Massive Denver marijuana trafficking bust included 13 grow warehouses … – KHON2
By Jennifer Kovaleski, Deb Stanley, Amanda Zitzman, and John Ingold, The Denver Post
Published: March 26, 2015, 8:21 pm
DENVER, Colo. (KMGH/CNN) – The indictments of 32 people allegedly connected to a multimillion dollar scheme to grow marijuana illegally and ship it out of Colorado is being called the largest marijuana bust since the state legalized the drug, according to law enforcement authorities.
“I think this is something we all expected … we have to remain vigilant,” Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman said.
Coffman is calling it the largest and most sophisticated case ever uncovered in Colorado.
“We have something, and we are one of the four states that offers something that a lot of other folks want,” Coffman said.
According to a 67-page affidavit, ring leader, Tri Trong Nguyen, with help from his wife and 30 other people allegedly ran a massive illegal marijuana distribution network.
The group claimed they were marijuana caregivers, and trafficked tens of thousands of pounds of Colorado marijuana out of the state. Most of the marijuana ended up on the streets in Minnesota.
The organization is estimated to have made $12 million during its four-year run, the indictment alleges. Authorities said the group hid their operations through front companies, including a massage parlor and a purported property management company, to cultivate marijuana at 13 warehouses throughout Denver.
The drug ring is even accused of using sky-diving planes from a Minnesota based company to ship marijuana and return millions in cash.
“It’s very unique in the way the case kind of unfolded,” Kevin Wong, Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking, said.
It’s Wong’s job to gather statistics about Colorado’s legal weed. He says some marijuana is showing up in states across the country.
“Colorado has essentially become the black market, we are the suppliers for a large portion of the United States,” Wong explains.
A growing problem, Colorado lawmakers are already trying to address. They are looking at legislation to crackdown on caregivers selling marijuana on the black market.
“I think Colorado lawmakers are doing their best to close those loopholes when they see them,” Wong said.
The defendants are charged with 52 felony counts that include violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, illegal marijuana distribution, money laundering, tax evasion, contributing to a hazardous substance incident, and attempts to influence public servants.