Shortly after dawn on Wednesday, the Drug Enforcement Administration raided four sites related to the Denver medical marijuana dispensary VIP Cannabis, arresting owner Gerardo Uribe on money laundering charges.
Mask-clad DEA agents – assisted by other federal agencies and local police – raided the VIP storefront on Alameda Ave, breaking into two safes before busting three Denver grow warehouses linked to VIP, one of which had its metal door ripped from the hinges by the Feds as they confiscated evidence.
The raids were part of an ongoing federal investigation of alleged ties between legal pot businesses and Colombian organized crime. While investigators were reportedly exploring ties to Colombian cartels, prosecutors haven't officially alleged any such connection. On November 21, 2013, agents raided VIP Cannabis as well as over a dozen other dispensaries and cultivation locations in Denver and other cities in the largest federal effort against Colorado's medical cannabis industry to date. VIP Cannabis was the largest of the dispensaries busted in November.
On Monday, the US Attorney’s office in Colorado announced the indictments of Uribe, his younger brother Luis, attorney David Furtado and Colombian citizen Hector Diaz. This case is centered on international money transfers and the suspects' attempted acquisition of a large warehouse intended as a cannabis cultivation site.
Geraldo Uribe surrendered to police on Wednesday. He is facing a number of charges, the most serious carries a possible 20-year prison sentence. Earlier in the day, Diaz pleaded not guilty to money laundering and making false statements to authorities.
Though VIP Cannabis announced on April 16 they were no longer selling medical marijuana, the Feds carried out the planned raids and court proceedings against the indicted quartet.