Black-Market Marijuana Seized in Oklahoma, Arrests Made as Investigations Continue
News 9 - October 14, 2022 6:50 am
OKLAHOMA CITY –
The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics said its investigation into illegal marijuana operations is continuing to make strides across the state.
Investigators found thousands of black-market plants over the past few weeks.
Spokesperson Mark Woodward said this is just the tip of the iceberg in illegal grow busts. The seeds for black market organizations were planted years ago.
“Close to 200 farms in Oklahoma that we’ve either shut down or served warrants at,” Woodward said, “We’ve made several hundred arrests, but we easily have well over 1,000 other farms that we are investigating.”
The illegal grows, Woodward said, siphon money from the state.
“Some of these people have been in business for years, so you’re seeing billions with a ‘B,’” Woodward said. “Billions of dollars’ worth of marijuana coming out of Oklahoma.”
In its most recent push, OBN searched 10 grow operations in eight counties over the last two weeks. Investigators seized 79,157 plants, 3,139 pounds of processed pot, 16 guns and made 20 arrests.
Woodward also said the “owners” aren’t farmers. Instead, they’re considered “ghost owners,” who are people with an Oklahoma address. In order get a license, the majority owner, who owns 75% of the operation, must live in Oklahoma.
“Plenty of evidence that shows these people have no day-to-day knowledge of these farms. They have no financial interest in it,” Woodward said. “They were simply approached and agreed to put their name on a license for a fee. Suddenly, they’re not just on one or two or five, but they might be on well over 200 licenses.”
Woodward said they often traffic in their workers and hurt the communities where growing is taking place.
“We’re finding all kinds of contaminations and pesticides on these lands that are being purchased for four times what they’re worth, so it’s driving up the property values,” Woodward said.
Woodward said the OBN continues to prune the state’s medical marijuana industry.
“These criminal organizations are laundering millions of dollars worldwide, and they’re doing it all while hiding behind a medical marijuana license and appearing to be legitimate on the surface,” Woodward said. “We’ve started putting really every license, every owner and really every name under a microscope.”
The people OBN arrested could face a slew of complaints that may include drug trafficking, aggravated manufacturing, unlawful cultivation and acquiring proceeds from drug activity.