Oregon

Long Creek Pot Case Goes Federal

Blue Mountain Eagle | Nov. 1, 2012 1:05 a.m. | Updated: Nov. 1, 2012 8:05 a.m.

Contributed By:

Scotta Callister Blue Mountain Eagle

CANYON CITY – A federal grand jury has indicted Long Creek residents David Dean Verstoppen and Wendy Lynn Verstoppen on drug charges.

Police with federal warrants arrested the pair last Thursday, Oct. 25, outside the Grant County Circuit Courtroom, just minutes after a status hearing for David Verstoppen in a state drug case filed earlier this month.

Oregon State Police Trooper Tom Hutchison and John Day Police Officer Daniel Pelayo made the arrests, handcuffing the Verstoppens and escorting them next door to the Grant County Jail for processing in the federal case.

Handed down Oct. 23, the federal indictment accuses both defendants of one count of criminal conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana and one count of manufacturing marijuana, with both counts alleging they grew more than 100 marijuana plants, in violation of federal law.

David Verstoppen also is named on one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court in Portland.

Grant County District Attorney Ryan Joslin said Monday he is filing a motion to dismiss the state case, in light of the federal action.

Both the federal and the state charges arose out of a multiagency investigation into marijuana trafficking in Northeastern Oregon that included simultaneous raids Oct. 10 in Grant and Malheur counties.

Police searched the Verstoppen property in Long Creek, and seized marijuana plants, processed pot and firearms. Other officers raided an outdoor marijuana grow site near Vale that authorites say was linked to the Long Creek operation.

The federal indictment also sets the groundwork for forfeiture of cash and property, if the Verstoppens are convicted. It cites $6,730 seized from a safe at the Verstoppens’ home in Long Creek, plus smaller amounts of money seized at the address, and asks for money judgment of $50,000 “representing a portion of the proceeds of defendants’ criminal activity …”

Also identified for forfeiture are three shotguns, two rifles and a revolver found at the Long Creek site; a rifle and pistol from the Vale site; and ammunition seized at both sites.

According to the indictment, David Verstoppen was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm in a Grant County Circuit Court case in 2002.

Verstoppen has previously drawn attention for his medical marijuana, which have won awards at medical marijuana competitons.

A map web page created by the Southern Oregon National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws lists Wendy Verstoppen in Long Creek as the eastside contact for NORML, which is dedicated to the legalization of marijuana.

Read more on bluemountaineagle.com.

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