Chinese Marijuana Ring Suspects Have Likely Fled the Country
The Northern Colorado Drug Task Force is facing a roadblock in their investigation of the Chinese black market marijuana trafficking ring that was targeting Fort Collins and Loveland.
According to The Coloradoan, the suspects in the organization, which was dismantled by the task force in late November, have likely fled the country.
Six arrest warrants were issued on Friday (December 27), but no arrests have been made. Most of the ring members came to Colorado from China, with little to no documentation.
Unfortunately, if the suspects are out of the U.S., there is not much more the task force can do.
It is possible that the Department of Homeland Security could obtain arrest warrants in other countries, but that process might take years.
Authorities first became aware of the organization after receiving complaints from neighbors who were able to identify the homeowners.
The task force began observing the residences, often witnessing people coming and going from them at odd times.
According to Joe Shellhammer, the Northern Colorado Drug Task Force Commander, this is typical behavior in drug cases, as those involved usually do not live at the grow house itself.
The houses are usually unkempt and somewhat easy to identify — especially in the winter, when snow begins to pile up.
After a three-month investigation, members of the task force were able to secure six residential search warrants on November 20.
Inside the homes, they discovered 1,000 pounds of gross weight marijuana, 156 pounds of processed high-grade marijuana, and over 2,000 live plants.
Five of the homes are located in Loveland, with one in Fort Collins. The Loveland homes, filled with black mold and illegal wiring, are uninhabitable.
Even though majority of the suspects are unlikely to be found, the investigation is far from over. Shellhammer believes that the heads of the drug trafficking are still in Colorado.
But for now, those Loveland and Fort Collins neighborhoods will be a little calmer.