Authorities suspect the killing of 7 Laotian Americans at an illegal marijuana farm in Southern California is the work of organized crime.
NPR reports it happened in Riverside County in the small rural town of Aguanga and that all the victims and witnesses are Laotians.
It happened in what authorities describe as a “dilapidated two-bedroom house” with a black tarp stretched over a fenced backyard indicating a growing operation.
“This was not just a ‘they happen to be growing marijuana’ ” situation, Sheriff Chad Bianco told reporters, according to NPR. This was a “major organized-crime-type operation.”
According to the Daily Mail, deputies confiscated 1,000 pounds of marijuana and several hundred plants worth up to $5 million.
The identities of the victims who were all shot have not been released.
This year alone, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has investigated the deaths of 14 people all connected to marijuana.
Property owner Robert McKay says he’s rented the home to same people for three years without any issues.
“I’m kind of unaware of anything right now,” McKay said to the Daily Mail. “For two and three years, they’ve been there – perfect. Never had an issue.”
Realtors say Aquanga’s isolation have made it a hot spot for marijuana farms.
“This risk is inherent in the underground market,” Jerred Kiloh, the owner of a legal marijuana dispensary, told the Daily Mail. “When you have money and high returns, people want to take that from you.”
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