By Jeff Todd
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Residents in Aurora say they’re making a call to action after homes in their neighborhood have been repeatedly raided by police who bust huge illegal marijuana grow operations.
“Our laws are not keeping pace. In fact, our laws are going in the opposite direction because of the acceptance of marijuana in the state of Colorado,” Ken Scoggs, a Southeast Aurora resident, said.
On Thursday night, a community task force gathered politicians, legal experts, and several high ranking members of the Aurora Police Department to find out what can be done to stop repeat grow houses.
“Because they’re renters what we’re seeing and what we’re dealing with is the symptom and not the disease. The disease is the organization above that,” Scoggs said.
“We do have some addresses where, yeah, it’s been a common issue,” Sgt. Scott Pendleton with the Aurora Police Narcotics Unit said. “The problem is, it got way out of hand and in this case these two incidents it’s way out of hand in regard to the number of plants and size and scope.”
Since 2014 Aurora Police have seized three-and-a-half tons of marijuana with a street value of $16 million. In just two months of 2018, they’ve already seized 1,300 plants.
“There’s not an existing law or set of laws that can resolve this problem. What we’re hearing from our elected officials and police department is that there’s a broken system,” Scoggs said.
In many cases, renters are paying upwards of $5,000 a month for large homes with large basements. It’s an unwritten sign that the home is available for illegal marijuana grows.
Neighbors say there are not only smell concerns but also safety concerns. And they’re finding out the legal system isn’t hard on suspects that are caught, and it’s nearly impossible to go after the homeowner.
Many residents in Southeast Aurora are calling for a change in laws.
“The advertisement for new renters is already out there and what it’s advertising is a large basement with high ceilings and you know the implication of that,” Scoggs said. “It’s our understanding there’s as many as 40 to 60 homes that have been raided or are in the process of raided in the city of Aurora and that’s a very large problem.”
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.