As many as 50 illicit market marijuana grow houses in the Denver metropolitan area were raided early Thursday by DEA agents and state and local police. Dozens of search warrants were served to homeowners and residents, according to Randy Ladd, a spokesman for the DEA’s Denver field office. Local media reported that scores of officers from multiple law enforcement agencies carried out the coordinated raids in cities in Adams and Arapahoe counties.
In the driveway of a home in Commerce City, Colorado, police laid out more than 100 cannabis plants that had been pulled from their pots. Dozens of grow lamps were also seized from the homeowners, who were in the house when officers arrived at 7 am. Another house on the same block of Unity Lane in the Denver suburb was also raided at the same time. More raids were reported to be taking place in the city of Brighton on Thursday morning.
Thursday’s law enforcement action was the third time in five months that officers have conducted multiple coordinated raids against marijuana grow houses in the Denver area. Over the past two years, raids have been carried out in other parts of the metro area including the municipalities of Aurora, Thornton, and Firestone. Ladd said the illicit grow operations are run by East Coast organized crime syndicates taking advantage of legalized personal cultivation in Colorado. The cannabis grown in the illicit market operations is then smuggled to states that have not yet legalized marijuana.
Raids Part of Ongoing Operation
In October, at least 24 houses in Aurora were raided by police who seized hundreds of marijuana plants. Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said that all of the illicit market marijuana grow houses in Aurora are being run by the same criminal organization.
While the Aurora raids were being carried out, Ladd of the DEA said that “people don’t live in these homes. They bought them solely to run marijuana operations.”
Ladd added that the criminal organizations also traffic in cocaine, methamphetamine, opioids, and heroin and have committed many other crimes including murders, robberies, and illegal gun sales in the Denver area. Since legal retail sales of recreational cannabis began in Colorado in 2014, law enforcement officers have seized more than 70,000 cannabis plants weighing more than 10,000 pounds that were being grown by illicit market operators, according to the DEA spokesman. Approximately 200 search warrants have been served in the ongoing operation during that time.