Witness Tells of Deal With U.S. in Fowlie Case
A Canadian drug dealer whose profits financed an extensive real estate portfolio testified Thursday that he will get to keep a substantial portion of his wealth partly in exchange for testifying against Daniel James Fowlie, the alleged patriarch of a massive marijuana operation based in Orange County.
Under heavy court security, Robert Brook told a U.S. District Court jury that he has been allowed to keep $1 million in assets, including luxury cars and a Laguna Beach home, as part of a deal to cooperate with federal investigators.
Brook, who now uses an assumed name and appeared at Fowlie’s trial with an escort of federal officers, testified that he acquired extensive real estate throughout Southern California and Florida by selling marijuana in Canada supplied by Fowlie.
Among the holdings were ranches in Fallbrook and Julian in San Diego County, a home in Laguna Beach, and property in Florida as well as Canada.
Fowlie’s defense lawyers contended Thursday that the government’s deal to gain Brook’s cooperation in cases against accused marijuana and hashish smugglers illustrates the extremes that the government, in its war on drugs, is willing to go to in negotiating with potential prosecution witnesses.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Elana S. Artson, one of Fowlie’s prosecutors, declined to comment on Brook’s testimony and defense contentions about his arrangement with the government.
Brook, a member of the federal witness protection program, is one of several key prosecution witnesses against Fowlie, 58, who is being tried on 26 felony counts. According to a 32-page indictment, Fowlie is accused of income tax evasion, distribution of 53,000 pounds of marijuana, failing to report shipments of hundreds of thousands of dollars overseas, and operating a continuing criminal enterprise.
Much of the alleged operation was coordinated from Rancho del Rio, a 213-acre enclave that straddles the border of Orange and Riverside counties. President Bush once used the rustic site for a national address on drug abuse.
Fowlie was extradited from Mexico to Orange County in July for trial. If found guilty, he faces a possible life sentence.
After Brook’s testimony against Fowlie, jurors heard that he had not spent a day in jail nor was he arrested on charges of smuggling marijuana after U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents knocked on the door of his Laguna Beach home in April, 1987, and took him into custody.
Under cross-examination by Fowlie’s attorney, James Riddet, Brook told jurors that he was not booked by federal agents after being transported to the DEA’s San Diego office.
“Were you ever even fingerprinted?” Riddet asked.
“I think it’s possible,” Brook said.
“In fact, part of your demand was that you did not want to have an arrest record, is that right?” Riddet said.
“Yes, that’s right,” Brook answered.
During the questioning, Brook said the government allowed him to keep $1 million in assets from drug profits, including a $550,000 Laguna Beach home, two Mercedes sedans, a BMW, and property and other assets in Canada. In addition, charges of money laundering against his wife were never filed.
The government, however, seized Brook’s Fallbrook ranch, valued at about $400,000, a ranch in Julian, and more property in Florida, where about half a dozen automobiles, including a motor home, were kept, Brook testified.
Evidence shows that Brook has been paid $19,000 from government funds to help with relocation expenses. Another government witness in the same trial was given $25,800 for similar expenses.
Riddet, at a hearing where jurors were excluded, described Brook to U.S. District Judge Alicemarie Stotler as “a liar,” whose testimony is tainted by his bias in favor of doing “everything and anything” for the government.
Earlier in the trial, Fowlie was described as an international “drug king” who had imported 30 tons of marijuana from Mexico for distribution throughout the United States.
According to investigators, Fowlie’s source of marijuana in Mexico was Javier Caro Payan, a member of the same drug family as Rafael Caro Quintero. Quintero was among the major Mexican drug smugglers who were indicted in the kidnaping and murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena.
Brook said that over several years he and his drug partner, Timothy Neeb, sold 28,000 pounds of marijuana from U.S. sources, including Fowlie’s operation, and another 30,000 pounds from Payan.
They would get shipments in from Mexico in tanker trucks and stash the marijuana at his ranches in Julian and Fallbrook, Brook testified. In one shipment, a tanker carried 1,000 pounds of hashish and 2,000 pounds of marijuana.
The government claims that Brook became such a massive marijuana buyer that he became good friends “with Javier (Payan),” who was described in court as a physician in Guadalajara, known in the drug trade as “The Doctor.”
Brook testified that during his relationship with Payan, Payan received $22 million for exporting 35,000 pounds, or 17 1/2 tons, of marijuana.
While Brook was on the witness stand, jurors got an insider’s view of a drug smuggler’s lavish lifestyle. Brook testified that he and his wife were invited by Javier Payan to spend Christmas and New Year’s in Mexico in 1986.
Brook testified that he was instructed to meet one of Payan’s men at a San Diego hotel. From there, he said, they were taken to the Mexican border, where they met a Mexican customs official who personally escorted them to the Tijuana airport for a flight to Guadalajara.
In Guadalajara, they stayed at luxury hotels and dined at expensive restaurants, all owned by Payan, Brook said. After a week they left for Mazatlan, where Payan’s entourage took up an entire floor of a seaside resort.
Brook recalled that for protection, Payan brought in extra bodyguards from Culiacan until they there were 30 to 50 of them at the hotel in Mazatlan.
Payan ascribed the added security to family rivalries, Brook told the court, and Payan’s bid to take over the entire Mexican marijuana supply bound for the United States.