In early January 2012, a local citizen was snow shoeing in the San Isabel Forest area off of Highway 165 in Rye, Colorado when he discovered what he believed to be a “Meth Lab”. Deputies from the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office responded and investigated the area. They came across what was believed to be a former illegal marijuana cultivation site.
Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Detectives began a surveillance of the area towards the end of May as the snow dissipated. They discovered two sophisticated operations that included water pumps, irrigation lines and fertilizer. The locations were strategically selected based on sunlight, water and the ability to conceal the sites.
After insertion into the grow site in June, Detectives discovered marijuana plants had been planted and were approximately 12-18 inches in height. Also observed were people under a man made lean-to shelter near the marijuana plants.
In early August, two more grow sites were observed by the U.S. Forest Service during a routine “fly over” of the area checking for beetle kill and tree damage. Investigation into these grows revealed a male party wearing camouflage in and around the grows. Corroborating evidence was gathered in order to obtain a search warrant for the area.
On August 15, 2012 Sheriff Kirk Taylor led a multi-agency operation known as “Operation Flypaper” to extricate the marijuana grows. The teams involved were the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, Narcotics Division, Special Weapons And Tactics team (S.W.A.T.), the Special Tactics And Techniques team (S.T.A.T.) and Emergency Services Bureau, the Pueblo Police Department’s S.W.A.T. team and Narcotics Unit, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Guard Counter Drug Task Force.
The teams successfully located and secured two (2) marijuana grow sites that were larger than originally anticipated. Sheriff Taylor believes these two sites may just scratch the surface and the total of marijuana plants may be in excess of seven thousand (7000). The street value of all suspected marijuana seized is approximately 15 million dollars.
Sheriff Taylor says there’s an indication this could be a Mexican drug cartel operation. “if you don’t think they’re here, they are and if we pass Amendment 64, there’s going to be a lot more of them,” said Sheriff Taylor.
Amendment 64 will appear on the November ballot. Voters will decide whether to legalize marijuana or not.
Two men were arrested without incident and were transported to the Pueblo County Jail. Four (4) other men were seen fleeing the area on foot and have not yet been identified or apprehended due to the vast terrain. There are no indications that the four (4) men who fled are in the area or are a threat to citizens.
Leon-Tobar, Luis (32 years old) and Resendiz-Soto, Abel (29 years old) are being held in the Pueblo County Jail with a $100,000 bond on the following charges:
Unlawful Distribution of 100 pounds or more of Marijuana 18-18-406(6)(B)(III)(C) – F3
Illegal cultivation of marijuana 30 or more plants 18-18-405 – F4
Illegal possession of marijuana more than twelve ounces 18-18-406(4)(c) – F6
Second Degree Criminal trespass 18-4-503 (2)(b) – F4
If you have any information about this case, please contact the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office (719)583-6250 or CrimeStoppers at (719)542-STOP.