Thursday 10 September 2009, A.M.
Arrest of Man near Sierraville with 3 Pounds of Dried Psilocybin "Magic" Mushrooms
Incident: # 09-01513
For more information, contact:
Sheriff John Evans
Thursday morning Sheriff John Evans initially responded to investigate the reported break-in and theft of mail from several apparently randomly chosen post office boxes in the Town of Sierraville at the U.S. Post Office 96126, that incident log is #09-01511. That burglary and theft of U.S. mail is being investigated by two inspectors of the U.S. Postal Service based out of their Reno NV office. It is believed that the motive for that crime is personal gain from forging checks and/or to obtain personal information for identity theft. The sheriff’s office is assisting the postal service with that case as the violation is a federal matter as well. While making initial investigations and while the inspectors were responding, Sheriff Evans located a subject in Cold Creek Campground, who matched witness descriptions of a suspicious man seen in the area of the post office who was said to be heading southbound towards Truckee. The man was described as appearing transient. Upon speaking with the man, several investigative leads were developed that appeared to possibly relate the man to the post office vandalisms and thefts of mail. Sheriff Evans was later joined by Deputy Bobby Yegge, one of the postal inspectors and two law enforcement officers from the U.S.F.S and re-contacted the man in the designated campground adjacent SR-89 about five miles south of Sierraville; in the Tahoe National Forest.
During the second contact Sheriff Evans located over 3 pounds of dried Psilocybin mushrooms that the man had in his possession. He was arrested for the possession of the mushrooms around 4:00 p.m. He was identified as Robert Lyle Bennett, aged 57 years, of Bisbee, Arizona. Psilocybin mushrooms are commonly referred to as "magic mushrooms" and they produce a hallucinogenic state similar to Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (L.S.D.). The possession of any amount is a felony in the State of California and could result in imprisonment. The estimated street sales value of the illegal mushrooms seized is between $5,000 and $12,500 ($100 to $250 per ounce) depending on the "quality" and the "local demand". The average amount of doses that were seized is between 1,417 and 283 (1 to 5 grams) depending on the individual. The magic mushrooms are often believed to have been used originally by Native Americans and more recently among attendees of "RAVE Parties" and other naturalistic festivals such as the "Burning Man" event held recently this month in the north/eastern Nevada desert. Checking with State and Federal agents, this is believed to be the greatest amount of the hallucinogenic mushrooms seized by law enforcement in California this year. A sample of the mushrooms has been sent to the California Department of Justice laboratory for complete analysis. The investigation of the break-ins and thefts of the post office boxes continues, with physical evidence being sent to a federal crime laboratory for comparison analysis by the postal inspectors for possible suspect positive identification. Mr. Bennett has not been charged with a crime related to the Sierraville Post Office case at this time. Affected post office box holders are recommended to watch for any signs of theft and/or identity theft.
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