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Illegal Marijuana Grow Operations Busted In Colorado, More Than 40 Arrested

By Rick Sallinger

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) - More than 40 people have been arrested and approximately 30 homes and warehouses suspected of having illegal marijuana grows have been raided as part of an extensive law enforcement action Thursday morning.

Marijuana Raids
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Police said all the raids are tied to one illegal operation and many were executed in the Denver metro area. The suspects allegedly came from Texas to grow marijuana in Colorado and they bought houses to grow the plants, then ship them out of state to sell the drugs for a big financial gain.

At one home in Centennial, drug agents found more than 300 plants. There was so much marijuana grow equipment at the home that a Colorado National Guard truck was called in to haul it away.

marijuana raids
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A neighbor said she was stunned to see the extent of the operation.

"I can't believe this is happening in this neighborhood. It's just so out of character for the people that live here," Rebecca Rattray said. "I'm a little shocked that there's still a market to grow pot illegally."

At another location in the north metro area a woman was placed in handcuffs and taken away in a police car.

Marijuana Raids (8)
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In Arvada, marijuana plants were taken from a home and stacked up on the front lawn to the surprise of neighbors. One man told CBS4's Rick Sallinger he heard loud bangs around 5 a.m. when that raid began.

"Closer to 5 o'clock there was a very loud noise. My first reaction is there someone doing hash... a hash explosion," said neighbor Norm Hogg.

Marijuana Raids (1)
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In one location in Monument near Colorado Springs, a person barricaded himself inside a building when it was raided. Police were forced to use tear gas to extract him.

The activity on Thursday is the culmination of a year-and-a-half long investigation by the North Metro Drug Task Force, the DEA, U.S. Postal Inspectors and the Colorado Attorney General's office.

RELATED STORIES: Marijuana Legalization Story Archive

While Colorado has legalized the use of medical and recreational marijuana, these operations were believed to be operating outside of the law.

The raids come after a series of reports on CBS4 about illegal marijuana grows in neighborhoods titled The Pot House Next Door.

CBS4's Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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