SOUTHERN COLORADO – It has been a busy week for busts of illegal marijuana cultivation operations involving Cubans. A 31-year-old Cuban man was arrested for operating an illegal grow in Pueblo West and a man and woman were arrested for their roles in an illegal grow operation in Custer County.
In the case of the Pueblo West bust on East Industrial Boulevard, the home involved looked like any other, visible from U.S. Highway 50 near Purcell Boulevard. “We’re finding very nice homes, a lot of rental homes that are rented and people come in and they do their cultivation,” said Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office Captain Don Leach. “It’s going to look like everybody else’s house on the block, and that’s what they want.”
Leach says illegal growers (twelve plants is the limit under Colorado law) have become more skilled and savvy about concealing their operations. Electrical wiring modifications and additional air conditioners are more frequently kept out of view from neighbors or passers-by. “There was actually one (air conditioner) operating inside the garage. A large residential unit was inside the garage operating, which isn’t normal,” Leach said of the home in Pueblo West.
Neighbor Brian Lopez says he smelled marijuana coming from the Pueblo West home but didn’t realize the scale of the operation. “Two trucks, three trucks, we’d see that at night and we’re like, what’s going on? Why are there trucks out there,” Lopez said.