TULSA, Okla. — The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics seized about 100,000 plants and 200,000 pounds of marijuana in a multi-agency operation on Tuesday.
OBN says more than 200 state, federal and local officers carried out the operation at a dozen locations across the state.
“For over a year, OBN has been targeting numerous individuals and organizations that have moved to Oklahoma from out-of-state and used fraudulent business structures and ‘ghost owners’ to obtain their Oklahoma Medical Marijuana licenses," says OBN spokesperson Mark Woodward. "These criminals try to blend into our state’s Medical Marijuana program while trafficking marijuana onto the illicit market around the United States, laundering money and moving millions of dollars in illicit drug proceeds overseas.”
Woodward says brokers moved millions of dollars in marijuana from multiple Oklahoma farms into states including, but not limited to California, North Carolina, Missouri, Indiana and Texas. Search Warrants were served at nine farms and three residential locations connected to the illegal shipments.
Thirteen arrest warrants were issued for people in Oklahoma linked to this investigation, as well as one in California and three in Texas, with more arrests expected.
As of Tuesday afternoon, they’ve arrested 5 people including one of the main targets of the investigation. Some are Oklahomans while others are foreign nationals.
OBN searched several locations in Oklahoma including Green Queen Farms in Chandler and an 80 acre farm known as Big Buddha Farms in Wilson.
It’s estimated the street value of the products is over $500 million.
Governor Kevin Stitt spoke at the news conference pointing out his state of the state address on this topic.
“I told Oklahomans that bad actors have no place in Oklahoma. I said we will find them, we will hunt them down, we will bring them to justice. That’s exactly what we’re doing today. This is setting a standard,” Gov. Stitt said.
In addition to the seized marijuana, OBN also will be filing asset forfeiture on multiple vehicles, bank accounts, cash, equipment and at least eight of the properties linked to the shipments and money laundering.
“As these investigations move forward, we plan to file charges on these criminal brokers, business owners, land owners, and entities that helped facilitate the fraudulent documentation allowing these criminal organizations to get an Oklahoma Medical Marijuana license," Woodward says.
OBN Director Donnie Anderson says more of these large-scale law enforcement operations are planned as his agency continues to investigate hundreds of suspected illegal marijuana-growing operations around the state.
“We are sending a clear and powerful message today that Oklahoma is not a safe haven for criminals who think they can hide behind a Medical Marijuana license," Anderson says. "My agency is committed to aggressively targeting and dismantling these marijuana trafficking organizations that threaten the safety and well-being of our citizens and the law-abiding marijuana businesses in our state.”
“To our current OMMA licenses, I want to make sure that this serves as a warning. If you are engaging in criminal operations your actions will not go unnoticed,” Adria Berry, Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority Director, said.
Xiumeng Lyu, Shi Yang, Nan Weng, Dean Zheng and Will Chen are in custody with several more arrests expected to follow.
Residential properties in Edmond, Norman and Mustang were targeted as well as farms across the state.
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