- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

DENVER (AP) - A Colorado grand jury has indicted 32 people on charges that they illegally grew and shipped thousands of pounds of marijuana to other states, most commonly Minnesota.

Authorities believe the group made about $12 million during the four years it operated, The Denver Post reported Wednesday (https://dpo.st/1Oz2dvs). The indictment came after authorities raided several Denver marijuana warehouses in October.

Each month, the group exported as much as 400 pounds of pot grown in Denver warehouses to other states, according to the indictment. Couriers returned to Denver with hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time.

The state attorney general’s office, which is handling the case, declined to comment.

The indictment says the growers were not licensed with the state and falsely posed as medical marijuana caregivers.

Authorities say the organization exploited Colorado’s commercial pot industry to hide in plain sight, though it did not receive help from the state’s legal marijuana industry.

The growers considered working in California but chose Colorado instead because of its “perceived lack of regulatory enforcement actions and oversight in the marijuana industry,” the indictment says.

An unidentified dispensary representative at one point offered to merge with the group’s accused ring leader, Tri Trong Nguyen, if he would start over legitimately. But the indictment says Nguyen refused, taking the merger off the table.

“I am making too much money doing what I am doing,” he told the representative, according to the indictment. Court records do not list an attorney for Nguyen.

Investigators became aware of the group’s inner workings last summer, after they stopped another member in Kansas and found him in possession of 66 pounds of pot and $330,000 in cash.

The man, Joseph Johnson, is accused of using planes belonging to his skydiving business to make shipments between Colorado, Minnesota and Texas. It was unclear if he had an attorney who could comment about the allegations.


Information from: The Denver Post, https://www.denverpost.com

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