ST. PAUL — A St. Paul lunch lady and her husband are suspected of growing marijuana in California and having it shipped back home for sale.
In May, police at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport intercepted a UPS package containing 18.3 pounds of marijuana addressed to the East Side home of Vang Xiong and his wife, May Yang.
It was the seventh large package shipped to their home from California in five months, according to a recent filing in U.S. District Court.
Local and federal agents delivered the package that day and then searched the house. They found small marijuana plants, 13 guns, a money counter, multiple cellphones, documentation of a California marijuana grow operation, bank records of purchases from hydroponic stores in California, a drug ledger notebook and $30,839 in cash in a safe, which also contained 10 of the guns.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota filed a civil forfeiture action Wednesday for the $30,839.
No public criminal charges have been filed against either Xiong or Yang.
The couple, both 41, have five children together, according to the forfeiture filing.
Yang is the food manager for Hmong College Prep Academy in St. Paul. Reached by phone at the school Thursday, Yang declined to comment.
According to the court filing, Xiong in June 2016 bought 2.5 acres of land in California, where it’s legal to grow marijuana with a license. Xiong left his job a year later and cashed out an $80,000 retirement account.
Over the next 11 months, the couple made $52,600 in cash deposits to their bank.
They also bought $110,000 in $1,000 cashier’s checks during February and March, some of which were made out to a garden store and a hydroponics supplier.
In an application for a search warrant, a St. Paul police investigator said in May that he believed the couple had been “receiving marijuana from California and distributing it in Minnesota.”
The investigator wrote that he was aware of several Twin Cities residents who since 2015 have bought land in northern California to grow marijuana, then had the drugs driven or mailed to Minnesota for sale.
The forfeiture filing includes two photos taken with Xiong’s cellphone in October 2017 in California that appear to show the couple posing among marijuana plants in a greenhouse.
The phone also contained messages between Xiong and Yang about selling marijuana, the filing says.
St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter Sarah Horner contributed to this report.