Earlier last year, federal agents swooped in and planted a swift narco boot in the business end of the Colorado medical marijuana industry. It was the largest raid ever experienced by that division of the business community. In total, 14 businesses and two residents were made Uncle Sam’s bitch, after drug enforcement officers kicked down their doors, armed with search warrants and suspicions fueled by apparent racial profiling, and engaged in a vicious hunt for thugs associated with Colombian drug cartels.
One of the primary targets in these blitzkrieg attacks was Gerardo Uribe, a 33-year-old Colombian native who operates a successful Colorado medical marijuana franchise that includes seven dispensaries; eight grow operations, and a manufacturing company that employs roughly 160 people. Several of his businesses were involved in the raid -- including VIP Cannabis -- all of which sustained property damage and loss of millions of dollars of inventory.
Federal investigators suspect that Uribe and a dozen of his associates and family members have connections to Colombian cartels. However, while the Feds continue to point fingers at Uribe on suspicion of illegal production and distribution of marijuana to money laundering, he has not been charged with any crime. In fact, authorities have only made one arrest as a result of the raid – a Colombian national on a gun charge, according to reports from the Denver Post.
Federal officials refuse to comment on the raids. "The investigation is ongoing," said Jeff Dorschner, a representative for the US attorney's office in Colorado, "and it is active.” However, new details have surfaced due to weapons charge.
“At 6am on Nov. 21, Arapahoe County SWAT team members armed with a search warrant entered a $1.3 million home in Englewood and immediately encountered a man with a gun.
Agents believed the people in the home would be armed based on earlier contact with members of the organization and statements Uribe made to law enforcement officers during a traffic contact.
The armed man -- Uribe's father, Gerardo Uribe Sr. -- held a loaded firearm in one hand and a loaded pistol magazine in the other.
He ignored commands, was wrestled to the ground and cuffed. He requested medical treatment and was taken by ambulance to a hospital.”
During the raid, federal agents secured eight occupants in flexible handcuffs, including Luis Uribe and Carlos Solano, who according to the search warrant were “target subjects.” Inside the home, authorities discovered an arsenal of assault riffles, handguns and ammunition, all of which were legally acquired, according to the Uribes’ attorney.
There is speculation the raids were brought on by the actions of 49-year-old Hector Diaz, an occupant of the Uribe house, who investigators claim they had been tracking for sometime because of an image they obtained of him sporting a Drug Enforcement Administration hat and holding two semi-automatic weapons. Diaz, who authorities believe to be a shadow investor for at least one of Uribe’s businesses, was arrested and charged with one count of possession of a firearm while in the United States under a nonimmigrant visa. If convicted, Diaz could serve 10 years in prison.
For the most part, Gerardo Uribe has refused to discuss the details of the raid. However, during a brief interview outside VIP Cannabis, he said Diaz making a $442,000 wire transfer from Colombia to a Colorado bank account to finance a warehouse is what likely instigated the actions of federal authorities.
Read more about the federal investigation that led to November’s raids at the Denver Post.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.