Handcuffs

Four men each pleaded not guilty Friday in Skagit County Superior Court to multiple drug charges that came after a yearlong investigation resulted in the seizure of thousands of illegally grown marijuana plants, hundreds of pounds of processed marijuana and more than $1 million in cash.

Weisheng Li, Jiaben Chen, and brothers Guang Sheng Luo and Guang Cia Luo each pleaded not guilty to one count of money laundering, manufacturing a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver, conspiracy to manufacture and/or deliver, and maintaining a vehicle or premises for drug trafficking.

The brothers, the alleged leaders of the group, also pleaded not guilty to one count each of leading organized crime.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, an investigation by the State Patrol and the Skagit County drug task force revealed the brothers owned several Mount Vernon residences that were being used to grow and process marijuana.

Skagit County prosecutor Trisha Johnson has alleged that marijuana from the group was headed for the East Coast, where it would sell for between $4,000 and $5,000 per pound.

Documents state that while the brothers ran and funded the operation, Li and Chen were the main tenders of the plants and mentored others on how to do the same, documents state.

As of Friday, Li and Chen were each being held in the Skagit County Community Justice Center on $250,000 bail. They attended their court hearings via Zoom, while the brothers, who were each released after posting $500,000 bail, appeared in person.

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141, kwanielista@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kera_SVH, facebook.com/KeraReports

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