Mason, Thurston Co. deputies bust large-scale, illegal marijuana growing operations

Deputies busted two large-scale illegal marijuana growing operations in Lacey and Shelton this week.

According to the Mason County Sheriff’s Office, they served search warrants on two properties Monday with help from Washington State Patrol and the Washington State Department of Ecology. The warrants are part of an ongoing investigating of large-scale growing operations, which authorities say are run by Chinese criminal organizations.

Image 1 of 3

(Mason County Sheriff's Office)

The grow operations produce a large amount of marijuana, authorities say, which is shipped to the East Coast and sold at a higher price—which funds further criminal activity in the U.S.

The sheriff’s office says homes in residential neighborhoods are converted into labs, in which an upwards of 75% of the rooms are turned into grow rooms.

Criminals knock down walls, put up new walls, add ventilation and filtration to mask the odor of the grow operations, authorities say. They run exposed electrical lines through each room of the house, which wire back to overloaded breaker boxes, while water and chemicals are stored right nearby.

The sheriff’s office says large amounts of chemicals are dumped into septic systems, waterways or wetlands, which produces mold in the house that is then ventilated back outside.

RELATED: Drug distributor for cartel sentenced to 9 years in prison

Get breaking news alerts in the FREE FOX 13 Seattle app. Download for Apple iOS or Android. And sign up for BREAKING NEWS emails delivered straight to your inbox.

The Department of Ecology joins authorities in these grow busts due to the cleanup work, which the sheriff’s office says can cost tens of thousands of dollars to remedy.