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"He was one of those guys everybody used to pick on," says his friend Scuzz - Ben Scozzaro, a year ahead of Nate at Coeur D' Alene High. That's what we used to call him, actually." Nor was Nate much of a scholar.His girlfriend Buffy once received a letter in which Nate spelled "pot" with an extra "t." "He can't spell 'marijuana,' either," she adds.(Says Terry Morgan, a police detective who investigated Nate's crew, "I always tell people, ' Oh, yeah, that works Keep using it.'")Runners would cross the border, six at a time, carrying long canvas hockey bags filled with cash – eventually as much as 0,000 a run.In Canada, they would meet their contacts from Nelson on an old closed road and exchange the cash for weed. Once they were back in America, a truck would swing by and pick up the weed.ate Norman was hanging out with his buddy Topher Clark when he came up with The Idea.The two friends were sitting around Nate's house, a dumpy little place near the cemetery, and both of them were extremely stoned.Hikers, snowboarders and potheads come to Nelson from all over the continent to openly smoke weed and to buy one of the various strains of B. Bud, christened with brand names for marketing purposes: Triple-A, Crystal Globe, SIN/D. Aside from Scuzz, there was Topher's friend Tim Hunt, a nineteen-year-old whose family had moved to Coeur D' Alene from Alaska after his father, caught poaching moose, committed suicide; Scuzz's best friend, Rhett Mayer, a supersmart kid who never touched weed but began driving scout cars en route to the border; and Nate's buddy Dustin Lauer, ironically nicknamed "the Rock" because he was five-foot-six and chubby but always tried to be a tough guy. "Nate did it a couple of times, just for fun," says Topher.

They drag their stashes underwater, behind fishing boats, so the line can be cut if an agent approaches; buoys, attached to the loads with dissolvable strips of zinc, rise to the surface the following day.And yet The Idea had more legs than your typical pot-inspired idea.It did not involve a 's Special Coverage of Marijuana in America At the time, Nate was a nineteen-year-old high school dropout who worked at a Pizza Hut in Coeur D' Alene - a gorgeous but dull resort town in Idaho - and sold the occasional dime bag on the side. Nate had never been the type to come up with a million-dollar brainstorm.One night, Topher stumbled across a DEA agent, asleep in his truck; another time, they got lost and nearly froze to death when the temperature dropped to fourteen below zero.Nate and his friends were suddenly making – and spending – preposterous amounts of money.The oldest of four children, Nate became especially protective of his mother.Despite his academic shortcomings, he was always a hard worker, his string of shitty day jobs including paper routes, telemarketing gigs and a stint at the Taco John at the mall."Nathaniel has always been a really good kid," insists his mother, Teresia Franks. There was an old lady who lived across the street from us. Bud is really Chronic," says Scuzz, who had been brought on board as a dealer. But when you're making twenty or thirty grand a week, why the fuck would you stop?Topher and his men would spend the rest of the night in the woods and be picked up around sunrise.Aside from the obvious demands of hiking for miles with heavy loads, they had some close calls.Once Nate hatched his smuggling plan, he and Topher realized that their first order of business would be to scrape together enough cash to make a buy.Luckily, Topher had salvaged a sunken jet boat from the lake in Coeur D' Alene and had spent the summer restoring it.

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