Real Estate Agent Pleads Guilty to Role in Marijuana Grow Houses

A Chino real estate agent plead guilty to a criminal charge for coordinating a scheme that used millions of dollars to purchase nine residential homes in San Bernardino County that were turned into marijuana grow houses.

38-year old Lin (Aaron) Li was charged with one count of conspiracy to manufacture, possess and distribute 1,000 marijuana plants. Federal prosecutors say Li used Chinese investors to purchase homes, then turned them into grow houses for illegal marijuana grow operations. Li also signed false lease documents naming fake tenants. Li was attempting to avoid having the homes traced back to him.

Federal Agents raid an illegal marijuana grow operation at a Chino home on March 7, 2019. PHOTO: Shaun Ochsner/INLANDNEWS

Agents tracked down payments for the homes from wire transfers that were linked back to China. The titles were transferred to limited liability companies shortly after the homes were purchased. Li and his co-conspirators diverted electricity from power lines for the marijuana grow operations.

A neighbor in Chino Hills complained to authorities about an overwhelming marijuana smell coming from one of the homes and noted no one seemed to live at the house. In 2018 and 2019, several search warrants were executed on multiple locations including at least 4 homes in the southern part of the city of Chino. Authorities seized 4,342 marijuana plants, 91.72 kilograms of processed marijuana and $89,995 in drug proceeds from Li’s house.

Two other defendants, Jimmy Yu and Ben Chen have also been charged. Yu has a trial date set for next year while Chen already pled guilty and will be sentenced in August. Li faces a maximum life sentence in prison.