The blazing heat is wilting Oklahoma's most covert crop: marijuana.
Drug agents found a pot operation in McCurtain County where growers were raising 111 plants in an area where 111,000 plants would have been found 15 years ago, said Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics spokesman Mark Woodward.
The total number of cultivated plants discovered has dropped below 20,000 over the past year. Woodward said about a decade ago, agents were finding 80,000 to 100,000 marijuana plants a year.
“The cultivators are alive and well out there. There's just not as many of them because of the drought,” said Darrell Weaver, director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.
Mother Nature is helping the bureau's helicopter surveillance program that has led to a decline in marijuana operations in the state in the last couple of years, Weaver said.
Wednesday, agents found a campsite, scraps of food and tenderly cared for marijuana plants in a patch near Claremore. Woodward said it appears to be a Mexican cartel cell in which drug lords likely paid pennies on the dollar to workers dumped on the acreage to care for the crop once considered Oklahoma's biggest cash crop.