John was born in the sand hills of western Nebraska to Calvin and Bijou Knock. He grew up in Nebraska and Indiana. In the late 60s he left for California where he learned to scuba dive and considered industrial diving, Indeed did it till he decided it would be a very dangerous career choice. He lived in Oakland with a group of friends as was the custom and explored a variety of enterprises. My parents worried about him, but knew he had an even temperament, humor, intelligence, and inquisitive mind and best of all a grand collection of survival skills.
I don't remember when we heard John had been indicted, but it was late March or early April of 1994. Naomi called and said John had been indicted in the Northern District of Florida. He was out of the country, so he was now considered a fugitive.
We believed it was a mistake and we had no information. I called to get copies of the Granville Sun and the San Francisco Chronicle. How would we know anything. This was before everyone had the internet and news was not available instantly. I quickly subscribed to CompuServe and early access which was the best available service for people in remote areas - like me. I subscribed to their news service and the world opened up . I wanted to live in cyber space and sop up information that would let me know about my brother.
The Tallahassee Democrat's headlines for April 14, 1994 said "F. Lee Bailey jets in for Drug Case." Claude Duboc was arraigned on a four count indictment on drug-conspiracy charges, Duboc waived extradition from Hong Kong, where he was staying in a $9,000.00 a night suite at Hong Kongs' Grand Hyatt. He holds duel French and American citizenship, and is said to own extensive property in the south of France and out side of Paris. March 31 he was whisked cross-country from Los Angeles to Tallahassee. The Florida papers gave considerable coverage to the appearance of F. Lee Bailey who flew in to represent Duboc. They were looking forward to seeing how their local Federal Prosecutors would respond to this challenge.
Co-conspirators John Knock and a Frenchmen Roger Darmon are still fugitives. Carl Lilley, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency worked under cover which led to the arrests in Gainesville of four Swedish men and two people from California. San Franciscan attorney Mathew Martinyi and Sonia Vacca, and Iranian business woman were arrested in the conspiracy.
I then had to find California papers that may have carried the story and perhaps there would be more information about why John was named as a co-conspirator with Claude Duboc.
The headlines in the San Francisco Chronicle were "Feds Link Two Big Bay Pot hauls to one man - May have millions in local real estate."
The Bay area man in the article was John Knock.
Federal agents have linked two huge loads of marijuana seized in the Bay area to an international smuggling organization allegedly headed by a Hawaii man who has invested heavily in Northern California Real Estate. It went on to say John Knock smuggled tons of marijuana and hashish from Lebanon and Pakistan during the 80s using an elaborate network of phony companies in Hong Kong, Singapore and Luxembourg. This was apparently only done in the 80s and the smuggling was essentially Hemp products.
In October a man alleged to be one of Knock's most trusted couriers was arrested in Marin County. The man Marshall Way of Carmel Valley , and three other people have pleaded not guilty to charges. J Tony Serra, Way's lawyer could not be reached for comment.
In 1988 agents had seized the Intrepid Venture barge in the bay loaded with 37 tons of hashish and 12 tons of pot. The affidavit said Knock's organization sent the load. CalvinRobinson was the boat captain and was sentenced to life in prison. One informant said Knock's organization was paying the Robinson family $300,000.00 a year. The barge was purchased with checks that came from a Panamanian firm used by Knock to buy real estate. The Firm Invest Control was entrusted to Ninon Dahlam in Luxembourg. The group was said to have imported 164 metric tons per year to Canada, Amsterdam, Australia, and Ireland. Well, now we had names to cross reference.
Carl Lilley DEA Agent Sonia Vacca Iranian business woman Claude Duboc French importer Calvin Robinson Barge captain Mathew Marenyi San Francisco attorney
We knew Sonia Vacca as a friend of John's from the 70s. We also knew of Claude. The rest were strangers and a mystery.
And life goes merrily on. For the next two years we are like heralds with shards of facts. None come together, but first things first. I must assuage and sooth Bijou (Grandma), John's mother. I tell her John is gone and considered a fugitive. Dare I tell her the charges - Yes I must. I show her the clippings "Why that can't be. he doesn't even smoke or drink (which he does not). I've never seen anything like that when I've visited and I've gone everywhere in his house and there's no marijuana." I tell her that's not what he's charged with. "Yes it is, it sayd so right here," She looks at the clippings.
"No, he's not charged with having pot in his house, or smoking pot, or drinking." She opines that anyone who imported that much marijuana would have it in his house and use it. That's only logical. "No, it's not what they're saying." When she exasperated with me she calls me by my full namd. "Marybeth, if he did this, I would have seen it." "No, you wouldn't - besides, that's not what they're saying." Why am I addressing issues so far from the point?
"It's my fault. I should have told him not to do it." "No it's not your fault, you have nothing to do with it." "Marybeth, of course I do, I'm his mother." He's 47 years old. Well, if he did this I would have seen it. She is alarmed and frightened. Next she says it will be in our paper tomorrow. I tell her that it won't, she is worried that everyone will know about it. Anyway , I tell her nobody you know will care. Your friends won't blame you. Of course they will, she knows that everyone will since she blames herself. She sayd I can't talk about it. It dawns on me that if she can't talk about it to anyone, neither can I. This is not my style and she's slowly shutting down my options.
Bijou gets thinner and thinner and seems almost bird-like. She begins to look like a bag lady, unless she makes a great effort, which she does when she goes out. Well, we'll talk about it later.
My brother has not been convicted of anything, yet even his mother is afraid to talk about the perceived wrong doing. Naomi is detained in the San Francisco airport and her pass port is confiscated. She is questioned by customs agent named Greg Small and a DEA agent named Carl Lilley. Her son, Ethan is four, slight, blond and brave. They take Ethan from her and tell her she will probably be indicted. She asks what bail would be and is told there would be no bail, she should cooperate and think of her child. She is released. Her lawyer tells her the only reason she's not indicted is because of him. Her house and all assets have forfeiture orders.
Naomi is giving an academic paper in China and has made all the arrangements, but now has no passport. She applies for a new one for herself and Ethan, not mentioning that Customs took the ones that are missing. She gets them just in time to leave with Ethan. We want to know where she will be, but she leaves without letting anyone know. We must worry about her and think about bail. Mother will no longer talk to me about anything on the phone. Sometimes when I come home there are notes taped to the door. Notes that ask if she should have her phone number changed. She worries about bail and tapes a note written on tablet paper in pencil with a list of all her liquid assets and the banks and brokerages where they are located. I've fallen down the rabbit hole and the world is upside down. Naomi returns home from China with Ethan. Even though her rooms were searched and she was followed, she has made a major statement and has proven to the Justice Department that she is not a flight risk.
We must find out who these people are. Naomi is not a source of information for us for whatever reason, probably because of terror. We search this primitive internet. I don't have sophisticated services that would make it easier, but just cross referencing names and places to find more and more information.
Before moving to Hawaii John and Naomi lived in Santa Rosa California, so I look for west coast sources and begin with Calvin Robinson. This was the name the San Francisco Chronicle said John was associated with in the 80s. This case in 1988 was nick named the "Drug Tug" case. It astonished law enforcement because of it's size. The load and the Tug Intrepid Venture were taken into custody under the Golden Gate Bridge. Calvin Robinson was the captain of the tug pulling a barge with 37 tons of hashish and 12 tons of pot welded inside metal plates. This was the largest marijuana importation in history.
I am able to find archives of California papers from the 80s that discuss the case. These accounts do not mention John but weave an intricate and complicated plot that involves DEA agents, the CIA, government programs that swap drugs for arms in middle east countries.
The boat crew was made up of Robinson's son, stepson, and two nephews. Robinson's relatives all deny knowing what the ship cargo is and are not convicted. Calvin Robinson acts as his own attorney (I read later that his own attorney had committed suicide the night before the trial). Calvin Robinson is sentenced to life in prison. Calvin also has an interesting history. In the 70s he was in prison for counterfeiting bonds or some such thing. At that time, he was in Lompoc with Christopher Boyse who was immortalized in the book "The Falcon and the Snowman". Christopher Boyse was a California boy who was the oldest of nine children. He was the son of a former FBI agent who was raised in the Catholic faith and o course was an alter boy. In his late teens, he became disillusioned the US government because of the Viet Nam War. After dropping out of college he obtained employment with TRW where he had access to top secret information. Later he came to believe that the United States was not being forthcoming with its ally Australia because the Reagen administration felt the government of Australia was too left leaning. He and a childhood friend began to sell secret information to the Soviet Union.
The day after Calvin Robinson was released from prison for the bond offense, Christopher Boyce escaped. It was believed that Calvin had arranged the escape, but this is questionable as he was never charged. Christopher Boyce was recaptured after 18 months on the lam. There was some speculation that the woman who sheltered Christopher was Calvin's friend.
The plot thickens and becomes sticky and mysterious. We are in the unfortunate state of sightless ness. To the blind man an elephants leg may feel like a tree. We must suspend reason and listen to the unseen sirens and faceless oracles in cyber space. We may find out what has happened to the brother and son we love.