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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Oregon

Monday, August 26, 2019

Southern Oregon Marijuana Trafficker Charged in Murder-For-Hire Plot

MEDFORD, Ore.—A federal criminal complaint was unsealed today charging a Southern Oregon man and frequent marijuana trafficker with attempting to pay for the murder of an associate.

John Tobe Larson, 68, of Josephine County, Oregon, is charged with using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1958.

According to the complaint, beginning in May 2019, the Oregon State Police Southwest Region Marijuana Team (OSP-SWRMJ) learned that Larson was involved in the interstate distribution of marijuana from Southern Oregon throughout the U.S. and smuggling cash back into Oregon via a private plane Larson pilots. As a result, OSP-SWRMJ and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) began investigating Larson.

By May of 2019, investigators had learned that Larson was allegedly looking for someone to murder an associate who owed him approximately $75,000 in unpaid debt. In early June, investigators arranged for a special agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), acting in an undercover capacity, to meet with Larson in Grants Pass, Oregon to discuss his plans. Larson told the agent that he “would prefer that the body [of his associate] is never [expletive] found.” Larson went on to explain that he believed the intended victim was “a rat” who had worked with law enforcement in the past.

After further discussion, Larson and the agent agreed to a price of $20,000 for the murder. Before the meeting concluded, Larson told the agent that he was planning a flight on his private plane to deliver marijuana to and bring cash proceeds back from St. Louis, Missouri. Larson indicated that he would use the money he made from his trip to pay the agent a down payment for the planned murder.

On June 27, 2019, Larson met the agent at a hotel room in Grants Pass and delivered a $10,000 cash payment. Larson also provided the agent with the identity, address, phone numbers, and social media account information of the intended victim. He told the agent that he wanted his associate’s body dumped in the ocean where “lice and crabs” would naturally dispose of it and that he wanted a photo of the body going over the side of a boat before paying the remaining $10,000.

On August 21, 2019, Larson was arrested in Rogue River, Oregon. Immediately preceding the arrest, Larson provided the agent with $5,000 and concentrated marijuana after being lead to believe the murder was complete.

Larson made his first appearance in federal court today in Medford. A status conference and detention hearing are scheduled for September 16, 2019.

This case was investigated by the OSP-SWRMJ, DEA and ATF and is being prosecuted by Adam E. Delph and Marco A. Boccato, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Drug Trafficking
Updated August 27, 2019