Four Colorado men charged with smuggling 132 pounds of marijuana into Minnesota
Last week, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota released information alleging that Boyd Ethan Wilkinson of Brighton, Robert Lee Bowker of Lyons, Mathew Martin Hecker of Evergreen and Anthony W. Raymond of Longmont had worked out a deal with two Minnesota men to ship pounds of marijuana from Colorado to the North Star State.
In late September, the men put their plan into action, with Wilkinson and another Colorado man not charged in the conspiracy reportedly piloting a small, pot-loaded plane out of Colorado to the Anoka County Airport in Blaine, Minnesota. The only problem? The tiny community airport closes down at night, so planes making unscheduled landings in said tiny community tend to attract attention.
Police met the airplane on the tarmac as it taxied to a stop, and opened the door to find the two men and a plane full of large hockey bags. Normally, that's probably not odd cargo for Minnesota, but instead of the aroma of mildewed-sweat nastiness that usually accompanies mounds of hockey gear, police immediately got a whiff of 132 pounds of skunky Colorado cannabis.
A few days later, the details of the smuggling operation came together after the Minnesota connections -- Cameron Leigh Christensen and Todd Christian Skonnord -- were pulled over by the Iowa State Patrol, who found a little bit of pot, nearly $80,000 in cash, and "drug ledgers" that apparently outlined the plan. Troopers also confiscated cell phones that "contained photographs of marijuana plants, cultivated marijuana 'buds,' compressed high-grade marijuana, bulk cash, and commercial equipment typically used in the cultivation of marijuana." That alone wasn't illegal, but the phones also allegedly contained text messages describing the shipments.
Hecker and Wilkinson have since pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana. If convicted, the other defendants face as many as twenty years in prison for conspiracy and five years for possession.
There's no suggestion that the scheme was connected to any medical marijuana operations in Colorado. According to Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division spokeswoman Julie Postlethwait, none of the men involved are listed in the MMED licensing database.
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