Marijuana clone plants are displayed under a light at a medical marijuana cooperative in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren, Associated Press file)

Grand jury indicts 2 suspected of illegal pot grows in western Colorado

A federal grand jury in Denver has indicted two men suspected of tending to large, illegal marijuana grows near the Dolores River in western Colorado, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.

Luis Adolfo Garcia, 33, of Parachute, and Luis Rios-Cortes, 23, a Mexican National in the country illegally, face charges of manufacturing and possession with intent to distribute, which each could bring up to 40 years in prison and fines up to $5 million.

Approximately 1,720 pounds of marijuana was recovered during the Nov. 13 raids that led to the charges. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies executed two search warrants on that day.

According to court documents, in April 2015, a Bureau of Land Management ranger noticed two trucks consistently appearing in an area along the Dolores River. The BLM found two large marijuana grows on the property, one on Sept. 15, which resulted in the arrest of four defendants, and a second on Sept. 30 about 4 miles from the first location, where six people were arrested.

Evidence of illegal marijuana, including the names of some of 10 suspects arrested in September, was found in the Parachute residence on Nov. 13.

The property containing the marijuana and a residence that was searched was owned by Luis Garcia’s sister, Esther Garcia.

Luis Garcia was stopped multiple times while driving a Chevrolet Silverado, owned by his sister, during the investigation, which continues.

“We have seen a notable increase this year in illegal marijuana grows in western Colorado,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “As we work with the DEA, BLM and our local law enforcement partners, we are seizing large amounts of marijuana. In addition, we have charged a total of 12 individuals, many here illegally from Mexico, for tending to these marijuana grows.”

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