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Three more marijuana busts conducted in El Paso County

Authorities raid suspicious operations Tuesday

El Paso County conducts 60th raid of marijuana growing operations

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder has announced the raid of three suspicious marijuana growing operations.

Brief information and photos of the pot busts were posted Tuesday morning on Elder's re-election Facebook page.

According to the post, the raids were part of a combined operation that included the Sheriff's Office rural enforcement unit and SWAT team, and local and federal drug agents.

The raids resulted in the seizure of nearly 400 marijuana plants, 90 pounds of refined marijuana and numerous guns.

One person was arrested and additional arrests are pending. 

Elder said the marijuana was grown by members of Cuban drug cartels.

"The pot was destined for Florida, not the Colorado market," he said.  "We now have the attention of the national media who was on hand to learn why we are having this problem."

One raid occurred at a home near the intersection of Drennan and Marksheffel roads; the other two raids were conducted at homes near the intersection of Highway 94 and Corral Valley Road.

Elder said the latest busts bring the total to 60 since he began increasing enforcement at the first of the year.

"It's having an effect," he said.  "It's forcing many growers to leave the area.  But the activity hasn't slowed down yet.  It probably won't for another year or so."

Suspicious or illegal growing operations have been found in rural areas and in urban neighborhoods.

"Sometimes we get tips from the public who see suspicious activity or smell the plants," Elder said.  "With Tuesday's busts, we followed up on information we received after a marijuana seizure in Florida."

Neighbors of Tuesday's raids have mixed feelings about the situation.

"These growers bring unwanted guests," said Fellina Floravit, a wife and mother of two children.  "You never know if they're carrying something to protect themselves.  If something bad happens, my kids could be caught in the crossfire."

Brenda Nelson, a caregiver for several adults living near one of the busts, said she isn't overly worried.

"I'm shocked that it's here," she sid.  I haven't seen or heard anything suspicious."

Elder said he doesn't know if any of the arrests made for illegal growing this year have resulted in prosecutions in court.


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