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Pot Money Laundering Case With Colombia Connection Coming To End

By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4)– What began with charges of international money laundering in Colorado’s legalized marijuana business is drawing to a close with much smaller dimensions.

Luis Uribe has pleaded guilty to two counts of marijuana possession in Denver Federal Court. He was one of four charged originally in a case in which involved allegations of bringing in money from Colombia to purchase a marijuana grow facility.

Luis Uribe with his attorney Rick Kornfield (credit: CBS)

Luis Uribe with his attorney Rick Kornfield (credit: CBS)

Previously, Uribe’s brother, Gerardo Uribe, was sentenced to 90 days in prison plus probation after pleading guilty to marijuana possession charges. Hector Diaz of Colombia was sentenced to time served. Diaz had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture and distribute less than 50 kilograms of marijuana.

Brothers Luis Uribe, left, and Gerardo Uribe, right (credit: CBS)

Brothers Luis Uribe, left, and Gerardo Uribe, right (credit: CBS)

The other person charged was Denver attorney David Furtado. The U.S. Attorney’s office has asked a federal judge to dismiss charges in his case. Furtado’s attorney argued that what his client was accused of was essentially legal under state law.

In 2013, federal agents aided by Denver police raided numerous marijuana dispensaries and grow houses. Marijuana plants, cash and records were seized. Furtado had been stopped with nearly $500,000 cash in his car. He has since forfeited the money.

David Furtado (credit: CBS)

David Furtado (credit: CBS)

The investigation went on for two and a half years. During that time marijuana has remained illegal under federal law, but the laws have changed under Colorado state law.

Luis Uribe’s attorney Rick Kornfeld told CBS4, “The laws have changed, the regulatory scheme in Colorado has changed, but most notably the evidence is such, there wasn’t a money laundering case. We didn’t plead guilty to money laundering. they were part of the allegations but not part of the outcome.”

Hector Diaz (credit: Department of Justice)

Hector Diaz (credit: Department of Justice)

It was shortly after the raids on Jan. 1, 2014 that recreational marijuana became legal to sell at dispensaries licensed in Colorado.

The vast difference between Federal and state law regarding marijuana has created a risky business according to Kornfeld.

“Colorado faces a real challenge. People in that business run a risk being in that business and the profits are such that people in that business are willing to take that risk,” said Kornfield.

Luis Uribe (credit: CBS)

Luis Uribe (credit: CBS)

He said Luis Uribe, 30, will no longer be taking that risk. In court he said his client is now in the cleaning business.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.


One Comment

  1. Just more complete reefer madness. Billionaire drug lords like “El Chapo” Guzman are the direct product of the US failed “War on Drugs”.

    Alcohol prohibition in the US was responsible for the massive expansion of organized crime in our nation. In its wake, murder, mayhem, lawlessness and destruction. Once the damage was done we were smart enough to repeal the idiocy of alcohol prohibition. Our government was stupid enough however to go forward and repeat the exact same mistake regarding other vices like cannabis, further strengthening the crime lords we were trying to rid ourselves of.

    The “War on Drugs” that was launched in the US is still being forced on other nations and has been a complete global disaster. Shooting ourselves in the foot wasn’t bad enough, we then held a fiscal gun on other nations like Colombia, Israel, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica etc. and forced them to repeat the exact same mistake. This total debacle has resulted in the creation of huge powerful global crime cartels and a crime wave of epic proportions destroying the lives of people it was supposed to protect.

    Time to end the failed war on cannabis and legalize!

  2. joe cracker says:

    Too bad Denver is so full of this kind of trash these days

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