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Oklahoma Thieves Impersonate Cops and Raid Several Pot Farms

On March 13, a group of six individuals—donned in believable law enforcement gear—furnished a fake search warrant and attempted to raid a Hughes County, Oklahoma medical cannabis grow operation in a brazen attack. Other locations, including Seminole County’s medical marijuana business were also attacked the next day. The thieves stole more than 100 pounds of marijuana, machine cash, and mobile phones. The rash of thefts is believed to be connected by law enforcement officers.

The names of the cannabis businesses weren’t released. Cannabis farms are already a target given cannabis’ value, but being forced to deal in cash due to the federal status of cannabis makes the industry a bit more dangerous.

Mark Woodward (spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control) agreed. “I think that’s what makes them a target,” Woodward told Chronic News. “There are people who see an easy opportunity to get both cannabis, money and cellphones very quickly—especially from a vulnerable population.”

The group of bandits wore uniforms and masks, saying they worked for the “Oklahoma Marijuana Board” which doesn’t exist, and wore Oklahoma Highway Patrol uniforms. The bandits demanded money for the alleged compliance violation fine. If there was a violation, however, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority would take care of compliance. OMMA officials are not able to demand immediate payment of fines at gunpoint.

Woodward believes criminals target immigrant cannabis workers. These people often work on cannabis farms, or other jobs. As it turns out, COVID pushed thousands of Chinese immigrant workers into Oklahoma’s cannabis farm country. The “trimmigrant” phenomenon seen in other states took root in Oklahoma as well.

“These farms where there are oftentimes Chinese workers who don’t speak English—they won’t recognize traditional law enforcement,” Woodward said. “They’re not familiar with what Oklahoma law enforcement or what uniforms might look like or what a fraudulent warrant looks like compared to legitimate ones. This is why these criminals count on this. That’s why they targeted these specific farms. This was their chance to exploit these workers. They went straight to the farm, grabbing product. They also took some cell phones and cash.” 

Woodward said It OklahomanOne person was taken into custody. These criminals are attracted to cash and cannabis, he stated.

District Attorney Paul Smith—representing both Hughes and Seminole counties—will lead the investigation. The District Attorney’s Drug and Violent Crime Task Force will join the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to investigate cases of robbery, kidnapping and drug trafficking. 

At one business, a worker immediately sent her attorney Donald Gies a frantic text and determined on speakerphone that the agents weren’t legitimate. The imposter agent wore the Darth Maul mask. The thieves also stole 100 pounds of marijuana, as well as their cell phones, cash, and machines from another farm. 

“There’s one in Hughes County that they hit over the weekend, then my client, who was number two, then they went down the street to [the third farm],” Gies told Chronic News. Gies’ client underwent a terrifying situation, but handled it in the best way possible at the time.

Gies stated to KOCO 5 the bandits had attempted raid his client’s farm. They eventually gave up and raided a nearby farm. The bandits took 100 pounds of marijuana and other machines from the second farm and tied the workers up at gunpoint. News 9 also heard that the bandits wore masks and their uniforms resembled those worn by Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Gies answered our questions about how Oklahoma businesses could protect themselves. “I have a mental checklist,” he said. “First and foremost—keep a folder accessible near your door that contains your active OMMA license and OBN registration number. You can then show it to the officer if they are at your house. Secondly, ask for identification, badge numbers and what agency.”

Gies continued, “In our instance, I could hear my client do that on speakerphone, and they said ‘Oklahoma Marijuana Board’ which doesn’t exist. So we figured out they weren’t cops in fact. After that, request a copy of the warrant. Before you let anyone into your space, the warrant has to include the subject’s name, address, the reason and it needs to be signed by a judge. This will help you to be more accurate, even though it can seem overwhelming at times. Let’s say you call your lawyer and ask them to speak on the phone. That’s actually what helped my client out the most. The criminal was fully aware that she had access to the outside world.”

Adria Berry, director of the OMMA, said there is a continued effort to increase the organization’s enforcement and tracking capabilities in a March 15 briefing. 

“We encourage OMMA-licensed businesses to contact local law enforcement if they are suspicious of a person or group claiming to be OMMA investigators,” a representative from the OMMA told Chronic News. “Licensees can ask officers to see identification. OMMA enforcement agents will have to be armed and be able produce a commission card and badge that include their title and photo. Typically, agents will be wearing a black polo with an OMMA enforcement emblem, as well.”