Marijuana syndicate grew pot in gated home in Colorado and sold it around the U.S.

The enterprise was mailing boxes of marijuana and stacks of money through the U.S. Postal Service

Twenty-four members of an elaborate marijuana syndicate face racketeering charges for allegedly transporting marijuana across the country from illegal grows in eight posh metro Denver houses, including one inside a gated Greenwood Village community.

The offenders were charged earlier this month on an Arapahoe County District Court indictment that included charges of distributing illegally grown pot to Texas, Iowa, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, New York and Kansas. They are accused of racketeering, marijuana cultivation and distribution, money laundering, tax evasion and attempting to influence a public servant.

Detectives nicknamed their drug operation “the apprentice” after a confidential informant who first learned the ropes of the illegal pot trade and later learned how to ensnare his drug mentors.

The informant was down on his luck when he began working for two long-time friends who founded and ran the illegal drug ring that had tentacles across the country. Greenwood Village police arrested him for allegedly selling pot on Craigslist. The informant then began working for police to expose his friends’ drug syndicate.

The apprentice’s real name is not revealed in court documents filed by District Attorney George Brauchler’s office.

The informant told his friends — identified only as co-conspirator 1 and co-conspirator 2 — that he was hurting for money. The two conspirators, who had started selling marijuana a year earlier, gave him a quarter-pound of pot and had him sell it online, court records say.

The syndicate was selling 80 pounds of marijuana a week and in one year had sold more than $1 million in marijuana around the country, according to court records. The suspects allegedly grew the pot in high-end homes in Highlands Ranch, Centennial and Greenwood Village.

The informant would pick up the pot at an apartment within Copper Canyon apartments that was run like a licensed and legal pot store, although the operation was unlicensed and illegal.

A man nicknamed “Shadow” ran the “stash house.” Shadow also worked for Scott Doida, who allegedly grew marijuana plants at 9638 E. Maplewood Circle, a home inside a gated community in Greenwood Village that is valued at $1 million.

Co-conspirator 1 warned the  informant that Shadow is “a scary dude…so you don’t want to be on the wrong end of Shadow.” Co-conspirator 2 told the informant he used high-end rental cars to sell drugs to new customers to avoid arrest.

As the informant began to prove his loyalty and skills in the illegal drug trade, his buddies trusted him with more and more pot. He went from selling a quarter of a pound to peddling pound of the drug that sold anywhere from $1,600 to $2,200, depending on the quality.

After a month, the informant’s buddies gave him a burner phone and let him buy ads for selling eight strains of marijuana from low- to high-grade on Craigslist.

The enterprise was mailing boxes of marijuana and stacks of money through the U.S. Postal Service.

The informant had been selling marijuana for about four or five months when investigators arrested him on April 1, court records indicate.

This story was first published on DenverPost.com