FARMINGTON – Law enforcement officers arrested 17 people at a local motel and booked them into jail last Friday morning for allegedly trafficking marijuana.
The suspects were allegedly trimming marijuana plants in multiple rooms as marijuana was being stored in several other rooms in the motel, according to court records.
Savang Jing, Guoyun Liao, Ji Kan, Hao Tan, Si Qin, Qi You Li, Qin Liang Wang, Jing Jiao Qin, Wei Wen, Pin Hui Gu, Bi Xie, Jin Qin, Zhiqiang Tan, Lian Jiang, Chon Ying Huang, Chun Xiong and Xiao Xia Si were arrested by law enforcement at the Travel Inn motel at 1510 W. Main St. in Farmington, just west of the Walmart.
The suspects are all charged with a second-degree felony count of trafficking controlled substances along with fourth-degree felony counts of distribution/possession with intent to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to commit distribution of a controlled substance.
San Juan County Adult Detention Center records show they were booked into the county jail in the early morning hours of Oct. 9. The suspects did not have legal representation on Tuesday morning.
Capt. Kevin Burns of the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office told The Daily Times the investigation is taking time due to language barriers as the suspects speak different dialects in the Chinese language, as well as other languages from Asia.
Burns oversees the Region II Narcotics Task Force and Sgt. Garrett Morris of the Sheriff’s Office is an operations supervisor for the narcotics task force. Region II agents assisted in the investigation of the drug bust.
Law enforcement was dispatched around 5:48 p.m. last Thursday to the Travel Inn after a woman reported seeing a man move marijuana from his vehicle into a motel room, according to the probable cause statement for Xiao Xia Si. The woman complained of the strong smell of marijuana coming from multiple vehicles with California license plates in the parking lot.
A Farmington Police Department sergeant approached motel room 112, and a man opened the door. The sergeant could smell and see large amounts of marijuana on the floor. The occupants were ordered to exit the room, and it was sealed as investigators prepared a search warrant. The occupants of rooms 115 and 215 were also ordered out after marijuana was discovered in those rooms. Suspects in rooms 112, 115 and 215 also were charged in the case. A detective noted that it appeared the marijuana was being stored and prepared for sale.
Jail records show most of the suspects arrested are from Los Angeles.
Black, heavy-duty plastic was laid on the floor of those three rooms, with what appeared to be marijuana laid on top. Large amounts of the substance were spread out on plastic tarps in four other rooms. One motel room had more than 25 large, heavy-duty trash bags full of marijuana. A test by investigators confirmed it was marijuana, according to court documents.
Guoyun Liao was allegedly identified by one of the suspects as being in charge of the operation. Liao was listed by the motel as the “owner” of 19 rooms at the Travel Inn, according to court documents. He requested an attorney after being read his rights and was not interviewed.
Burns said the marijuana seized from the motel was the largest amount in recent history by Region II investigators in the county.
Neither the charging documents nor Burns specified the quantity of marijuana seized.