Big Rifle grow operation leads to New Castle pot find
Authorities have arrested 48-year-old Hueng Yu Wong, who they say led a major illegal marijuana grow operation outside Rifle that was busted last year, and they have charged him in a new case stemming from another illegal marijuana grow found south of New Castle.
The property near Rifle was busted with about 2,420 marijuana plants, and 14 Chinese nationals were detained by law enforcement at that location last year.
Sheriff Lou Vallario said that Wong does not have any local charges against him in the Rifle grow operations case, as the case was turned over to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. Details about any federal charges against him in the Rifle bust were not available on Friday, as the DEA’s office was closed in observance of Veterans Day.
However, the DEA investigation found that Wong also owned another property, about 40 acres, south of New Castle.
A DEA agent flew over the property this summer “and observed there appeared to be a large amount of marijuana plants growing in rows on the property,” according to an arrest affidavit.
The agent also found Wong’s primary residence on Rifle Heights Drive.
Agents from the DEA and Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team executed search warrants at both locations.
Officers found no one at the property south of New Castle, but they did find what appeared to be lots of marijuana soon after harvest, according to an affidavit.
“When we got to the main hallway in the home I observed there were several black 50-gallon trash bags sitting in the hallway blocking the hallway,” a TRIDENT officer reported. “I observed some of the bags were opened and I could see clear plastic bags inside with a green leafy substance inside I recognized as being consistent with marijuana.”
The officer continued that “all of the bags were full of marijuana packaged in clear vacuum-sealed bags in what appeared to be [half-pound] to [one-pound] quantities.”
Officer estimated that these bags collectively weighed 250 to 300 pounds.
“Also located inside the home were several documents with the name of Hueng Wong on them listed as the owner of the property.”
Outside the house, officers did not find any marijuana growing, but they did find a couple of open spaces lined with open holes in the ground of about 1 to 2 feet across, spaced about 3 to 4 feet apart.
Each was about 6 inches to a foot deep. Water piping was around this area.
They counted 713 holes, which the TRIDENT officer believed would have been consistent with the amount of marijuana found in the house.
At the Rifle Heights Drive house, officers also found more trash bags containing marijuana in vacuum-sealed bags, altogether weighing about 50 pounds.
When an officer contacted Wong, he said that his son lived at the house, though the son was at school at that time.
He ultimately was also charged with misdemeanor child abuse because the marijuana was not secured to keep the son from accessing it.
Officers also found several firearms in the house, including an AK-74 semiautomatic rifle, an AR-15, a 12-gauge shotgun, another rifle, four handguns, a Smith and Wesson .410 governor and three .22 pistols.
Wong was arrested on felony possession of a dangerous weapon, felony possession of more than 40 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute and misdemeanor child abuse.