DENVER (CBS4) – The nearly 500 pounds of pot seized from U.S. mail in 2013 is likely is small percentage of what’s actually shipped throughout the United States, a drug task force said.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg. This is a very small percentage,” said Kevin Wong, who is with the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force.
The task force’s report, released this week, said authorities seized 57 pounds in 2010, the year after medical dispensaries spread across the state. In 2013, that soared to 493 pounds from more than 200 packages. In some cases, marijuana edibles were discovered.
Wong said packages shipped via UPS and FedEx are not included in the report, so it’s highly likely the amount of pot shipped nationwide is higher.
The report said marijuana from Colorado was sent to 33 states. The top five destinations through the mail are Illinois, Missouri, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.
“We’ve become the source state,” Wong said. “We are now the black market to the entire country.”
The task force worries the shipments are connected to organized crime. This year, authorities discovered that pot shipped from Lakewood had ties to a Russian crime ring.
“There is definitely a chance of this going international. It’s already reaching the entire Midwest and the rest of the East Coast,” Wong said.
Even though marijuana is legal in Colorado, it is against federal law to mail the drug within state borders. It’s punishable by up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
The Associated Press said Brian Vicente, a Denver attorney who helped write the pot law, is skeptical of the report.