Parachute man indicted for alleged role in ‘large’ Western Colorado marijuana grow
A federal grand jury in Denver indicted a Parachute resident and another man for allegedly tending to a large marijuana grow along the Dolores River in western Colorado, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday in a media release.
Luis Adolfo Garcia, 33, of Parachute, and Luis Rios-Cortes, 23, a Mexican national in the country illegally, both face one count of manufacture and possession with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana, which carries a penalty of five to 40 years in prison and up to a $5 million fine.
The two also face one count of a related conspiracy charge, which carries the same penalty, and Rios-Cortes faces an additional charge for possession of a firearm while illegally in the country — punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. Both were ordered held without bond, according to the media release.
The charges come after the DEA and other agencies executed two search warrants and recovered approximately 1,720 pounds of dried marijuana on Friday, Nov. 13.
Citing court documents, the release states that a Bureau of Land Management ranger in April noticed two trucks conspicuously but consistently appearing in an area along the Dolores River. The BLM eventually discovered one large grow on Sept. 15, which resulted in the arrest of four people, and a second on Sept. 30, four miles from the first location, where six people were arrested. Both grows were on BLM land.
Following those raids, the DEA, BLM, Delta County Sheriff’s Office and the 7th Judicial Drug Task Force continued to investigate and ultimately identified two addresses, including one in Parachute.
During the Nov. 13 raids, law enforcement discovered evidence of illegal marijuana activity at the Parachute residence, as well as the names of some of the people arrested in September. The 1,720 pounds of marijuana was found at a residence identified as the “San Juan Vista Property,” which belongs to Garcia’s sister, as does one of the trucks seen repeatedly visiting the area along the Dolores River.
The investigation is ongoing, according to the media release.
“We have seen a notable increase this year in illegal marijuana grows in Western Colorado,” U.S. Attorney John Walsh stated in the release. “As we work with the DEA, BLM and our local law enforcement partners, we are seizing large amounts of marijuana. In addition, we have charged a total of 12 individuals, many here illegally from Mexico, for tending to these marijuana grows.”
In a similar statement, Barbra Roach, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Denver Field Division, said her agency will continue to crack down on illegal grow operations.
“The Drug Enforcement Administration will continue to investigate illegal marijuana cultivation,” Roach said. “Criminal organizations outside the state continue to attempt to use both public and private lands in Colorado to further their illegal activities at the expense of the citizens of our community. These individuals and organizations will be held accountable for their actions.”
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Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon will continue to be closed due to “extreme damage” from the latest round of heavy rain and flooding Saturday night, the Colorado Department of Transportation announced Sunday afternoon.