September 28, 2023
Marijuana has been legal in Colorado for over seven years, and the 2020 election shows that states are still following suit. That doesn’t mean that Coloradoans face no rules when it comes to handling the substance, though.
If you are involved in any sort of out-of-state marijuana distribution, you are likely to face more than one charge. Some of these charges will be drug charges, while others may involve money, weapons, or elements that appear to be completely unrelated to the drugs themselves
A recent marijuana bust in Metro Denver is a reminder that selling out-of-state can land Coloradoans severe (and numerous) charges.
Denver Marijuana Bust Ends in 53 Criminal Charges
Earlier this month, a grand jury indicted six individuals with over 53 crimes. What did they do? Buy marijuana in the state, and sell it to out-of-state customers.
This wasn’t just one case of buying a gram and selling it to a buddy in Texas. Over one year, the six individuals spent over $665,000 at dispensaries and received over $923,000 in return.
You might be surprised, then, to see a list of the charges the individuals have against them:
- Marijuana possession
- Marijuana distribution
- Money laundering
- Money laundering concealment
Remember, these are federal charges. Learn more about how you may end up with a long list of allegations under a single drug trafficking operation. Let’s start with marijuana possession.
Why These Coloradoans Were Charged with Marijuana Possession
Going into a dispensary to buy a few joints is not a crime in Colorado. Buying a few joints in over 30 states. That is. Remember, marijuana is also still illegal at the federal level.
So when the federal government has already decided to prosecute a case, they typically hedge their bets, tacking on every criminal charge that could apply. Marijuana possession? If it applies, sure, why not?
State Vs. Federal Crimes
Even if the six individuals had kept their operation within the state of Colorado, they still might have faced federal penalties.
Why? They sent marijuana through the United States Postal Service. When you get a government agent of any kind involved, be it the DEA or the USPS, you might find yourself in federal court.
Concealing Your Crimes May Lead to More Charges
We don’t typically associate the term white-collar crime with drug operations. In the movies, one crime takes place in the office, and the other usually takes place on the streets.
Money laundering, however, is one of those terms that is easily associated with high-dollar drug trafficking. This is always considered a white-collar crime.
The reality is that trafficking operations — especially ones that involve hundreds of thousands of dollars — typically require a money laundering component, and this element always ends in bigger problems than they solve.
Trying to cover up the money you’ve made or the drugs you possess, plan on spending a few more years in jail for a conviction.
Money Laundering and Money Laundering Concealment
Looking at the Metro Denver case, it is fairly obvious that $923,000 doesn’t just appear out of thin air. Drug trafficking can bring in big bucks, but offenders may feel the need to hide this money from family, employees, business partners, or the United States government.
Their acts of concealing the origins of the “income” are considered money laundering concealment under state and federal law.
Money laundering can come in various forms, though, not just for drug trafficking. Maybe you place your cash in an offshore bank account and “forget” to report that income to the IRS.
Or perhaps you pay cash for a home “on the down-low” so you do not have to report the six figures you earned that year.
Any type of financial transaction (or attempted financial transaction) made with the intent to disguise criminal activity may be considered money laundering.
Wire or Mail Fraud
Money laundering isn’t the only “white collar” crime that you may face charges for following a trafficking operation bust. The Metro Denver suspects are accused of conducting their crimes over social media. What does this mean?
Any attempt that may have been made to defraud or obtain money “by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises” may be considered wire or mail fraud.
If a drug trafficker within the operation was following up on orders or they were pretending to be a licensed dispensary online, these charges apply.
What is one way to access medical marijuana or any other legal drugs that others may want? Obtaining a card or license. The fact of the matter is that not everyone goes about this legally.
Using another person’s medical records or information to commit a crime may be considered medical identity theft.
Identity theft charges can apply to a case any time another person’s name, personal details, bank account numbers, or private information is used in order to commit a crime.
Every Colorado Drug Trafficking Case Is Different
Does every drug trafficking case involve identity theft, money laundering, or illegally obtaining marijuana? No. Does every case reach federal courts? No.
Every drug operation is different, and the methods that offenders use to commit and conceal their crimes will vary. Weapons, property crimes, and other violent crimes may also occur while trying to obtain, sell, or move drugs.
This means having an experienced Colorado attorney advising and developing a defense based on your unique circumstances is your best bet for securing the best possible outcome to your case.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020 and is Lead Counsel rated.