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News (Media Awareness Project) - US CO: 16 Charged In Denver Metro-Area Pot Bust
Title:US CO: 16 Charged In Denver Metro-Area Pot Bust
Published On:2012-01-25
Source:Denver Post (CO)
Fetched On:2012-01-27 06:00:43

Police raided dozens of houses across the metro area this morning, as
part of an investigation into a large marijuana-growing operation.

Meanwhile, authorities in Summit County have arrested a man for
marijuana cultivation in a separate case.

In the metro-area case, 16 people have been indicted, according to the
Adams County District Attorney's office. Those suspects face charges
of racketeering, marijuana distribution and money laundering, among
other counts.

The suspects' names were not released.

According to police, the ring was growing marijuana in houses in Adams
and Weld counties, Broomfield, Denver, Erie and Breckenridge. The ring
then shipped the marijuana out of state, using the U.S. mail to do so
in some instances.

"We continue to see that Colorado has become a source state for the
country," Jerry Peters, the commander of the North Metro Drug Task
Force, said in a statement.

Police said there are no links to the state's medical-marijuana
system. But attorney Sean McAllister disputed that. McAllister said
he's heard some of those arrested might be medical-marijuana
caregivers - small-scale marijuana providers who typically serve only
about five patients at a time and grow in their own homes. McAllister
said continuing confusion surrounding the requirements for caregivers
leaves the providers vulnerable to police raids.

"When we find out exactly what these raids were about, I think it will
be obvious that some of these folks have a medical-marijuana
connection," McAllister said.

Adams County District Attorney Don Quick said multiple agencies worked
on the investigation, including the Drug Enforcement Administration,
the Internal Revenue Service and several local police agencies. The
North Metro task force headed up the investigation.

"This was a large grow and distribution ring, and I am grateful for
the cooperative, multi-agency approach to this complex investigation,"
Quick said in a statement.

Police officers this morning fanned out across the metro area to serve
search warrants at 25 houses as part of the investigation. 9News
reports that the investigation was known among law enforcement as
"Operation Sweet Leaf" and that this morning's raids netted about
1,000 marijuana plants.

Meanwhile, authorities in Summit County on Monday arrested a
38-year-old man after receiving a tip about marijuana-growing at a
house near Breckenridge. The Summit County Sheriff's office said Scott
Matthew Shumsky found about 120 marijuana plants and 16.5 ounces of
marijuana during a search. Sheriff's spokeswoman Tracy LeClair said
the case is separate from today's North Metro raids.

"Hopefully this will serve as a lesson to others that non-medical
marijuana cultivation is still a crime and will not be tolerated in
Summit County," Summit County Sheriff John Minor said in a statement.

McAllister said he is representing Shumsky in the case and said
Shumsky believed he was operating legally as a medical-marijuana
caregiver. McAllister declined make any further comment about the case.
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