DEA agents raid VIP Cannabis, located at 2949 W. Alameda Ave. in Denver on April 30, 2014. T (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)

DEA raids four Denver pot sites linked to VIP Cannabis (map)

Federal authorities raided again multiple Denver medical marijuana businesses in dramatic fashion Wednesday — smashing doors, yanking out pot plants and cash, sawing safes open and driving the seized items away in U-Haul trucks.

The four targets — all linked to the VIP Cannabis dispensary or its operators — were among the more than a dozen medical marijuana businesses that agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue Service first raided in November. While the earlier raids shuttered many of those businesses, the four raided Wednesday were notable for having reopened.

Jeffrey Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Colorado, confirmed the new raids but did not explain what prompted them. Search warrants for the raids were sealed.

“As this relates to a long-term ongoing criminal investigation, no additional information will be made available,” Dorschner said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the VIP Cannabis owner whom prosecutors had labeled a fugitive from justice turned himself in Wednesday.

Gerardo Uribe was the last of the four men indicted on money-laundering charges in connection with the November raids to appear in court. He was led into the courtroom Wednesday afternoon wearing a suit and shackled at his wrists and ankles. After a brief hearing during which he was advised of the charges against him — the most serious of which carries a potential 20-year prison sentence — he was ordered held until Monday, when prosecutors will say whether they want him held longer without bail.

Sean McAllister, an attorney for Uribe, declined to comment on the case.

The indictment against Uribe, his brother, Luis, attorney David Furtado and Colombian citizen Hector Diaz was unsealed Monday.

It alleges the men funneled money from Colombia into the bank account of a purported Colorado metals company and used it to try to purchase a large warehouse for growing marijuana.

Although all marijuana cultivation — even that sanctioned by the state — is illegal under federal law, the indictment contains no charges directly related to drug crimes. Instead, the most serious charges in the case so far allege money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Another charge accuses Furtado of attempting an illegal financial transaction by trying to deposit proceeds from a medical marijuana dispensary in a bank account.

Diaz, who until Monday was the only person arrested in connection with the November raids, also is charged with a firearms-related charge and with making a false statement to authorities.

He is currently out on bail, and he appeared in federal court Wednesday morning to hear of the charges from the new indictment. With Diaz’s consent, a magistrate judge entered not-guilty pleas to the charges on Diaz’s behalf.

Diaz also declined to comment after the brief hearing.

PHOTOS: More images from Wednesday’s raid.

Wednesday’s raids began around dawn.

A glass door was smashed at VIP Cannabis, 2949 W. Alameda Ave. in Denver. Video from a television news helicopter showed agents dressed in marked DEA clothing had worked to open two safes at the shop. The store, which is operated by Gerardo and Luis Uribe, has a “Closed for remodeling” sign in the front window.

A U-Haul truck was backed up to the business during Wednesday’s raid. DEA agents loaded it with boxes and drove it away from the scene around 8:15 a.m. A worker arrived on scene around 8:30 a.m. to board up the broken door with plywood.

At 4800 N. Brighton Blvd. in Denver, a warehouse that houses marQaha LLC, a U-Haul truck was parked behind the building at midmorning. MarQaha holds state licenses as a cultivation facility and a marijuana-infused product manufacturer. State records list Gerardo Uribe as the sole owner.

A third grow location connected to VIP was raided at a cinder-block building at 2640 E. 43rd Ave. in Denver. Its metal door was ripped off its hinges by law enforcement officers.

The final location was a warehouse at 755 S. Jason St. in Denver, which state records show housed a marijuana grow linked to VIP Cannabis.

READ: The indictment released in the VIP Cannabis case

VIP Cannabis reopened after the November raids, but state regulators last month moved to deny several pending business licenses connected to VIP Cannabis. While not an official shut-down order, the state placed an “administrative hold” on all of VIP’s marijuana — meaning the store could keep its inventory but not move or sell it pending an appeal.

The state Department of Revenue also took steps toward revoking or suspending marQaha’s licenses, according to public records. In both actions, the department cited compliance violations including inadequate video surveillance and a failure to produce required business records.

Gerardo Uribe said in April that VIP was no longer selling medical marijuana, putting it in compliance with the state’s order.

A search warrant for November’s raids named 10 people who were of interest to investigators, but prosecutors’ attention has, for now, focused only on the four indicted Monday. A spokeswoman for Laszlo Bagi, whose grow facility in Boulder was hit in the November raids, said there were no new raids there Wednesday.

Apart from the indictment, federal authorities have kept quiet about the investigation. That could change Thursday, though, when Luis Uribe and Furtado are scheduled for detention hearings.

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