Elderly woman accused of running major marijuana ring
POSTED: Thursday, April 12, 2012 - 2:00pm
UPDATED: Thursday, April 12, 2012 - 2:04pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — An elderly Oklahoma woman is accused of running a major marijuana drug operation out of her Craig County home.
The investigation began about five months ago when Craig County Deputies and Vinita Police got a tip that a large amount of marijuana was being sold out of the home of 73-year-old Darlene Mayes.
After months of investigation and surveillance, the drug task force served a warrant at her home Monday evening.
Around 6:45 Monday evening, Vinita Police, Craig County deputies and Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics agents raided the picturesque farm of the retired DHS worker.
Investigators thought Mayes was a major player in the drug trade, but even they were surprised at what they found: six pounds of marijuana, guns and $277,000 in cash.
"It was an extreme wow moment," said Vinita police chief Bobby Floyd.
He says he expected to find marijuana, but was stunned by the sheer amount of cash -- much of which was stuffed in garbage bags and vacuum sealed in plastic bags.
"We kept finding more cash and it was so surprising that it was just laying around," Floyd said. "It was in closets, underneath the bed. But it wasn't really hidden."
"We think we really put a big dent in the drug trade in Northeastern Oklahoma," said Craig County Sheriff Jimmy Sooter.
He believes Mayes was a supplier to not only the Vinita area, but also to Tulsa and surrounding states.
"We are right in the corner. We've got Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas not far away," Sooter said. "We feel like it was coming in from all over. And we think this is a real good arrest."
The forfeited cash will be split between the Craig County Sheriffs Office, Vinita Police Department and Craig County District Attorney's office.
The money will be used to fight drugs.
"It helps with the equipment," Floyd said. "It helps to send my guys to proper schooling. We do a lot continuing education. And we really focus on drug interdiction."
The bust was the result of a new partnership between the three agencies.
"By ourselves, we can do the job," Floyd said. "But when are together, we are really strong and efficient."
Darlene Mayes faces a total of five criminal charges: possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, maintaining a dwelling where drugs are kept or sold, possession of a firearm in commission of a felony and failure to affix tax stamps.
Sooter says the investigation into the drug bust is ongoing and more arrests are possible in the future.