Authorities got quite a surprise early Monday morning when they found six men in Elmhurst unloading cardboard boxes filled with more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana, valued at over $3.5 million.
Brooklyn residents Duanzhao Zhang, 38, Tong Shun Zhang, 29, and Tong Zhew Zhang, 24; Weiyang Yao, 47, and Yuejiang Zeng, 53, of California; and Shan Wu Zhang, 30, of Canada were arrested on Oct. 5 and are all currently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of criminal possession of marijuana.
According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, members of the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force were in the vicinity of 50-22 Ireland St. in Elmhurst at about 1:25 a.m. on Monday when they saw the six men unloading cardboard boxes from a 18-wheel semi-tractor trailer into a small U-Haul truck and another smaller cargo van.
When the officers approached the vehicles, they were allegedly “overwhelmed by a strong odor of marijuana” which was coming from the tractor trailer and the boxes being transferred to the smaller cars.
The agents then allegedly saw seven large pallets holding cardboard boxes stacked at least 6 feet high in the tractor trailer, according to Brown. It is estimate that the boxes held more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana packaged in vacuum-sealed plastic bags.
“The defendants are accused of removing cartons of marijuana stacked 6 feet high from a tractor trailer across the street from the Good Fortune Supermarket in Elmhurst when confronted by law enforcement,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. “The defendants, who hail from California, Canada and Brooklyn, made a mistake by stopping in Queens County to distribute their illegal wares. They now face serious drug charges.”
Along with the marijuana, the men were also found with between $200,000 and $300,000 stacked and bundled inside the three vehicles.
“The seizure and arrests surprised us just as much as it surprised the defendants when arrested. However, it shows that law enforcement agents and officers possess the keen ability to spot the things that don’t belong,” said James J. Hunt, special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) New York Division. “In this case, the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force spotted and seized over $3.5 million dollars’ worth of marijuana that was destined to be trafficked throughout NYC.”