Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | May 21, 2018

Task force uncovers marijuana distribution network in Van Buren

By Rusty Ebert, Ledger correspondent | Jun 21, 2017

DOUDS – The Southeast Iowa Interagency Drug Task Force has uncovered a marijuana distribution network reaching into Van Buren County that is using marijuana from Colorado.

The task force was involved in a search of a Douds home last month and information released indicates that the person involved had a network of “sub-distributors” and “runners” in Southeast Iowa.

Colorado voters approved a constitutional amendment legalizing the sale of marijuana, which began in 2014. Other states have followed suit, even though the federal government strictly prohibits it.

The search warrant of  Robert David Grubbs, Douds, indicates that the Colorado law has made the illegal drug more available in places like Iowa, even though it is illegal to transport it across state lines and because of its high potency, remains very expensive and much more harmful.

Since Colorado legalized marijuana, usage among Van Buren County high school students has grown by a factor of four by those who reported using marijuana in the past 30 days, according to the Iowa Youth Survey.

Even more troubling to local authorities is the increase of usage among females, which is now triple that of their male counterparts. In fact, one in five Van Buren County  female 11th graders say they have used marijuana. And they are starting younger. While marijuana use was reported by no Van Buren County male eighth graders, nearly one in 10 female eighth graders admitted they currently use marijuana.

The Southeast Iowa Interagency Drug Task Force executed the search warrant on May 24, after a confidential informant made several controlled purchases of marijuana. The price was in the hundreds of dollars per ounce, according to the application.

In addition to the residence, the task force also requested to search the person of Grubbs, a 2002 Chevy Cavalier with black racing stripes and a large push bumper with a deer skull on the hood, a 2002 Ford Taurus, a 1999 Ford F350 and a Harley Davidson motorcycle that is believed to be owned and commonly operated by Grubbs. The task force was searching for property that has allegedly been illegally obtained, property relevant and material as evidence in a criminal prosecution and property used or possessed with the intent to be used as the means of committing a public offense or concealed to prevent an offense from being discovered.

Items seized from the search on May 24, included: metal pipe with residue, container with 10 pills, Synergy 50 MG THC Relief Balm, miscellaneous drug paraphernalia, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, Wells Fargo documents, RX bottle with 10 pills, High Point 40 caliber loaded magazine with one in chamber and partial box of 40 caliber ammo. The specified cell phone to be seized and searched was not downloaded as allowed for in the search warrant order.

According to the application, the drug task force has conducted an ongoing investigation in regards to Grubbs and his alleged sale and distribution of marijuana in Wapello County.


In March 2017, a confidential informant (CI) had a conversation with investigators. The CI stated Grubbs offered to sell the CI marijuana and that Grubbs only sells large quantities of marijuana and relies on sub-distributors to provide “customers” with quantities of marijuana less than one or two ounces. Grubbs told the CI that he used to work at Vaughn Automotive, but currently was working at an auto body shop called “Hendersons” in Ottumwa. On March 6, the CI attempted to perform a controlled purchase of two ounces of marijuana in the parking area associated with Henderson Auto Works. During the conversation, Grubbs was unhappy with the dollar amount the CI offered and he declined the sale, according to the application.

On March 13, the CI contacted Grubbs by telephone about a request to purchase two ounces of marijuana. Grubbs said he was out of marijuana, but expected to obtain a re-supply of marijuana on March 18-19. Grubbs justified his asking price by bragging about its quality.

On March  21, the CI allegedly purchased two ounces of marijuana from Grubbs at the Henderson Auto Works parking area, in a controlled purchase. Grubbs told the CI that the marijuana was recently obtained from Colorado and the “quality was very good.”

On April 3, Grubbs allegedly contacted the CI about purchasing more marijuana. A controlled transaction for two ounces was made on April 5, also in the parking area at Henderson Auto Works.

On May 10, the CI made a controlled purchase of 1.1 ounces of marijuana from Grubbs at an Ottumwa public parking lot.

Grubbs was charged with possession of a firearm by felon. Arraignment was set for June 23.

This was the second search warrant approved for that address. Van Buren County District Court approved execution of a search warrant of a 2008 Cadillac CTS believed to be held at 14627 Highway 98, Douds, and the residence at that address. The vehicle was once controlled by Austin Edward Wilkins, Ottumwa, and later given to his aunt, Angie Ruby, who lived in Douds at that address. The search warrant was to find evidence material in a criminal prosecution and sample a semen stain, of Wilkin’s, believed to be in the back seat of the vehicle. Officers believe that there is DNA evidence to lead them to believe that Wilkins used the vehicle to have an alleged illegal sexual encounter with a girl who was 15 or under at the time. Wilkins was 21 years old at the time of the alleged sexual encounter. However, officers were unable to carry out the search warrant on May 30 because the person who had possession of the vehicle at that time had moved from her former address in Van Buren County.

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