Feds: Four Humboldt County men linked to Utah pot ring; three arraigned last Friday in Salt Lake City

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Colleen Chalmers

Times-Standard

Three Humboldt County men were scheduled to be arraigned in Salt Lake City while a fourth local man may have surrendered in San Francisco last week after a three-year-long marijuana investigation that ranged from the North Coast to Utah, the Humboldt County sheriff’s office announced on Monday.

Sgt. Tom Tallon of the Davis Metro Narcotics Strike Force in Salt Lake City said last Monday, June 17, it was his understanding that McKinleyville resident Tyler Robert Cooper, age 35, would self-surrender in San Francisco on Thursday, June 20.

Eureka resident Jedediah Andrews Morris, age 34, surrendered to authorities on Monday morning, June 17 in San Francisco, said Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City.

Michael Ray Stallings, age 63, and John Paul Diller, age 33, were arrested last week by the Humboldt County Drug Task Force for allegedly shipping marijuana to Salt Lake City. Officers seized a total of 1,400 growing marijuana plants, over 10 pounds of processed marijuana, four pistols, four rifles and a shotgun.

Sheriff’s officer Lt. Wayne Hanson said Stallings and Diller had been involved with shipping marijuana to Salt Lake City.

Rydalch said Stallings and Diller already had an identity hearing at the Eureka federal courthouse and posted bail before being released to go to their arraignment in Salt Lake City last Friday. Rydalch said Morris appeared in San Francisco federal court on Monday, June 17 and was scheduled to join Stallings and Diller at the Utah arraignment.

The Drug Enforcement Administration filed an indictment with the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah in Salt Lake City against Morris, Stallings, Diller and Cooper on Sept. 21, 2011, alleging they engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana.

The other men indicted in the alleged marijuana ring are from central California and Utah.

The Humboldt County Drug Task Force and sheriff’s office worked with the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Marshals Service to assist the DEA’s Metro Narcotics Task Force and the Davis County Metro Narcotic Strike Force out of Salt Lake City in the investigation.

On June 11, federal officers arrested Stallings at his Friday Ridge Road residence in Willow Creek. At Stallings’ home, officers reported finding an outdoor marijuana growing operation and obtained a search warrant for the property. More than 600 growing marijuana plants ranging from two feet to three feet were seized alongside a pound of processed marijuana, two rifles and a shotgun.

On June 12, Diller was arrested at his McKinleyville residence on the 1600 block of Children’s Avenue.

Officers serving a search warrant reported seizing 10 one-pound bags of processed marijuana, four pistols and two rifles. For possible asset forfeiture, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a vehicle and $7,900 in cash were also seized. After serving search warrants at two large storage units rented by Diller off Airport Road in Fortuna, officers found more than 800 growing marijuana plants ranging in size from two feet to three feet.

In the Freshwater area, officers served a search warrant at a property that Diller owns. Two motorcycles, a Polaris-Ranger ATV and a utility trailer were seized for possible asset forfeiture.

Few details were available for the specific cases against Morris and Cooper. Local arrest warrants for Stallings and Diller are being sought through the Humboldt County District Attorney’s office for cultivation and possession for marijuana sales, officials said.

Colleen Chalmers can be contacted at 441-0511 or at cchalmers@times-standard.com.

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