Large-scale marijuana growing operations have been turning up more frequently in Kansas, as part of what authorities say is a move by organized crime to the region.
Drug Enforcement Administration statistics show the number of outdoor marijuana operations found in Kansas and neighboring states has increased over the past couple of years, and the number has doubled in some cases.
“We’re seeing it all over the U.S., but operations are moving to areas in the Midwest where they think we don’t have adequate law enforcement,” said Rod Page, a special agent with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, told The Hutchinson News. “They’re looking for backwoods areas where they think they won’t be caught.”
A large marijuana operation found Oct. 7 in rural Reno County near Haven is one of eight marijuana plots reported this year in Kansas, according to a report in the Hutchinson newspaper.
Page said it’s the fourth such plot found in the past two weeks. He said each site had between 3,000 and 4,000 marijuana plants.
In most cases, those who oversee the crop also live on the property, creating a danger for hunters and landowners who are most likely to stumble upon the plots.
“The West Coast has been seeing these types of operations, particularly on state and government ground and forests,” Page said. “But it’s coming to the Midwest.”
In Kansas, 12 outdoor marijuana plots and 1,463 cultivated marijuana plants were eradicated in 2008. Last year, that statistic jumped to 29 plots and 24,478 marijuana plants, including two 10,000-plant operations in Kingman and Sedgwick counties.