A legendary outlaw known as the Godfather of Grass who disappeared almost a decade ago while federal agents were closing in on him was deported from Canada on Wednesday and was being held in a Vermont prison pending his return to Kentucky to face marijuana charges.
John Robert “Johnny” Boone was turned over to U.S. authorities by Canadian officials at the Highgate Springs port of entry. He was then taken to federal court in Burlington, where he was ordered held until he can be returned to his home state, Deputy U.S. Marshal John Curtis said.
Boone, 73, was convicted in the 1980s and spent a decade in prison for what prosecutors called the “largest domestic marijuana syndicate in American history.” They said he was the head of the Cornbread Mafia, which had 29 farms in Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Wisconsin.
Eventually, 70 Kentucky residents were charged with growing 182 tons of marijuana.
During Boone’s 1988 federal court sentencing hearing he invoked the hardships of the area where he lived southeast of Louisville.
“With the poverty at home, marijuana is sometimes one of the things that puts bread on the table,” Boone said. “We were working with our hands on earth God gave us.”
Boone, who was featured on the TV show “America’s Most Wanted” and sparked a Facebook page called Run, Johnny, Run, has been described as a tattooed Santa Claus. Federal authorities who searched for him said that proved as difficult as “trying to catch a ghost.”
Boone, also known as the King of Pot, fled to Canada after a 2008 indictment on more federal marijuana charges in Kentucky.
The Montreal Gazette reported that Boone was arrested Dec. 22 by Montreal police at a shopping center.
— Associated Press
NEWS IN PICTURES:
Three men pled guilty Monday in Fresno federal court for conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess marijuana on a Native American site in Tulare County, the office of U.S Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said.
According to court documents, Juan Carlos Lopez, 32 of Lake Elsinore; and Rafael Torres-Armenta, 30; and Javier Garcia-Castaneda, 38, both of Michoacán, Mexico, worked with co-defendant Carlos Piedra-Murillo, 30, also of Mexico to produce marijuana at a Tübatulaba Native American archaeological site in Domeland Wilderness area. Piedra-Murillo plead guilty to the conspiracy charges last month.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said officers pulled out 8,000 marijuana plants from two sites plus seized 17 pounds of processed marijuana, a .22-caliber rifle, a pellet rifle and rounds of .22-caliber ammunition.
Lopez, Torres-Armenta, and Garcia-Castaneda are schedule for sentencing on June 26, and Piedra-Murillo is scheduled for sentencing on June 5. Torres-Armenta, Garcia-Castaneda and Piedra-Murillo are each subject to deportation to Mexico after their sentence is complete.
— Fresno Bee
Authorities in Los Angeles County say an explosion that severely burned a man is being investigated as a possible drug lab fire.
KABC-TV reports that the victim suffered burns to his hands and face in the blast late Sunday inside a shed behind a home in suburban Pasadena.
Responding officers discovered bundles of marijuana and butane. Investigators suspect the explosion occurred during the process of cooking concentrated marijuana honey oil with butane.
A man from Michoacán, Mexico, suspected of damaging Sequoia National Park property while cultivating marijuana at three separate locations within the park pleaded guilty Monday.
In addition to the plea, Juan Penaloza-Ramirez, who also went by the alias Juan Penaloza-Herrera and Juan Penaloza, agreed to pay $10,198 to the U.S. Forest Service for damaging the National Park, said U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert. He faced charges of conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana grow. The 46-year-old Taft man could serve a mandatory minimum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a maximum statutory penalty of 40 years in prison with a $5 million fine.
According to court documents, Penaloza-Ramirez traveled to Mexico every winter to recruit people to work for him, Talbert said. The man employed growers, deliverymen and others to cultivate the plant at Fay Creek, Brush Creek and The Needles, located inside the National Park.
Law enforcement seized 3,151 marijuana plants from Fay Creek, 2,719 from Brush Creek and 2,608 from The Needles. Springs were blocked and redirected to water marijuana plants at the Fay Creek and Needles locations. The water used at the Needles location came from a spring that drains into the upper Kern River. In order to make room for marijuana plants at Brush Creek, employees removed new vegetation and trees that had sprouted after the 2002 McNally Fire. Trash was found flowing in the streams near Fay Creek and also in a stream that supports trout at Brush Creek. At both The Needles and Brush Creek site, toxic pesticides from Mexico were discovered.
Penaloza-Ramirez is scheduled for sentencing June 19. On May 8, co-defendant Russell Lee Riggs, 68, is scheduled for a status conference. The charges against Riggs are only allegations, Talbert said, and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
— Fresno Bee
A driver who hit and killed an 8-year-old girl in northern Colorado has been sentenced to 150 days in jail followed by two years of probation.
The Times-Call reports 21-year-old Kyle Couch was sentenced Tuesday for the May 20 crash in Longmont that killed Peyton Knowlton, who was hit in a crosswalk as she rode her bike with her stepfather.
Couch, who pleaded guilty in March to careless driving and having a fake ID, was initially charged with several counts, including vehicular homicide and driving under the influence of marijuana. Prosecutors dropped all nine original counts because they did not think they could prove every fact that had been disputed.
Couch apologized in court Tuesday.
— Associated Press