To many, marijuana seems harmless. The business behind the high is a different story. Violence follows the black markets, and while the ban remains in place, people will kill for the product and its profits. Bloodshed also plagues the legal market. Money attracts greed, greed creates violence, and marijuana motivates murder.
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10 Riverside County carnage
While California may have legalized marijuana in 2018, a black market along with the violence associated with it continues to thrive. On September 7, Riverside County police arrived at a residence in Aguanga and found six dead in gunfire. An unidentified female victim was alive and taken to the hospital, where she later died.
Investigators discovered signs of illegal pot growing on the property on the edge of the Cleveland National Forest. “This was a very large operation, an organized crime operation,” noted Sheriff Chad Bianco. There were hundreds of cannabis plants, a greenhouse, a laboratory for butane extraction of THC, and more than 1,000 pounds of processed marijuana.
These deaths bring the total number of murders in illegal marijuana operations in Riverside County to 14 this year. These increases bring in enormous amounts of cash. With no access to banks or police, they are prime predator targets.
9 Post mom
On September 23, 2019, a South Carolina postal worker was found with .223 bullets in her postal vehicle. Irene Pressley, affectionately known as the Post Office Mana, worked for the US Postal Service for nearly 20 years. Police arrested Trevor Raekwon Seward, 22, and Jerome Terrell Davis, 28, for senseless carnage. Court documents claim the duo murdered 64-year-old Pressley at 3 p.m. to steal a pack of marijuana.
Seward had a fingerprint on one of Pressley’s packages. Prosecutors claim Seward had an AR-15 in hand shortly before the murder. A third man, Ricky Jesus Rocha Barajas, 28, from Santa Rosa, California, was charged with drug conspiracy. Prosecutors allege Barajas and Davis made a drug deal possible on the day of the murder. Seward and Davis face nothing less than life if condemned. Barajas could spend five years in federal prison.
8th South Bend Self Defense
Bad drug dealing tests the limits of Indiana’s self-defense laws. No one denies that Traychon Taylor tried to rob Kyle Doroszko, 19, at gunpoint in the parking lot of a bar in South Bend on April 28, 2019. Doroszko drew his own gun and killed the robber. Prosecutors charged Doroszko with the murder, claiming he could not qualify for self-defense because he was trying to sell marijuana at the time of the shooting. Indiana law prevents the use of self-defense at the time of the commission of a crime – even if that crime is non-violent.
Doroszko’s attorney, John Kindley, observes, “It is absurd to suggest that a person whose life is threatened while engaging in a nonviolent activity that the government believes is a crime – such as selling marijuana or prostitution – should do so only allow to be killed or charged with murder if they defend themselves successfully ”.
7th Manhattan Marijuana Mayhem
On December 11, 2019, a newbie to Barnard was stabbed to death in Morningside Park in Manhattan. Tessa Majors, 18, a native of Virginia and musician, died of stab wounds to the face, neck and arms. Two 14-year-olds, Rashaun Weaver and Luciano Lewis, and an unnamed 13-year-old were arrested and charged with murder.
During an interview on AM 970’s The Cats Roundtable, Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins revealed, “(Majors) was in the park to buy marijuana.” He blamed Mayor DiBlasio’s “hands off” approach to marijuana policing for her death. Major’s family were appalled by Mullins’ “irresponsible public speculation” and the “deeply inappropriate” act of shaming victims. Brooklyn attorney Scott Hechinger pointed out the absurdity of using the majors’ deaths to sabotage marijuana reform. Even if she had bought drugs, “Legalization would have prevented her from going to the park. She could have bought it from a licensed pharmacy. “
6th Hard (wick) luck
On May 26, 2020, an Oklahoma City man shot dead a burglar trying to break into his business. Police Major Sergeant Gary Knight explains: Daniel Hardwick, 42, “tried to break in when the shopkeeper who was in the building at the time apparently opened fire with a pistol and beat and killed the man who broke in.” But Larue Bratcher, 33, didn’t own any business: it was a marijuana grow.
“There were about 480 plants,” noted Knight, “which is about $ 1,500,000 of marijuana.” Bratcher did not have a cultivation license, which is a crime. Initially, he was booked on a $ 5,000 bond and charged with growing illegal marijuana. However, when the prosecutor’s office investigated the case, they added an additional charge of second degree murder. According to Corey Harris, Bratcher’s best friend, “he was arrested because his license was out of date”.
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5 Hitler & Co.
In December 2019, a marijuana dealer nicknamed “Hitler” pleaded guilty. Marcus Etienne, 38, from St. Martin, Louisiana, and co-defendant Mario Robinson, 36, from Opelousas, Louisiana, admitted to operating a narcotics distribution network. Etienne, who drives with “Hitler”, claims that he has run the criminal enterprise since 2009. The prosecutors claim that Hitler and Co. had their hands in murder, rental murder, narcotics distribution, robbery, extortion, money laundering, gun races and dog fights.
Etienne and Robinson admitted to murdering Trince Thibodeaux in 2016. Etienne suspected that the 28-year-old Thibodeaux had stolen from him and ordered the hit. He paid Robinson $ 5,000 to eliminate Thibodeaux. Robinson turned around and paid Burte Gucci Rhodes $ 1,250 for the job. Rhodes is tried separately.
According to the plea, Etienne sent marijuana through the mail to Texas and Louisiana. For added horror, prosecutors brought up the inhumane treatment the dogs had received at Etienne’s gambling establishment.
4th Deadly investments
Even legal marijuana can be deadly. In the early hours of October 1, 2019, attackers broke into a cannabis entrepreneur’s home while he was sleeping, kidnapping and murdering him. The next morning, the remains of 50-year-old Tushar Atre were found in the mountains of Santa Cruz the next morning, slumped in his girlfriend’s white BMW with a single gunshot wound.
In May, four people were arrested and charged with murder. Stephen Nicholas Lindsay, 22, and Kaleb Charters, 19, worked for Atres’ licensed cannabis dispensing and delivery service Interstitial Systems. Kaleb’s brother Kurtis Chambers, 22, and Joshua James Camps, 23, were also charged with murder, kidnapping, carjacking, burglary and robbery. Only Camps is facing additional improvements in the use of a firearm.
When urged for a motive, Lt. Brian Cleveland: “These people wanted to make money and they took advantage of the situation.” None of the accused has a criminal record.
3 Follow Fat Marks
In November 2019, an Oakland Conman was sentenced to life for double homicide on a Mendocino pot farm. There was only one catch – the farm was wrong. Fifty-three-year-old Wing Wo Man, also known as “Fat Mark”, has borrowed money from Jim Tat Kong for various failed endeavors – from real estate programs to pot farms. Fearing retaliation for the inability to repay the loans, Fat Mark opted for deception and violence.
Fat Mark drove Kong and Kong’s wife, Cindy Bao Feng Chen, to a remote area outside Fort Bragg where he claimed he had grown a new marijuana. While the “investors” sat in their minivan, Ma stuck a bullet in each of their heads. Three cigarettes recovered from the crime scene contained Fat Mark’s DNA.
During the trial, there was evidence that, since 2008, Fat Mark had been bribing Harry Hu, a former lieutenant in the Oakland Police Department. Fat Mark met Hu days after Mendocino’s double homicide.
2 Family matter
On February 28, 2020, police arrived in Savage, Minnesota Target to discover a 16-year-old head shot. Samuel Keezer (pictured) died after being rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center.
The footage shows Keezer being pushed out of a vehicle that has escaped from the scene. The investigators followed the car to Brayelin Miller (17). The police arrested not only Brayelin, but also his father Taran Miller (44) and his mother TanyaMarie Miller (43). Brayelin confessed to arranging the cannabis transaction through Snapchat. Taran admitted firing the fatal shot thinking the 16-year-old would “take the marijuana and run out of the car without paying”.
Police accused Brayelin of assisting and facilitating second degree murder. TanyaMarie is accused of helping a perpetrator to avoid arrest and of subsequently helping a perpetrator as an accomplice. Taran’s guess was correct. According to Keezer’s associate, the plan was “to get the marijuana and run away.”
1 Buzz kill
In 1933, Victor Licata hacked up his parents and three siblings in their home in Ybor City. The ax murder paved the way for the marijuana ban. A theory that the 21-year-old’s actions were the result of cannabis-induced delirium earned him the name: The Dream Slayer. Licata’s horrific assassinations inspired the infamous 1936 anti-pot propaganda film Reefer Madness.
Licata’s actions, however, were the result of mental illness – not marijuana. The police tried to sign him up in 1932, but his family refused. Licata’s father saw the potential danger and slept with a gun. According to the prosecutor, they refused to prosecute Licata on the grounds that it would be financially irresponsible to bring someone to trial with a “definite” mental illness. Instead it was institutionalized.
Henry Anslinger, head of the Federal Office for Narcotics, took up the Licata case and made it the focus of his anti-marijuana campaign. In 1937, the prohibitionist succeeded in getting the Marihuana Tax Act through Congress.
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About the author: Abraham Rinquist is the former executive director of the Hellen Hartness Flanders Folklore Society. As a certified ethnomusicologist, he is currently writing a paper on intersectionality with the title “Balkan Death Grip” on Yugoslav Gothic music at the end of the 1980s.