Since recreational weed was legalized in Colorado in 2012, the state has become somewhat of a hot spot for illegal marijuana grows. The legal limit for home grows is six plants, but some people are growing forests where they should only be planting gardens. It isn’t abnormal for authorities to bust illegal grow operations that contain hundreds, if not thousands of illegal plants.
Pueblo Most Popular Colorado City for Illegal Marijuana Operations
Pueblo, Colorado is approximately an hour south of Colorado Springs. Home to the Colorado State Fair, it’s also famous for its fire roasted chiles. There’s another thing however, Pueblo is become well-known for. It’s become the most popular place in Colorado for illegal cannabis grows. In a sequence of raids over the last four months, authorities have seized over 8,000 plants from grows that were apparently illegal.
It’s not the first time Pueblo has been in the spotlight for illegal cannabis cultivation. In March 2016, back to back busts took down more than 2,000 plants…in a matter of two days. By the end of April that year, 22 more busts occurred in Pueblo. Over 4,600 cannabis plants were confiscated in less than a month.
2017 has turned out to be more of the same. In a string of raids that have taken place over the last four months, over 8,000 plants have been seized. All of which were being cultivated by foreign citizens.
More and More Out-of-State People Coming to Colorado to Grow (Illegal) Weed
According to Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor, “This is another example of people coming from out of state to grow cannabis illegally and then turn around and sell it on the black market.”
He is also concerned about other grows in the Pueblo area. Over the past five years, four major outdoor grows were found in or near National Forest area. The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office says that these illegal grows are suspected to be directly linked to Mexican drug cartels.
Last summer saw the fifth major illegal grow op with suspected links to the Cartel. Police seized 7,400 plants just outside the town of Rye…with an estimated street value of $7million.
The most recent illegal cultivation bust (just outside of Pueblo) happened early in October. Two 40-parcel illegal pot fields were discovered. According to the Westword, “Three suspects vanished into the woods, but the nine others, one of whom is said to be ‘a previously deported felon who will now face additional federal charges’ were grabbed.” In the raid, Pueblo County Sheriff officers and deputies, along with members of the SWAT team and Immigration and Customs enforcement agents, also found 500 pounds of dried marijuana.
Two more raids took place about a week later. These took place in Pueblo residences, where a total of 365 plants were discovered, with an estimated value of over $1million.
Despite rapidly falling black market prices, for some, growing illegal weed is still a seriously sought-after way to make millions of dollars. And while Pueblo isn’t the only place in Colorado that people are taking advantage of to grow illegal cannabis, it certainly is the most popular.