A Spokane man who was a vocal government critic at the Randy Weaver standoff in North Idaho got a special delivery letter last week, supposedly from famous attorney Gerry Spence.
But when Darwin Michael Gray stepped out of his home and reached for the letter, all he got was a set of handcuffs on his wrists.
A federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent, posing as a Postal Service carrier, arrested Gray for growing marijuana, being a felon in possession of firearms and use of a firearm during a drug crime.
Agents found 43 growing marijuana plants and two dried marijuana plants in the basement of the Gray home at 2913 E. Nora.
They also seized two handguns - an Intertec 9mm pistol and a .22-caliber pistol - and loaded bullet clips for both weapons, court documents say.
Gray, 27, can’t legally possess firearms because he was convicted of burglary in Alaska in 1985.
Gray claimed he was arrested by federal agents because he demonstrated against them during the 11-day Weaver siege in 1992.
At one point during the standoff, Gray was detained and questioned after he pummeled a military vehicle and screamed, “Baby killers!” at federal agents.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Hicks said Monday that agents used the ruse to arrest Gray to avoid an armed standoff. The circumstances surrounding Gray’s case were similar to the now-celebrated 1992 Weaver case:
Authorities had an arrest warrant for a man whom they suspected of being heavily armed, in a house with his wife and three small children, including a newborn.
The agent dressed as a letter carrier didn’t give the suspect a chance to resist.
Gray was taken to the ground, handcuffed and arrested by the agent and other undercover officers who moved in to assist.
U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno ruled that Gray will be held without bond until his trial because he might flee town and is dangerous.
Agents decided to use the letter carrier ruse after watching Gray at home for a day, hoping he would leave so he could be arrested outdoors.
He didn’t leave the home while it was under surveillance.
“The facts here suggested that we had an unstable individual here, inside a house with guns and ammunition, with a wife and small children,” Hicks explained.
“We had the safety of law enforcement officers and others involved here, and that’s why we did it this way,” he said.
“We do a lot of these things this way,” the federal prosecutor added.
Investigators believed Gray would be delighted to receive a letter from the defense attorney who successfully defended Weaver, Hicks said.
Weaver initially was arrested by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in early 1991 when they used a similar ruse and arrested him without incident.
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