AG: 74 indictments in largest illicit pot bust in Colorado history; 2 former Broncos victimized

Operation dubbed Toker Poker

DENVER — The largest illegal pot ring since Colorado legalized marijuana has been dismantled, federal, state and local law enforcement officials said in a Wednesday announcement.

The bust — dubbed operation Toker Poker — includes 62 individual people and 12 businesses, leading to 74 indictments. Those businesses and individuals were located in Colorado, and according to law enforcement officials, were laundering millions of dollars and creating an illicit pot empire across a host of states.

(The people charged and the crimes they are charged with can be seen toward the end of this story. Click here to read the indictment.)

Officials from the Drug Enforcement Agency said the investigation spanned 40 states and included up to thousands of law enforcement officers, but the Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said the ring directly operated in and impacted Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, Ohio and Oklahoma, as well as Colorado.

“We stand here today to send a message…we will not tolerate the illegal marijuana market in Colorado," DEA officials said. 

PHOTOS | See all 62 people who were indicted in the bust here. 

The massive investigation began in 2014 when police in Denver received an anonymous tip that seemed like an unusual complaint, according to Denver Police Department officials. 

Hundreds of officers in Colorado across multiple counties and agencies were eventually roped into the investigation, which led to three major busts, in March and May of 2016, and another bust in January of 2017. Nearly 150 search warrants were executed over 11 months, from March 2016 to February 2017.

The grow-houses and storage facilities included 18 warehouses and storage units, and 33 homes along the Front Range. A Castle Rock business, Grofax South, was also allegedly involved in the ring.

Through the busts, police arrested 43 people, but 19 suspects are still outstanding. Law enforcement agents seized closed to 2,600 illegal marijuana plants and 4,000 pounds of marijuana, but authorities believe there was much more.

"These seizures are believed to only scratch the surface of the amount of illegal drugs produced by this organization," the Colorado Attorney General's Office said.

As the bust was investigated, officials say they learned the group attempted to influence public officials and defrauded investors, including former Denver Broncos players Erik Pears and Joel Dreessen. The investors reportedly thought they were investing in legitimate pot growers. 

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office says the interstate ring stretch from Colorado to Texas, and that those involved laundered millions of dollars in illegal drug money.

The attorney general says the alleged traffickers used now-closed loopholes in state law. As caregivers for medical marijuana patients, property managers for marijuana growers, and small business owners, those accused were able to mask their illegal marijuana ring.

The alleged defrauding of the Broncos players and other businesspeople and friends of those accused happened as the alleged criminals told them their investments would be for state-licensed grow facilities.

"The black market is continuing to flourish in Colorado alongside legal operations," Denver Police officials said. "There are drug trafficking organizations that don't just operate in the shadows, they operate in plain sight."

All of the defendants in the case face two charges: violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act – Pattern of Racketeering – Participation in Enterprise; and Violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act – Conspiracy/Endeavoring.

But there are 35 total various charges that the defendants face:

1.     Violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act – Pattern of Racketeering- Participation in Enterprise, §18-17-104(3) and §18-17-105, C.R.S. (F2) 37284

2.     Violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act – Conspiracy/Endeavoring, §18-17-104(4), C.R.S. (F2) 37285

3.     Violation of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act – Pattern of Racketeering – Acquire Interest in Enterprise, §18-17-104(2) C.R.S. (F2) 37283

4.     Cultivation of Marijuana, More than Thirty Plants, C.R.S. §18-18- 406(3)(A)(I), C.R.S. (DF3) 8803A

5.     Conspiracy to Commit Cultivation of Marijuana, More than Thirty Plants §18-18-406(3)(A)(I) and §18-2-201, C.R.S. (DF4) CON

6.     Distribution Of Marijuana (50 LBS) or Marijuana Concentrate (25 LBS), §18-18-406(2)(B)(I),(III)(A), C.R.S. (DF1) 8802P

7.     Possession with Intent to Manufacture or Distribute Marijuana (50 LBS) or Marijuana Concentrate (25 LBS), §18-18-406(2)(B)(I),(III)(A), C.R.S. (DF1) 8802U

8.     Conspiracy to Distribute, or Possess with Intent to Manufacture or Distribute, Marijuana – (50 LBS) or Marijuana Concentrate (25LBS), §18-18-406(2)(B)(I),(III)(A), C.R.S. (DF1) 8802Z

9.     Money Laundering – Conduct Financial Transaction with Intent to Promote Crime, §18-5-309(1)(A)(I), C.R.S. (F3) 12211

10.  Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering – Conduct Financial Transaction with Intent to Promote Crime, §18-5-309(1)(A)(I) and §18-2- 201, C.R.S. (F4) CON

11.  Money Laundering –Financial Transaction To Conceal or Disguise Nature or Avoid Reporting, §18-5-309(1)(A)(II), C.R.S. (F3) 12212

12.  Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering –Financial Transaction To Conceal or Disguise Nature or Avoid Reporting, §18-5-309(1)(A)(II) and §18-2-201, C.R.S. (F4) CON

13.  Money Laundering – Transfer Monetary Instrument with Intent to Promote Crime, §18-5-309(1)(B)(I), C.R.S. (F3) 12213

14.  Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering – Transfer Monetary Instrument with Intent to Promote Crime, §18-5-309(1)(B)(I) and §18-2- 201, C.R.S. (F4) CON

15.  Money Laundering – Transfer Monetary Instrument to Conceal or Disguise or Avoid Reporting, §18-5-309(1)(B)(II), C.R.S. (F3) 12214

16.  Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering – Transfer Monetary Instrument to Conceal or Disguise or Avoid Reporting, §18-5- 309(1)(B)(II) and §18-2-201, C.R.S. (F4) CON

17.  Money Laundering – Financial Transaction Involving Proceeds, §18-5- 309(1)(C), C.R.S. (F3) 12215

18.  Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering – Financial Transaction Involving Proceeds, §18-5-309(1)(C) and §18-2-201, C.R.S. (F4) CON

19.  Keeping Property for Unlawful Distribution of Controlled Substances, §18-18-411(1), C.R.S. (DM1) 33514

20.  Maintaining Property For Unlawful Manufacturing Of Controlled Substances, §18-18-411(2)(a), C.R.S. (DM1) 33515

21.  Managing or Controlling Property for Manufacture of Controlled Substances, §18-18-411(2)(B), C.R.S. (DM1) 35516

22.  Evasion of Taxes Administered by the Colorado Department of Revenue, §39-21-118(1), C.R.S. (F5) 40021

23.  Conspiracy to Commit Evasion of Taxes Administered by the Colorado Department of Revenue, §39-21-118(1) and §18-2-201, C.R.S. (F6) CON

24.  Failure to File Return or Pay Tax, §39-21-118(3), C.R.S. (M) 40023

25.  Filing a False Tax Return, §39-21-118(4), C.R.S. (F5) 40024

26.  Forgery, § 18-5-102(1)(C), C.R.S. (F5) 1001C

27.  Theft - $100,000 - $1,000,000, §18-4-401(1),(2)(i), C.R.S. (F3) 08A16

28.  Attempt To Influence A Public Servant, §18-8-306, C.R.S. (F4) 24051

29.  Forgery, § 18-5-102(1)(C), C.R.S. (F5) 1001C

30.  Theft - $100,000 - $1,000,000, §18-4-401(1),(2)(i), C.R.S. (F3) 08A16

31.  Forgery, § 18-5-102(1)(C), C.R.S. (F5) 1001C

32.  Theft - $100,000 - $1,000,000, §18-4-401(1),(2)(i), C.R.S. (F3) 08A16

33.  Attempt To Influence A Public Servant, §18-8-306, C.R.S. (F4) 24051

34.  Attempt To Influence A Public Servant, §18-8-306, C.R.S. (F4) 24051

35.  Securities Fraud – Untrue Statement or Omission, C.R.S. §11-51- 501(1)(b) (F3) 50052

The following people and businesses face the following charges (DOB in parentheses, followed by charge numbers referenced above):

·      Aaron Baca (5/17/85) Counts 1-25, 31, 32, 34

·      Lucas Belmont (5/18/80) Counts 1-10, 13, 14, 17-24

·      Connor Brooks (9/13/86) Counts 1-24, 29, 30, 35

·      Scott Brooks (6/24/54) Counts 1, 2, 4-23

·      Ryan Campbell (3/29/86) Counts 1, 2, 4-24

·      Bradley Coley (1/3/86) Counts 1, 2, 4-8, 19-21

·      Michael W. Conner (DOB not listed) 1, 2, 6-8, 15, 16, 19-21

·      Gregory Cross (8/26/83) – Counts 1, 2, 4-8, 19-21

·      Nelson Cuellar (5/14/63) Counts 1, 2, 4-24

·      Timothy Dowdell (3/31/86) Counts 1, 2, 4-8, 19-21

·      Matthew Scott Even (3/7/87) – Counts 1-23

·      Israel Garcia (2/23/89) – Counts 1, 2, 6-8, 19-21

·      Nicholas Gyori (6/10/90) – Counts 1, 2, 4-8, 19-21

·      Justin Hanson (11/21/81) – Counts 1, 2, 6-8, 15, 16, 19-21

·      Daniel Harthurn (5/21/81) – Counts 1, 2, 6-10, 13-23

·      Cameron Henage (11/19/87) – Counts 1, 2, 4-10, 13, 14, 17-23

·      James Higgins (5/31/93) – Counts 1, 2, 4-8, 19-21

·      Huston Hulse (12/13/89) – Counts 1, 2, 4-10, 13, 14, 17-23

·      Brian Hunt (9/26/83) – Counts 1, 2, 4-8, 19-21

·      Matthew Hvizdda (11/29/89) – Counts 1, 2, 4-10, 13, 14, 17-23

·      Jared Jacobsen (11/18/88) – Counts 1, 2, 4-8, 19-21

·      Hiarui Jiang (1/2/65) – Counts 1, 2, 4-23

·      Zhen Zhen Jiang (11/14/52) – Counts 1, 2, 4-10, 13, 14, 17-23

·      Christian Jones (3/16/09) – Counts 1, 2, 6-8, 15, 16, 19-21

·      Christen Kozer (11/19/87) – Counts 1, 2, 4-23

·      Jonathan Crystal Lee (1/4/85) – Counts 1-23

·      Richard Littler (11/23/77) – Counts 1, 2, 4-8, 19-21

·      Kevin Marquez (9/10/86) – Counts 1, 2, 4-10, 13, 14, 17-23

·      Gregory McBride (7/24/76) – Counts 1, 2, 6-8, 15, 16

·      Lady Oak Moskowitz (9/1/55) – Counts 1, 2, 4-10, 13, 14, 17-23

·      Xian Meunsy (10/10/68) – Counts 1, 2, 4-10, 13, 14, 17-23

·      John W. Orn (8/1/84) – Couts 1, 2, 4-23

·      Jon Otonoga (6/28/70) – Counts 1, 2, 4-10, 13, 14, 17-23

·      Syoy Phanbandith (5/13/82) – Counts 1, 2, 4-24

·      Manivong Phannudet (11/6/72) – Counts 1, 2, 4-24

·      Phoukhong Phannudet (10/26/75) – Counts 1, 2, 4-24

·      Trairong Phannudet (7/31/84) – Counts 1, 2, 4-23

·      Sirisack Rajphoumy (4/10/70) – Counts 1, 2, 4-23

·      Sirideth Rajhoumy (4/8/73) – Counts 1, 2, 4-23

·      Justin Ruiz (6/18/84) – Counts 1-23

·      Raymond Ruiz (7/26/53) – Counts 1, 2, 4-8, 19-21

·      Jeremy Rudnick (5/23/1985) – Counts 1, 2, 4-8, 19-21

·      John Russo Jr. (6/24/85) – Counts 1-24, 28

·      John Russo Sr. (6/21/65) – Counts 1-10, 13, 14, 17-23, 26, 27

·      Adam Samokishyn (10/3/90) – Counts 1-23

·      Marlene Samokishyn (1/22/55) – Counts 1-23

·      Melissa Samokishyn (7/19/86) – Counts 1-23

·      Michael Samokishyn (8/16/53) – Counts 1-23

·      Santino Santori (4/16/84) – Counts 1, 2, 4-8, 19-21

·      Edward Shu (2/9/41) – Counts 1, 2, 4-23

·      Jerry Shyong (4/22/77) – Counts 1-10, 13, 14, 17-24

·      Justin Shyong (6/18/84) – Counts 1-23, 31-33

·      Peter Steel (11/24/79) – Counts 1, 2, 4-8, 19-21

·      Thomas Stockton (10/11/86) – Counts 1, 2, 6-8, 15, 16, 19-21

·      Michael Swinyard (no DOB provided) – Counts 1, 2, 9, 10, 14, 17-23

·      Jeffrey Teiffel (4/13/84) – Counts 1-10, 13, 14, 17-23

·      Joel Vlasin (11/6/83) – Counts 1, 2, 4-24

·      Jin Tien Wu (5/3/81) – Counts 1-23

·      Wan Wan Wu (6/28/75) – Counts 1, 2, 4-10, 13, 14, 17-23

·      Rona Yang (6/9/53) – Counts 1, 2, 4-23

·      Jeremy Youness (9/9/76) – Counts 1, 2, 4-24

·      Shen Quin Wu (8/1/48) – Counts 1-10, 13, 14, 17-23

·      1015D West Evans – Counts 1-10, 13, 14, 17-23

·      Colorado Consulting and Properties Management, LLC – Counts 1-23

·      3333 South Marion LLC – Counts 1-23

·      JRS, LLC – Counts 1-10, 13, 14, 17-23

·      JSM, INC – Counts 1-23

·      10787 Tucson Way, LLC – Counts 1-23

·      JPEX, Inc/GROFAX South) – Counts 1-23

·      Samar Inc – Counts 1-23

·      JMJR, LLC – Counts 1-24

·      CB Solutions – Counts 1-24

·      Put on Developments – Counts 1-25, 31, 32

·      M Seven, LLC – Counts 1-23

Denver7 is working to learn more about this story as it continues to develop. Refresh this story and watch Denver7 at 11, The Now at 4, Denver7 at 5 and Denver7 at 6.

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