PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — “I need it now!” is what Alice Lim yelled at a U.S. Bank employee while demanding to drain her bank accounts and safe deposit boxes of $1.6 million to buy a house – but in reality she was in a rush to fill a duffle bag with cash before it was seized by federal agents who were closing in on her black market marijuana operation in Portland and Lake Oswego.
That’s the account of IRS Special Agent Cameron Wall as he and the US Attorney for Oregon are seeking to confiscate more than $2.46 million total from Alice and Chung Tung Lim.
The agent estimates their operation ultimately earned more than $3.3 million in illegal proceeds, while using houses in Lake Oswego and Portland to grow marijuana and a granite supply business in Portland’s northwest industrial area to faciliate the scheme that stretched to China.
It’s unclear in court documents where investigators think the illegal marijuana was being sold, but the agent wrote, “I know Oregon is a source for black-market marijuana and marijuana products diverted to other states. Marijuana in Oregon has a high potency with relatively low prices due to its regulated status, large supply, optimal outdoor growing conditions and the amount of producers growing both legally and illegally.”
Agent Wall wrote that Oregon marijuana can double or triple in price when taken out of state, and it is often shipped to Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
The investigation began in June 2017, when Lake Oswego police told the Drug Enforcement Administration it suspected a large-scale indoor marijuana growing operation at a house at 19 Monticello Drive.
Investigators noticed an unusual amount of electricity was being used. That property is owned by Chung Tung Lim and Alice Lim, authorities said in a court filing.
In February 2018, federal search and seizure warants were used at that property and at 2 others: 9015 SE Victor Lane in Portland and at the home of Gary Chan on 72nd Avenue. More than 4000 live pot plants were found along with more than 40 pounds of processed pot from 5 large home grow operations. Authorities said no one at any of those residences was licensed to grow marijuana in either Oregon or Washington.
Another grow operation was discovered at 5635 SE 84th. Investigators said Alice Lim sold that property to Damon Huang.
As the investigation continued, a federal search warrant was issued on July 17, 2018 for QHBS, a commercial property at 3255 NW Yeon Avenue. Both Alice Lim and Chung Tung Lim were living there. The business, a building supply company that dealt in granite counter tops, was operated by the Lims.
Investigators said Chung Lim traveled to China to buy granite supplies and took cash with him to make the purchases — even though QHBS only dealt in checks and credit cards on the retail side.
That same day, a search warrant was obtained for 2 safe deposit boxes at US Bank. Investigators learned Alice Lim was at the bank that day trying to “drain her bank accounts” and “was carrying a large duffle bag.”
Later that day, investigators found $2,256,770 in US currency and $1931.26 in Chinese currency inside the 2 safe deposit boxes.
That’s the same day Alice Lim returned to the bank and said she needed all her money to buy a house. “I need it now!” she reportedly yelled.
The next day, another warrant was issued for 9 different US Bank accounts, where investigators said they seized $1,613,085. 37 from accounts belonging to the Lims and QHBS.
Investigators said the Lims could have generated about $3,321,500 during the period of time they were under investigation.