ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Sixteen people were indicted in a drug ring that spans the Front Range. Prosecutors say those involved were growing pot and then shipping it out of state.
The raids on homes and warehouses began Thursday morning across the Denver metro area.
Investigators in Arapahoe County say the criminal investigation has been operating throughout Colorado for several years but authorities focused in on the suspects starting in August 2016.
That’s when $5 million worth of illegal marijuana was found at one location in Elbert County.
LINK: Grand Jury Indictment
Prosecutors say the suspects are a group of home grown, local people who grow marijuana and send it out of state.
They were allegedly generating 300+ pounds of pot each month, operating through a network that used coded phones.
A total of 19 locations were raided on Thursday by various law enforcement agencies.
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Investigators say the transactions were taking place at public places, with drugs and money being exchanged at a school in Aurora and a Starbucks in Castle Rock, all in the middle of the day.
“This should be an eye opener to the state of Colorado about what is the the true state of our situation is involving drug cultivation and distribution in Colorado. Whoever is telling you that we’ve got this ‘thing’ figured out and it’s under wraps and all the regulations are good to go and we’re operating as efficiently and lawfully as we can, is nonsense and this case is proof of that,” said 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler.
“What we’re seeing is a massive exploitation of the current laws on the books. The extended plant count, literally, has hijacked the medical marijuana laws. And it has allowed people to grow, unfettered, as much marijuana as they want,” said Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police Chief John Jackson.
Law enforcement says the operations are happening in neighborhoods across the Denver metro area and when the criminals aren’t following building codes, hijacking water, electricity and pumping chemicals into the sewer system, it impacts everyone.