Drugs, guns and someone held against their will – it all came together as three male subjects are now facing multiple criminal charges after an illegal marijuana grow operation was found near Elmore City.
The trio of Xiaobing Chen, 34, Quan Zhao, 25, and Xuechun Ruan, 21, each had five felony charges filed against them Wednesday in Garvin County District Court.
It was all triggered by an emergency call early Monday evening, Nov. 29 of some sort of physical altercation near a residence east of Elmore City.
Garvin County Sheriff Jim Mullett says when his deputies and Elmore City police arrived they found so much more.
For one it was a marijuana grow operation which turned out to be illegal, plus a male subject there claimed the three men now in jail had forced him to stay.
“A worker said he tried to leave and they wouldn't let him,” Mullett tells the PV Democrat.
“He claimed to fear for his life. He claimed they had kidnapped him and forced him to keep working.”
Elmore City police were the first to arrive at the scene as two individuals were seen wrestling on the ground.
Witnesses claimed to see the victim running toward them and screaming for someone to call the police.
A report released by Mullett's office offers even more on the individual's claim.
“The victim said that he lived at the residence with the other occupants and had been working there for three months. He went on to say that he was not allowed to exit the residence without being accompanied by someone else.
“He also claimed that he was able to get out of the house with a bag of his personal belongings and run across the street to call the police.”
When deputies were given permission to enter the residence they found in open view a large amount of processed marijuana and firearms.
“We found a large amount of processed marijuana inside the residence, and they had no OBN license or tax registration, so it was an illegal grow,” Mullett adds.
In all deputies found just over 1,500 pounds of marijuana with what the sheriff says includes a street value of $2 million. Also found was an undisclosed amount of cash and a couple of firearms.
Each of the three defendants now faces charges of trafficking in illegal drugs, possess firearm during commission of a felony, kidnapping, acquire proceeds from drug activity and possession of controlled dangerous substance without tax stamp affixed.