Drug Dealing Pilot from Southern Oregon who Attempted to Hire a Hitman to Kill Associate Sentenced to Federal Prison

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

MEDFORD, Ore.—A Josephine County, Oregon man who distributed marijuana throughout the U.S. using his private airplane and who hired a hitman to kill a drug trafficking associate was sentenced to federal prison today.

John Tobe Larson, 71, was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, in May 2019, law enforcement received reports that Larson was distributing marijuana from South Oregon throughout the U.S. via his private airplane and smuggling bulk cash proceeds back into the state. Investigators further learned that Larson had expressed interested in hiring someone to murder an associate he believed threatened his drug trafficking enterprise. Following these revelations, investigators staged a series of undercover meetings with Larson wherein a federal law enforcement officer posed as someone willing to carry out Larson’s murder-for-hire scheme.

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In meetings with the undercover officer, Larson disclosed the identity of his targeted associate, discussed his reasoning for wanting the associate killed, and offered to pay the officer $20,000 to carry out the scheme. At their third and final meeting, federal agents arrested Larson and executed a search warrant on his residence and airplane hangar. Agents seized various items associated with Larson’s trafficking scheme including his airplane, approximately $100,000 in cash, and marijuana distillate.

On July 22, 2019, Larson was charged by criminal complaint with using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of a murder-for-hire. Later, on October 15, 2020, a federal grand jury in Medford indicted Larson on the same charge and added a second charge of possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance. On April 20, 2022, Larson pleaded guilty to the drug trafficking charge.

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U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives with assistance from the Oregon State Police Southwest Region Drug Enforcement Section team. It was prosecuted by Marco Boccato, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.