Marijuana plants are grown in a Denver warehouse in March 2014. (John Leyba, Denver Post file)

DEA stakes claim on Rolexes, cars, homes linked to Colorado pot grow

Federal prosecutors are going after the money side of a southern Colorado marijuana grow enterprise by confiscating cash, homes and luxury cars.

U.S. Attorney John Walsh’s office filed a forfeiture lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court seeking to claim property including four homes, a mobile home, luxury watches, more than 1,000 marijuana plants and nearly 1,000 pieces of marijuana equipment.

The value of the forfeitures exceed $1 million, including the $827,000 value of the homes, according to federal court records.

The lawsuit stems from a dragnet last year in which 13 men and a woman were charged with federal counts of illegally growing marijuana.

According to the recent lawsuit, members of the syndicate bought homes in Cotopaxi and Westcliffe and turned them into illegal grow operations. They shipped marijuana to Florida via UPS.

Besides the marijuana plants and equipment, agents from the Southern Colorado Drug Task Force and the Colorado Springs DEA used electric bills as evidence. Marijuana grow operations demand a large amount of electrical power.

For example, agents reviewed the electric bills of a home on Thunderbird Drive in Cotopaxi for 10 months before accused drug dealer Victor Garcia bought the home for $160,000 in 2013 and the 10 months after the purchase.

The home had used 78 kilowatts from Sangre De Cristo Electric between September 2012 and June 2013.

Between May 2014 and July 2015, the home consumed 17,573 kilowatts, the report says.

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