PAWHUSKA, Okla. – Authorities say charges are being dropped against four men who were arrested after they were found hauling 18,000 pounds of hemp and cannabis in one Oklahoma town.
It all started in January when police in Pawhuska saw a semi-truck running a red light, and officers noticed a white van following closely behind the truck.
Authorities decided to pull the vehicle over and soon discovered at least 18,000 pounds of what they said was marijuana.
“The substance did field test presumptive positive for marijuana,” court documents state.
However, the men who were accompanying the shipment all said that the product was not marijuana, but was hemp.
Investigators say the driver gave officers a bill of sale for hemp, but they say the document was vague.
Andrew Ross, one of the alleged suspects, told FOX 23 that they work for a company that makes medicine. Ross co-founded Patriot Shield Security in order to provide protection for hemp transports.
“I run a veteran-owned company. This is absolute horse****. We are legal and compliant,” Ross said. “This is a federally-legal product and we’re making medicine for veterans.”
Authorities say Farah Warsame, Tadesse Deneke, Andrew Ross and David Dirksen were arrested on allegations of aggravated trafficking. They pleaded not guilty, claiming they were transporting legal industrial hemp.
Now, prosecutors say that the charges will be dropped against all of the men involved in the case. Officials say they believe that all four men truly believed they were transporting hemp, but some of the product was actually marijuana.
"During the course of the subsequent investigation, it became the State's belief that the drivers of the truck were unaware of the contents of the shipment that they were transporting and the charges against them were dismissed. Since that time, additional evidence has come to light to indicate that the security guards, as well, were duped by the seller into participating in the illegal shipment of 4,326 pounds of marijuana. As a result, the State will be dismissing the charges against both security guards in the interests of justice," a statement from the Osage County District Attorney's Office read.
Investigators say they believe the seller intentionally tricked the men into transporting the marijuana under the guise of an industrial hemp shipment.
As a result of the investigation, a federal lawsuit has been filed by the Colorado buyer against the Kentucky seller.