The marijuana discovery was fatal before the Tucson shooting, the U.S. says

First, came a tip. Then, not so discreetly, investigators say, an Amtrak passenger left three bags in the other row and returned to his seat just as drug enforcement agents boarded a crowded train during a stop in Tucson, Arizona, on Monday morning.

A search of those bags on the train platform turned up more than five pounds of “bulk marijuana”, 50 packages of marijuana edibles (3.5 grams of “Gubarz” serving) and other marijuana products, according to a federal criminal complaint.

When a “routine” sweep by the Drug Enforcement Task Force became fatal: one federal agent was killed, another was seriously injured, and a second suspect who returned by train was later admitted to hospital in stable condition by a Tucson police officer. On them.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Arizona on Tuesday, released new details about the sequence of the shootings, including the name of a man named Devente Okeith Mathis, who was charged with marijuana distribution.

The gunman was allegedly shot and killed in exchange with members of the task force, which did not identify him. He is Mr. Mathis was sitting across the corridor and both men were on their way to Texas from California, authorities said.

Mr., 22, of Mesquite, Texas. It was not immediately clear if Mathis had a lawyer – no one was listed on court records. He was due to appear in federal court in Tucson on Wednesday afternoon.

In Texas, Mr. Mathis was previously charged in 2018 with intent to manufacture or supply a controlled substance, according to court records, which show his case is pending. Public records list the December 2020 conviction in a deadly assault case involving a deadly weapon. The outcome of that case was not immediately clear.

Although a law passed last November legalizes one ounce of marijuana for recreational use in Arizona for people 21 years of age or older, possession of any amount of marijuana is a federal offense. Trafficking remains illegal at the federal level and in Arizona, where there was tension over cannabis possession laws.

Valena Betty, a professor of law at Arizona State University and deputy director of the Academy for Justice, said in an interview Wednesday that the connection between state and federal law has been severed.

“You’re in a state where recreational cannabis has been legalized, and still has DEA influence, you know, federal officers who can arrest you for violating federal law,” Professor Betty said. “It simply came to our notice then. It is on this confusion that this kind of tragedy arises.

But Professor Betty noted that there is no ambiguity in the law as far as cannabis has been seized and there are allegations of trafficking.

On Tuesday, the Drug Enforcement Administration identified the identified agent as Michael G. Garbo, a group supervisor who has been fighting criminal drug traffickers for the agency for more than 1 year, from the southwestern United States to Kabul in Afghanistan. Officials did not name other injured officers or give details of their condition.

Federal agents said in a criminal complaint that they investigated a tip obtained from Amtrak when two people were confronted on a train. The complaint did not elaborate on the nature of the tip.

When an agent Mr. Asked if the bags belonged to Mathis, he denied it and raised further suspicions, the complaint said. Inside a blue backpack, the agent found two bulk packages of marijuana, according to investigators, who said the gunman returned to the train while police dogs sniffed the bags. He turned his shotgun on himself when apprehended by a police officer on the porch of the house where the shootings took place.

Gunshots were fired at Sunset Limited Train 2, which was carrying 137 passengers and 11 crew members during the shooting. A spokesman for Amtrak said all those aboard the train from Los Angeles to New Orleans had been evacuated.

Bimal Patel Report contributions.

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