Members of the Oklahoma National Guard joined the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs during a statewide operation that seized more than 75,000 illegally grown marijuana plants from September 27 to October 7.
The street value of the unlicensed cannabis was estimated at $9.7 million, according to a release from the Department of Defense.
The 10-day investigation was aimed at “investigating and dismantling criminal organizations operating within the state’s medical marijuana program,” according to a post on the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Facebook page.
“For over two years, OBN has identified numerous individuals and organizations that have moved to Oklahoma from out-of-state and used fraudulent business structures and so-called ‘ghost owners’ to obtain their Oklahoma Medical Marijuana licenses,” OBN spokesman Mark Woodward said in the release. “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.”
Between September 27 and October 7, search warrants were executed at 10 marijuana cultivation businesses and one residential location in Canadian, Cleveland, Garvin, Kay, Okfuskee, Payne, Pontotoc and Seminole counties. A total of 79,157 illegally cultivated plants were seized, along with 3,139 pounds of processed marijuana and 16 firearms. So far, 20 people have been arrested with more arrests expected as these investigations continue.
Woodward said the targets of these investigations face a variety of charges including drug trafficking, aggravated manufacturing, unlawful cultivation and acquiring proceeds from drug activity.
— Brian Beckley