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Allegations of pot conspiracy: 62 persons, 12 businesses indicted

The legalization of marijuana in Colorado has resulted in great financial and social value to the state's residents. At the same time, some paradoxical criminal outcomes have been enhanced. When there are nearby states that do not have the drug legally available, temptation will confront both residents here and in other states. For example, authorities recently announced the indictment of 62 persons and 12 businesses in the Denver area on allegations of violating the marijuana regulations and laws, along with various financial crimes.

The gist of the charges is that organized criminal enterprises have been operating in Colorado for the sole purpose of exporting marijuana illegally to other states. The authorities have identified and arrested those associated with what they allege to be the largest enterprise growing illegal pot for export since the law was passed in 2012. They allege that the enterprise produced more than 100 pounds of illegal pot each month for shipment to nearby states.

The conspiracy has operated for years and has derived some $200,000 per month in revenues. In addition to illegal drug possession or manufacture charges, the accused have been charged with 31 felonies of money-laundering, tax evasion and other financial crimes, according to state authorities. Prosecutors have alleged that the violators fleeced money from investors who may have thought that were financing legal pot growing and selling operations. Another offshoot of the massive economic bandwagon that legal marijuana has facilitated is the area of fake industry consultants, leasing agencies and independent investment brokers.

The large number of charges indicates that prosecutors may have their hands full in proving the allegations. The intricacy of some of the money-laundering and fraud charges will necessarily require meticulous proof. In other aspects of the prosecution, Colorado authorities will have to prove the charges by eyewitnesses and undercover agents who may have infiltrated the operations. Whenever massive numbers of arrests are made on the heels of a sweeping investigation, some of the resulting prosecutions may be negatively impacted by incomplete or inaccurate evidentiary proof of criminal wrongdoing.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Dozens in Colorado Accused of Trafficking Pot Outside State", Kristen Wyatt, June 29, 2017

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