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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Colorado

Monday, October 5, 2015

BLM Rangers Discover Two Large Marijuana Grows

Ten individuals arrested in connection with the two separate grows

DENVER. – The United States Attorney’s Office and the Bureau of Land Management, working in concert with local and state law enforcement, discovered and dismantled two large unrelated marijuana grows on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land.  The locations were identified after rangers acting on two separate tips discovered the marijuana grow operations on public land south of Gateway, Colo.

BLM rangers discovered the first illegal grow on September 15th, on National System of Public Lands managed by the U.S. BLM along the Dolores River corridor between Gateway and Naturita, Colorado.  They discovered more than 1,200 fully mature marijuana plants, many exceeding six-feet-tall, along with 211 kilograms of dried marijuana and a rifle. The rangers arrested four Mexican nationals who were on-scene and believed to be working the grow site.  Because of the size of the operation, officers spent two and a half days eradicating and removing the plants.

A second illegal grow was discovered by the same rangers with the assistance of Mesa and Montrose County Sheriff’s Offices on September 30th near the first site.  Law enforcement officers arrested one Honduran and five Mexican nationals at the second grow site.  Evidence of thousands of marijuana plants appeared recently harvested with approximately 69.6 kilograms of processed marijuana still on site.  Both grow locations were located in Montrose County.

"Illicit marijuana grows on public lands violate the drug laws and harm the environment," said U.S. Attorney John Walsh.  "This Fall, Colorado has seen an explosion in the number and size of illicit marijuana grows on public land, which federal and state authorities are aggressively investigating and prosecuting."

“In addition to being illegal, these grow-sites create impacts to public lands, including destruction of native vegetation, hazardous materials and significant trash,” said Grand Junction Field Manager Katie Stevens. “We appreciate the cooperation of a number of other agencies including the Mesa and Montrose county sheriff’s offices, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.”

"This case is a good example of why a multi-jurisdictional drug task force is so beneficial," said Sergeant Tyler Wallace, 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force.

“It is encouraging to see the coordinated efforts put forth by multiple agencies to combat illegal marijuana grows in Montrose County," said Montrose County Undersheriff Adam Murdie.

For information regarding the status of those individuals charged in relation to these public marijuana land grows, please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

These marijuana grows and the subsequent investigation was conducted by the BLM, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office, 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Those arrested and face criminal charges are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Drug Trafficking
Updated October 8, 2015