Jason Koch told detectives that the grow in the basement and other parts of the house, weighing 278 pounds, was solely for personal use. Pictured: Marijuana grown at a Denver indoor facility. (Joe Amon, Denver Post file)

Smell of weed in Denver leads feds to big bust of Nebraska marijuana network

An investigation of an alleged interstate crime network all started with an anonymous tip about a pungent odor emanating from a rental home in Westminster.

It was May 2, 2016, harvest time for a lucrative Nebraska-based illegal marijuana network with five pot grow houses and warehouses in Westminster, Dacono, Broomfield and Thornton.

On Thursday, federal prosecutors reaped their own harvest of greenery in Denver U.S. District court after seizing bound and loose stacks of U.S. currency totaling $65,119 from several Denver area pot grow houses, according to an affidavit filed by Raymond Padilla, a federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

Members of the North Metro Task Force have linked six people to the drug operation. So far, only Timothy Jon Koch, 34, has been arrested in connection to the drug investigation. He has been charged with five felony counts of drug cultivation and distribution in Adams County District Court.

Three days after receiving the tip about a possible illegal grow operation, detectives knocked on the front door of the rental at 11266 Clay Court in Westminster where Koch and his brother Jason Koch lived. Jason Koch led them into the basement, a converted pot warehouse and packaging center for the operation.

Agents found dozens of vacuum-sealed bags and Ziploc bags with freshly cut marijuana inside, cardboard moving boxes for packaging the product, a scale, a vacuum sealer and empty plastic bags.

Jason Koch told them that the pot spread all over the basement and other parts of the house weighing 278 pounds was solely for personal use. He told detectives that he had just moved to Colorado from Omaha a few months earlier and that his brother had a property management company, court records show.

Timothy Koch was paying his brother $20 an hour to package the pot and strangers would load the boxes filled with marijuana into trucks and drive to Nebraska, the arrest affidavit alleges.

After Jason Koch signed a consent form allowing the officers to search the home, the officers discovered a cache of drugs, cash and drug paraphernalia including dozens of e-cigarette cartridges, a bowl of black marijuana concentrate weighing 2 pounds, a cash-counting machine, a stack of cash bound with rubber bands and loose bills piled on a table.

Jason Koch later acknowledged that someone drives a white Toyota pickup with Nebraska license plates into his garage every three or four weeks and loads 60 to 120 pounds of marijuana. Timothy Koch would then drive to Nebraska and return a few days later with $80,000 to $120,000, he said.

A large pot cultivation operation was set up at a home across the street from where the Kochs were living. The home was registered to Phillip Bailey, ¬†identified by Jason Koch as his brother’s pot business partner.

When officials searched Bailey’s home they found 300 marijuana plants, about 25 pounds of dry marijuana and 46 grams of marijuana concentrate. Bailey acknowledged he did not have a license for a pot grow operation.

Task force detectives also searched three other addresses owned or rented by Timothy Koch or associates at 5915 E. 124th Way, Thornton; 3079 134th Place, Broomfield; and 5501 Weld County Road 13 in Dacono.

Detectives discovered a total of 361 pounds of dry marijuana, 638 marijuana plants and nearly 3 pounds of marijuana concentrate at the five locations linked to Timothy Koch, court records indicate.

At one of the homes, detectives found a rejection letter from the Medical Marijuana Registry. Detectives also discovered paperwork for several marijuana-related businesses started by Timothy Koch or were in the planning stages.

Timothy Koch has reported $31,000 in income in 2015 and 2016 from Smile Labs, a company registered in his name.

This story was first published on DenverPost.com