Godfather of Grass Captured: Fugitive John Robert Boone Arrested After Eight Years On The Run

By Paul Gaita 12/28/16

The 73-year-old was evading federal drug charges that could have resulted in a life sentence.

Godfather of Grass, John Robert Boone
John Robert Boone Photo via YouTube

Police in Montreal apprehended John Robert "Johnny" Boone, dubbed the "Godfather of Grass" for overseeing what prosecutors called the largest domestic marijuana syndicate in American history in the late 1980s.

Boone, 73, was apprehended at a shopping center in Montreal on December 22, ending an eight-year hunt by the U.S. Marshals Service and Kentucky State Police, who had sought Boone for a 2008 federal charge of possession with intent to manufacture and distribute marijuana, spawned by the discovery of more than 2,000 marijuana plants on his farm in Springfield, Kentucky.

Boone had previously served more than a decade in federal prison for his role in the "Cornbread Mafia," a massive marijuana production operation spread over 29 farms in nine states that reportedly grew more than 180 tons of pot during the 1980s.

Law enforcement officials have speculated that Boone fled the country after the 2008 federal warrant was issued, for fear of a third conviction in U.S. federal court which could have earned him a life sentence in prison. It is unknown when he crossed the U.S.-Canada border, but the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) stated that it was made aware in September 2016 that he was residing in a small town outside of Montreal.

At the time of his arrest, Boone refused to answer any questions related to the charges; he then appeared the following day before Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board, where he was ordered to remain behind bars at the Rivière-des-Prairies Detention Centre on the basis of his fugitive status. A second detention review was scheduled to determine when he will be deported back to Kansas to face the 2008 charges in a U.S. District Court. 

Boone's leading role in the "Cornbread Mafia" syndicate (which earned him the "Godfather of Grass" sobriquet), and subsequent flight from justice, made him a high-profile fugitive and at one point, the subject of an episode of America's Most Wanted. The program's host, John Walsh, described Boone as a "deadly, ruthless drug lord" who adhered to "a code of silence used by Italian-American mobsters called omerta," which Boone allegedly described as, "Always have a clear view of right and wrong, to do right without reserve."

That depiction ran contrary to his status as a folk hero to some Kentucky residents, who printed t-shirts emblazoned with the logo "Run, Johnny, Run" and supported his flight with unbridled enthusiasm on a Facebook fan page.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.