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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 14, 2014

Organizers of Long Running Marijuana Production and Distribution Ring Sentenced to Prison

Bellingham Leader Marketed And Distributed Marijuana To New York

          The leader of a marijuana manufacturing and distribution conspiracy was sentenced today to five years in prison for drug and money laundering charges, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  SCOTT JOHNSON, 48, of Bellingham, Washington also forfeited property in Whatcom County and Priest River Idaho, as well as multiple luxury vehicles, snowmobiles, boats and jet skis.  JOHNSON also forfeited gemstones, a sculpture valued at $12,000, and seventeen firearms.  JOHNSON and his cohorts admit they entered the marijuana conspiracy because of their greed.  At sentencing, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart told JOHNSON, “you broke the law in a flagrant manner… you are a drug dealer and a criminal.”

            According to filings in the case, JOHNSON was the leader of a group of marijuana cultivators and undertook sophisticated steps to market the marijuana across the country.  He used others to transport the marijuana hidden in a motorhome.  JOHNSON flew to New York on multiple occasions to finalize the sale to buyers in that city.  Another leader in the organization, JAY WRIGHT, 50, also of Bellingham, was sentenced to three years in prison today.  WRIGHT assisted in running the marijuana grows and served as the “number two” leader behind JOHNSON.  Judge Robart told WRIGHT that he and others had been “ensnared by the lure of money, and there must be jail time to counteract that.”

            Items forfeited in the case include: fourteen gemstones valued at $9,279; a 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 LTZ; a 2009 Mercedes-Benz GL550; a 2009 Acura TL Sedan; a 2008 Honda Civic; a 2007 BMW 328i sedan; a 2004 Cadillac Escalade SUV; a 1997 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer SUV; a forklift, backhoe, tractor, and snow blower;  two motorcycles; seven snowmobiles; a 2000 Maxum Sport boat; a trailer valued at over $10,000; two wave runners; and 17 firearms seized in Bellingham and Priest River including hand guns, shot guns, and rifles.

            This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved.

            The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Marshal Service, and Washington State Patrol.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark Parrent.

Updated March 20, 2015