The Teller County Sheriff’s Office

The Teller County Sheriff’s Office took part in a multi-county bust of illegal marijuana grow operations said to be linked to an organized crime syndicate. Law enforcement found several locations with sophisticated setups for illegal grows with the intent to ship outside of Colorado and the United States.

Las Animas County deputies arrested a man in the Bon Carbo area on Tuesday after an operation by the Teller County Sheriff’s Office lead to him being identified as part of a group association with “black market marijuana cultivation and distribution.”

The Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office said they arrested 32-year-old Joseph Austin Vaquilar for unlawful cultivation, growing, or producing of 30, or more, marijuana plants, a class three drug felony. The sheriff’s office said Vaquilar was found with 1,019 plants being grown indoors.  

Said the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office, “(We) had developed information pertaining to an illicit indoor marijuana grow in this area and upon conclusion of their investigation, one male was arrested and 1019 marijuana plants were eradicated. The information developed in this case was used to assist Teller County and other agencies.”

Vaquilar posted bond on Wednesday.

The Teller County Sheriff said the operation also arrested people in Divide and Colorado Springs. They said they received calls about an illegal grow north of Divide and learned that Vaquilar’s address, north of Trinidad, was connected to the operation. After executing search warrants for the two locations Tuesday they learned of the third location in Colorado Springs in a 14-hour bust that spanned three counties.

“All three locations are believed to be tied together with several identified individuals acting in concert to produce and distribute large amounts of marijuana and marijuana concentrate throughout the United States and other countries,” said a release from Teller County.

Teller County deputies said the agencies seized over 1,500 marijuana plants and over $32,000 in cash. They are also anticipating more people being taken into custody on pending arrest warrants.

Also arrested were 65-year-old Javier Morejon and 55-year-old Robin Morejon.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is also credited with participating in the operation.

Meanwhile, in Mesa County on Wednesday, the sheriff’s office asked people to stay out of the Grand Mesa area because of an investigation into marijuana illegally grown on public lands. A Colorado Army National Guard helicopter was participating in the daylong operation.

Teller County said the two operations were not related.

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