By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
It all came crashing to a halt at dawn on Aug. 5, 1972. In the largest narcotics raid that had ever taken place in California, police from Laguna Beach to Oregon to Maui to Kabul, Afghanistan, raided dozens of houses and arrested 53 people. One of them was founding Brotherhood member Glenn Lynd, who’d lived at the ranch with Leary, Griggs and Smith, but had fallen out with the group. After moving to Grants Pass, Oregon, Lynd had boasted about the Brotherhood’s exploits to his brother-in-law, Robert Ramsey, who, unbeknownst to Lynd, had been busted for selling speed and become an undercover informant for the Josephine County Sheriff’s Department.
To the surprise of everyone who knew him, including Smith, Lynd agreed to cooperate against the Brotherhood. Over the course of several days, Lynd told members of the Orange County grand jury everything he knew about the group—how it had formed, how acid had been viewed as a tool of cosmic mind-expansion that could bring peace and love to the world, how Leary had come into their orbit, and, more to the point, how they’d smuggled all that hashish into the country.
Lynd had been on only one smuggling trip to Afghanistan in 1968. His partner in the adventure: Brenice Lee Smith.
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Testifying under oath, Lynd described how he and Smith had flown to Germany, purchased a Volkswagen van and driven it to Kandahar, where they met up with two merchants who a year earlier had procured hashish for the first Brotherhood smugglers to reach Afghanistan, Rick Bevan and Travis Ashbrook. By the time they met the merchants, however, Lynd was sick with dysentery, and the pair were flat-broke. To save the deal, Ashbrook flew to Kandahar, sent Lynd home wearing a jacket lined with hash and instructions to sell the drug to a trusted friend and wire the proceeds to Karachi, where Ashbrook used the cash to ship the Volkswagen to Los Angeles.
Lynd did as instructed, and shortly after Ashbrook and Smith flew home, the Volkswagen, along with a few hundred pounds of hash, arrived safely at the Port of Los Angeles. According to Lynd, he and Smith drove to the port to pick up the vehicle. After filling out some forms and getting the keys to the bus, they were directed to another building for an impromptu inspection. Terrified, they drove the Volkswagen toward the inspection site, but before they reached it, they noticed an unguarded gate with a freeway on-ramp just beyond it. They left the port and drove straight to a safe house in the desert where they unloaded the hash.
By the time Lynd betrayed the Brotherhood four years later, the group had already imploded, at least in part thanks to the rise of cocaine, which had turned several members into addicts and perverted the idealism of the group’s spiritual origins. The Brotherhood had also suffered the loss of its most charismatic member, Griggs, who in August 1969 died of an overdose of synthetic psilocybin at the ranch near Idyllwild. In 1970, Leary, who had been jailed in a Laguna Beach pot-possession case, escaped from prison with the Brotherhood’s help. He made his way to Kabul, where he was arrested several months after Lynd spilled the beans (see “OC’s Brotherly Connection With the Weathermen,” Sept. 16, 2009).
The last Brotherhood fugitives were captured 15 years ago. Police found smuggler Russell Harrigan near Lake Tahoe, living under an assumed name; a judge promptly dismissed all charges against him. Two years later, the cops nabbed Orange Sunshine chemist Nick Sand, who was still operating a clandestine laboratory in British Columbia. Sand spent the next six years behind bars.
Nobody in the Brotherhood of Eternal Love lived on the run nearly as long as Smith. Because he was indicted in 1972 but never arrested or jailed, Smith still had two warrants out for his arrest when he returned to California nearly 40 years later.
After Smith had spent two months behind bars awaiting trial, the Orange County district attorney’s office seemed to have realized it didn’t have much of a case against him. Lynd, the main witness in the 1972 conspiracy case, died of cancer in 2002 and was therefore unavailable to testify. Their next-best hope was Travis Ashbrook, who had just been released from prison after serving nearly a year behind bars for a large marijuana-growing operation at his house near Temecula. (After living on the run for several years, Ashbrook was caught in 1980; he spent the next decade in prison for smuggling hash from Lebanon.)
Perhaps to increase the likelihood that Smith would accept some kind of plea agreement, the DA’s office claimed it would bring Ashbrook to the stand to testify against Smith. In an interview with the Weekly, however, Ashbrook vehemently denied he’d agreed to do so. “They came to my house with badges and asked me some questions about Brennie,” he says. “I told them Brennie was a member of the Brotherhood as far as it being a church, but that he didn’t do anything and wasn’t any kind of kingpin, and they were milking a dead horse. I asked them why they hadn’t let him out of jail yet, and they told me they were going to give Brennie a deal and let him out of jail on Friday.”