Oct. 24—A California man could face more than seven years in prison for his role helping plan a heist with undercover federal agents called “The Boys,” in which a team of robbers would pose as police officers and rob Rogue Valley marijuana growers.
Julius Diablo Franklin, 42, faces a minimum five years in prison for his role helping plan an armed invasion robbery on a fictitious Southern Oregon marijuana warehouse with undercover Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents in the summer of 2020 and alleged ringleader Shannon Christopher Harrop.
The U.S. Attorney's Office, however, is seeking a seven years and three months ahead of a sentencing hearing scheduled for Oct. 26 in U.S. District Court in Eugene, according to filings Wednesday in Franklin's case.
At least four marijuana operations fell prey to the robberies before Franklin, Harrop and three other suspects were arrested at a Medford area self-storage facility July 14, 2020 — near a pile of fake police gear, guns and army surplus handcuffs — just before the suspects were allegedly heading to a planned robbery.
Harrop and seven other suspects are scheduled to stand trial next month in U.S. District Court in Medford for their alleged roles in the planned undercover heist.
The ring was linked to four earlier Southern Oregon robberies as early as Sept. 19, 2019, according to a sentencing brief filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marco Boccato in Franklin's case.
“These four robberies included violent takeovers, high-speed car chases and the discharge of firearms,” Boccato wrote.
Each of the four robberies involved victims being handcuffed or restrained, and at least three of the robberies between Sept. 19, 2019 and April 25, 2020 involved robbers who posed as law enforcement.
Among the most notable of the four robberies allegedly linked to Harrop was a Nov. 2, 2019 robbery near Eagle Point in which suspects Nathan Dale Perkins, Julia Marie MacLennan and Michael Joseph Manring allegedly handcuffed two growers in their home at gunpoint before making off with roughly 40 pounds of marijuana and a victim's new Volkswagen Tiguan SUV.
A Jackson County sheriff's deputy tailed a BMW sedan, which was linked to the robbery and rented by Harrop, on Interstate 5 at high speeds across two counties. Inside the car were tactical vests, handcuffs, a shotgun and a handgun, among personal items reported stolen in the home invasion robbery.
A “significant development” occurred after an April 25, 2020 robbery in rural Josephine County in which shots were fired. A restrained victim reportedly managed to escape, find a gun and fire shots at the robbers.
“This robbery led to a significant development in the investigation — a suspect became a CI (confidential informant),” Boccato wrote.
While working with Medford police, the confidential informant reportedly broached the idea of planning a burglary on a warehouse full of marijuana to Harrop.
Harrop allegedly connected the police informant with Franklin.
“He and his crew are beasts bro,” Harrop allegedly said.
Undercover ATF agents posed as an uncle of the informant with inside information about a warehouse filled with marijuana the following June.
Harrop allegedly used restaurant terms in the heist, describing Franklin as one of his “main cooks,” the robbery plan as the “menu” and other lower level co-conspirators as “line cooks,” according to Boccato.
Franklin's attorney, assistant federal public defender Devin Huseby, is seeking the minimum 5-year prison sentence for his client. Huseby criticized the fictitious stash house purportedly containing about 800 pounds of premium marijuana.
Boccato cited the danger of the real robberies that preceded the sting in his sentencing brief.
“Had law enforcement not effectively intervened, the robberies would have continued and someone could have easily died or been seriously injured,” Boccato wrote.
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