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Seeds to Syndicates: The Frontier Explores Oklahoma’s Chinese Cannabis Cartels

If you ask me, the next season of HBO’s hit-or-miss anthology series True Detective should be set in Oklahoma. 

From corrupt cops and powerful prison gangs to deranged rednecks and perverted preachers to shady race tracks and tribal slot machine casinos, we have all the character and plot line ingredients necessary for a compelling and realistic production that’s ripe with deviance, criminality and corruption. 

In addition to that, we also have new criminal enterprises to fill a sub-plot line – the powerful and violent Chinese mafia organizations that control our state’s lucrative black market marijuana trade!

In case you didn’t see it, The Frontier and Propublica profiled the Chinese criminal underworld that set up shop in our state to take advantage of our lax marijuana laws.

It’s a deep, thorough, and very entertaining long-read that investigates how Chinese crime syndicates forced their way into the Oklahoma marijuana ecosystem, the murderous people who are a part of it, and what Oklahoma’s law enforcement complex is doing to combat it. 

I found the story – which will probably win an award or two – pretty interesting.

Some of the details from the report – like when a pair of Oklahoma deputies were tailed by Chinese mafiosos while transporting a murderous criminal from Florida – really do feel like they’re pulled from a Scorsese script. 

Could "Killers of the Black Market Weed Farm" be his next M.I.O. production?

Via The Frontier:

Kingfisher County sheriff’s Lt. Ken Thompson had 25 years of experience transporting prisoners. He and another deputy drove nonstop to Florida in a marked Chevrolet Tahoe. In Miami, they checked into a motel near the airport in the evening, planning to sleep a few hours before picking up Wu from the Miami-Dade County jail, Thompson said in an interview.

They changed their minds, Thompson said, because “a weird deal happened.”

Looking out of the window of his motel room, Thompson said, he saw a car pull up next to his marked police vehicle in the parking lot. Another car appeared, then a third. The three cars drove around the motel as if doing surveillance, he said.

The deputies concluded that they “didn’t really feel comfortable sitting in this place,” Thompson said. They decided to take custody of Wu and hit the road. 

After the deputies left the jail with Wu in the back seat, the three cars from the motel reappeared, Thompson said, and shadowed the Tahoe on the highway. 

Thompson said he did evasive maneuvers to lose them, exiting abruptly and returning to the highway miles later. 

“It’s just a feeling, a gut feeling that you get, and the fact that they all just kind of just paced right around us,” he said. “I mean, they flew right up on us, but then they just locked down to our speed. So it was a weird deal.”

On the topic of weird deals, I actually once inadvertently partied with some of the Chinese mafia guys on 4/20 back in 2021.

I met up with a friend who had met up with a friend who was hanging out with some Chinese guys at the now-defunct Sunset Patio Bar. 

The Chinese guys were in town buying farmland for their marijuana grows, spoke in broken English, and had generic names like Steve or Tim or whatever. Something about them seemed off, but they were also nice and personable. I remember one of them – a guy who would later be arrested for running an illegal dispensary – buying some drinks and complaining about the high costs of Oklahoma's Seeking Arrangement call girls.

The more you know, right? 

After about 20 minutes or so, the other gang members at Sunset seemed to notice their (or perhaps my) presence, and our table was quickly surrounded by a bunch of mean-looking dudes who were way too curious as to why we were at Sunset Patio bar.

Because I didn’t want to be a crime statistic that night, I slyly paid my tab, did an Irish goodbye, and met a lady for cocktails at R&J Lounge. 

You can read more about this in my own report about the Chinese mafia's takeover of Oklahoma titled "Sunset With the Chinese Mafia: Steve, Tim, and the Quest for the Affordable Call Girl."

Anyway, while I get to work on that opus, I’d highly encourage you to check out The Frontier piece if you have a free 10 minutes or so. It was co-written by Clifton Adcock and probably edited by Brianna “Yellow Ledbetter” Bailey. They both get a TLO “Attaboy!” for a job well done. 

Stay with The Lost Ogle. We'll keep you advised.

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