Federal prosecutors in Portland have charged an alleged marijuana smuggler in a plot to hire a hitman to murder a business associate. According to a criminal complaint unsealed on Monday, 68-year-old John Tobe Larson attempted to hire a hitman to kill a business associate who owed him approximately $75,000 from marijuana trafficking deals.
Larson allegedly paid the supposed contract killer, who was actually an undercover agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Explosives, $10,000 that had been raised from a pot smuggling run to St. Louis. Larson had been introduced to the undercover agent in May through a confidential police informant who had become aware of Larson’s wish to kill the associate. Another $10,000 was promised once Larson received photographic evidence that the body of the victim had been dumped at sea.
Cellmates Conspire to Smuggle Weed
Larson and the potential victim had been cellmates in federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon while Larson was serving a sentence there for a marijuana distribution conviction. During that time, the pair hatched a plan to smuggle cannabis to other areas of the country in Larson’s private airplane and return to Oregon with the cash.
At a meeting with the undercover agent at a hotel in Grants Pass, Oregon in June that was recorded by law enforcement, Larson said that he needed the associate “to disappear” because he had “moved a bunch of loads for him and he never paid me,’’ according to court documents.
Larson told the undercover agent that once the murder had been committed, he wanted the body to be dumped in the ocean so that “lice and crabs” would eat the body and “the teeth are in sediments at the bottom of the ocean,” according to the criminal complaint.
“I have been in this business for over fifty years, this is not my first rodeo,” Larson reportedly told the federal agent posing as a hitman.
Larson offered to provide the name of the intended victim, a “burner” cell phone, and a $10,000 down payment. The remaining $10,000 would be paid after the contract had been executed.
Defendant is Convicted Pot Smuggler
Larson was sentenced to five years in federal prison after being convicted of running a $2 million per year marijuana cultivation operation in the Fairbanks, Alaska area. According to court papers filed in that case, Larson had been growing cannabis for 20 years, smuggling approximately ten pounds of marijuana per week in duffel bags to other areas via his Cessna 170B, bringing in $4,000 per pound for the harvest.
Larson made his first court appearance in the current case on Monday on charges of using interstate commerce to commit murder-for-hire. He did not enter a plea and is being held without bail. Efforts to contact Larson’s attorney, public defender Clayton Lance, were unsuccessful, according to media reports.