Four people have been indicted for growing marijuana in seven houses in Elk Grove and Sacramento.
A federal grand jury in Sacramento returned a two-count indictment Wednesday, according to a federal Department of Justice news release. Charged with crimes related to cultivating marijuana in the houses are Zhiqiang Liu, 59, of Oakland; Shihong Chen, 47 and Qinghong Li, 44, both of San Francisco; and Jun Mou Peng, 39, whose city of residence was not listed.
According to court documents, on Jan. 30, law enforcement agents conducted searches and seized 2,912 marijuana plants, approximately 100 pounds of processed marijuana and more than $4,000 in cash. Agents found the defendants in grow houses and arrested them.
The four were arraigned Thursday and pleaded not guilty. A status conference is scheduled April 24 before U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller.
Seven other people also were arrested in the houses and face state drug trafficking charges, according to the news release.
According to the criminal complaint, the investigation began in April 2012 when investigators with the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District reported to law enforcement officers that a residence was using an unusually large amount of electricity, which is commonly seen in indoor marijuana grows, officials said.
The seven houses involved are at 8646 Everidge Court, 8270 Cliffcrest Drive, 35 Caina Court, 3713 45th Ave. and 6901 Pradera Mesa Drive, all in Sacramento; and at 9761 McKenna Drive and 8108 Gwerder Court in Elk Grove.
The case resulted from an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Elk Grove Police Department.