Authorities want to prosecute a man who returned to Oklahoma for the execution-style killings of four people on a marijuana plantation after being arrested in South Florida.
Wu Chen, a suspect in the weekend murder, was taken into custody by Miami Beach police and transferred to the Miami-Dade County Jail, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said Tuesday.
The bureau said he was arrested “after a car tag reader marked the vehicle he was driving”. The suspect is charged with murder and shooting with intent to kill and will be extradited to Oklahoma.
OSBI also posted a photo provided by the U.S. Army Sheriff’s Office of a man sitting on a curb with no shoes on.
Authorities said the victims — three men and a woman, all Chinese — were shot to death on a 10-acre (four-hectare) property west of Hennessy, about 90 kilometers northwest of Oklahoma City. . A fifth victim, also a Chinese citizen, was taken to Oklahoma City Hospital with injuries.
The victim has not yet been publicly identified and officials are still working to inform the closest relatives, police said.
Authorities said they had a suspect in mind, but withheld the name for the time being to avoid endangering others.
“The suspect was in the building for a considerable amount of time before the execution began,” OSBI said in a press release Tuesday morning. According to the investigation so far, it does not appear to be an accidental incident.”
OSBI Captain Stan Florence said authorities believed the suspect knew of victims who were found dead Sunday night.
“I don’t know if they were relatives or colleagues, but they were all familiar,” Florence said.
The death at the marijuana plantation was Oklahoma’s third mass murder in a little over a month. On October 27, six children died in a murder-suicide charge in the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow, and on October 14, the bodies of four missing men were found dismembered in the Oklahoma River.
According to a database run by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University, the United States has suffered 40 mass killings so far this year. Just last week, six people died in a Walmart store break room in Virginia and five people died at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs. The database defines mass murder as the death of at least four people, not including the murderer.
The Kingfisher County Sheriff’s Office initially responded to a reported hostage situation at the farm and contacted state authorities for assistance, Florence said.
“There are many things to be solved with this case,” he added. “It will take a little while to process.”
The case is being investigated as a quadruple homicide. The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Substances Control is also conducting an investigation.
The agency has been targeting criminals in recent years growing and trafficking marijuana for the black market. But National Intelligence Service spokesman Mark Woodward said Tuesday it was too soon to say that was the focus of the investigation.
“Because it’s a marijuana farm, obviously, according to Oklahoma state law, they have to get a permit from the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority and us,” Woodward said. “One of the things we’re looking at is whether it was acquired legally or fraudulently? So that will be part of our investigation.”
Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority spokeswoman Porsha Riley said there are valid licenses for businesses growing medical marijuana in the area.
None of the 14 marijuana growers in the Hennessy area responded to email inquiries from The Associated Press, and officials did not disclose which marijuana plants were operating at the shooting site.
Oklahoma voters legalized medical marijuana in 2018, and the industry quickly boomed thanks to open laws that are less restrictive than other states.
In March, voters will decide whether to legalize the recreational use of drugs.
Maryland and Missouri approved recreational marijuana in midterm elections this month, bringing the total to 21 states that allow recreational marijuana use. Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota voters rejected the legalization proposal in the midterm elections.
Hollingsworth reported from the Kansas Mission. Associated Press reporters Jill Bleed of Little Rock, Arkansas, Adam Kealoha Causey of Dallas and Peter Orsi of Denver contributed.
Follow the AP’s coverage of marijuana: https://apnews.com/hub/marijuana