Deportation order issued for American fugitive known as ‘Godfather of Grass’
MONTREAL — An American man known as the “Godfather of Grass” is not eligible to remain in Canada and is to be deported, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada ruled Thursday.
John Robert Boone must also remain behind bars in Montreal until the deportation order is carried out. No date was given for his removal from Canada.
Boone, 73, watched Thursday’s hearing by videoconference from the detention facility where he has been held since his arrest in December.
Sporting a black T-shirt, glasses and a flowing sandy moustache, he remained largely silent, responding “yes ma’am” or “yes, sir” to questions about his previous conviction on federal drug charges in the United States.
Boone also made a brief statement in which he disagreed with the board’s conclusion he would pose both a public safety risk and a flight risk if released.
“I’d like to be considered to be not a danger to the public,” he said. “I don’t have any public endangerment things that I’ve ever done.”
Boone had been on the run for eight years when he was arrested at a Montreal shopping mall days before Christmas.
The U.S. Marshals Service said authorities had been looking for him since seizing 2,400 marijuana plants on his Kentucky farm in 2008.
Montreal police opened an investigation last September after being contacted by American officials who said they had reason to believe Boone was in Canada.
He allegedly crossed the border illegally and authorities have said they don’t know how long he has been in Canada.
Boone is not facing charges in Canada but once Thursday’s deportation order is carried out he won’t be allowed to re-enter the country without applying for authorization.
In a hearing partially covered by a publication ban, immigration board member Dianne Tordorf said Boone was inadmissible to remain in Canada because of his past criminal conviction in the United States.
Tordorf also noted he had used the alias “Dennis Ross” since coming to Canada and had found people to help him avoid detection.
“You’ve demonstated that you’re quite mobile and you have people facilitating your stay in Canada and allowing you to live clandestinely here,” she said.
Boone’s lawyer, Tony Jedid, argued his client may have been rehabilitated since his last conviction almost 30 years ago.
“(The conviction) is dated 1988, and we’re 2017,” he told reporters after the hearing. “His personality could be changed.”
Boone spent more than a decade in a U.S. federal prison after being convicted in what prosecutors called the “largest domestic marijuana syndicate in American history.”
They said he had 29 farms in Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Wisconsin. The group became known as the “Cornbread Mafia,” and prosecutors said Boone was the leader.
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
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