An enterprise based in the south metro Denver area sent marijuana through the mail, sold it to out-of-state buyers and cultivated pot in upscale neighborhoods, according to a 98-page indictment. Two …
An enterprise based in the south metro Denver area sent marijuana through the mail, sold it to out-of-state buyers and cultivated pot in upscale neighborhoods, according to a 98-page indictment.
Two dozen people have been accused of participating in the drug-trafficking ring that illegally grew marijuana in at least 10 homes in Arapahoe, Douglas and Elbert counties. Each person has been indicted on at least nine charges.
The group allegedly operated out of residences in the Centennial, Parker, Greenwood Village, Highlands Ranch and Aurora areas and in Elbert County. The suspects are accused of conspiring to grow more than 1,500 pounds of marijuana and of selling marijuana to out-of-state buyers for distribution in 12 states. The enterprise received more than $1 million during its existence, the indictment said.
A grand jury for the 18th Judicial District issued the indictment Nov. 14. Bond for each suspect is set at $50,000.
In multiple jurisdictions, law enforcement officials are in the process of apprehending the suspects, said Vikki Migoya, spokeswoman for District Attorney George Brauchler.
The charges also include money laundering and attempting to influence a public servant. The suspects will be tried in Douglas County District Court, according to a news release.
The indictment, provided by the Colorado Judicial Branch, lays out the details of how the ring operated and of the investigation.
Main players in the organization included Anthony Hagman, Daniel Levy and Gustavo Ruiz-Medrano, the indictment says.
Hagman allegedly operated two marijuana cultivation facilities or grow houses, including at 7471 S. Eudora Way and 7016 S. Dahlia St., both in Centennial. Levy allegedly acquired and resided in the residence at 7016 S. Dahlia St. and assisted Hagman in operating the grows. Ruiz-Medrano, of Texas, reportedly purchased marijuana from other members of the group and transported it across state lines to distribute in his home state, as many others listed in the indictment are accused of doing.
Texas is the state with the largest group of accused marijuana transporters in the organization. Ruiz-Medrano is allegedly associated with five other suspects from Texas accused in the indictment.
Ring members cultivated most of their marijuana at grow houses at 14583 E. Purdue Place in south Aurora, 12026 N. Third St. in the Parker area, 27100 Pine Vista Circle in Elbert County, 20449 E. Linvale Place in southeast Aurora and 6627 S. Killarney Court near Aurora and Centennial, a few blocks from Grandview High School.
Greenwood Village informant
The Greenwood Village Police Department contacted Mark Galvan, a Castle Rock Police Department detective, on April 1, 2016, about a subject who was in custody and wanted to provide information about a marijuana operation in Douglas County. The male subject, not named in the indictment, was arrested after agreeing to sell marijuana through Craigslist to an undercover Greenwood Village police officer, the indictment says.
A few months earlier, the subject began working with two people, who are also not named, who have grown and sold marijuana in Douglas County for nearly a year, the indictment says. The subject arrested in Greenwood Village allegedly picked up marijuana from the individuals at an apartment at 3450 E. County Line Road in Highlands Ranch to sell.
No one lived in that apartment, the subject said — it was only used as their “stash house” for the marijuana ready for sale. During the day, a third person stayed there to watch over the product, and at any given time, they had 10 or more pounds of marijuana at the apartment, according to the indictment.
According to the grand jury's allegations:
People who wanted to purchase large amounts would initially meet the two individuals near or at the apartment. The individuals told the subject to only send buyers for large amounts if they were from out of state to prevent a robbery and so they could charge higher prices. That's become a common trend in the black market for marijuana, according to Galvan — those buyers will pay more because they can return to their home state and sell for nearly double what they paid.
Galvan set up a "controlled buy" with the subject that officers were able to record and listen to on April 15, 2016, at the stash apartment.
“Sold 27 pounds while I was gone," one of the individuals told the subject, the indictment states. "We bought 14 pounds while I was gone. We shipped out four pounds while I was gone."
He offered the subject a quarter-pound of pot to sell, and when the subject rejected taking it, he assured him it was a small part of the business.
“Negligible — like (we) literally sell 80 pounds a week," the individual said.
The two individuals had marijuana grows at their residences and said they had eight other growers who sell marijuana to them, the subject said.
One of those growers, he said, was in a gated community in Greenwood Village, near East Orchard Road and South Dayton Street. A marijuana-trimming business is registered at the address. The man who runs that business used the two marijuana dealers to sell and distribute extra marijuana from his work and his home grow, the indictment alleges.
Detectives also identified Brianna Williams, who said she made the trip from Texas to Colorado seven times to buy marijuana from one of the individuals who sold out of that apartment.
Evidence in the mail
Information from postal inspector Brook Fuller about the case on Feb. 8, 2017, confirmed the organization was involved in shipping marijuana through the United States Postal Service and receiving cash in return, according to the indictment.
Denver U.S. postal Inspectors noticed a suspicious pattern of mailings into P.O. Box 4587 in Greenwood Village in January. The grand jury alleges that a mailing addressed to James Jones — a suspect named in the indictment — at that post office box bore the return address of a Dennis Jones in St. Louis, and that the parcel contained a stack of money in a magazine.
According to the indictment:
A male who claimed to be Jones picked up the package at a post office in Greenwood Village on Feb. 7 — Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office deputies had set up the scene with postal inspectors. The male left, got into a car with a male driver, and parked outside the gated-community house at 9638 E. Maplewood Circle a few blocks north for about 10 minutes. The car then drove to 802 Windmill Place in Highlands Ranch.
That address, along with 476 Pluto Court in Douglas County in the Lone Tree area, the post office box in Greenwood Village and the apartment in Highlands Ranch on East County Line Road were associated with each other, Fuller said.
Between August 2016 and February, those four addresses received more than 75 U.S. Postal Service Express Mail parcels. They came from Iowa, New York, Texas, Missouri, South Carolina, Illinois, Indiana and Florida. Two parcels, both containing thousands of dollars, addressed to the Highlands Ranch apartment in February were listed with return addresses in Missouri and Louisiana.