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Inside the dangerous and discreet world of marijuana security

Helix TCS is run by 95 percent veterans
Posted: 3:18 PM, Feb 27, 2017
Updated: 2017-02-28 05:46:54Z

DENVER -- Marijuana security is a relatively new and booming business that can have deadly consequences.

"Everybody in this industry is a target," said Andrew Ross, with Helix TCS Security.

With a staff that is comprised of 95 percent veterans, Helix TCS Security is trying to keep an industry whose history is in the black market safe.

"I was in the United States Marines Corps for five years. I was a 0311 infantry rifle man," said the company's director of transportation, Michael Giuliano.

"This is a real security operation; it's not just sitting in a pot shop," said Ross.

Inside each pot dispensary, Helix TCS has more than a dozen 360-degree security cameras in the bud rooms and outside the buildings.

Armed guards also check IDs of each person who walks through the door.

But there is also the much more dangerous job of transporting thousands of dollars in cash for a business that doesn't take plastic.

"All cash, no credit," explained a bud-tender at a local dispensary.

"It can be a small amount, it can be a large amount," said Giuliano.

Trained guards pick up pre-counted cash from the dispensary's safe and take it in unmarked vehicles to a state bank or private location.

"[The] thing I learned from being in the military -- you don't want to take the same route every day, because once you get that patter down, that's where people can pick up on your weaknesses," said Giuliano. 

"They've already had four years of training, they're disciplined, they're smart, they're sharp and they're looking to find some way to get back into the civilian world," said Ross.

Ross said the company started with seven employees in 2015 and has grown to more than 80, and the entire team is 95 percent veterans.

"We're a pretty tight knit group of guys," said Giuliano.

Vets must have an honorable discharge. Helix TCS prefers infantry men because they've dealt with more combat, but hire from all branches of the military.

"This is just like these guys were dealing with back in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Ross.

He points to the first marijuana related homicide last year as a real eye opener for the industry.

"There hadn't been an incident in Colorado that really drew the need for the security," he said.

Travis Mason, a former marine himself and armed guard at an Aurora pot dispensary was shot and killed by a group of robbers.

The case is still unsolved, but Ross said they have tried to learn from it.

"Gave us a point to just kind of tighten up our operation, increase some training and really kind of get away from that complacent mindset," he said.

Each guard goes through a 40-hour academy, where they learn about pot laws and de-escalation techniques.

Efforts to stay ahead, and protect the ever changing business of legal weed with the expertise of our veterans leading the charge.

"There's guys from all different units, all over the United States and they're moving to Colorado," said Giuliano. 

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