Texas (KLTV) – Marijuana growing operations recently discovered in Wood County have international ties, according to Wood County Sheriff Kelly Cole.
“We know it reaches into South America and we know it reaches over into Europe,” Cole said. “So, we’re just following that trail from there. We also believe there are more contacts here within the continental United States.”
Nearly a ton of marijuana was seized and eight people were arrested after one tip led to another, according to Cole. Search warrants were executed at multiple sites resulting in the arrest of two Russian nationals and three Bolivian nationals, as well as three East Texans.
All were charged with delivery of marijuana greater than 50 pounds, less than or equal to 2,000 pounds, a first-degree felony.
“Our belief is you start small and you work your way up that chain,” Cole said.
One of the suspects has recently crossed the U.S.-Mexico border after flying there from Colombia, according to Cole.
“We need more support down at the border. We need to close that up quite a bit. And that will be something that we’ll look into as well to try to help maybe plug some of those holes.”
And while the exact reason for the foreign nationals choosing Wood County is unknown, Cole says rural and less populated areas are often the location of choice for illegal activity like this.
“I think they’re just looking for any rural areas that they can get into,” Cole said. “They know there’s not a large population here. We’re under 50,000. So, that’s probably lucrative to them. We’re also 90 minutes away from Dallas. So, that’s lucrative. They’re not in the metroplex but it gives them an outlet in the metroplex, where operations are probably even bigger.”
Cole said the street value of the marijuana seized is estimated to be $3.5 to $4 million.
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