FIRESTONE, Colo. — Federal and local authorities were conducting a large-scale sweep of several Firestone homes they say were part of an illegal marijuana enterprise operated by an organized group of criminals.
Thursday morning, Firestone Police joined agents with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency as they served search warrants on at least seven homes inside a subdivision near Firestone and Colorado boulevards.
Authorities were seen removing marijuana plants from garages and homes and piling the seized plants outside. It's not clear if any arrests were made or how many plants were taken.
DEA agents tell Denver7 the homes were being used as a storage place for cultivated marijuana. Many of the suspects involved in the operation are from Asian countries, agents say.
Derek Odney, a DEA spokesperson, said these types of operations sometimes go unnoticed because of Colorado's legal marijuana laws.
"As a trend, the DEA has observed and identified a number of houses, if not thousands, in the Denver metro area that are growing marijuana for supply to the rest of the United States," Odney said.
Odney says Colorado has become a draw for people from around the country intending to set up illegal marijuana grows, adding the state's weak regulatory enforcement efforts make it easy for them to operate in plain sight.
Neighbors in the Firestone subdivision were shocked to learn the large-scale illegal marijuana grow was operating right under their noses.
“I was shocked, totally shocked. I mean, this is a quiet neighborhood. We had no idea," said resident Mark Dayhoff. "I walked around the corner — I could smell that pot."
Authorities released very few details into the alleged illegal operation, citing an ongoing investigation.