By Gabriel Rom
Six suspects are facing up to five-and-a-half years in prison after getting caught with more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana, worth over $3.5 million, in Elmhurst, authorities said.
According to the charges, police arrested the suspects near 50-22 Ireland St. between 51st Avenue and Queens Boulevard early Monday morning. Authorities observed the six men unloading cardboard boxes from a 18-wheel semi-tractor trailer truck into a smaller U-Haul truck and another smaller cargo van. As the officers approached the vehicles, they were allegedly overwhelmed by the pungent odor of marijuana.
Members of the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force discovered the defendants, who hailed from California, Canada and Brooklyn, transferring cardboard cartons containing marijuana from a tractor-trailer parked in Elmhurst to two smaller vehicles. It is alleged that the defendants possessed between $200,000 and $300,000.
“The defendants…made a mistake by stopping in Queens County to distribute their illegal wares. They now face serious drug charges,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
“The New York Drug Enforcement Task Force spotted and seized over $3.5 million worth of marijuana that was destined to be trafficked throughout the city,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt.
The District Attorney identified the defendants as Weiyang Yao, 47, of Cucamonga, Calif.; Yuejiang Zeng, 53, of San Gabriel, Calif.; Shan Wu Zhang, 30, of British Columbia, Canada; and Duanzhao Zhang, 38, Tong Shun Zhang, 29, and Tong Zhew Zhang, 24, all of Brooklyn.
The defendants were arraigned Wednesday in Queens Criminal Court on a criminal complaint, charging each of them with first-degree criminal possession of marijuana.
The investigation was conducted by the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force.
Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@