A former illegal marijuana grow farm in Johnston County will go on the auction block next month.
The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday that a 19.24-acre lot near Coleman will be available from Sept. 11 to Sept. 13 at an online auction.
An opening bid of $755,006 will start the auction.
“We’re looking to find buyers who will take ownership of this property and use it responsibly, which was certainly not happening under the previous owners,” Johnston County Sheriff Gary Dodd said in a statement. “Let it be known throughout the county that if you use your farm to grow illegally, we will seize it and we will sell it.”
Recent history of illegal marijuana farms seized in Oklahoma
Five years after Oklahoma voters approved a measure to legalize the licensed cultivation, use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the state is home to a thriving cannabis black market that grows and ships large amounts of marijuana throughout the country.
The black market cannabis economy has led to labor trafficking, prostitution and, in one case, the killing of four people.
Chen Wu, a 46-year-old former worker at an Oklahoma marijuana farm at farm near Hennessey — a small town about 68 miles northwest of Oklahoma City — is accused of killing four other workers on Nov. 20 after demanding $300,000 be returned to him for his "investment" in the illegal enterprise.
Local and state agencies routinely raid illegal grow operations and seize millions of dollars in illegally produced marijuana.
At the farm near Coleman, authorities reported the seizure of roughly 20,000 illegally grown marijuana plants worth more than $30 million in street value.
The farm was among several grow operations raided within a span of weeks two summers ago.
Other government real estate contracts pending in Oklahoma
The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office selected Maryland-based Bid4Assets — which describes itself as a leading online marketplace for the sale of distressed real estate property sold by governments, county tax collectors, financial institutions, and real estate funds — to conduct next month’s online auction.
In a news release, Bid4Assets said it “collaborated” with sheriffs and foreclosure attorneys to pass legislation allowing foreclosure auctions to be conducted online. On May 25, 2022, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law Senate Bill 976, which was authored by Sen. Casey Murdock, R-Felt.
In a statement, Bid4Assets President Jesse Loomis the company has several other contracts pending in Oklahoma and it expects “virtual sales to quickly become the new normal.”
Potential bidders on the farm near Coleman must register a free Bid4Assets account and fund a $25,000 refundable bid deposit in order to participate.
Deposits are due by Sept. 6.