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"Hippie Mafia" Hash Smuggler Arrested

Last remaining member of The Brotherhood of Eternal Love captured after 37 years, prepares to stand trial.

Thu, Nov 12, 2009 2:19 pm

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By Nick Schou 

 

Thirty-seven years ago, the biggest raid that had ever been staged in America's war on drugs took place when a task force of state, local and federal law enforcement agencies combined to take down a secretive group of hippie acid dealers and hashish smugglers known as the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. On August 5, 1972, cops in California, Oregon and Maui arrested dozens of people, sending an even larger group scattering around the world in pursuit of an underground life that in some cases lasted decades.

 

By then, the Brotherhood, better known among cops as the “Hippie Mafia,” had become America's biggest hash smuggling network, with a direct pipeline to Kandahar, Afghanistan. They were also the country's hardest-working distributors of LSD who even had their own trademark version of the mind-altering drug, Orange Sunshine. They operated their own storefront, Mystic Arts World, in Laguna Beach, where many members lived. After befriending ex-Harvard psychology professor Timothy Leary, they lured him to Laguna Canyon and later, to a mountain ranch in Idyllwild, California. Members, including the group's charismatic leader, John Griggs, slept in tipis and ate vegetables from their own garden – all with the aim of creating a self-sustaining utopia.

 

That dream ended in August 1969 – the same month that saw Woodstock, the Manson murders and the first moon landing – when Griggs died of an overdose of synthetic psilocybin. By then, Leary had been busted for marijuana possession, and not long after Griggs died, he went to prison. That's when the BEL pulled off one of the most spectacular stunts in American counterculture. They raised some cash and paid off the notorious anti-war radicals, the Weather Underground, to bust Leary out of prison and help him escape to Afghanistan, where he was finally arrested in 1973.

 
Now, that long, strange trip is finally over.
 

On Sept. 26, the last remaining member of the Brotherhood was captured after four decades on the run, when he returned to the United States using his own passport which he obtained using his real name. Brenice Lee Smith, who grew up in Anaheim and was one of the Brotherhood's founding members, was arrested by U.S. Customs agents at San Francisco International Airport just minutes after arriving from Hong Kong on the second leg of a trip that started a day earlier in Kathmandu, Nepal, where he'd lived since the late 1970s. He was immediately jailed on two 40-year-old charges of smuggling hash.

 

Along with many other Brotherhood members, Smith, better known as “Brennie” among family and friends, allegedly traveled to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in the late 1960s and smuggled hashish back to California inside Volkswagen buses, mobile homes and other vehicles. Smith was indicted for his role in the group but was among about a dozen members who managed to evade arrest in August 1972.

 

Previously, the most recent fugitive to be captured was Orange Sunshine chemist Nicholas Sand, who was arrested in British Columbia in 1996, still making LSD out of his underground laboratory. Sand spent several years in prison for manufacturing acid. Two years earlier, police arrested a friend of Smith’s named Russell Harrigan near Lake Tahoe, California, after they learned his real identity. However, an Orange County judge dismissed the charges against Harrigan because he’d lived a crime-free life while quietly raising a family.

 

Given that none of the other members of the Brotherhood who were arrested served any more than a few months behind bars as a result of the 1972 indictment – although many later went on to become even bigger smugglers – Smith has a strong case for having his own charges dismissed. According to Eddie Padilla, a founding Brotherhood member, and his wife, Lorey James, who happens to be Smith's niece, Smith spent much of his time in Nepal at a Buddhist monastery, where he became a devotee of Kalu Rinpoche and took the name Dorje. After Maoist rebels attacked his monastery, Smith moved to Kathmandu, where he married a Nepalese woman and fathered a daughter who is now 21 years old.

 

Padilla and James say Smith returned to the US to give himself up in the hopes of eventually paving the way to bring his family here. Unfortunately for Smith, who awaits a December 7 trial date, the prosecutor handling his case is Jim Hicks, who happens to be the son of Cecil Hicks, Orange County’s DA at the time of the original Brotherhood case and therefore the top law-enforcement official involved in the group’s prosecution. Smith's lawyer, Gerardo Gutierrez has already filed a motion for the case to be dismissed in the interest of justice. He believes the DA’s office is simply trying to punish Smith before convicting him of any crime. “I think this case is being prosecuted backward,” he says. “They want him to spend as much time behind bars as possible because that may be the only punishment he gets.”

 
 

Nick Schou is a staff writer at OC Weekly and the author of the upcoming book, Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the Worldwhich will be published in March 2010 by St. Martin's Press. Read more of Schou's Brotherhood coverage in the OC Weekly.    



» add a comment

Hell on wheels

Mar 3 2010, 9:36 pm

omfg r you kidding me thats some dumb ass shiznit!

borntomediocrity

Feb 1 2010, 9:31 am

Yea, finally some success for our drug enforcement agencies. A 70 year old Hippy finally stumble into their path, making it possible for them to bust him. *****yawn*****

Well worth the billions we spend on them. Whats next, are they gonna pull over Willie Nelson's tour bus again.....Oh Chit!

Can we catch a guy known to want to cause us harm, before he blows his nutz off on an airplane full of US citizens? Nope!

Bust a Hippy from the 60's on non-terroscism related charges from 40 years ago? Yup!

P.A.T.H.E.T.I.C.

WAKE UP AMERICA!

Your hunting the boogie-man to make a profit!

hippilover

Nov 28 2009, 4:56 am

if anyone is hatin, watch PINEAPPLE EXPRESS that is a great movie, maybey it will help u relize that these people arent so bad... i used to hate my brother cuz he smoked pot, heck now i wanna have a bud... but other drugs, thats not good >_

sirsmokealot

Nov 26 2009, 1:18 am

yo man ur totally right

gstlab3

Nov 25 2009, 4:36 pm

HaHa, HaHha HaHa!!! BE VERY VERY QUIET.,THEY ARE WATCHING YOU.,
BIG BROTHER IS GOING TO GOBBLE ALL OF US UP IF WE DO NOT GET UP OFF OUR ASSES AND "DO" SOMETHING ABOUT THESE SHOW TRIALS AND THIS BANANA REPUBLIC AND THE BIG MONEY FOR WICH IT STANDS.,OUR TIME MAY BE RUNNING OUT AND THE MONEY GAME IS UP AND THEY ARE STARTING TO REALIZE IT.,
FAITH IN THE ALLMIGHTY DOLLAR IS FADING FAST!!!
THIS IS A DISASTER IN THE MAKING AND NOBODY CAN STOP IT FROM HAPPENING.,REASON BEING THE AMOUNT OF DOLLARS PRINTED WITH NO BACKING OTHER THAN THE PROMISES OF OUR LEADER AND OUR CONTINUED SERVITUDE TO THEM.,
THAT'S ALL THAT STANDS BETWEEN US AND THEM.,OUR MONEY AND SPENDING POWER AND OUR COLLECTIVE WEALTH.,DENY THEM ACCESS TO THOSE THINGS AND THEY ARE THROUGH.THE GAME WILL INDEED BE OVER.
THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES MUST REMEMBER WHO IS INCHARGE.

dannyboy

Nov 24 2009, 3:26 pm

Free country....my asssssssssssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

thinkin . . .

Nov 23 2009, 3:54 am

sorry about that, my post for a while there didn't show up

thinkin . . .

Nov 23 2009, 3:52 am

What about his family he wanted to bring to the land of opportunities, the US? What do they have now? If he's in jail, they don't have him to support them, like he's done for so many years.

thinkin . . .

Nov 23 2009, 3:13 am

What about bringing his family to the US? That's why he wanted to come back?
Now he's not even going to be over there for them.

What's being done about that?


----------------------------------------

Isn't there a statue of limitations on drug charges?

mary jane

Nov 21 2009, 3:37 pm

you have to see this video if u smoke bud..... its called lala www.youtube.com/p.ruffins

Brandon Aguilera

Nov 19 2009, 6:20 pm

myspace.com/thishelps

me

Nov 18 2009, 4:41 pm

I remember the orange sunshine very well, good stuff. As for the pigs I would leave this fucked up country in a minute if all my family didn't live here. As for all you PIGS out there, I know you assholes read this website, if you ever try to fuck with me you'll win but I swear I'll bury a clip or two in you. PROMISE!!! You can thank tricky dick nixon for that. What a poor excuse for a president. Fuck the DEA!! Mean it!

to :also a mature

Nov 18 2009, 6:34 am

"What crime " ........ snuggling hash . Its in the story .

Also a mature adult

Nov 17 2009, 6:34 pm

What crime? And if you happen to disagree with a law,what relief can we seek? Is there no way of changing these laws that have been creating more problems than they solve for 40 years?
The way is clear. Since letters and polls and petitions are ignored and big business has too much power in our legislature to ever expect change,we must use the only thing we can to speak for us. We must actively campaign against every legislator in office now and remove them. It is the only way we can protest and change our legislators
disregard for what the people want. All Must be changed,the good and the bad,to send a message to congress that it is not business as usual. The big business people might control our congress with their money,but we can keep changing out any representative and senators that accepts the election donations and supports their agenda.
And if a legislator gets replaced happens to have been a good one(rare)and he is truly a good American,he will understand that it is just time for America too once more be a government of the people,by the people and not by the government,for the government.
Fuck them,grow your own

Guids

Nov 17 2009, 8:03 am

This is crap let the hippies have their way. they're not hurtin neone!

Holocaust

Nov 16 2009, 1:28 pm

the south americans owe

funny

Nov 16 2009, 12:57 am

Ha ha. You fail. Stoners. The Brotherhood paid for your sins. You suck.

Mature Adult

Nov 15 2009, 10:37 am

Sorry ..you've got all the personal info I'm willing to let you have .
Why do you have so much trouble with my stance of DON"T GET CAUGHT ? You are against this ? I don't see why you'd be posting here with that attitude . Maybe that position is to hard for you to grasp ?
Poor thing , bless your heart . :o)

Mature Adult to Child

Nov 15 2009, 10:01 am

no thanks . I am a grandmother and have nothing for you to " blow" . Poor thing ... :o)

Mature Adult

Nov 15 2009, 7:27 am

to DD :
Any idea what you mean ? DD stand for Double Dumb ? Yes ?
Bless your heart ...... :o)

arturo

Nov 15 2009, 5:59 am

Vehicles were driven back to Europe and either shipped to
the US or the secreted goods were sold in Amsterdam or Brussels...wherever there was a connection..then another vehicle was bought, zed plated in West Germany and then off again to Kabul or Kandahar or Peshawar... depending where that connection was. This type of livelihood continued until
the Shah of Iran was kicked out and the overland route became impossible...especially after the second coup in Afghanistan brought the Russians in.

mark

Nov 14 2009, 8:21 pm

how did he drive the RVs across the ocean? I want to see the DEA prove that one.

dd

Nov 14 2009, 3:34 pm

"Mature Adult"... maybe you should post in the future as "Stat Quo American AKA The Spineless Follower." That would be a more appropriate description for yourself, yes?

deddog

anonymous

Nov 14 2009, 12:15 pm

those maggots cut and paste the recordings

Stew

Nov 14 2009, 10:08 am

Very interesting article. I was hoping there would be mention of William Leonard Pickard.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Leonard_Pickard

Who was a member of BEL and was busted in the Kansas Silo bust of 2000, which allegedly put the world LSD supply back quite a bit. Did it ever recover?

Mature Adult

Nov 14 2009, 8:20 am

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time ........

spagettii

Nov 13 2009, 8:09 pm

Hey kids, he took enough for about 3, 500 people. That's thirty five hundred doses.
yeah it did prove to be too much.

exp grower

Nov 13 2009, 7:48 pm

first of all hello to all and god bless .man if you have legal problems in the us dont come back in .same shit happen to me i came back to us soil after being in south america .and bang i get nabbed at the airport spend 2 moths in maximun security for a growing violation . fucking snitches

gstlab3

Nov 13 2009, 2:50 pm

WHEN YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS ARE IDENTIFIED AS A GROUP OF LOOSELY ASSOCIATED PARTNERS IN CRIME ESPECIALLY ONES AS DANGEROUS AS TO BE PROVIDING THE DRUGS WHICH IN THEMSELVES CAN ENLIGHTEN THE PEOPLE THAT TAKE THEM.,YOU WILL BE TARGETED LIKE THOSE WHO STILL INADVERTANTLEY PLAY A ROLE IN ENLIGHTENMENT BY DEALING THE SACRED MARIJUANA FLOWERS FOR POWER AND PROFIT.
THE SYNTHETICS ARE ALLWAYS CAUSE FOR CONCERN YOU YOUNG PEOPLE THEY CAN BE QUITE POISONOUS BECAUSE MAN MAKES MISTAKES.
THE HALLUCINGENS CAN MOST DEFINTELY BRING A PERSON PERCEPTIONS AND MENTAL ABILITIES THAT STILL SCARE THE ELITISTS.,THIS IS MORE THAN JUST POLITICS.
IT'S A WAR ON GODS CREATION AND HIS PLAN FOR US.

The Author

Nov 13 2009, 2:45 pm

It was crystallized, highly concentrated synthetic psilocybin, not the same thing as magic mushrooms, exactly, and Griggs took too much and got a toxic reaction. He ultimately choked on his own vomit on the way to the hospital. Hope that helps and don't try it at home.

dnugsmoker

Nov 13 2009, 2:03 pm

im with the other guy.how the hell do you OD on synthetic psillocybin

bubbleberry uk

Nov 13 2009, 4:52 am

WHILE THE VAST AMOUNTS OF MONET ARE BEING SPENT ON THE PHONEY DRUG WAR NO AMOUNT OF PROTEST IS GOING TO WORK. TAKE A LEAF OUT OF THEIR OWN BOOK PUBLICY EXPOSE HOW MUCH AND WHO TO THOSE ARE THE REAL ENEMIES THE ONES GETTING ALL THAT WAR CASH THEY WILL FIGHT DIRTY TO KEEP THAT GRAVY TRAIN ROLLING

Mycelia

Nov 13 2009, 2:55 am

WHAT? overdose of synthetic psilocybin? WHAT? Did he try to eat like ten pounds or something? I have a hard time believing that...

budha

Nov 12 2009, 8:47 pm

we know man

freedom420FTG

Nov 12 2009, 7:34 pm

Fuck the DA and GOVT.LAND OF THE FREE MY ASS

weapons of mass distruction

Nov 12 2009, 3:09 pm

acid is alot of fun

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