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DIGGING DEEPER: Delivering danger to your door

TUCSON – Here in Arizona marijuana dispensaries are regulated, and the use of recreational pot is against the law.

However, hundreds of thousands of people use marijuana for medical purposes.

When it comes to where you purchase that pot – it’s buyer beware.

As of last spring, more than 190,000 Arizonans carry medical marijuana cards.

That means they can buy and possess marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries.

Now, social media has apps that brings marijuana right to your door, but it’s not without risks.

On Oct. 26 at an apartment complex in central Tucson, 17-year-old Deshawn Payge was shot in the back.

He’s been in a Tucson hospital ever since.

His mother, Glennae Jones, says the bullet is still in his neck.

Jones has not left her son’s side. She said he was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Tucson police told News 4 Tucson Bryan Tecco was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.

They said he was delivering marijuana to another person in the complex who had a medical marijuana card.

The pot was purchased using a smartphone app.

Tucson Police Department Sergeant Alfredo Mesa is currently assigned to the Counter Narcotics Alliance task force.

“There was some kind of dispute and there was a gunfight that happened between two parties,” Mesa told the Digging Deeper team.

The detectives said the dispute was over money.

Jones is now warning people to be careful when using the delivery apps.

“These people that are delivering it to you, you don’t know who is coming to your home. You don’t know what their plans are, you don’t know what they are bringing to you and the could be coming just to harm you,” Jones told News 4 Tucson.

According to a search warrant the Digging Deeper Team uncovered, the marijuana Decco brought to the apartment complex was being grown illegally behind a metal building in a Marana neighborhood.

Tucson Police Department SWAT team served the warrant.

CNA seized marijuana, money, weapons, financial documents, and other items.

One of the neighbors who asked not to be identified said she still couldn’t believe it.

She told News 4 Tucson she was very concerned that an illegal marijuana grow operation was in the neighborhood behind a block wall.

“When SWAT was across the street they made eye contact with us and waved us away at that point when everything was going down so they did it in a such nice way really for our protection. And I appreciated that,” the neighbor said.

Detectives told the Digging Deeper Team this type of operation is extremely dangerous.

“They’re not going through licensed dispensaries so they are ordering from social media apps and they don’t know who is going to show up and deliver that product.”

Under a licensed dispensary the buyer knows what they’re getting, but that is not the case when it comes to illicit dealers.

“There’s no one checking to see if that product is legitimate of if the carts they’re buying contain THC or if there’s another substance in them,” Sgt. Mesa told News 4 Tucson.

Sergeant Mesa’s squad is responsible for investigating violent crime related to drugs.

“Typically about 80-percent of our call-outs in our unit is related to marijuana or THC cartridges,” Sgt. Mesa told News 4 Tucson.

In this case, it was an unlicensed delivery service that nearly took the life of 17-year old Deshawn Payge.

Jones has a message to the man who shot him.

“I hope you realize you’ve changed my son’s whole life. Not just my son but our whole family. My son had goals, my son is a great dancer and he’s never going to dance again, he’s never going to walk again.” Jones cried.

The family said Deshawn is optimistic and is telling his friends to be grateful for what they have now because it could be gone the next day.

Cindy Birkes, Deshawn’s grandmother, has set up a GoFundMe page to hopefully raise enough money for a down payment on a vehicle that will be wheelchair accessible.

Paul Birmingham

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