Man arrested in Florida over killings at Oklahoma marijuana farm

<span>Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

A suspect was arrested in Florida after four Chinese nationals were killed at a marijuana farm in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma state bureau of investigation said.

In a statement on Facebook, the bureau said the suspect, Wu Chen, 45, was arrested by police in Miami Beach after a car tag reader flagged the vehicle he was driving. Chen was then transported to the Miami-Dade county detention center.

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Now awaiting extradition to Oklahoma, Chen will face charges of murder and shooting with intent to kill. A photograph released by Oklahoma authorities showed him sitting shoeless on a curb with his hands apparently cuffed behind his back.

The homicide investigation by Oklahoma authorities, the US marshals and several other agencies started after four people – all Chinese nationals – were killed on a 10-acre marijuana farm in Hennessey on Sunday.

According to an earlier Facebook post by the state bureau of investigation, the local sheriff’s office “received an initial call of a hostage situation at a location on North 2760 Road in Kingfisher county”.

Wu Chen was arrested on Tuesday 22 November.
Wu Chen was arrested on Tuesday 22 November. Photograph: AP

At approximately 5.45pm on Sunday, a male suspect entered “a building on a marijuana grow operation” in which there were several employees, according to authorities. The suspect was “inside that building for a significant amount of time before the executions began”, authorities said.

“When deputies responded they found four deceased and one injured. The injured individual was transported to the hospital,” the bureau said. The injured victim was also a Chinese national.

“Because of a significant language barrier, next of kin notification is pending,” authorities said, adding that “based on the investigation thus far, this does not appear to be a random incident”.

An Oklahoma state bureau of investigation captain, Stan Florence, said authorities believed the suspect knew the victims.

“They all know each other … Don’t know if they’re related, or if they’re co-workers, but certainly these individuals were, we believe, all familiar with each other,” he told KFOR.

Mark Woodward, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma bureau of narcotics and dangerous drugs control, told the Associated Press it was too early to declare that illegal marijuana growth and trafficking would be a centerpiece of the investigation.

“It being a marijuana farm, obviously Oklahoma state law requires that they have a license from the Oklahoma medical marijuana authority and from us,” he said, adding: “One of the things we’re looking at is, is it obtained legally or was it obtained by fraud? So that’ll be part of our investigation.”

Oklahoma legalized medical marijuana in 2018. Next year, voters will decide whether to legalize the recreational use of the drug.