ADA — An early morning raid Monday netted $9 million worth of marijuana and destroyed one of the largest pot growing operations in state history, drug enforcement agents reported.
Agents with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, the Chickasaw Nation Light Horse Police Department, and the District 22 Drug Task Force raided a remote area 15 miles north of Ada after receiving an anonymous tip about a large-scale growing operation.
Agents seized about 6,000 high-quality plants — some as high as 8-feet tall — with an estimated street value of $9 million.
Six different patches of plants were found within a few hundred feet of each other on private property near an abandoned rock quarry, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics spokesman Mark Woodward said.
“This was a very sophisticated growing operation,” Woodward said.
No arrests were made, but agents are looking for five Hispanic males after recovering five sleeping bags and an identification card from a campsite.
The workers appear to be illegal immigrants who were dropped off to grow the plants for Mexican drug cartels, Woodward said.
As of Monday afternoon, agents were still chopping down plants and looking for such hiding spots as caves, tunnels and shrubbery where workers could be hiding.
“There's a good chance they fled in all different directions when our team came in this morning,” he said.
Because of the statewide burn ban, the plants will be hauled to a secure facility and eventually be destroyed, Woodward said.
It is unclear if the operation raided Monday is headed by Mexican cartels. Woodward said there are many similarities to cartel-run operations disabled by bureau raids in the past three years.
“At this point we can't confirm any ties to the drug cartels,” he said.
The bust is considered one of the largest in state history, eclipsing a recent bust near Tulsa that netted about 1,300 plants, Woodward said.
“Some of our agents have been with us 30, 35 years,” he said. “In their careers, they've never been in a patch this big.”