Pueblo County has seized 180 illegal marijuana plants, bringing the total found in Pueblo raids since March 30 to 2,300. (Elaine Thompson, Associated Press file)

That’s a lot of pot: 180 illegal plants seized add to Pueblo’s stash

Tip leads to 7th Pueblo raid in a week and the 2nd involving Cubans from Florida; more than 2,300 illegally grown plants have been found in the area since March 30

In yet another Pueblo raid, Pueblo County authorities last week found 180 illegally-grown marijuana plants in the seventh such raid of illicit pot in less than a week.

The county sheriff’s office said the plants were found Tuesday at a home in the Hatchett Ranch area south of Pueblo’s city limits after acting on a tip.

Deputies also discovered an extravagant lighting system in the home where four adults lived, all of whom were originally from Cuba but who had recently moved to the area from Miami, Fla.

The house was owned by one of its residents, who had purchased it in February, the sheriff’s office said.

“Deputies found numerous planting supplies and construction materials they believe were to be used to expand the operation,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release. “Based on the amount of materials discovered in the home, deputies believe the operation could (have) been easily expanded by four times the plant count found in the home.”

Authorities say the home’s residents told deputies they were operating a medical marijuana grow but had no paperwork to substantiate the claim.

No arrests were made, but deputies have referred the case to county prosecutors, according to investigators.

The sheriff’s office says since March 30, they have seized more than 2,300 illegally grown marijuana plants from seven separate homes, including six in Pueblo West and one in south Pueblo County. Nine men, all originally from Florida, have been arrested in connection with the grows.

Another one of those cases included two other men originally from Cuba who had recently moved to Pueblo from Florida. They allegedly had 127 illegally-grown marijuana plants and materials to expand their operation at the Pueblo West home they were renting.

An investigation into whether there is a connection between the two cases involving the Cuban immigrants is underway.

In nearby Huerfano County, a man was killed in mid-March while trying to break into the home of two Florida residents that authorities say were illegally growing 400 marijuana plants.

Jesse Paul: 303-954-1733, jpaul@denverpost.com or @JesseAPaul

Those suspected in the most cases:

Eladio Ponce Hernandez, 36

Anaili Garcia Toledo, 32

Elio Hernandez Delgado, 45

This story was first published on DenverPost.com