Five Men Sentenced To Federal Prison For Black Market Marijuana Grow Operation In Park County Neighborhood
DENVER – Five men who had been living in Park County, Colorado, were sentenced to federal prison terms after being caught growing and harvesting large amounts of marijuana. The sentencing hearings, which happened in Grand Junction, were announced by U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn and DEA Denver Special Agent in Charge Tim McDermott.
According to facts contained in filed court documents, as well as arguments made during sentencing hearings, from approximately September 2013, Tan Duy Tran led a conspiracy to cultivate, harvest, and distribute marijuana grown in houses in the Fairplay, Colorado area. As part of this conspiracy, Tran contacted defendant Blake Outhavong and requested that he purchase a house in the Fairplay area for the sole purpose of cultivating marijuana. Tran then directed defendant Souk Outhavong to purchase yet another house in the Fairplay area, also for the sole purpose of growing and cultivating marijuana.
During this time period and continuing to March 2018, the Tran organization utilized these houses, and others in the area, to cultivate over 1000 marijuana plants, which resulted in the distribution of at least 677 pounds (over 300 kilograms) of marijuana. Tran organized the criminal activity involving 5 or more participants; and the codefendants and several others worked at Tran’s direction to cultivate, harvest and distribute marijuana. In March 2018, DEA agents executed search warrants on the houses involved in the marijuana grows. Agents discovered 460 mature marijuana plants as well as 1,656 clone marijuana plants. In another house agents found approximately 66 one-pound packages of processed marijuana being prepared for distribution. They also discovered an AR-15 style rifle, a handgun, and a gun safe with nine other firearms of various calibers. Defendants Venarong Vongsitthy and Billy Dukes were present at one of the raided homes. Both pled guilty to marijuana cultivation.
Those prosecuted in this case include:
- Tan Duy Tran, aka Ricky, age 41, who was ordered to serve 96 months in federal prison followed by 5 years on supervised release
- Venarong Vongsitthy, age 47, who was ordered to serve 60 months in federal prison followed by 4 years on supervised release
- Billy Dukes, age 35, who was ordered to serve 60 months in federal prison followed by 4 years on supervised release
- Blake Outhavong, age 48, who was ordered to serve 12 months and 14 days in prison followed by 5 years on supervised release
- Souk Outhavong, age 45, who was ordered to time served as well as a $50,000 fine followed by 5 years supervised release.
“This is not a victimless crime,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn. “These are communities where families live and kids play. It was a team effort with a positive outcome. We thank our law enforcement partners who came together to stop this illegal conduct.”
“This black-market cultivation investigation is another example of criminal elements coming to Colorado to take advantage of this state’s marijuana laws,” said DEA Denver Special Agent in Charge Tim McDermott.
The first defendants were charged by criminal complaint on March 14, 2018. On March 27, 2019 the defendants were charged by a federal grand jury. They then were held in custody pending a resolution of their case. The defendants pled guilty on dates in September, October, and November. They were then sentenced in March and April of 2019.
This case was investigated by the DEA along with the Park County Sheriff’s Office, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, and the Vail Police Department. The defendants were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Chaffin.