Melink would not speculate on whether the deaths in Pike County were retribution over drug-selling turf, but he said those kinds of killings do occur domestically.
“There are on occasions when acts of violence are carried out, particularly as it relates to markets,” he said.
Pike County was targeted as part of a state marijuana eradication effort in 2012. At one site, on a hillside along Hickson Road, 1,200 pot plants were seized and destroyed.
DeWine said in a press release at the time that the site had “suspected ties to a Mexican drug cartel.”
This followed a discovery in 2010 of almost 23,000 pot plants, again allegedly with evidence linking them to Mexican organized crime.
DeWine on Wednesday noted those prior busts.
“They were both found in remote locations, I can’t tell you exactly where. It was clear what was happeneing at those locations … both were, what I would call, encampments,” he said. “The people were basically in tents, were living out there and were growing the marijuana.”
But DeWine backed down from using the word “cartel” to describe those sites.
“Our information was at the time that these people were from Mexico and they were involved in some sort of organized crime,” he said. “That’s what we thought at the time.”