Truckers released after 1 month in jail

Robert Smith

Two truckers arrested Jan. 9 by Pawhuska police were released Friday on their own recognizance, after about a month in the Osage County Jail, and District Attorney Mike Fisher said the action was possible because of a determination that the two men were “less culpable participants” in the act of transporting a cargo into Oklahoma that local authorities are prosecuting as marijuana trafficking.

Fisher clarified that charges filed against Farah Hassan Warsame, 33, of Cleveland, Ohio, and Tadesse Degefu Deneke, 51, of Mobile, Ala., have not been dropped. The investigation of the incident in which they were involved continues, Fisher said, and further determinations could be made at a later date.

Fisher said both truckers were in the country legally. Deneke is a U.S. citizen and Warsame holds a valid Green Card and has for some eight years, the district attorney said.

Deneke and Warsame were two of four suspects arrested Jan. 9 in connection with Pawhuska police stopping a tractor trailer which was transporting almost 10 tons of what the suspects represented as a perfectly legal load of industrial hemp from Kentucky to Colorado. Pawhuska police came into contact with the four through an early morning traffic stop.

At issue has been the question of whether the shipment was truly a legal cargo of industrial hemp, or a cargo at least partly tainted by the presence of illegal marijuana. All of the suspects are charged with aggravated trafficking of illegal drugs. Testing of samples from the truck’s cargo was carried out by a laboratory in the Washington, D.C. area.

The other two suspects, who have been described as providing security for the shipment, were identified as Andrew Jason Ross, 29, of Aurora, Colo., and David Melvin Dirksen, 31, of Comstock Park, Mich. Ross and Dirksen were also charged with one count each of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

All four suspects are scheduled to be back in Osage County District Court on March 22.