Multiple search warrants were being executed Wednesday in southeast Colorado as part of a large marijuana distribution investigation, according to a law enforcement source. Pictured: A grow light shines through cannabis leaves at a commercial Denver grow facility in March 2014. (Seth McConnell, Denver Post file)

Feds launch major raid on illegal marijuana operations in southeast Colorado

Agents target drugs going out of state in big volumes, source says

Federal agents and local law enforcement simultaneously raided homes across southeast Colorado on Wednesday as part of efforts to break up a major organization growing marijuana for distribution and sale out of state.

A Drug Enforcement Administration official said the agency was working with sheriff’s offices in El Paso, Pueblo, Crowley, Bent and Otero counties on some “big operations” that are linked to one encompassing investigation.

The official, who spoke to The Denver Post on the condition of anonymity because an investigation into the case is ongoing, said the operations are targeting marijuana being sent out of state — including Texas and Arkansas — in big volumes.

Another law enforcement source, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, said multiple search warrants were being executed as part of a large marijuana distribution investigation.

Officials said more information could be released later on Wednesday.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office tweeted Wednesday morning that its SWAT officers were assisting the DEA on a search warrant, but did not elaborate.

Jacqueline Kirby, a sheriff’s office spokeswoman, said she could not speak further about the operation. She said she did not know what the DEA was looking for or if it was connected to any larger investigation.

“All I know is we are assisting in executing some search warrants,” Kirby said.

Gayle Perez, a spokeswoman for the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, said SWAT deputies were involved in an operation with the DEA, but she said she didn’t have further information.

The operations come amid a string of similar raids in southern Colorado and throughout the state over the past several months as federal and local authorities clamp down on marijuana being illegally grown in homes.

Officials say the pot is being grown in the state for transfer and sale across the country.

Colorado law allows people 21 and older to grow up to six plants — three or fewer of which can be mature, flowering plants — provided it’s done in an “enclosed, locked space.”

This story was first published on DenverPost.com