A federal jury in Oklahoma City has convicted two Chinese nationals, Jeff Weng and Tong Lin, of a major drug trafficking conspiracy involving black-market marijuana.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma announced the convictions on January 19, 2024, following a decisive two-day trial.
Jeff Weng, 46, a resident of both China and Brooklyn, New York, and Tong Lin, 28, of China, were found guilty of conspiring to possess and distribute large quantities of marijuana. The duo’s operation involved trafficking nearly 28 tons of black-market marijuana from an Oklahoma grow facility, licensed by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority.
The trial, which concluded after just an hour of jury deliberation, revealed a sophisticated and extensive drug trafficking operation.
Between December 2022 and May 2023, Weng managed a marijuana grow in Wetumka, Oklahoma, while Lin oversaw operations in Weng’s absence.
Testimonies highlighted their use of disguised delivery vans, including one masquerading as an “Amazon” van, to transport marijuana from Wetumka to a stash house in Oklahoma City.
From there, the drugs were distributed to the East Coast via semi-truck, totaling over 56,000 pounds shipped.
A critical raid in May 2023 led to the discovery of 19,661 marijuana plants, over $100,000 in vacuum-sealed cash, and a firearm at the Wetumka facility.
U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester emphasized that a state license to grow marijuana does not authorize black-market trafficking. He praised the diligent efforts of law enforcement and prosecutors in bringing the defendants to justice.
“Simply put, these defendants engaged in an orchestrated trafficking scheme to flood communities with illegal drugs,” Troester said.
The FBI, along with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, led the investigation as part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) initiative.
FBI Oklahoma City Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Gray stressed the national impact of Oklahoma’s illegal marijuana industry and its connection to violent gangs.
“Oklahoma has one of the largest illegal marijuana industries in the United States, and the FBI recognizes the devastating impact these illicit operations have on our economy and the safety of our communities,” said Gray.
Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Director Donnie Anderson highlighted the significance of the case in sending a clear message against black market marijuana trafficking in the state.
“My agency is committed to working alongside our federal partners to identify and dismantle these trafficking organizations that try to hide and operate within Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program,” Anderson said.
The United States is set to seek forfeiture of the Wetumka Grow property and the seized cash during the upcoming sentencing.
Weng and Lin face a mandatory minimum of 10 years to life in federal prison, along with potential fines up to $10 million each.
The case, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Wilson D. McGarry and David Nichols, Jr., underscores the continued efforts against high-level drug trafficking and criminal networks in the United States.