DEA Raids Suburban Marijuana Operation

Basement Growing Operation Was 700 Feet From Elementary School

A Highlands Ranch medical marijuana caregiver is expected to face federal drug charges after Drug Enforcement Agency officers raided his suburban home, removing massive marijuana plants and growing lamps.

Officers said Chris Bartkowicz had recently received some media exposure and bragged about a basement marijuana growing operation that raked in roughly $400,000 a year.

DEA spokesman Mike Turner said under state law, the operation is legal, but federal law is a whole different story.

“The fact of the matter is, he is violating federal law and profiting significantly,” said Turner.

Drug agents confiscated several large trash bags full of marijuana plants as well as growing lights and other paraphernalia.

Turner said federal agents are not focusing on medical marijuana patients or small growing operations, but because of the size of Bartkowicz’s alleged operation and its proximity to an elementary school, they simply could not look away.

“I just don't think it should be close to schools and I don't think it should be in neighborhoods,” said neighbor Todd Grundmeier.

“We've got four young kids here,” said Linda Palmer, who lives directly across the street from the house. “They don't need to see that. They don't need to be around that.”

Palmer said she and other neighbors had noticed strange activity at the house at odd times of the night and early morning, but never suspected that marijuana was being grown.

“I've been up at 3:30 in the morning, letting my dogs out and they've had lights on, garage doors open,” said Palmer.

Other neighbors complained of a strange odor emanating from the house.

The DEA could not confirm whether Bartkowicz was in custody, but said he would likely face federal drug charges once the raid was complete.