According to a memo distributed to the US Border Patrol, illegal Chinese marijuana growing operations are springing up all over the state of Maine, the Daily Caller reported.
The July memo reports that law enforcement in Maine has identified 270 properties suspected to be used for illegal growing operations to produce an estimated $4.37 billion in revenue.
A federal law enforcement source told the Daily Caller that the illegal growing operations are being run by Chinese nationals with either resident status or pending asylum claims, meaning they cannot be deported.
According to the source, the Border Patrol believes that Chinese nationals are using rural areas to grow marijuana for distribution across state lines and funneling the profits to China.
The memo, obtained by the Daily Caller, includes a heat map showing large areas of Maine where these illegal growing operations have cropped up.
In 2016, voters in Maine approved a measure to legalize marijuana in the state. In 2020, the sale of recreational marijuana became legal.
Former DEA Special Operations head Derik Maltz told the Daily Caller that Maine has no way to deter criminals who are “masters” at exploiting vulnerabilities.
According to Maltz, Chinese criminal organizations often collaborate with Mexican drug cartels, taking cartel cash as part of a money laundering scheme. He said the Chinese are using the cash to buy real estate in the United States where they set up illegal growing operations. He noted that since the growing operations are selling an untaxed product, they are extremely profitable.
According to the memo, the profits from the growing operations are either used to fund more illegal operations in the United States or are shipped back to China.
Based on a 2020 National Drug Threat Assessment, the profits from 100 cultivated plants could produce $5.4 million. If a single illegal growing operation produces three cycles of 100 plants each year, it could bring in $16.2 million in revenue, according to the memo.