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Doctor On The Payroll,' $3,200 Per Pound Marijuana Involved In Drug Charges, Feds Allege

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GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Leaders of an alleged marijuana trafficking ring boasted in wire-tapped phone calls about having a 'doctor on the payroll' to certify customers as medical marijuana patients, a ruse they thought would protect them from authorities, federal prosecutors wrote in a criminal complaint.

In court records unsealed Thursday, Oct. 17, authorities say they unraveled a complex, multi-county marijuana operation that led to charges against 27 alleged suspects and the seizure of more than 500 plants and unspecified assets that investigators say were proceeds from illegal activity.

Among the allegations against the Medical Marijuana Team, which had been under investigation since August 2012:

• The government says the group sold high-grade marijuana for up to $3,200 a pound.

• Organizers claimed to have a doctor on the payroll, and the unidentified physician approving patients under the state medical marijuana act earned up to $10,000 in cash in a day.

• In an unreported, video-taped break-in of one of the grow rooms, a leader says more than $100,000 in marijuana was stolen.

• Members of the alleged conspiracy were encouraged to have family members obtain cards so that they can legally produce more marijuana.

Authorities involved in the investigation, dubbed Operation High Mileage by police, said the group that included people in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Grand Traverse and Oceana counties used the state's medical marijuana act as cover.

“The (organization) uses the framework of the (medical marijuana law) to suggest that they are following Michigan law in manufacturing and distributing marijuana, but my investigation, which includes several weeks of wiretaps on cellphones used by principal members of the organization, finds no support for the claim that they are trying to provide marijuana to sick people; it shows that they are out to make money,” Patrick Frederick, a Drug Enforcement Administration task force officer, wrote in the complaint.

“Cynically, they view the possession of Michigan Medical Marijuana card as a license to violate state and federal law,” Frederick wrote.

Frederick alleges in court records that the group, which owned two “grow stores,” including Plant Paradise and In Do Grow, “prides itself” on providing high-grade marijuana.

They do not operate a dispensary, but provided direct sales to customers, including other distributors and social users in amounts ranging from partial ounces to tens of pounds, police said.

“The members … pretend to follow the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, but that is merely a ruse,” Frederick said.

Members are patients, caregivers or both under the medical marijuana law.

He said they “select a few ‘doctors’” to ensure applicants obtain medical marijuana cards, and talk about “real doctor or weed doctor,” according to intercepted phone conversations.

“In undercover recordings, MMT members boast of having a doctor on the payroll who provides kickbacks for every ‘patient’ referred to them. The doctors reportedly make $10,000 a day in cash by approving MMMA cards,” he said.

He said members are encouraged to have family members obtain cards so that they can legally produce more marijuana.

Early this month, several men broke into a marijuana manufacturing operation during the night, and spent hours harvesting marijuana. It had an alarm system and surveillance camera that captured the break-in.



Shawn Taylor, identified as one of the leaders, viewed the tape and told others in a phone call that “Some … stole $100,000 worth of weed from me.”

No one called police.

Grand Rapids police investigated a June 2, 2011, armed robbery at Taylor’s mother’s house, though.


Police determined 18 plants were stolen. There were 55 other plants. Taylor’s mother, who said her son possessed medical marijuana documents, was not charged.


Record show the investigation, at least in part, originated when authorities in Ohio arrested a man with several pounds of marijuana. He told police the marijuana originated in West Michigan, and named a man who was involved in the cultivation and distribution of large quantities of marijuana in the Greater Grand Rapids and Muskegon areas, the criminal complaint said.


A month later, two informants told police that Taylor and Robert Housley “were selling ‘medical marijuana’ all over West Michigan,” Frederick said. Eventually, police would receive “text bombs” from Housley describing the type or strain of marijuana that was available, police said.


An informant told police that Taylor and others “operate under the guise of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, but are actually in gross violation of the act based on the way they operate and the amount of marijuana that is produced and distributed,” Frederick wrote.


A report written by the West Michigan Enforcement Team, or WEMET, said police investigated a grow location at 823 W. Western Ave., on Aug. 10, 2012. Detectives asked for consent to search the premises, and found 28 marijuana plants.


Taylor and Housley both claimed ownership of the plants under the medical marijuana law. Police determined the marijuana was legal.

The 60-page criminal complaint detailed numerous calls between suspected members of the MMT.

In a Wednesday sweep, local, state and federal investigators arrested 25 of the 27 suspects.

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three? informants who are talking so they walk free.


a year of investigation.

150 agents.

27 arrests.


too bad its federal charges. if it were state charges, there would be some dismissals.


i have a question:

if a patient and a caregiver have an agreement about medical marijuana growing.

wouldnt that be the basis for a 'conspiracy to manufacture marijuana' ?

dont talk about how holder says they wont go after medical states. that means nothing.

the next AG could reverse policy just as easily.

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