DENVER (CBS4)– The North Metro Drug Task Force has been investigating a large group of suspected illegal marijuana growers since summer 2011.

Wednesday at about 6 a.m. SWAT teams started arresting 16 people connected to the case. Twenty-five homes with suspected illegal grow operations were raided.

Most of the homes targeted were located in Thornton, Broomfield and Westminster. There were four homes in Denver and one in Summit County. Police said many of the grow operations were found in upscale neighborhoods.

The ring leader’s home is in Thornton where 200 plants were found inside the home. They also found dozens of grow kits and lights. Police arrested the home’s owner, Jordan Buehrer. He’s being held in the Adams County Jail.

“My husband and I were sleeping and we heard a kind of arguing and we heard loud, loud noises and then we heard a big bang like pounding on a door, very, very hard and then we saw two big flashes of light,” said one neighbor.

(credit: CBS)

Police said the marijuana grown in Colorado ended up in many different states where it was sold. The marijuana was shipped to other states by the U.S. Postal Service.

Of the 25 homes raided police said there were seven children involved.

“We’ve taken seven kids out of these grow locations that are living in these environments with large marijuana grows,” Jerry Peters with the North Metro Drug Task Force told CBS4.

“It’s disappointing to hear people do that to their kids. You wouldn’t expect to look across the street and see a baby. You don’t know what’s next,” neighbor Mark Linnell said.

Police said Colorado is becoming a source for this kind of drug activity.

Attorney Mason Tvert with the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol released a statement after the raids.

“This never-ending cycle is costing U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars annually … until we regulate and control the production and sale of marijuana, raids like this will be carried out by law enforcement in perpetuity,” Tvert said in the statement.