LINCOLN COUNTY, Okla.— The three million dollar seizure of a ten-acre illegal marijuana operation marks the fourth major bust in Lincoln and Pottawatomie counties.
On June 7, authorities seized the first illegal marijuana operation in Bethel, Pottawatomie County. Suspect Jia Wang owns the property located on Clear Pond Road. The town of Bethel has filed a restraining order against him, but no other information on this bust could be found (LCNOK)..
The second bust took place June 15 in Tyron, Lincoln County. Officials uncovered 10 acres of land with 82 grow houses. More than 20 workers and an estimated amount of $17 million in illegal marijuana plants were found on the property.
Property owner Sai Ying Lin was arrested, but the other workers were not. The workers may have been undocumented Chinese immigrants; and it could not be confirmed if they knew what they were doing was illegal or not (Newson6).
On June 25, a third illegal marijuana operation was uncovered on Coker Road in Pottawatomie County. Over 3,500 marijuana plants were seized and burned, sending more than one million dollars up in smoke.
The fourth and most recent bust took place July 13, again in Lincoln County. The Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office and Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality raided the home on S 3360 Road. This house sat on a ten-acre property that had over 2,200 marijuana plants worth about three million dollars in total.
The bust occurred before the operation was about to expand. It seems that this operation was siphoning off of rural water supplies and local electric grids to grow the weed hydroponically, meaning the weed would grow without soil (KFOR).
Four alleged Chinese illegal immigrants were found working at the site but were not arrested, and no other suspects were found.
The property reportedly belongs to Wang, who was connected to the earlier bust in Bethel. It is believed that he has falsified or chose not to obtain the proper Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics license (OBN) needed to grow marijuana. A theory for his order of operation is that he abandons his property before it is raided and leaves his workers with expired work visas to take the blame (KFOR).
All illegal marijuana operations listed may have connections as they took place in the same areas and had allegedly illegal Chinese immigrants working at each one.
While there doesn’t seem to be a connection yet between Wang and Lin, the investigation is still open and continuing their search. All raids were led by District Attorney Allan Grubb.
It is believed that Oklahoma has become a breeding ground for illegal marijuana operations due to the cheap land and taxes.
While it is legal to grow medical marijuana in Oklahoma, there are limits to the amount of weed one can grow, and the proper paperwork must be obtained.
To grow legally, one has to have an Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority certificate (OMMA) and an OBN.
Most illegal operations have an OMMA, but it’s common to omit an OBN as it requires a criminal background check.
According to reports, local law enforcement is focused on cracking down on illegal marijuana operations as they pose a serious health concern for the public and environmental concern as well.
For example, at the marijuana operation in Lincoln County, pesticides like Raid and Round-Up were found at the scene (KFOR). They have known carcinogens, making the illegally grown marijuana toxic for human consumption, while the run-off can potentially damage the local environment. In addition, no drying and processing room were found at this same operation, so the weed could still be circulating the streets.
As for the two suspects in this large illegal marijuana operation, Wong has not yet been arrested, and it is unknown if a warrant is out for his arrest. Lin was arrested on June 15 and booked into Lincoln County Jail on a $30,000 bond. She was formally charged in Lincoln County District Court with crimes that could amount to 15 years in prison and $60,000 in fines. Her initial appearance was set for June 24; however, Lin failed to appear (LCNOK).