By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Law enforcement estimated a sizable investment was made – as much as $50,000 – in an indoor growing operation on rural property just outside Centralia, where they seized almost 30 pounds of marijuana from an outbuilding.
The 23-year-old resident who allegedly cultivated and trimmed the plants was charged in Lewis County Superior Court yesterday with two felonies in connection with the find.
Ivan C. Spain Hanson was brought before a judge yesterday afternoon, after spending a night in the Lewis County Jail.
Hanson has no criminal history, not even a speeding ticket in his past, defense attorney Joely O’Rourke told the judge as bail was discussed.
He earns about $4,000 per month working at a distributor called Green Leaf Industries in Thurston County, O’Rourke said, indicating that meant he didn’t qualify for a court appointed lawyer.
His case was pursued by the Lewis County Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team.
Hanson is charged with manufacture of marijuana and also possession of marijuana with intent to manufacture or deliver, both class C felonies with maximum penalties of five years in prison.
Charging documents don’t make any mention of where he may have planned to market the product.
Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt when he learned the defendant was employed in the marijuana industry pondered aloud how to tailor the conditions of release, which generally order that a person pending trial may not use or possess illegal drugs.
“Do not have any on your person while you’re away from the job site,” Hunt told him. “And do not use any, on or off the job site.”
While producing and selling recreational cannabis have been legalized in Washington, following the 2012 passage by voters of Initiative 502, businesses must be licensed through the state Liquor and Cannabis Board.
Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello said Hanson did not have any kind of license for his operation.
The property is on the 1200 block of Roswell Road, on the east side of town on land just adjacent to the city that sits in unincorporated Lewis County.
Details in court documents are few, suggesting JNET began the investigation “in 2016”. A detective who went to the location could smell the strong odor of growing marijuana coming from the buildings.
Records showed exceptionally high amounts of electricity were being used there. A search warrant for the home and outbuildings was obtained on Monday.
Masiello wrote in charging documents that 150 plant were found in the larger building, and one room appeared to have just been harvested. Marijuana was found inside large trash bags, he wrote.
The preliminary weight of what detectives confiscated was 29 pounds.
Given the growing equipment they found, it appeared $40,000 to $50,000 had been invested in the facility, Masiello wrote.
Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Bohm made mention to the judge a gun was found in Hanson’s vehicle, when she addressed the question of bail.
O’Rourke noted his car was located elsewhere, with the weapon inside, not at the property and not with Hanson. Hanson had a license for the .22 caliber Walthur, according to O’Rourke.
Judge Hunt allowed the defendant release on a $10,000 unsecured bond. He ordered him to return to court next Thursday.
The illegal grow find comes on the heels of a similar case.
Two individual appeared before the same judge on Wednesday, also charged with manufacture of marijuana.
According to the allegations in court documents in that case, a Renton woman purchased a building described only as on Tower Avenue in Centralia – with recently darkened windows – for the purpose of of growing marijuana.
A detective with tips from citizens, including one who reported smelling marijuana, contacted the driver of a black BMW parked there this past spring.
Anh Tuan Hoang Nguyen, 33, of Centralia, provided the detective with an authorization form and allowed him inside, where he said he had 25 plants.
The detective was shown a room with about 25 plants, but then behind two doorways found rooms with about 80 more plants.
Nguyen told the detective he sold five to six pounds of marijuana every three to six weeks, and that he was growing it for a dispensary in Seattle. When asked about money, he handed over $6,605 he said were proceeds.
Charges were filed on July 1, following the JNET investigation, and Nguyen and his mother were summonsed to court. His mother is named in court documents as Mai Anh Hoang Nguyen, 54 years old.
They arrived to court on Wednesday afternoon with a lawyer and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Judge Hunt set their bail with $10,000 unsecured bonds. Their trials are set for the week of Oct. 13.
Neither the city of Centralia nor Lewis County have yet issued any approvals for growers, processors or retailers of marijuana.