Federal drug enforcement agents worked with state and local authorities Thursday to serve search warrants across the Front Range targeting a suspected marijuana trafficking organization.
A source with knowledge of the investigation said the operations spanned locations from south of Colorado Springs to the north Denver metro.
The source said the searches — at about 30 locations — were all linked.
Several arrests have been made, according a Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman who declined to comment on the details of the raids.
The spokesman said the North Metro Task Force, a multi-jurisdictional law enforcement organization that targets drug trade, is the lead agency on the case.
The DEA and the task force both said the case is being prosecuted by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. State prosecutors on Thursday, however, declined to speak about the investigation.
“The AG is not commenting on an ongoing operation,” Roger Hudson, spokesman for Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, said in a text message to The Denver Post.
Search warrants in the case have been sealed.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and Denver police said their officers assisted in the operation.
Jacqueline Kirby, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, declined to say what federal agents were looking for but that warrants were served at multiple locations.
The raids come as federal and state authorities are working to crack down on marijuana being grown in Colorado and then being shipped out of the state.
Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh said one of his priorities is to ensure the state doesn’t become like northern California, which he said was known for producing pot sold across the nation. He explained that his office has been in close talks with Gov. John Hickenlooper’s staff about preventing such a scenario.
“We are working very hard to make sure Colorado doesn’t assume a similar role in marijuana trade,” Walsh said.
Colorado law allows people 21 and older to grow up to six plants — three or fewer of which can be mature, flowering plants — provided it’s done in an “enclosed, locked space.”
Some cities have limited the number of plants that can be grown in a single house, and some cities have imposed other zoning or code restrictions on home-growing. Denver has a cap of 12 plants.
Some illegal home grows have been discovered after residents called police to report marijuana smells.
“Even one plant, if it’s near the end of its flowering cycle and you’re not using odor control, you can smell it,” said Brian Ruden, who owns the Starbuds cannabis chain that is comprised of six stores and three grow houses.