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[00:00:00]

Hello, podcast listeners. My name is Shawn Qype, host of In the Red Clay, the new podcast about a chance meeting in a small town that unlocks the secrets and legend of Billy Sunday sun-Baked, one of the most notorious figures in American history. Subscribe now wherever you get your podcasts. And stay tuned to the end of this episode for a special preview of the trailer for the podcast.

[00:00:25]

This podcast is intended for mature audiences. Listener discretion is advised.

[00:00:44]

The syndicate had his growing game down, harvesting two to three pounds of Finnish flour per plant, trees, warehouses on par with the largest marijuana growers in the state, almost more corporate than some of the true businesses I worked at that have been businesses for 20 years.

[00:01:00]

Output only increased each time Tree subleased a warehouse space to a caregiver. The syndicate upped its plant count and pumped out more pot.

[00:01:09]

But even as he expanded his network of growers, he had to get that surplus weed across state borders, a task as risky as it was profitable. Colorado's market was already oversaturated, with legal greenhouses and pot dispensaries on what felt like every street corner. The price of weed hovered around eight hundred dollars per pound, but in Minnesota it floated around twenty five hundred dollars per pound. This is what economists call an arbitrage opportunity.

[00:01:39]

Arbitrage is when you take advantage of the price discrepancies and separate markets for the same product, in this case, exporting weed from a legal market in one state and selling it in an illegal market in another at a steep markup.

[00:01:55]

So long as the syndicate could get his product to Minnesota, it could ride that wave. But the syndicate wasn't exactly what you'd call consistent.

[00:02:03]

In contrast to its air tight growing operations, complete with this whole manual, it was basically like an Excel spreadsheet.

[00:02:12]

The syndicate's distribution efforts were all over the map. It's a ragtag group of smugglers proved as unpredictable as they were colorful. Let's meet the crew.

[00:02:24]

I would basically report to America, he's talking about Nick Cool, a.k.a. Shifty Nick, your garden variety man. So in the sense that he had a green thumb and wore his beard like a no, he managed one of the syndicate's warehouses, 58 Street, to call the Colorado Springs off the Colorado Boulevard.

[00:02:43]

Shifty Nick was a middle manager, capable but questionable, and that you never quite knew where his allegiances lay.

[00:02:50]

And then he would call fat guy or appear fat guy. Real name Richard Reilly, a.k.a. Fat Cat, the syndicate's main drug dealer in the Twin Cities. And a Hustler guy could sell hundreds of pounds a month.

[00:03:04]

Yeah, as quick as he got it.

[00:03:05]

He sold it in 2003. Fat Cat felt the squeeze when the fuzz intercepted one of his guys with 10 kilos of cocaine coming in hot from Mexico. Fresh out of jail, he made the syndicate his comeback act. Next up, Tom Crazy Tom Tom Dispended. We mentioned him in Episode two, a shadowy marijuana magician who stacked weed in his basement like a doomsday preppers stack supplies call skinny, kind of goofy looking guy real out there personality wise.

[00:03:38]

Then you had Cayler Gurvich referred as by some as garbage bress, whatever girl Hosta probably had a yeast infection. He just wanted to spread it to the rest of us as gross garbage.

[00:03:50]

Breath also managed to warehouse and he thought of himself as something of a ladies man.

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But we're not done because money was exchanged and the money would go to Asia.

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The Asian that's truly the kingpin of everything, the Don Corleone of the syndicate. And who does that leave?

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The guy you've heard talking, Aaron LORRING or enforcer one the enforcer laughing at his own nickname like he's in the cast credits of a Guy Ritchie movie. This group of misfits might as well have been as much as they pulled off some amazing feats of smuggling.

[00:04:27]

They also pulled off some amazing feats of stupidity in this episode, the story of getting too big, too fast, driving around with 200 pounds of pot in your fucking truck through the city in the middle of the night, screwing up the little things so that they became enormous problems and all the bullshit that was going on between people from up here and down there and started to really get at people.

[00:04:51]

We got sloppy of management trying to stay in control.

[00:04:55]

All the Asian kept reassuring us and a lowly enforcer tasked with getting everyone in line.

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Could he save the syndicate from its own worst tendencies? He'd try shit.

[00:05:06]

Got real scarcity. Real scarcity. But we didn't stop with just. I'm Chris Walker, your guide in this series about high flying pot smugglers, the rise and fall of a criminal enterprise and the evolution of marijuana's black market in the era of legal weed from Fox Inc and Imperative Entertainment. This is the syndicate. The enforcer and I met in a cafe in St. Paul, Minnesota. A large brunch crowd thronged the cheery breakfast spot, but we found a table up on a balcony where it was a little more quiet sitting across from me, the enforcer dwarfed the chair he sat in over six feet tall.

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He's a lanky black guy with a wide set jaw and scraggly goatee, and he's quick to say the enforcer label is ridiculous.

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Wait, what? First of all, the potheads, there was nothing to enforce them.

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He may not like the name, but he clearly trusted him with some of the syndicate's more sensitive Arun's. And given his former line of work, Erin is surprisingly candid in an interview. Unlike most people I talked to, he admitted right off the bat that he came into the syndicate knowing full well where the product was going.

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You're literally hiding in plain sight.

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I already knew some of the syndicate's members in Minnesota and joined them in Colorado to learn the ins and outs of the pot trade. He didn't care that it was illegal. He wanted a change of scenery and found it in Colorado. On weekends, he'd take his dog on long hikes in the Rockies, reveling in the mountains beauty. He enjoyed the work, which was easy enough at first cultivate cannabis.

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But it didn't take long before he noticed his warehouse manager, Shifty Nick, slipping Nexstar, really fucking tall, getting drunk, not showing up, making us do all the work, taking all the credit and I see what was happening.

[00:07:08]

And then money started coming up, missing large amounts of money. It wasn't just getting lost in the translation somewhere. His numbers were always off. And in my opinion, he was skimming the whole time.

[00:07:22]

They were both skimming, both because he thinks it wasn't just shifty Nick, but also the distributor in Minnesota, fat cat Riley, who skimmed cash. One thing is certain. The Asian, as Ellery's sometimes calls tree, knew that he was being ripped off. eLearning wasn't privy to the conversations between Tre and Shifty Nick, but he knew when their relationship grew tense. Then one day, Eleri reported to the Colorado Boulevard warehouse and found the place completely empty.

[00:07:54]

They took him, took the whole the whole harvest from his warehouse, a collection of plants allegedly worth 600000 dollars.

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Tree immediately fingered a culprit. Shifty Nick declined my request for an interview, but here's him responding to detectives during his interrogation.

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I had nothing to do with any of it. Tre wasn't buying it. Shifty Nick had to be behind the robbery.

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I got a call from the agent who said he didn't excuse. Can you take over? And that was it. Just like that.

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Nick was OK, but was he gone? Even after Nick was out, he was still worried about him because we'd catch him around. The warehouse was kind of spying or plotting or whatever.

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Despite being iced out of the organization, it seems shifty. Nick wasn't ready to let go of the syndicate. One day, Ellery's spotted him parked across the street from one of the warehouses, watching from behind the wheel, tracking the syndicate's movements.

[00:08:57]

You know, now we got to worry about that shit. I will never work. I was just worried about where I was. We have to bury the son. A bitch. I did get look, that's why I have my dogs. You tell me and I'll let you know if anybody was walking around. Take care of it after that. Got to say, that kind of sounds like an enforcer. Point is, everyone felt on edge, even trees, typically cool demeanor, started to show cracks.

[00:09:26]

His paranoia not only centered upon shifty, shifty activities, skimming the syndicate's hard earned profits. Tree also took a hard look at distribution, realizing how carelessly his warehouse managers move pot around town.

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But just the whole situation was not just at me, but the whole situation. But this is not that hard.

[00:09:47]

You load up the fucking weed and get out of here, Eleri recalls one of tres rants.

[00:09:53]

What the fuck makes these people think they can drive to my warehouse and, you know, three, four o'clock in the morning, drunk back and forth and fuck this shit up. It's real fucking you know, it was pissed, not directly at me.

[00:10:04]

The sheer sloppiness of the operation struck to the crew's cash and pot handoffs lacked any semblance of security and drug mules. They conducted exchanges so cavalierly, they looked like amateurs, sometimes right out in the open, like in plain sight.

[00:10:21]

Pull the truck up and I'm walking out of the warehouse with the garbage bags.

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We're like, this is fucking insane to think it was clear the syndicate needed to clean up its act, he approached me with a proposition. From here on out, he'd coordinate the syndicate's cash and we'd transfer in Colorado. All tree would have to do is give him a large pay bump. His boss's response.

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I was given the discretion to do it. However, I wanted to do it. And I had a great military like you. Don't ask me, I just do it.

[00:10:55]

The role came with a lot of trust. Now LORRING would control the flow of money. A bag man's bag man personally overseeing millions in cash and millions more in product. eLearning wasted no time, he said, about completely revamping the syndicate's transfers in Denver, setting new rules to tighten security and cloak its activities.

[00:11:17]

This started with we had all kinds of despots tear off the door panels that and people were. Spare tire. Well, no more moving product out in the open from here on out, the syndicate would hide cash and weed inside of wheel wells in secret compartments behind cars, interior paneling, and they leave the loaded vehicles in predetermined parking lots.

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A lot of times I would just drive, leave the car there with the keys, give me another vehicle that somebody left with money, money, and we'd never traveled together.

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It was separate cars for pot and cash, different parking lots each time they exchange cars in the cardinal rule, absolutely no contact between drug mules doing the exchanges. It was like that old French resistance strategy limit in-person meetings that the enemy in this case, law enforcement and rival criminals couldn't catch your trail, compartmentalize and conquer. Effectively camouflage the syndicate's distribution network within Denver, but there was one thing he couldn't hide the huge warehouses for anyone spying on the syndicate.

[00:12:26]

They were easy to find, especially since he passed them off as legitimate growth going into 2013.

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Robberies became a major problem here. Shifty Nick again in his interrogation.

[00:12:39]

There was probably four or five robberies that had happened in the two months prior to this. All of those places were getting broken into and robbed four or five robberies.

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This included the one you heard about last episode.

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They ended up stealing one of the fifty five gallon soy sauce drums. They ended up filling that thing full of weed, dragging it down the stairs and throwing the whole thing in the back of their jeep, whether or not Shifty Nick had anything to do with them.

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Since Tre certainly suspected him of the Colorado Boulevard theft, five robberies was a lot even for the cannabis industry. You see, steps are actually pretty common in the marijuana trade, including in the regulated market, since pot is illegal at the federal level, cannabis businesses don't have access to national banks. This makes it difficult for pot companies to deposit large amounts of money, take out loans, and for customers to use credit cards at dispensaries. So cannabis businesses and we're talking about even the legal ones here deal in huge volumes of paper money.

[00:13:44]

In some states where pot is legal, credit unions and state banks will accept deposits, but moving money around is still a headache. Some dispensaries hire private armored vehicles to transfer money to safes or community banks. Here's Caven Colibri, who we heard from briefly in Episode one, explaining that process. He opened one of the first medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver.

[00:14:07]

We had Guarda come in an armored car that deals with cash in traditional industries to come in every day and pick up our cash from us to come into our dispensary counted in the back, make sure it's right, put it in their truck and deposit it in the bank.

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Even with the security of an armored truck. Colibri Very the pickup times to keep them unpredictable. He didn't want to give any outside observers a regular timetable to stage a stickup. Anecdotally, the dispensary owner knew that police agencies, many of which are not thrilled about legal pot, don't always prioritize solving dispensary thefts. In other words, even the legal guys couldn't put that much faith in the cops and on the black market, Tree didn't have the opportunity to go to the police anyway.

[00:14:54]

As robberies at his facilities stacked up, he invested thousands of dollars in high quality surveillance systems, extra steel gates in front of doors, multiple deadbolts cameras surrounding all of his warehouses. They offered some degree of comfort, but if the thefts were inside jobs, a more might thwart any security system. So Tree's ultimate backup, human protection he had and his dog move into a trailer next to a couple warehouses on site security tree hope things were finally tightened up.

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He'd fired shifty Nick. He delegated eLearning with coordinating handoffs in Denver. He'd boosted security and the syndicate still had enough drivers to move product up north. From here on out, it'd be smooth sailing, right?

[00:15:50]

Available now from Imperative Entertainment in Texas Monthly, a new 10 part podcast series called Boomtown about the biggest oil boom in history. Boomtown takes you to a rugged corner of West Texas, where roughnecks and billionaire wildcatters are fueling a boom so big it's reshaping our climate, our economy and our geopolitics. You'll get an inside look at the people cashing in and those whose lives are turned upside down. Find weekly episodes of Boomtown wherever you get your podcasts. Deep in the conservative south of 1970s Atlanta, Mike Thebus, the son of Greek immigrants, was a man driven by endless ambition.

[00:16:30]

He had everything a wife and five kids, the largest mansion in Atlanta, and a rumored 100 million dollar fortune. But the success came at a price as the community shunned him and he became entangled in a web of murder, mob connections and love affairs.

[00:16:51]

It is the money, obviously, that attracts organized crime.

[00:16:54]

I don't have any knowledge as to what happened to Mr. Hanna. He was a personal friend of mine, and I just think it's a terrible tragedy.

[00:17:03]

There's no doubt in my mind that they are nervous at first about having to do business with Mike Leavis society.

[00:17:10]

Do not take it seriously when criminals kill each other. So Mike Thebus walked out this door to freedom. Some are speculating he may be in Colombia or Costa Rica, countries which before have harbored United States criminals.

[00:17:23]

This is Gangster House, the unbelievable story of Mike Thebus family man and the so-called Sultan of smut.

[00:17:33]

Listen and subscribe to Gangster House right now on Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcasts.

[00:17:48]

A citadel stands serenely along a rocky shore, peasants work farms and the surrounding forest looks peaceful until a horde of invaders streams out from the woods.

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The enemy's foot soldiers raise towards the fortress, shooting fireballs as they run. A wizard sent sparks flying from his staff, slamming them against a castle.

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A message pops up on the screen interrupting the video game. Battle is the GILD's chat room with an important message for guild members. The syndicate is ready to send its next shipment. As usual, the message comes across in a cipher code like the six or three or whatever code they come up with, the syndicate always use coded numbers to tell its couriers how much wheat or cash to pick up from stash spots.

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If anyone outside the organization ever intercepted the messages, they'd have no clue what the numbers meant. But the chat room was the true innovation, part of an unusual communication strategy.

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The syndicate used to avoid surveillance by law enforcement, which was kind of ingenious clash of clans to the game, the game, because you have it on your iPad and you're sitting there playing or whatever, and then you join a little guild and you can message everybody in your guild.

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Clash of clans, a mobile game circumvented all the usual communication channels.

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Cops could wiretap anything that's regular cell phones, emails, none of that.

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That's a huge no go his organization and using the video games chat room, the syndicate pass along this particular message in June 2013 to two of its go to Smugglers'. The syndicate directed them to drive to Minnesota to exchange weed for money. Here's one of them who you've been hearing during his interrogation describing that trip, that particular situation.

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No one gave him the money. I actually showed up in Minneapolis and I was told to go to a parking lot and find a certain car, open the trunk because it was already unlocked and take the bag out of there.

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The bag contained one hundred fifty thousand dollars in cash. That tree wanted returned to Denver, precious cargo. The two smugglers hid it in their car, then headed back to Colorado on June 17th, 2013. They were about midway through their trip when they hit Nebraska.

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So I was driving back right outside, probably a little bit west of Omaha. And then a big silver SUV comes flying up behind me. And I just wait right behind me. I was going speed limit naturally. Right. And I get pulled over.

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Shit highway patrol. But why did they get pulled over? The smugglers tried to keep their cool, keep their voices calm and steady.

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As a stern faced patrolman gave his explanation, he said that he pulled me over for obstruction of a license plate because I had one of those clear covers over the back license plate and started asking me questions.

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Do you have any drugs in the vehicle? Do any weapons in the vehicle? Are you driving through here with any relation to any organization that transports drugs? Obviously, I said no to all of them.

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Sweat gathered on their necks. The questions kept coming.

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Do you have any large amounts of money? Over ten thousand dollars, because that's also something that you need to report.

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And I said, no, I did not. And then he asked if you could search my vehicle.

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I said, no, I'm not comfortable with the cops. Eyes narrowed. He told the two men he'd have to temporarily restrain them with handcuffs while he conducted a different kind of search.

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I have a canine unit. I'm going to walk him around the outside of your vehicle. From the side of the road, the syndicate smugglers watched helplessly as a dog circled their car, pushing its nose against the wheel well, against the back door, against the door frame. The dog paused, then sat down on the asphalt. The smugglers let out a sigh of relief. Great. It didn't find anything.

[00:22:03]

Did you see the dog give the signal if the dog sits down, that's the signal.

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It had smelt drugs busted. It was only a matter of minutes before the patrolman found the 150 k. Perhaps if the smugglers hadn't been such knuckleheads driving a car that still smelled like their previous cargo weed, they wouldn't be in this predicament.

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They knew that this was bad, very bad.

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It was no secret that lawmen in Nebraska and Kansas held vendettas against marijuana operations. Patrolmen in both states aggressively pulled over vehicles on interstates to and from Colorado.

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Life in Cheyenne County is more about cows than cannabis. But now this part of the Old West is on the front line of marijuana's new frontier. Pot is legal in nearby Colorado, but when it leaves the state, it often travels across remote highways in Kansas and across that state line.

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Kansas law takes effect. Doesn't matter if you have this legal in Colorado. It's not legal in Kansas. Not even medical pot is legal in Nebraska and Kansas, though both states are conduits for black market weed headed out of Colorado, especially weed bound for the East Coast, black markets there have begun importing Colorado cannabis rather than haul it in from traditional sources like Northern California.

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Think about it. Why deal with the extra distance and weather challenges when you can get cannabis? From Colorado? Just a hopscotch across the Great Plains. The two smugglers already knew they were going to face some tough questions about the dog signal and that 150 grand, as they found out at the police station.

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Those questions came from Andy Vincent, which was homeland security stationed in Nebraska.

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The homeland security officer took down the smugglers names, Ryan Farrow and Antonio or Feh, then put them into separate rooms.

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The voice you've been hearing belongs to Ryan Farrow, tree's brother in law, married to one of his sisters, Andy, and sat me down and asked me a lot of questions about the money.

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At first, Farrow tried to deceive the agent, suggesting the money was his all along. There's no record of what he said exactly. But after fumbling to explain why he carried 150 K in a vacuum sealed bag, Farrow walked back his story. He did admit the money might have been related to drug sales, but said that it didn't belong to him. He figured that so long as he personally didn't admit to any crimes, perhaps the agent didn't have enough evidence to hold him in jail.

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Take note, listeners, because Farrow asked the questions. You always should if you're ever being questioned in a police station. Was he being detained? Could he leave?

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To his surprise, they let me go to that. Fero beelined it for the exit. He noticed the other guy wasn't out yet, but Farrell wasn't about to stick around. He'd have to follow up with Homeland Security agents anyway.

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They'd not only taken down his home address, but had confiscated his phone, iPad, GPS, navigator and burner phone. Little did he know that his wife, Jose, had been frantically texting him in his phone. She shows up by her nickname Muffin, starting at twelve thirty a.m.. Muffin had texted. Hey, where are you? Twelve thirty nine a.m.. You need to call me. Twelve forty two a.m.. What the fuck. I know you are not asleep.

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117 a.m. you need to call me and let me know what's up. You guys have a lot at stake.

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Farrow finally contacted Muffin after buying a new burner phone at a Verizon store. She freaked out 150 of the syndicate's money gone. How are they ever going to explain that to her brother tree? Farrow said they'd have to try somehow and get rid of any marijuana in the house, he added agents might be coming soon.

[00:26:03]

So at that time, she called to let him know. He said, bullshit, I got back to Colorado. I tried to call you. I wouldn't get any calls returned. And then I found out through, you know, word of mouth other people in the network that I tried calling to get a hold of me, that everybody thinks I stole the money.

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Farrow explained again and again that cops took the money in a traffic stop, but she didn't believe him. It didn't make sense that the cops would let him off so easily.

[00:26:33]

This was exactly the kind of half big plan to stone drug mules would cook up to swindle him out of some cash, with the syndicate hemorrhaging money from thefts. It was time to stamp down on people stealing from him. He figured that Farrow stole his money just like Shifty. Nick stole his weed, but Farrow wasn't ready to give up.

[00:26:52]

I had my wife fly to Minnesota to go visit her sister lover, an elder sister.

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Lana would know what to do. Lana is always like she's number one sister. So we knew that if we got it to Lana, it eventually reached.

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Maybe she could convince Terry that Farrow and Muffin were innocent. Muffin even went as far as obtaining a police report showing that agents confiscated 150000 dollars from her husband on June 17th.

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I brought up the police paperwork and said here, if you guys don't believe me, that if she never anticipated what she would do next.

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That happened later. Burned. Yes, that's muffin. During an interrogation, as she told a prosecutor, for reasons even she wasn't clear about, Tre told his family members to burn the police report. He'd already made up his mind about what happened.

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So once that letter burning story happened, what interactions did you have with your family?

[00:27:58]

I called my mom and said, I'm so sorry to be disrespectful, but come here. I know you love your children.

[00:28:05]

And I have done and we haven't spoken just like Shifty neke the syndicate cut off Muffin and her husband from all future business. But the couple also felt the cold shoulder from the rest of the wind family showing the lengths to which tree went to protect his business interests. They'd been excommunicated from their own family. But tree wasn't done. He also cut off the other smuggler who failed to deliver his money because remember, Nebraskan authorities nabbed two couriers heading back to Colorado entry.

[00:28:38]

Zyzz, the other smuggler, posed just as much of a liability.

[00:28:42]

So what happened to him? Well, unlike Pharaoh, Homeland Security pressed Antonio or Fay about where he got the one hundred and fifty or fake cracked under the pressure, he confessed to receiving the money from a contact in Minnesota.

[00:28:57]

Fat cat. Oh, fat cat, Homeland Security knew about fat cat Richard Reilly, all right. He'd been busted for cocaine and meth trafficking in 2003. And with a rap sheet like that, the feds licked their chops at the idea of nabbing Fat Cat again.

[00:29:15]

They entered Rich Riley's name into an interstate database and discovered that another law enforcement agency, a state task force based out of the Twin Cities, already had their eyes on the Minnesotan drug lord. The investigation was under state jurisdiction, so Homeland Security referred Morfe their direction. The Minnesotan agency wasted no time in using Orfa to their advantage when I moved back to Minnesota.

[00:29:40]

I still work with the North Metro Task Force. The plan was for me to start doing control buys from Rich in Minnesota.

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So if I were a listening device, they put they put the listening device on me or if they agreed to become an undercover informant in return for dropped or reduced drug trafficking charges to avoid jail time, he'd throw a fat cat under the bus.

[00:30:08]

The plan was to arrest Richard. I so didn't look like I was an informant because I was telling the North Metro Task Force that these guys are really violent. They always carry guns and all scare. Or Fay's handler with the North Metro Task Force promised he and other officers would be ready to intercept a drug buy as soon as Orfa got a call from Rich. It wasn't long in coming or face set off for the meeting, but his handler always advised me not to go through with it because he couldn't.

[00:30:37]

Interracial enforcement intercept the cops were too slow and then it happened a second time or face driving towards the drug by agents are supposed to storm the transaction. But at the last minute, his handler says they can't be there in time. Call off the meeting.

[00:30:55]

And at that point, I felt like Rich lost all confidence in me. And I feel like he kind of suspected me being an informant. And so in March, I really lost all contact with everybody, including my sister, his sister, because rich days, my sister, my sister actually came over to my house and said, you know, threatening me.

[00:31:18]

Would you say she told my mom? And if anything happens that people are going to come kill me. The real scary, scary situation right now from. Back in Colorado, Terry and the rest of the syndicate didn't know anything about the heat on Fat Cat Reilly, but despite the extra eyes on a key distributor, the syndicate avoided scrutiny from law enforcement for a couple of reasons. Minnesotan law enforcement focused its investigation on fat cat only in their state, not Colorado.

[00:31:54]

Entry tree, out of sheer dumb luck, had recently severed his ties with Fat Cat. Remember those warehouse robberies? Tree wanted payback for the plants he suspected shifty neck and fat cat stole from the Colorado Boulevard facility. And so Tree called on his enforcer to do him a favor.

[00:32:14]

The tree wanted me to call Rich and say, you know, where is the money or my money you need to pay. It didn't go well.

[00:32:21]

Call Rich and said, this is what she says. And Rich tells me that lawyers motherfucker and give them shit. OK, I'll pass the message along and pass that along a tree.

[00:32:33]

And she says, fuck him, he's cut off with that fat cat. Reg lost his Colorado connection.

[00:32:41]

Tree had no clue how narrowly his organization avoided detection from the feds, as well as Minnesotan law enforcement. He had other pressing concerns with Fat Cat Reilly and the two potheads smugglers out of the picture. The syndicate needed to recruit new drug mules and divert its pot to other distributors. Tree stressed over all the weed stacking up in his storerooms. He wasn't sure how he was going to offload it until he found inspiration from the unlikeliest set of circumstances.

[00:33:15]

To women who hoped to evade the ticking clock of time, Dr. Frederick Brandt was the most potent drug dealer in the world and the dealer got high on his own supply.

[00:33:28]

From Imperative Entertainment and the team behind Broken Hearts comes a new series that will challenge everything you know about fame, fortune and the fear of growing old. I'm Justin Harmon and this is the baron of Botox. Between the years of 1967 and 1972, over 300 commercial airplanes were hijacked worldwide, this period would become known as the golden age of hijacking.

[00:33:59]

The new podcast, American Skyjacker is the tale of a small time crook named Martin Mack McNally, who dreamed of the ultimate mile high score. But Mac's hijacking is just the beginning of an incredibly while true crime saga. Listen and subscribe to American Skyjacker on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. The catalyst behind trees, next big move goes back roughly half a year to August 2012 when Tree got an invite to a friend's funeral in Minnesota. The friend had been involved in the pot trade in his Catholic burial, provided tree with an opportunity as a priest, offered a prayer tree, looked past the coffin to see Crazy Tom Despain at the Minneapolis dealer.

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He'd already been sending small amounts of weed to, as well as another old buddy who Tree hadn't seen in years, Pat Kincannon. They were a welcome sight, especially Pat. Everyone like Pat. He was a salt of the earth type who smiled through a bushy mountain beard and almost always wore plaid. Tre figured he'd see Pat and Tom at the funeral, since they both been close to the man being honored. Peter Landau, Pat Kincannon told me about him.

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He was brilliant. A lot of different ways. He he could fix anything. Peter Lander was a jack of all trades, a brick maker, champion, pole vaulter, motorcycle stunt man, an enthusiastic father of four. He also was an exceptional grower. He mainly grew and sold wildflowers, but he also grew pot in the Colorado mountains for months. He, Pat and Tom had a side hustle, moving weed from Steamboat Springs to Minneapolis. The trio considered the runs an easy side business among friends.

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But in August 2012, Lander, who was also a novice pilot, heard that his family dog was dying. He wanted to see the dog before a vet put it down and decided to fly an old single prop plane from Glenwood Springs, Colorado, to Minnesota. For one last visit. He was going back to see his family and just an air and flying, and no one knows the exact story. But pretty much we think that, you know, kind of just lost oxygen and came down.

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It's sad. It's still sad to think about.

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A sheepherder found the plane's wreckage just north of Milnor, Colorado. Peter Lander was thirty six years old. At the funeral, Pat, Tom and Terry all mourned their friend's premature passing. They began talking after the service and that's when Terri seized his opportunity. He shifted the talk to business. You know, he mentioned that he was in Denver and that things were looking good for him.

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He was acquiring a building and they were getting ready to do some bigger type growing operations, similar to how he approached Alicia Rainey at a wedding tree, put out an offer that Tom sold more of his product, becoming his main distributor in Minneapolis. In that pat come work for the syndicate in Denver, Pat sense a good opportunity and echoed others impressions of tree.

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You know, his ambitious. He's an entrepreneur. He's a very intelligent person.

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Granted, Terry didn't mention any of the drama and infighting within the syndicate. He appealed to Pat and Tom's farmer's sensibilities, talking up his plans to expand production of the highest quality cannabis. Like any Wall Street corporation he focused on, growth in the syndicate was nothing if not bullish. Terry said he was prepared to invest nearly seven hundred fifty thousand dollars in a new state of the art warehouse. His biggest, most impressive growth yet. Pat and Tom didn't want to miss that.

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They decided to come on board helping Terry take the syndicate to even greater heights over the coming months. They became his lieutenants, helping streamline his growing distribution and recruit other managers, including Cayler Gurvich.

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You probably remember him from the top of the episode is Garbage Breath, the guy who smelled like he had an infection in his mouth.

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He had his own warehouse, which meant that the syndicate now had even more product to offload.

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But distribution problems lingered trees, new lieutenants Pat and Tom quickly realized they needed to find a better way to transport product to Minnesota. How could they tighten up smuggling more to match the syndicates? Finely tuned growing operations?

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Garbage breath had an idea, Joe. I met through my friend Alex, a guy named Joe Johnson. He was a pilot. The idea hit a sour note at first. The sting of Peter Landers death still strong, but Lander had been a daredevil and garbage breath claimed this other guy was reliable. The proof?

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Joe Johnson was one of the most well-known skydivers in the Midwest. He owned a successful jump zone outside the Twin Cities called West Side Skydiver's.

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The guy was a pro, so the syndicate scheduled a meeting.

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Well, I mean, I introduced Joe to tree to tree, of course. What was the purpose of that introduction? So Treen could have an outlet to give it a product.

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That outlet could be municipal airports. Joe said in the sky was the limit for how much pot he could move. Tree was impressed with Joe's enthusiasm, but more importantly, this would be the way he finally curbed thefts from his employees. No more disappearing shipments of pot and money as they move from warehouses to cars to highways. Joe Johnson would simplify the whole smuggling process. After talking it over with Pat and Tom, Tre decided to bring Joe into the organization.

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This would be the syndicate's masterstroke. An airborne drug mule. From here on out, they'd fly their product to Minnesota. On the next episode of the Syndicate Flying High, I would get into town and they'd put me up in the nicest hotel in downtown Denver, women that food, drinks, you know, it's ridiculous.

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But what was Trees End game and what would it take to go legal? To answer that question, you have to acknowledge the roller coaster ride of cannabis legalization in America. We'll hear from a drug historian to put the syndicate in context.

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When Ronald Reagan gets elected president in November of 1980, they are perfectly positioned to deeply influence his administration's execution of its burgeoning war on drugs, as well as a former pot smuggler who explains how outlaws were celebrated back in the day.

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I mean, I never would have been a criminal if it hadn't been illegal. I wasn't going to rob banks or or armored cars or anything like that, although I could see where I was cut off from the adrenaline rush.

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They'll help us understand how widely pot status has changed over time and what it would mean for the syndicate to become a forward facing business. That's coming up on Episode five of the Syndicate. The syndicate is a co-production of Imp. Entertainment and Fox to link executive producer is Jason Hoak, produced and edited by Laura Krantz and Scott Carney. The syndicate is scored and mixed by Louis Weekes. I'm your host and creator, Chris Walker. This podcast was made possible in part by the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

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Visit the Syndicate podcast Dotcom for more about this story. And don't forget to tell your friends about the syndicate. If you're enjoying it, please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts.

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It really helps more people find out about our show. Hello again, podcast listeners, as promised, here's a special preview of the new podcast in the Red Clay. But don't forget, you can listen to episodes right now by subscribing on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Here's the trailer. In March of twenty nineteen, I step foot for the first time into a little farm town just northeast of Atlanta, Georgia, called Wonder.

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A town full of stories, legends and secrets. It was also home to a man whose name I'd never heard before, but we'll never forget while I was initially there to film scenes for an HBO series, my time in this unassuming little town and the people I would meet there would prove to be something I could never have expected and it would change my life. What I unearthed was a story shrouded in scandal and mystery, 50 years in the making, the story with secrets never before revealed, with one man at the center of it all, a man named Billy Sunday, Burt.

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NATO's gambling excitement, he was just more adventurous. He was the best man you could ever want to meet and I think he could drive a car, but he didn't want to. So, you know, a good gambler, pool player, a womanizer, you know, sort of fast. Of course, he was the best of the best. Everything he this because I would learn the deeper you dig. The more secrets you're likely to find buried it give you the shirt off the back if you turned your back on for the wrong reason, you get.

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Filiberto is without a doubt one of the most prolific killers in the history of our country, and without a doubt, he was a bomb, killed a lot of people. Sandy Berger never cracked smile. He's stone cold. Senator Byrd was a whiskey man. He was a bit rough. He was a hit man. He was a murder. He was the enforcer for the Dixie Mafia. He's also my father. I'm Sean Qype from Imperative Entertainment. This is in the Red Clay listen to subscribe now on Apple podcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.