Massive illegal marijuana trafficking ring in Denver area busted

A Denver grand jury has indicted 12 businesses and 62 people, some of whom met while attending a metro area high school, on charges related to their involvement in a marijuana trafficking organization that reaped millions of dollars by illegally growing marijuana and then selling it out-of-state over a period of four years.

A tip to Denver police in 2014 led to a massive local, state and federal investigation during which law enforcement officials executed nearly 150 search warrants in homes and warehouses throughout the metro area.

So far, 43 people are in custody, the rest are at large.

The indictment, filed on June 9, resulted in the seizure of nearly 2,500 illegally cultivated marijuana plants and 4,000 pounds of marijuana. It was the largest marijuana bust in the state since recreational marijuana was legalized.

“This case is a prime example that the black market for marijuana has not gone away since recreational marijuana was legalized in our state,” said Cynthia Coffman, Colorado Attorney General, who announced the bust on Wednesday.

The ring was mostly made up of Coloradans, with some members from out-of-state.

Many members went to high school together, where they played poker. The conditions of their acquaintance led to the operation being dubbed “Toker Poker.”

Members did not get licensing needed to grow and sell legally in Colorado, and then sold the marijuana in states where pot is illegal, including Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and Ohio.

Group members also allegedly engaged in financial crimes, luring investors, including NFL football players Joel Dreessen and Erik Pears, by telling them their operation was legal.

Law enforcement agencies across the metro area participated in the investigation, along with the North Metro and West Metro drug task forces, Colorado Department of Revenue, DEA and the district attorneys’ offices from Denver, Jefferson County and the 18th Judicial District.

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