Colorado police raid large illegal marijuana grows “with ties to Cuba”

More than 365 marijuana plants, with an estimated street value of $1 million, were seized in Pueblo County on Monday as evidence in illegal grow investigations.

Four people, “all with ties to Cuba,” were arrested. Five weapons and other equipment were seized at two properties in eastern and northern Pueblo County, according to the sheriff’s office.

Detectives along with FBI and DEA agents executed early-morning warrants in the 1800 block of 58th Lane and the 5000 block of Quail Road near Midway Ranch. Investigators received tips on the illegal grows, according to a news release.

Arrested at the 58th Lane residence were Jose Alberto Gonzalez, 31; Sergio Luis Martinez-Suarez, 44; and Yoandris Bacallao-Ramos, 40. All three were booked into the jail on suspicion of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, cultivation of marijuana and conspiracy.

At the Quail Road location, investigators uncovered two outdoor grows with 283 mature plants. Francisco Jose Sanchez, 50, was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, cultivation of marijuana, conspiracy and possession of a weapon by a previous offender.

Investigators suspect the two operations are related and that marijuana from the grows has  been processed here and shipped out of state for sale.

“This is another example of people coming from out of state to grow marijuana illegally to then sell it on the black market,” said Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor. “What’s concerning to me is they are infiltrating nearly every corner of our county with this type of illegal activity.”

Taylor said illegal grows are environmentally hazardous, in part because of chemicals used, and are a public safety issue because of possible fires, among other concerns.

On Oct. 2, more than 800 marijuana plants and about 500 pounds of dried product were seized from a field in the 7800 block of Colorado 96 in Pueblo County. Nine people, including a juvenile, were arrested. One of the nine was a U.S. citizen, the sheriff’s office said, and the others were from Mexico.

This story was first published on DenverPost.com



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