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37 pounds of pot seized from accused pot robbers

Two Washington, D.C. men face felony robbery charges accusing them of taking dozens of pounds of marijuana at gunpoint just outside Ashland city limits, and police say a third suspect is still outstanding.

Orlando Hugh Rickman and Jelani Amaan Johnson, both 27, were arrested following a guns-drawn traffic stop involving at least three agencies at the Chevron station off Central Point Exit 33, just 18 minutes of an armed robbery reported at 5:14 p.m. Thursday in the 1200 block of North Mountain Avenue, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, court documents and earlier news reports.

Inside the Toyota Highlander SUV seized as evidence in the stop, detectives found 37 pounds of marijuana, according to a release prepared by Jackson County Sheriff’s Sgt. Julie Denney.

A third suspect who fled in a second vehicle is outstanding, Denney said, but detectives haven’t yet provided a description of the suspect or the vehicle because they’re still following up on leads.

“They would like to hear from anyone who has information,” Denney said.

Rickman and the unknown third suspect had taken the newer SUV to the Ashland home, where a resident believed he was selling them marijuana, according to court documents filed in Rickman and Johnson’s cases.

The resident knew the third suspect by the first name of “Dante,” according to an affidavit filed by police. However, it’s unclear whether the name is legitimate.

The two men had been hanging out in the kitchen during the supposed sale, when the resident’s roommate witnessed Johnson pull into their driveway in the other vehicle with a gun. Johnson spotted the roommate and demanded his phone, according to an affidavit filed by police.

Johnson pulled out a rifle wrapped in a cloth in the kitchen, then allegedly pointed it at the marijuana seller, who ran away to a neighbor’s back door, the affidavit said.

Johnson allegedly chased the seller with the gun, yelling demands for him to stop.

From the neighbor’s home, the seller watched the trio load a blue plastic tote filled with marijuana into their SUV, the affidavit alleges. Johnson and Rickman fled in the Highlander, while the third suspect took the unidentified second vehicle, the affidavit said.

The seller called dispatchers, providing a vehicle description for the Highlander that was swiftly shared to nearby police agencies.

The seller further gave dispatcher a distinctive clothing description, court documents indicate. Johnson had been wearing a dark T-shirt with a revolver pistol design printed on it and dark shoes with a bright red emblem on the sides, according to police.

The Oregon State Police trooper reported that Johnson had been wearing the same clothes when the officer spotted the Highlander pull off Interstate 5 and onto Exit 33.

The two suspects in the SUV were arrested without further incident, but reportedly refused to answer police questions without a lawyer.

Johnson and Rickman each made their initial court appearance Friday afternoon in Jackson County Circuit Court on two felony counts of second-degree robbery, a crime that carries a mandatory-minimum sentence of 70 months in prison if convicted.

At the hearing, Jackson County Circuit Judge David Hoppe set their bail at $500,000 with intensive release conditions that include weekly check-ins, residing in Jackson County, no contact with the alleged victims, not to possess firearms, not to contact co-defendants, not to consume intoxicants and to submit to random drug and alcohol tests.

As of Friday afternoon, Johnson and Rickman remain lodged, Jackson County Jail records show.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

Police say they found 37 pounds of marijuana inside the pearl white Toyota Highlander SUV towed as evidence. [Mail Tribune / Nick Morgan]
Jelani Amaan Johnson, left, and Orlando Hugh Rickman, both 27 and both with Washington, D.C. addresses listed in court records, each face felony second-degree robbery counts in the robbery near Ashland. [Jackson County Sheriff's Office photos]