Skip to comments.(Ohio:)Officers swarm 'marijuana megafarms' with suspected ties to Mexican drug cartels
Posted on 09/22/2010 9:52:25 AM PDT by SwinneySwitch
Columbus man, 10 others arrested; 2,500 pot plants seized
The pot-picking has been plentiful for authorities across Ohio this summer, but they had failed to find the men tending the lucrative cash crop.
That changed Monday when more than two dozen officers from federal, state and local agencies surrounded woods in the river bottoms of Muskingum County as a marijuana work crew went about its business.
Chasing some of the men as they fled along the Muskingum River, authorities arrested 10 Mexican nationals and charged them with conspiracy to cultivate marijuana in two carefully tended fields about 90 miles apart.
Authorities then arrested Hugo Ayala, 40, at his apartment on Columbus' North Side. They say he was the ringleader of a potentially multimillion-dollar operation that could be linked to Mexican drug cartels.
The unusual flurry of arrests was announced yesterday by Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, federal officials and two county sheriffs.
"It's rare for investigators to make arrests in these kind of marijuana-growing operations. To have arrested 11 individuals surprised even the most seasoned of investigators," Cordray said.
The crack in the case came in May when two hunters stumbled upon dozens of marijuana plants in an isolated area near Zanesfield in Logan County, about 45 miles northwest of Columbus, Sheriff Andrew Smith said.
Authorities went undetected as they tracked workers to another pot field they were cultivating in an opening in the woods along the Muskingum River near Adams Mills, about 55 miles east of Columbus.
When the men showed up Monday to work on their crop as it neared picking time, authorities moved in. Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz assembled a small flotilla to ferry out the marijuana crop harvested by police.
Ayala, a legal U.S. resident, is thought to have shuttled his work crews from Columbus to their duties in the marijuana fields both east and northwest of the city. The men would camp out at the sites while apparently working days a time.
A total of 2,500 marijuana plants, with a street value of about $5 million, were seized from the two plots. The investigation continues to determine whether the growers are linked to other pot fields discovered this year.
Ayala and the others appeared in U.S. District Court in Dayton yesterday and are scheduled to have detention hearings Thursday. If convicted of conspiracy to cultivate marijuana, they would face five to 40 years in prison.
They could face stiffer charges and harsher sentences, including life imprisonment, said Kenneth Parker, chief of the drug task force in the U.S. attorney's office
The marijuana picked yesterday likely was destined to be sold in Ohio, with profits perhaps returning to Mexican drug cartels, authorities said.
The "marijuana megafarms" had the hallmarks of well-planned, well-financed operations tied to Mexican drug cartels, said Scott Duff, supervisor of marijuana eradication at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation. In some cases, work crews are working off "debts" they owe for being smuggled illegally into the United States, he said.
About 60,000 marijuana plants have been seized in Ohio this year, well above the 48,000 eradicated last year.
To all potheads; KEEP THE FAITH....sooner or later EVERY vice will be legalized by the Socialist Utopia crowds....
“authorities arrested 10 Mexican nationals”
Why in the hell do we allow our government to let this happen?
This is way out of control....shoot to kill.
“Why in the hell do we allow our government to let this happen?”
TV. The 6 networks support O, the elites and Islam because of Saudi invetsments in all. The public are easily controlled sheep thanks to TV. Americans traded their liberty for a TV clicker.
Or not. Instead they could be linked to Satan's All Demon Review Band or they could have been linked to Pancho Villa's descendents or they could have been linked to the Frito Bandito or they could have been linked to Speedy Gonzales or they could have been entrepreneurial free-lancers.
Is ADM behind this, maybe?
I, for one, am making a stand, and will patronize the small family grower solely.
ROTFLMAO! I’ll bet they wouldn’t have been busted if the workers were in a union......
Growing the pot Americans are afraid to grow, because their government will use it as an excuse to exercise civil forfeiture on their homes. Wasn't there something in the constitution about punishments not being excessive? Or was it just "cruel and unusual" so civil forfeiture doesn't count once it becomes common?
Only increases the amount and value of product we have to import from Mexico.
End the “drug war”.
End the violation of civil liberties.
End federal regulation.
End farm subsidies.
Used to be a cash crop here many years ago before politicians destroyed the industry. Grown as hemp, it was made into rope and other fine products. Still grows wild here in areas where the hemp farmers used to make a living.
We just smiled and waved/Sittin’ on that sack of seeds/Y’all come back now you hear.
the Libs are always telling us to buy and consume local produce...
This happened here in my county.It’s really quite a big deal,One f the guys hubby works with lives within feet of this area and no one knew they were there.This is about the 3rd or 4th field they have found here this summer.
Can anyone name another agricultural plant that is
worth $2000 each? The mind boggles.
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