11 indicted in Operation California Roll - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Janice Broach

11 indicted in Operation California Roll

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC-TV) - Two Shelby County restaurants are tied to a federal drug bust.

Mandarin Palace in Bartlett and Wasabi on Germantown Road were raided on Wednesday after investigators cracked a conspiracy involving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Federal authorities arrested people with alias' like "Taxi Guy", "Johnny" and "Bo" in an indictment accusing 11 people of a marijuana conspiracy that reached all the way to California.

Wasabi owner Gum Lum, also known as Johnny, was one of those indicted in "Operation California Roll."

Drug trafficking conspiracy agents say the operation lasted for more than 5 years.

All 11 people are accused of conspiracy to distribute marijuana from Memphis to California, said Keith Brown of the DEA. "They are people involved in the distribution in the Memphis area, laundering of money and getting it back to California."

All of the drugs were discovered in people's houses. Along with 100 kilos of marijuana, agents seized ecstasy and hydrocodone tablets and meth, several hundred thousand dollars, fourteen vehicles, and 11 firearms including two assault rifles. 

"It is significant based on the number of people indicted," said U.S. Attorney Larry Laurenzi. "It is significant based on the length of time, as set out in the indictment, is alleged the conspiracy lasted."

Operation California Roll began after the Shelby County Sheriff's Department discovered marijuana during a traffic stop.

Two of the people indicted live in California, and on Wednesday, Los Angeles investigators in the case discovered a large-scale laboratory for manufacturing counterfeit passports and credit cards.
It's not clear exactly how that discovery fits into this conspiracy.

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