A federal memorandum distributed to Border Patrol shows illegal Chinese marijuana cultivation operations are thriving in the state of Maine.
The memorandum, which was obtained by The Daily Caller and distributed to Border Patrol in July, notes that law enforcement identified 270 properties suspected of illegal Chinese marijuana cultivation operations in Maine. Estimates show that the illegal Chinese operations could generate $4.37 billion in revenue.
“We think the Chinese are taking advantage of rural areas, like Maine, to produce marijuana to sell across state lines and funnel the profits back to China,” a federal law enforcement source told The Daily Caller.
The law enforcement source claimed that the illegal marijuana operations are typically organized by Chinese nationals who have asylum claims or resident status in the United States, which prevents them from being removed from the U.S.
According to The Daily Caller, the memo also included a heat map that highlights the extent of illegal Chinese marijuana growth operations, which provide revenue for China.
“There’s no deterrence,” Derek Maltz, former DEA’s head of Special Operations Division, said. “Criminals are masters at taking advantage of the vulnerabilities.”
Marijuana was legalized by voters in Maine in 2016, which was followed by the legalization of recreational marijuana sales in 2020. However, the state’s Office of Cannabis Policy still outlines specific regulations for the cultivation and sale of marijuana.
WABI 5 recently reported that authorities discovered an illegal marijuana operation in Bangor, Maine, with 111 pounds of processed marijuana and 3,400 marijuana plants.
“There are hundreds of these operations occurring throughout the state,” Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton told The Daily Caller. “It’s upsetting to those who live near these operations, and even those who are following Maine laws and procedures.”
The memo provided to Border Patrol indicated about 749 properties that are associated with people linked to marijuana operations in Maine and Washington state.
Officials noted that the illegal Chinese operations are often associated with Mexican cartels.
“They take the cash from the cartels in America, and they buy these properties and they do these investments with cash from the Mexican cartels in our own country,” Maltz said. “This is part of their laundering scheme.”