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Four Chinese citizens arrested after $22.5 million marijuana facility discovered

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Georgia law enforcement officials thought they were raiding an illegal food manufacturing plant until they discovered a marijuana factory worth $22.5 million last week, authorities said Tuesday.

Four Chinese nationals have been arrested in connection with an illegal marijuana grow facility in Pierce County. The suspects were identified as Zhu Sheng Bing, Jinpeng Ma, Chenhui Shu, and Wei Sheng Deng and were taken into custody.

They are each charged with felony possession of marijuana. Additional human trafficking charges are expected to be filed, authorities said.

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Jinpeng Ma (left), Chenghui Xu Zhu, Shen Bin and Wei Shen Deng, all Chinese nationals, illegally cultivated millions of dollars worth of cannabis plants in rural Georgia. He was arrested on suspicion. Deng Xiaoping is in the United States illegally. (Pierce County Sheriff’s Office)

“The agricultural industry is not immune to criminal activity,” Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper said at a press conference announcing the raid. “I always say, just like water takes the easiest path, sometimes criminal activity takes its place.”

According to the arrest booking report, Deng Xiaoping is being detained by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE). The remaining three were in the United States legally, authorities said.

They are all being held without bail.

Harper said the investigation into the alleged rural food manufacturing facility began four weeks ago. Pierce County Sheriff Ramsey Bennett said people at the facility allegedly told undercover investigators that they were growing “edible food.”

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Marijuana planted at facility in Georgia

Georgia authorities say they found more than 11,000 marijuana plants at an illegal facility. (Georgia Department of Agriculture)

The raid came as authorities executed a search warrant last week and allegedly found more than 11,000 marijuana plants inside the facility.

The facility has been in operation since 2022, Bennett said.

“We know people within the organization that we know well here in the county. They have connections to people from Staten Island (New York) to the Houston metropolitan area,” the sheriff said.

Marijuana cultivation facility

A Pierce County facility had thousands of marijuana plants planted when deputies searched the building. (Georgia Department of Agriculture)

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“This wasn’t your average South Georgia country guy with a few plants in his backyard or a few plants in his closet,” he added. “It’s much more than that.”

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