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Want Weed, Visit Your County Sheriff's Office? Illinois County Sheriff Arrested for Dealing Marijuana

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By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. on May 19, 2009 10:10 AM

With all the ongoing chatter about legalizing marijuana, it appears that some government authorities might be thinking they'll go ahead and skip a few steps ahead and join the pot growing and distribution process. First, CNN reported about the "government's stash" of pot kept on the campus of the University of Mississippi, and now it turns out that if you lived in Gallatin County, Illinois, the person to see about buying an ounce of pot might have been your local sheriff.

Yep, according to the AP, federal authorities arrested Gallatin County Sheriff Raymond Martin yesterday on a number of charges of distributing marijuana and carrying a firearm while trafficking drugs (the latter charge is just a tad ironic, assuming this was his service weapon).

However, the federal offense of carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime is actually a very serious offense which is commonly thrown into the mix in cases involving drug dealers. Lawmakers know well that the presence of guns at drug deals, houses, etc. is no surprise, and for this reason even just having one nearby can be enough to have these charges stick. That said, a police officer being in uniform with his service weapon, while also dealing drugs, does add a twist to the issue.

Still, if the allegations being tossed his way are true, Sheriff Raymond Martin's firearm might not have just happened to be innocently holstered, nor was he simply doing rounds and doling out pot on the side. Per the Evansville Courier & Press, a confidential informant for the DEA, who reportedly provided the basis for the allegations in the complaint, indicated the corrupt sheriff wanted to corner the local marijuana market:

"Martin then told the [informant] that there were other individuals selling marijuana in Gallatin county and that Martin was gonna try and put the fear of God in him and see if we can get them out of the business."

Then, after the informant told Sheriff Martin didn't want to take part in further activities:

"...Martin withdrew his service revolver from its holster, pointed it towards the [informant], and told the [informant] that there was no 'getting out.'"

So, in short, it might end up not being a stretch at all for a judge to find the roles of officer and dealer inseparable. As noted, the weapons charges really add weight to any potential prison time. According to a news release by the federal prosecutor's office in Southern Illinois, while the three drug charges might lead up to a maximum of 5 years each, it's the weapons charges with their hefty mandatory minimum sentences and maximum of life imprisonment that really could end up being the serious dose of justice for Sheriff Martin.

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