The mother of an Olympic snowboarder was arrested one week ago in the Town of Hamburg after investigators say she came to this area from California to pick up payment for a large shipment of marijuana, police announced Monday.
Myra Hight, 51, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., is a suspected member of a nationwide marijuana-distribution ring and remains in federal custody here on drug-trafficking charges, officials from the Erie County Sheriff's Office and the Hamburg Police Department said at a news conference. Police found more than $77,000 in cash in her vehicle after her Feb. 20 arrest.
"We believe that she is part of a larger-scale drug-trafficking organization that's been operating both nationally and here in Erie County involving the distribution of large quantities of marijuana," Sheriff's Capt. Gregory Savage said.
Investigators have no indication Hight's daughter, Elena, a half-pipe snowboarder who competed in the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics, was aware of her mother's alleged drug trafficking, said Sheriff's Senior Detective Alan Rozansky.
The younger Hight, a likely participant in the 2014 Winter Olympics, is expected in Buffalo today to help her mother post bail, Rozansky said. A hearing is scheduled for this morning.
Myra Hight's arrest follows a one-year investigation into a marijuana distribution network by the Sheriff's Office, Hamburg police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Investigators believe Hight was one of several members of the ring who transported marijuana to California, Hawaii, Utah, Nevada and Western New York, among other locations.
The local probe originated in Hamburg, though officials declined to reveal what specifically led them to Hight.
Hight was arrested Feb. 20 in the parking lot of a Hamburg business as she attempted to collect payment on an earlier delivery of marijuana, Rozansky said.
Police say Hight and other members of the ring had made several trips to the area. Rozansky said investigators believe Hight brought 50 to 100 pounds of marijuana at a time into the area, which was the last stop on her rounds.
"We estimate that at least 1,000 pounds had come through to Buffalo from out West," Rozansky said, from Hight and the others. The value of this marijuana is just under $3,000 per pound, putting the total at close to $3 million, officials said.
When police searched her vehicle they found $77,571 in cash, a Taser, a computer, a GPS unit and cellphones, several marijuana cigarettes, as well as a list of names of people and the amounts they owed Hight totaling $512,000, Rozansky said.
Hight is charged locally with illegal possession of a Taser, a misdemeanor, and possession of marijuana, a violation. She is charged federally with possession with intent to distribute and distribution of marijuana.