Chinese National Detained After Major Georgia Drug Bust

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained a Chinese national in the south Georgia countryside last week in a major illegal marijuana operation. A total of four Chinese nationals were apprehended in the Pierce County bust.

According to Sheriff Ramsey Bennett, three of the Chinese suspects appeared to be in the U.S. legally. The fourth, however, was taken into custody by ICE officials on suspicions of being an illegal migrant involved in a drug operation.

Law enforcement apparently got quite the surprise when they moved in on the operation Tuesday.

According to the Georgia Department of Agriculture, they expected to uncover a facility used to illegally process food. Instead, they stumbled onto a major international drug trafficking operation.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department charged Zhu Sheng Bing, Jinpeng Ma, Chenhui Shu and Wei Sheng Deng. Each faces counts of felony possession of marijuana and felony marijuana trafficking.

Further charges are expected and all were denied bond.

The suspects were at the center of what county officials describe as the largest indoor marijuana growing operation in its history. Nearly $22.5 million in illegal pot plants were confiscated.

Pierce County officials had been investigating the operation for four weeks after receiving a tip that the building housed an illegal food manufacturing facility. The company that operated the facility is HG LLC.

The people running the outfit reportedly had ties with Houston and Staten Island. The operation is believed to have been in place since 2022.

Expecting something completely different, law enforcement entered the premises and discovered over 11,000 marijuana plants growing.

Georgia Agricultural Commissioner Tyler Harper described the illegal business as very high-tech. He added that the growing facility may be part of a crime syndicate in place nationally.

Harper said it was “very sophisticated.” It involved “hundreds of thousands of dollars in infrastructure in the facility and, as the sheriff mentioned, ties back to New York and Houston, which is indicative of a national crime syndicate.”

The bust was carried out by local officials, but federal investigators are expected to get involved. Chinese marijuana growing operations have been uncovered in states from Maine to Colorado.