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Man charged in murder-for-hire scheme

A Josephine County man described by federal law enforcement officials as a “frequent marijuana trafficker” was charged Monday with trying to pay for the murder of an associate.

John Tobe Larson, 68, of Josephine County, appeared Monday in U.S. District Court in Medford. He was charged with using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Oregon State Police Southwest Region Marijuana Team learned in May that Larson was allegedly involved “in the interstate distribution of marijuana from Southern Oregon throughout the U.S. and smuggling cash back into Oregon via a private plane Larson pilots.”

During the investigation, police allegedly learned that Larson was looking for a hitman to murder an associate who owed him roughly $75,000.

In June, investigators arranged for an undercover agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to meet with Larson in Grants Pass, according to the press release.

Larson allegedly believed the intended victim was a “rat” who had previously worked with law enforcement in the past, the release said.

Larson allegedly told the undercover agent that he “would prefer that the body (of his associate) is never (expletive) found,” according to the release.

Larson allegedly agreed to pay the agent $20,000 for the murder and gave the agent a $10,000 down payment in a hotel room in Grants Pass June 27, along with the intended victim’s identity, address, phone numbers and social-media account information.

Larson allegedly told the agent that he wanted the body dumped in the ocean where “lice and crabs” would naturally dispose of it, and he asked for a picture of the body going over the side of the boat before paying the remaining $10,000.

On Aug. 21, Larson was arrested in Rogue River after he allegedly gave the agent $5,000 and concentrated marijuana after being led to believe the intended victim had been murdered, the release said.

A status conference and detention hearing are scheduled for Sept. 16.

John Tobe Larson