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Lakewood man, five others accused in marijuana grow operation

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Aug. 27, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
August 27, 2010 2:14 pm
John Deeter during his arraignment Thursday/Courtesy of KIRO TV

Three times, John Deeter has been convicted of drug-related charges and served time behind bars.

Now, he faces another round of allegations. This time, the 51-year-old Lakewood man is accused of leading organized crime, running marijuana grow operations and involving five others, including his two sons.

Pierce County prosecutors charged Deeter with 17 charges Thursday – leading organized crime, nine counts of unlawful possession of a uncontrolled substance, three counts of unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance, two counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, unlawful possession of a first firearm and possession of a legend drug. He’s being held in Pierce County Jail in lieu of $200,000 bail.

Prosecutors also have charged his sons -20-year-old Benjamin Deeter and 22-year-old Jeremy Deeter – as well as David Escobedo, 19; Timothy J. Frasch, 48, and Margaret L. Phillips, 19 with drug-related crimes in the case.

The charges come after a more than eight-month undercover Lakewood police investigation.A Lakewood police spokesman declined to comment on the case Friday because the investigation was still ongoing.

Charging documents provide the following information:

A confidential information came to Lakewood’s special investigations unit in January and claimed to be able to buy large quantities of marijuana from John Deeter.

The name was familiar to local law enforcement. John Deeter was convicted in 1989 of unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to deliver after he tried to elude Pierce County sheriff’s deputies. The same year, he was convicted and sentenced after a marijuana grow operation was found in his home.

He was convicted in federal court for methamphetamine distribution and sentenced to more than 12 years. When DEA agents tried to arrest him in that case, John Deeter took off. He allegedly tried to run down two agents and shots were fired. John Deeter was released from federal custody in 2001.

In the months since the tip, Lakewood police officers and the confidential informant conducted a series of undercover buys. The informant bought marijuana and methamphetamine from John Deeter and Escobedo.

Most of the purchases occurred at two homes owned by John Deeter in the 15200 block of Fern Street Southwest near American Lake in Lakewood.

The last two purchases were done at Escobedo’s home in the 6600 block of 150th Street Southwest. During those buys, the informant also purchased guns from Escobedo.

Lakewood investigators conducted thermal imaging on John Deeter’s two homes on Fern Street Southwest and another home in the 14000 block of 80th Street East. They found heat signatures consisted with marijuana grow operations at two of the homes, charging documents state.

Lakewood police served search warrants on four homes Wednesday. They found:

* An SKS rifle, ammunition, drug paraphernalia and a bulletproof vest at Escobedo’s home on 150th Street Southwest. Escobedo told investigators he dealt meth and guns and that John Deeter was his supplier for marijuana, charging documents state.

* A fully operational marijuana grow operation with 92 mature plants at John Deeter’s home on 80th Street East. They found a scale, handgun and a number of pills. John Deeter’s girlfriend told investigators the grow operation had been up and running since December.

* A fully operational marijuana grow operation with 64 mature plants and 211 starter plants in a detached garage outside one of the homes on Fern Street Southwest. They also seized drug paraphernalia, a handgun and a cell phone. Benjamin Deeter told investigators he lived at the home rent free and tended to the marijuana plants for his father.

Investigators detained and interviewed three people at the other home on Fern Street. Frasch, who had a DOC felony warrant, was arrested after officers found a bag of meth in his pocket, charging documents state.

Interviews conducted Wednesday led Lakewood police to the East Side Tacoma home of Jeremy Deeter and his girlfriend, Phillips. They served a warrant and found a marijuana grow operation set up in the garage in the 7600 block of East D Street. Several juveniles plants were found in a bedroom and packaged marijuana was found throughout the house.

Jeremy Deeter told officers he had a gun in his car so “he could use it for protection in the event he came home to a burglary in progress,” charging documents state.

John Deeter admitted to investigators that he grew the drug at two of the homes. He refused to talk about his son, Jeremy Deeter.

“He stated that he harvested his plants every eight to 12 weeks and would sell the marijuana for an easy profit of $30,000 every harvest,” charging documents state.

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