16 peo­ple ac­cused of mas­sive home mar­i­juana grow

Imperial Valley Press - - OPINION -

DEN­VER (AP) — Six­teen peo­ple have been in­dicted and ac­cused of run­ning a mas­sive home­grown mar­i­juana op­er­a­tion in the greater Den­ver area.

Author­i­ties say that over about three years, the group used houses in places like Colorado Springs, El­bert County and Den­ver to cul­ti­vate mar­i­juana and then make big-dol­lar deals to sell it in Illi­nois, Arkansas, Min­nesota and Mis­souri, The Den­ver Post re­ported Fri­day.

Author­i­ties be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing the op­er­a­tion in Au­gust af­ter in­ves­ti­ga­tors searched an El­iz­a­beth, Colorado, prop­erty where they found more than 2,500 pounds of mar­i­juana, which of­fi­cials es­ti­mate is worth about $5 mil­lion.

18th Ju­di­cial Dis­trict At­tor­ney Ge­orge Brauch­ler says this is the largest such case he has ever seen.

“In a nut­shell, this was about home-grown, lo­cal folks grow­ing and ex­port­ing mar­i­juana (for sale) out of the state of Colorado,” Brauch­ler said at a news con­fer­ence Fri­day af­ter­noon. “This op­er­a­tion that was shut down ef­fec­tively by the in­dict­ments and war­rants that were is­sued was gen­er­at­ing about 300plus pounds of fin­ished mar­i­juana each month.”

Law en­force­ment of­fi­cers from Colorado Springs to Den­ver worked with the U.S. Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion and fed­eral prose­cu­tors on the case.

Author­i­ties over the past year have been fo­cus­ing on crack­ing down on mar­i­juana be­ing il­le­gally grown in homes for out-of-state sale. Bar­bra Roach, chief of the DEA’s Den­ver di­vi­sion, said her of­fice is work­ing on sev­eral sim­i­lar cases that are pend­ing in­dict­ments.

In 2012, Colorado joined Washington in 2012 as the first states to le­gal­ize recre­ational use of the drug.

“Yes, res­i­dents of Colorado, and peo­ple that I’ll call ‘trans­plants to Colorado,’ are mov­ing here (and) be­com­ing in­volved in the mar­i­juana in­dus­try with the ex­pressed pur­pose of hid­ing their il­licit pro­ceeds and their il­licit ac­tiv­i­ties in plain sight un­der some of the laws that we have,” Roach said. “We’re see­ing our­selves as a larger source of sup­ply than we ever were be­fore.”

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