By Rick Sallinger
THORNTON, Colo. (CBS4)– More than 50 suspected illegal marijuana grow houses and businesses were raided in the Denver area Thursday by federal, state and local law enforcement.
It was a scene repeated over and over again throughout the day: law enforcement authorities removed
pot plants from homes in residential neighborhoods.
It started with a bang, according to Susan Sambol, an area resident.
“It was certainly shocking to wake up at 6 a.m. to an explosion in my back yard,” she told CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger.
From the air one could see six homes being raided on the 12200 block of Adams Street in Thornton.
So much pot was carried outside that garbage trucks were used to haul it away.
Arapahoe District Attorney George Brauchler is involved in the case, “You don’t know what’s going on in the middle class houses converted into these giant cultivation and distribution operations.”
The execution of search warrants also included Asian restaurants. One on 120th Avenue was familiar to federal authorities.
It’s where Dan Tang built a reputation as a restaurant owner who served presidents, literally. In 2010, he was sentenced to 18 months after pleading guilty to conspiracy in a pot growing operation.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Tim McDermott says the motive for illegal grows is clear, “Marijuana grown here will go out of state and generate considerable amounts of money for those selling it.”
He noted the black market in Colorado is thriving.
One woman who lives on a block where two houses were raided called it, “Scary a little scary, especially when you see the SWAT team coming with their rifles.”
They use up large amounts of electricity, water, and it lowers property values. Neighbors in the Greens in Thornton watched on in disbelief.
Sallinger asked s group of residents, “Are you surprised to see this?”
They replied, “Of course, never expected it, never expected it.”
Arrests from these searches are expected to follow.