in federal prison, while Xiang received thirty months.