As Colorado is increasingly seen as the Napa Valley of cannabis, authorities say they are squaring off against a new breed of drug traffickers, reports the Houston Chronicle. They aren’t part of Mexican cartels, aren’t wielding military-style rifles, and many don’t have criminal records. They are establishing a new front in the drug war. They come from all over the U.S. and set up shop in Colorado to hide in plain sight in a state where it is legal to smoke, possess, and even have hundreds of plants in a home under some circumstances. They mask themselves in a world of permissive new pot laws while sneaking bulk loads of marijuana to states where it remains illegal.
Federal prosecutors this month joined Colorado’s attorney general in going after one such alleged ring, a group of 30 people accused of engaging in organized crime, tax evasion, money laundering, and racketeering. The case is believed to mark the first time such charges have been filed alleging a Texas conspiracy since Colorado two years ago relaxed its laws to allow the legal sale of pot to anyone 21 or older. The emergence of groups from out of state was among the concerns of those who opposed Colorado changing its laws. Barbra Roach of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Denver said there is a pattern of people moving to Colorado to get into the illegal aspect of the pot business. “They come from all over the United States,” Roach said. “Some of them come here and try to sell here, but almost always it is grown here and it totally goes out of state.”