(Seth McConnell, Denver Post file)

Pueblo deputies arrest man with $175,000 of pot, including 600 plants

A southern Colorado man was arrested this week after sheriff’s deputies say they found 600 marijuana plants and up to 100 pounds of dried pot — all estimated at about $175,000 — on his property.

The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of Mario Gonsalves, 45, on Thursday. Deputies found the drugs on Gonsalves’ property in Avondale — roughly 16 miles east of Pueblo — while they were following up on a tip, the office said.

“Gonsalves told deputies he was growing medical marijuana for himself but admitted the number of plants he had on the property were more than the amount he was permitted by law,” the office said in a news release.

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Gonsalves, who told investigators he moved to Colorado from Connecticut in 2014 to grow marijuana, had been permitted by doctors to have 75 plants, the office said.

The sheriff’s office said several pounds of dried marijuana appeared to be packaged for distribution in one-pound bulk. Investigators also found cannabis stored in smaller quantities in glass jars marked with strain labels.

“Gonsalves could not provide the necessary documentation to prove he was a licensed marijuana caregiver, which put the amount of marijuana plants found in his home far beyond Colorado’s felony charges threshold,” the release said.

Investigators say Gonsalves told them he was growing the marijuana for a friend out of state. Deputies discovered the other person’s medical card but say it still did not account for the amount of pot discovered, some of it hidden on Gonsalves’ property.

Deputies say they also found three firearms on the property.

Gonsalves was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to manufacture marijuana and marijuana cultivation of more than 30 plants. Both charges are felonies.

Gonsalves’ bond was set at $5,000.

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

This story was first published on DenverPost.com