There is a growing concern within the law enforcement community regarding illegal marijuana cultivation operations orchestrated by organized crime groups with ties to China.
According to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, approximately 80% of the farms they have shut down are connected to China.
Mark Woodward, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, highlighted that marijuana is an ideal choice due to its requirement for extensive land, operating as an all-cash business in a multibillion-dollar industry and land acquisition.
Woodward mentioned that officials intensified efforts to combat these operations in 2020, claiming to have dismantled over 1,000 illegal farms allegedly affiliated with China.
This issue is not confined to Oklahoma alone. Other states are increasing their investigative efforts, with reported cases in California and New Mexico, as highlighted by The Wall Street Journal.
University of New Haven lecturer Kenneth Gray expressed concern, stating, “The funds raised from this are going to China to support further criminal activities.”
Although marijuana is legal for medical or recreational use in at least 30 states, some in law enforcement believe that there is still significant demand for illicitly-produced cannabis due to its lower cost.