Local Colorado authorities and the DEA conducted sweeping raids throughout Colorado early Thursday morning. According to multiple reports, the raids come as the result of a months-long investigation into an “organization” producing and transporting cannabis for which Arapahoe County courts have a sealed indictment.
The joint effort saw over 20 sites raided and 2,000-5,000 cannabis plants seized across five different counties. During the raids in Denver County, Douglas County, Arapahoe County, Elbert County and El Paso County, authorities also seized guns and cash.
The locations that were raided range in size from warehouses to residencies to local businesses. One of the major busts took place at a warehouse off of I-70 and Peoria in Denver, Colorado, known as a “warehouse district” area of Denver that harbors many licensed grow facilities.
Video shows authorities dumping piles of chopped marijuana plants into a Colorado National Guard vehicle:
— Anastasiya Bolton (@abolton9news) March 16, 2017
Given the size of the warehouse–and the size of this vehicle used to transport seized plants–this operation was clearly operating at a large-scale.
At other locations, police discovered at least two hash oil labs and seized the extracts they found.
Multiple individuals have been arrested for their involvement thus far and the investigation into the organization remains ongoing. The DEA stated that the entire operation grew cannabis “exclusively for out-of-state use.”
9News reports that the organization was not necessarily a “cartel,” but rather a group of individuals working together in a sophisticated enterprise that shipped cannabis out of Colorado to other states. Mailing cannabis is a violation of federal law and ultimately led to this investigation.
The District Attorney for the 18th judicial district, George Brauchler, issued this official statement regarding the operation:
“I appreciate the public interest in the ongoing law enforcement operations. Because they are ongoing, we will not be making any statements until all operations are completed and everyone’s safety is ensured. At this point, ethics rules will limit the type of information that can be shared.”
However, 9News also discovered that a home raided during the operation in Castle Rock belongs to 52-year-old Michael Stonehouse, who was arrested and charged with “several marijuana-related charges, money laundering and charges related to racketeering.”
The Denver Channel reports that this investigation and the raids were not the result of new priorities at the federal level:
“A DEA spokesman said the investigation into the organization has been in the works for months and isn’t the result of any new directive from the Trump administration.”
This prodigious bust comes just days after Colorado’s House voted in favor of a bill designed to eradicate the state’s black market and set a 16-plant limit on home cultivation.