Kentucky 'King of Pot,' Johnny Boone, on the run from Feds two years after 182 ton marijuana bust.

SPRINGFIELD, Ky 11/29/2010 05:15 PM GMT (TransWorldNews)

Elusive Johnny Boone, a 67 year-old white-bearded Kentucky fugitive who resembles Santa Claus, has been on the run ever since 2008 as police closed in on his 2,400 plant pot farm.

Dubbed the "King of Pot" and the "Godfather of Grass," Boone, the marijuana-growing outlaw, has become a folk hero complete with a Facebook page sporting over 1,700 fans all cheering “Run Johnny Run”.

"He was just a good ol' country boy - a farmer," Joe Pendleton, whose Kentucky shop sells "Run, Johnny, Run" T-shirts, told the Associated Press. "He's not robbing banks or nothing." But under stiff Federal sentencing guidelines, Boone a twice convicted drug offender, is facing a mandatory life sentence in federal prison if caught and convicted of growing pot for a third time.

Boone's latest trouble came in 2008 when Kentucky State Police spotted marijuana plants on his farm during aerial surveillance.

Boone, who was convicted in the 1980s and served a decade in prison, was the leader of what prosecutors have called the "largest domestic marijuana syndicate in American history." Labeled the "Cornbread Mafia, the group was accused of growing 182 tons of marijuana

While Federal authorities aren't calling him violent, Boone’s record dates back to the 1960s for charges of wanton endangerment and illegal firearms possession.

"He was the player. There might have been one or two close to him," said Jack Smith, a former federal prosecutor who represented Boone in the 1980s case. "I never heard of anybody who was bigger."

Boone himself is a bit of a contradiction.

During a 1988 court hearing for his second drug conviction where he was given a 20 year sentence Boone stated, "With the poverty at home, marijuana is sometimes one of the things that puts bread on the table

While authorities have been canvassing tight-lipped residents among the small towns in a rural area of Kentucky where many down on their luck farmers have plant marijuana, people acknowledged knowing of Boone, but either said they didn't know him well or wouldn't talk about him.

Boone's friends want him to remain free, and some complain that his crimes aren't worthy of a life sentence.


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