Suspect arrested in ‘execution-style’ killings of four folks at Oklahoma Marijuana Farm

Oklahoma authorities on Tuesday arrested a suspect they believe killed four people and injured another in an “execution-style” attack on a rural marijuana farm on Sunday.

The suspect, Wu Chen, 45, was arrested by the Miami Beach Police Department after a car tag reader “tagged the vehicle he was driving,” authorities said in a statement Tuesday night. He faces murder and shooting with intent to kill, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

Captain Stan Florence of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said at a news conference Monday that Mr. Chen knew the victims, but it was unclear how.

“They all know each other,” he said. “I don’t know if they’re related, I don’t know if they’re colleagues, but we think they all knew each other.”

The victims were all Chinese, authorities said on Tuesday, adding that “due to a significant language barrier, notification of next of kin is pending.”

Brook Arbeitman, a spokeswoman for the bureau, said by phone Tuesday that officials are still investigating what motivated the killings. She added that officials withheld the suspect’s identity because releasing it would put more people at risk.

Deputies with the Kingfisher County Sheriff’s Office first responded to calls Sunday about a hostage situation at the marijuana farm.

At around 5:45 p.m. Sunday, the suspect entered a marijuana farm building on a country road near Hennessey, Oklahoma, about 70 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. Several employees were in the building at the time, Ms. Arbeitsman said.

The suspect stayed in the building “for a considerable amount of time” before violence erupted, authorities said.

Ms Arbeitsman said the three men and one woman were shot in a “violent execution-style manner”. She did not give any more details.

“It was clearly an execution and not just an accidental release,” she said.

The injured person was still hospitalized as of Tuesday, Ms Arbeitsman said.

Mark Woodward, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, which is also investigating the deaths, said by phone Tuesday that the location where the killings took place was licensed to grow marijuana. But officials were still investigating whether that license had been obtained legally or fraudulently, he added.

As of spring 2021, the state has issued about 8,500 licenses to grow marijuana, but officials have found about 2,000 of those licenses were obtained fraudulently, Mr. Woodward said.

To qualify for a license, Oklahoma requires that applicants seeking at least a 75 percent interest in the marijuana farm must demonstrate that they have been a state resident for at least two years. The rule proved easy to circumvent, Mr Woodward said, as people — mostly from countries like China and Mexico — found “ghost owners” in the state to meet the requirements and create criminal organizations that grow for the black market.

“I can’t say that this group does that,” Mr. Woodward said of the farm where the murders took place. “We will determine that in our investigation.”

He added that “there is also an aspect of violence” associated with the criminal organizations, with unpaid debts often leading to violence.

“We’ve had several homicides related to medical marijuana businesses in Oklahoma,” Mr. Woodward said.

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