New details released in Medford pot robbery sting
Before federal agents began a month-long undercover investigation, several Southern Oregon marijuana growers had been victims of sophisticated armed robberies, and one person had been shot.
Four home invasions in the fall of 2019 and early 2020 each involved teams of suspects storming properties in Jackson and Josephine counties. Shootings occurred at two of the robberies and one involved a high-speed police chase that spanned two counties.
According to new information about the crimes released by federal prosecutors this week, one name kept popping up in the criminal investigations: Shannon Christopher Harrop.
Harrop was arrested July 14 with four others following a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms sting in which Harrop allegedly spent weeks with undercover agents planning a heist Harrop called “The Boys,” which called for out-of-state co-conspirators to storm a Southern Oregon property while pretending to be police officers, handcuff the victims and rob them.
Police arrested Harrop and suspects Delander Edward Moore, William Edward Pardue Jr., Derrick Franklin and Julius Diablo Franklin at a Medford storage unit before the robbery could take place, and seized a pile of fake police gear, guns and army surplus handcuffs as evidence.
Leading up to the sting, Harrop was a person of interest in at least three earlier robberies in Medford, Eagle Point and the Applegate, according to a Tuesday U.S. Attorney’s Office filing in U.S. District Court in Medford that sheds new light on the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Marco Boccato stated that Harrop had been questioned by law enforcement in at least two of the earlier robberies.
“Even after contact by law enforcement, Harrop’s criminal activity persisted,” Boccato wrote.
The earliest robbery linked to Harrop was Sept. 19, 2019, a Medford robbery during a deal for “$60,000 worth of hemp,” according to court documents. Robbers handcuffed the victims and robbed them at gunpoint. One victim “gave chase” as the suspects fled in a van, and the victim “was shot at multiple times and was injured.”
Harrop was behind the deal, according to Boccato.
“Harrop was later contacted by police and admitted to setting up the deal, but denied any knowledge that a robbery was to occur,” Boccato wrote.
Suspects Nathan Dale Perkins, Julia Marie MacLennan and Michael Joseph Manring also face federal charges for their alleged involvement in a Nov. 2 Eagle Point robbery allegedly orchestrated by Harrop.
Harrop was linked early on in the Nov. 2 Eagle Point robbery and the ensuing high-speed police chase that crossed two counties.
On Nov. 2, suspects pretending to be law enforcement stormed a home in the 2700 block of Alta Vista Road in Eagle Point, according to the new information and news reports. The suspects stole marijuana, jewelry and one victim’s new Volkswagen SUV. Perkins allegedly fled in a BMW.
A Jackson County sheriff’s deputy chased the BMW at high speeds across two county lines before police in Douglas County stopped the car with spike strips outside Winston, according to news reports. Inside the car, police found tactical vests, handcuffs, a shotgun and a handgun, along with items reported stolen in the robbery.
According to federal prosecutors, Harrop had rented the BMW.
“Harrop was contacted again and he claimed the vehicle had been taken without his permission, and that he was in Portland during the robbery,” Boccato wrote.
On Dec. 19, at least eight individuals stormed a marijuana grow in the Applegate area, a crime similar to the Eagle Point robbery in that the robbers pretended to be law enforcement with a warrant and handcuffed a victim before robbing them. A different victim on the property engaged the robbers in an “armed standoff,” according to Boccato.
On April 25, a similar armed marijuana robbery was reported in rural Josephine County that ultimately led to a shooting investigation.
“The victims again were robbed at gunpoint and restrained,” Boccato wrote. “One victim was able to escape, access a firearm and fire shots at the robbers.”
Between June 17 until Harrop’s July 14 arrest, undercover ATF agents spent weeks posing as friends of an informant’s uncle with inside information about a marijuana warehouse.
Federal prosecutors say Harrop used commercial kitchen staff terminology during the planning stages of the heist with undercover ATF agents.
“In coded language, Harrop told [an undercover agent] that the robbery would take four people, two of his buddies were the ‘main cooks,’ and two others were the ‘line cooks,’” Boccato wrote, adding that Harrop later described the robbery plan as the “menu.”
Harrop is held in the Josephine County Jail on charges of interfering with commerce by robbery, conspiring to possess marijuana with intent to distribute, using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and conspiring to interfere with commerce by robbery, according to court documents. His next court appearance is set for Oct. 22.