Minnesota man accused of storing marijuana from Shiprock farm

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — An arrest warrant has been issued for a Minnesota man who was allegedly storing more than 200 pounds of marijuana that was obtained from a farm in Shiprock.

Christopher Yang, 58, of Hamel, Minnesota, is accused of possessing approximately 246.7 pounds of marijuana and keeping it at a storage place in Farmington, according to an affidavit filed in Aztec Magistrate Court.

Yang has not been arrested as of Nov. 12 and, if charged, he would face a third-degree felony count of distribution/possession of marijuana over 100 pounds.

According to court documents, detectives from the San Juan County Sheriff's Office were dispatched on Nov. 2 to AAA Mini Storage, 7231 E. Main Street in Farmington, in response to a strong odor of marijuana emitting from a storage unit.

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In an interview with the manager, detectives learned that Yang assisted another man in renting a storage unit on Oct. 17.

Yang helped the man because he did not speak English and Yang had rented a separate storage unit the day before, the manager told detectives.

To help with the investigation, a police K-9 from the Farmington Police Department searched two rows and the dog alerted law enforcement personnel to "the odor of narcotics from inside the storage unit."

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Twenty large black garbage bags along with a duffle bag and a large bin were found, and each contained "green leafy substance." Samples from the substance later tested positive for marijuana.

Yang spoke to a detective on Nov. 3. During the interview, Yang said he did not know the man he helped on Oct. 17, but they met on a farm in Shiprock.

He added that the man asked for help to secure a storage unit because he did not speak or read English.

Detectives also reviewed video surveillance from the storage place, and it showed Yang along with other individuals visiting storage units in late October. Yang was seen on video unloading several large black bags into the storage unit that detectives searched on Nov. 2.

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The court document states that in recent months there has been a multi-agency investigation over the trafficking of marijuana from farms in Shiprock to Waterflow, Kirtland, Farmington and Aztec.

"Through this investigation, there has been thousands of pounds of marijuana along with thousands of dollars in U.S. currency seized in this operation tied to the distribution and trafficking of marijuana," the document states.

This week, several law enforcement agencies executed federal search warrants in Shiprock on farms suspected of growing marijuana.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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