BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The mother of an Olympic athlete was arrested by Hamburg Police and the Erie County Sheriff's Office, accused of being part of a massive drug operation that stretched from California to Western New York.
Myra Hight, whose daughter Elena is a world-class snowboarder, is currently in federal custody. Investigators said Elana had nothing to do with the drug operation.
According to detectives, Hight was on a trip from California to the Buffalo area to pick up money that was owed her as part of previous drug deals involving massive amounts of marijuana.
When arrested, police said they found more than $70,000 in cash in Hight's truck. While no large amounts of marijuana were found in the bed of the pickup, detectives said that may have been different days earlier.
"We suspect that she had probably dropped off marijuana as well as picked up money from out West to Buffalo," Senior Detective Alan Rozansky with the Erie County Sheriff's Office said.
Hight appeared with her attorney before US Magistrate Hugh Scott for a detention hearing at the U.S. District Courthouse in Buffalo Tuesday morning. wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and chains.
Her bail, set at $150,000 , was expected to be secured by $10,000 to be posted by her daughter at the U.S. District Court in Sacramento, California. Hight's attorney, Jeremy D. Schwartz, confirmed the bond for his client was posted just after 4pm Eastern Time. Schwartz said Hight would then be released from custody and board a plane to her home in Lake Tahoe, Nev. Once there she will be fitted with an electronic monitoring device as a condition of her release.
Schwartz did not expect Hight to be escorted by US Marshals for her trip home, but said due to timing of when the bond was posted his client might be forced to stay in Buffalo for an extra night (but not in custody).
Hight is expected to report promptly to federal probation officials when she arrives home, and received an admonition from Magistrate Scott before she left his court room. "Don't make any mistakes," Scott warned her.
Police believe Hight's operation brought about 1,000 pounds of marijuana to the area, which would have a street value of around $3 million.
"There's a lot of money in marijuana trafficking as you can see from the amount that's been seized here," Captain Greg Wickett with the Hamburg Police Department said.
Hight was arrested on February 20 in a parking lot of a business on Gowanda State Road in Hamburg. Detectives said they waited a few days to announce the arrest due to ongoing investigations.
Officers say Hight had a few joints of marijuana in her vehicle, so she was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. She was also charged with criminal possession of a weapon/firearm, because detectives say she had a TASER, which is illegal in New York State.
The most serious charges against Hight are from the federal government. She is charged federally with drug trafficking.
Detectives said they expect to make more arrests locally and that the Drug Enforcement Administration is now investigating the trafficking that is suspected to have happened in many states between California and New York.