By chris conrad
Federal law enforcement has lodged felony charges against six men tied to medical marijuana gardens that were raided by Drug Enforcement Administration agents last fall.
The men are accused of growing hundreds of marijuana plants under the guise of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program and selling the harvest buds for tens of thousands of dollars on the black market, according to an affidavit released Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Among those arrested was Brian Wayne Simmons, the owner of Brian’s Green Thumb Farm, a property on East Gregory Road in Central Point that was raided in October.
DEA agents photographed 455 large marijuana plants growing at the site and raided the farm on Oct. 5. Agents seized the plants and found 2,000 pounds of semi-dry marijuana in a barn, the affidavit states. Afterward, agents dried the marijuana and found that it weighed 1,022 pounds, the court document says.
The OMMP records for the farm showed the site was granted 76 patients, allowing for 114 pounds.
John Wayne Johnson, who was employed by Simmons to trim and tend to the garden, told agents he believed about 400 plants grew on the property and that he received $1,000 a month to work the land, according to the affidavit.
Simmons was questioned by agents during the raid. The DEA said at one point he “nodded in the affirmative” when asked if the garden was a money-making operation, the affidavit states.
Simmons told agents he was willing to risk prosecution and speculated that President Barack Obama would “help him out,” according to court documents.
Agents then moved on to a garden tended by associates of Simmons. This garden was in the 3200 block of Dark Hollow Road outside Medford and contained 64 marijuana plants.
Agents found 2,000 pounds of recently harvested buds in an outbuilding and in the back of a 20-foot Mitsubishi box truck, the affidavit says. Also seized at the Dark Hollow Road property was a money-counting machine, video surveillance equipment and packaging material, it says.
The property belonged to Mike Reed Peru, who planned to sell the land to Simmons.
The truck found on the site was registered to Peru. OMMP records show the farm was approved for nine patients, allowing for 13.5 pounds of marijuana, the affidavit says.
Michael Scott Grantski lived on the property and was acquainted with Simmons and Peru. Grantski said he was offered 20 percent of the garden’s “profits” by Simmons and Peru for maintaining the plants, the affidavit states.
Agents then found Peru owned property in Washington, where they believed he was selling some of the marijuana grown in Jackson County.
Peru’s home in the 700 block of Eastridge Drive in Medford was searched on Oct. 13. Agents found $11,000 in cash and questioned Peru about his dealings with Simmons, the court documents show.
Peru said he provided financial advice and consulted with Simmons on his medical marijuana garden. Peru told the agents he also dealt with a grower named “Cliff” who worked a garden in the 12300 block of Table Rock Road in Central Point.
This turned out to be Clifford Drew Ruhland, who resided on the property surrounded by 113 large plants, the affidavit states. OMMP records showed the garden exceeded what was allowed under the act.
Ruhland tended the site with Caleb Joseph Kulp, who was paid to work the garden. A handwritten contract between the two said Ruhland agreed to pay Kulp $50,000 for his efforts, court documents show.
Agents found several pictures of Simmons posing next to marijuana plants growing at the property. Another photo showed Peru’s Mitsubishi truck parked at the site.
Law enforcement was then led to Washington, where Peru’s son had been arrested for selling marijuana in June 2011.
A search of Peru’s home in Edgewood, Wash., showed a ledger which contained the names “JJ,” “Cliff” and “Dad”; under each name were dollar amounts ranging from $1,000 to $62,420, the affidavit states.
Peru’s son told police his father was a consultant to Oregon medical marijuana growers but had nothing to do with the Washington crime.
Peru subsequently told Washington police he was making money on Oregon medical marijuana, court documents state. He also admitted moving marijuana from Oregon to sell in Washington, the affidavit states.
Peru’s son said that he drives to Oregon to obtain marijuana or has his father deliver it to him, according to the affidavit.
Agents dug into Peru’s bank accounts and found several large cash and check deposits made between October 2010 and October 2011. The deposits range from $3,000 to $44,500, court documents show. The DEA believes these deposits are proceeds from illegal marijuana sales.
Subpoenaed bank records show that Peru and Ruhland had a joint account in which large deposits were made between March 2010 and October 2011.
Based on this investigation, the DEA has charged Peru, Ruhland, Simmons, Kulp, Johnson and Grantski with manufacture, delivery and possession of marijuana.
The raids caused a stir among Southern Oregon’s medical marijuana community last year.
Lori Duckworth, the executive director of the Southern Oregon chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, or SONORML, said she had not had time yet to closely read the affidavit and declined to comment on the charges at this time.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Fong did not return calls for comment late Tuesday.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or email email@example.com.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.