Armed guards were a fixture outside a marijuana farm in rural Oklahoma where four people were executed execution-style.
Jack Quirk, owner of local newspaper All About Hennessey, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that “mailmen” were confronted with guns all the time. Farm, what’s going on?”
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation announced Tuesday that Wu Chen, the suspect in the weekend murders, has been taken into custody by Miami Beach police and taken to the Miami-Dade County Detention Center.
He was arrested “after a car tag reader flagged the vehicle he was traveling in,” the agency said. The suspect is charged with murder and shooting with intent to kill and is being extradited to Oklahoma. He has not yet been assigned a lawyer.
Authorities said the victims — three men and a woman, all Chinese nationals — were shot dead on a 10-acre property west of the town of Hennessy, about 56 miles (90 km) northwest of Oklahoma City. But “executed”. , A fifth victim, also a Chinese national, was injured and taken to a hospital in Oklahoma City.
The survivor was shot twice, said Quirk, who appeared as crews were setting up a landing pad for a medical helicopter and watched them load the man.
Police said the victims have not yet been publicly identified and authorities are still working to notify next of kin.
“The suspect was in that building for quite some time before the execution began,” OSBI said in a press release Tuesday. “Based on the investigation to date, this does not appear to be an incident.”
Oklahoma voters legalized medical marijuana in 2018, and the industry thrived thanks to an open-ended law that was less restrictive than other states.
In March, voters will decide whether to legalize recreational use of the drug.
Maryland and Missouri passed recreational marijuana in this month’s midterm elections, bringing the total number of states that allow recreational use to 21. Voters in Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota rejected legalization proposals during the midterm elections.
Quirk said he’s heard from residents who think marijuana farms are poorly regulated in Oklahoma.
“They weren’t prepared for what comes with this stuff,” he said. “This particular facility is a good example of that… They did suspicious things that the neighbors thought were not being investigated.”
He said most of the workers don’t speak English and he never saw them outside the property. Quirk said this has raised concerns about local people’s working conditions.
The site has an active license to develop a medical marijuana business, said Porsha Riley, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority.
The operation was put up for sale earlier this year for just under $1 million. The listing described it as having several thousand square feet of indoor growing space, as well as two separate living quarters.
Tammy Amsler-Zummlein, the listing agent for the property, said the listing had expired. He said the brokers had asked him not to comment.
The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control has focused on the criminal growth and trafficking of marijuana for the black market in recent years. But agency spokesman Mark Woodward said on Tuesday it was too early to say that was the focus of the investigation.
None of the 14 Hennessy-area marijuana farms responded to email inquiries from The Associated Press, and officials would not identify who was operating at the shooting site.
The cannabis farm deaths were Oklahoma’s third mass murder in just over a month. On October 27, six children were killed in a suspected murder-suicide in the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow, and on October 14, the bodies of four missing people were found mutilated in the Oklahoma River.
According to a database from The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University, there have been 40 mass murders in the United States so far this year. In the past week, six have been murdered in the cafeteria of a Walmart store in Virginia and five in a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs. The database defines a mass murder as killing at least four people, not counting the killer.
Hollingsworth reported from Mission, Kansas. Associated Press writers Jill Bled in Little Rock, Arkansas, Adam Kealoha Causey in Dallas, and Peter Orci in Denver contributed.
Follow AP’s coverage of marijuana: https://apnews.com/hub/marijuana
Heather Hollingsworth, The Associated Press