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Marijuana Deals Turn Deadly for Many Minnesotans

Marijuana Deals Turn Deadly for Many Minnesotans

Latoya Jackman
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Marijuana deals end up turning deadly for many Minnesotans.

Even as marijuana becomes legal throughout the country, and is more socially accepted, many Minnesotans are still losing their lives in the deals surrounding the drug. In the past year, there have been seven Minnesotans to lose their lives, even at the young age of 17.

Mother of Richard Ambers, Kim Ambers, recollects the morning of October 29, 2016, the morning her son died. She received a phone call from her daughter-in-law asking her to come over to the home she shared with Kim’s 31-year-old son Richard in North Minneapolis. When she arrived two police officers informed her that her son had been shot twice in the head approximately at 5 am that morning. Later she learned that it was during the time he was selling marijuana.

“I was very hurt and destroyed. “I was unaware people died [selling] marijuana. Coming to that reality was rough.”

Sadly, Richard Ambers’ murder was not a rarity. Although law officials do not keep a record of murders associated with drugs, investigators within the state have recognized that more deaths occur during marijuana transactions compared to harder drugs. Commander of the Anoka-Hennepin Narcotics and Violent Crimes Task Force, Anoka County Sheriff’s Lt. Wayne Heath stated that the violence is there with other drugs, but we don’t see the homicides associated with other narcotics as we do with marijuana.

“No one knows why in marijuana it leads to that extra step.”

On November 10 in Anoka, 2017, 17-year-old Tristan Robinson, an alleged marijuana supplier was attacked by three teenagers and dragged under a car. In St.Paul, Brock Cecil Larson, 36, and Da’Seion Pugh, 19, were murdered within a month of each other.

Commander Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office stated he is shocked but not surprised, that’s kind of my take on it, this came after he investigated two similar cases earlier 2017.

Star Tribune reports that in the past 12 years, they have done publications on approximately 35 homicides that have occurred during the selling of marijuana. In comparison, only 11 reports were done on homicides that immersed during transactions involved harder narcotics.

Investigators have stated that there is no concrete explanation for why there are more murders associated with marijuana. It is hypothesized that they are easier to target for cash and marijuana suppliers are plentiful in comparison to those who sell harder drugs. In addition, people who are addicted to harder drugs are more concerned with the high than the cash.

“They’re not going to rob the person who brings them their medicine every day.”

He was just supplying family and friends, also to people he was not familiar with.

Kim Ambers stated that her son, Richard Ambers told her he was just supplying family and friends, which was not true. That morning he met four strangers, and they set him up to be murdered. Subsequently,  42-year-old James Herron, another marijuana supplier was shot three times including a shot to the head, a month later during another deal. Although Marijuana is socially accepted and has been legalized for both medical and recreational use in eight states, it still has a deadly impact.

Since her son’s death, Kim Ambers has been focused on seeking justice against his murderers. So far, Derrick Z. Smith has been convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Ayan Wahab and Brandy Jaques pleaded guilty to aiding an offender and the case against Tyrel Patterson is pending.

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Kim Ambers scraping away snow to locate her son’s grave marker at Crystal Lake Cemetery

She stated that many would say her son got what he deserved because he was selling marijuana,

“I would say no one deserves to be murdered no matter what they’re doing. No one deserves to die violently like that.”

Marijuana suppliers are more susceptible to violent crimes because they are the most likely to sell to random persons

“In the cases, we’ve seen, they’re really low-level type dealers,” Sommer said. “They’re young and they’re inexperienced. They also have a glamorized persona of what a drug dealer is, and they react kind of foolishly based on their inexperience.”

Investigators stated that marijuana suppliers are more susceptible to violent crimes because they are the most likely to sell to random persons, unlike the harder drug suppliers who usually build up a clientele. Officer Sommer said in the cases that they have seen, its usually the lower level suppliers that are attacked.

Head of the Minneapolis Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office, Kent Bailey says persons supplying marijuana are an easy prey because they are more trusting, cocaine and heroin dealers are more suspicious of those coming around them.

“People see dealing as easy money, but it isn’t, people are being killed.”

This statement was made the President of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association and licensed police officer, Ray Padilla. He went onto say that potential marijuana dealers have a mistaken view of the trade.

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