Seven men have been indicted in Denver U.S. District Court on 13 counts of illegal marijuana production and distribution in a far-flung operation in which marijuana was produced in several illegal grow operations in Pueblo West and distributed in Florida.
The seven defendants were individually indicted on one or more of seven counts of manufacture and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and six counts of conspiracy to distribute.
The indictment names the following defendants: Dennis Rodriguez, Richard Samples, Derek Brechbill, Nathaniel Clawson, Gary Bruce, Daniel Bingham and Angel Rodriguez.
If convicted, the suspects face penalties of up to 40 years in prison and $5 million fines.
Samples and Bingham were arrested in a separate case in Texas, for transporting marijuana, the court records indicated.
The case was investigated, sometimes using wiretaps, by the Southern Colorado DEA Drug Task Force, according to court records. U.S. Attorney John Walsh is prosecuting the case.
On March 30, members of the task force armed with search warrants raided five homes in Pueblo West: one on Tequila Drive, three on South Siesta Drive and one on Camino Santiago Drive.
At the five homes, authorities seized 1,879 marijuana plants, butane hash oil lab equipment, 16 pounds of processed marijuana and nine hand guns and shotguns, court records indicate.
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Several of the suspects implicated themselves and each other in interviews with members of the task force and while making telephone calls from the Pueblo jail, according to court records.
Dennis Rodriguez told agents he started growing marijuana in the summer of 2015 and that the first harvest was coming up. Rodriquez said he rents his home where he grows pot from Breckbill. Breckbill also helps with the marijuana grow operations, which are located across the street from the other on South Siesta.
When asked about other area operations, Dennis Rodriguez replied, “This is too big,” and asked for an attorney.
In a phone conversation with his wife, Dennis Rodriguez said he couldn’t get prosecuted in Colorado and Washington on marijuana charges because it is “against the law.”
Clawson admitted in an interview that he has grown marijuana on a large scale the past nine months and had six harvests.
Bruce, who has an associates degree in electronics and computer engineering, had been fighting forest fires in Florida, making $22,000 when he moved to Colorado in 2014 to harvest marijuana. When he first arrived, he obtained a marijuana card and worked for legal grow operations, court records indicate.
In a jail phone call, Bruce told his mother that everyone has left him and were “showing their true colors.” In a separate jail call to his father, his father asked him if he “got a little too greedy and went over the line a bit too far.”
Angel Rodriguez told authorities that he is a retired Florida stock broker. He had been a stock broker for 23 years, making up to $80,000 a year. He said he was Bruce’s partner and each of them controlled 50 percent of their operation.
During the interview, he said he was “trying to get his marijuana grow to be legal.”