Four men arrested with 120 pounds of marijuana in Rifle, allegedly from a nearby mountain grow operation | SkyHiNews.com

Four men arrested with 120 pounds of marijuana in Rifle, allegedly from a nearby mountain grow operation

Glenwood Springs Post Independent staff report

A regional drug task force arrested four men found with about 120 pounds of marijuana on Wednesday in Rifle. A couple of the men said they were working at a grow site somewhere in the mountains.

A Rifle police officer on patrol spotted an SUV without working brake lights that evening. "As soon as [the officer] stepped out of his patrol car he could smell the overwhelming, nauseating smell of marijuana," according to an arrest report. He found the SUV's cargo area was full of large trash bags.

Rifle police informed Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team about the stop, reporting that they "could see marijuana on the parties in the vehicle and buds of marijuana on the floor of the vehicle." Four men in the SUV were arrested. Upon searching the vehicle, officers found seven large bags full of marijuana.

Officers noted that the driver was well dressed and clean, while the other three men were "disheveled and unkempt" and appeared to have been working.

The driver and one passenger refused to talk to investigators. But the other two told investigators that they had been working at a grow somewhere in the nearby mountains. They said they were hired in California, but they did not know whom they were working for.

One of the men told investigators that he had been in the area for only four or five days. But he could not identify where the grow was, as he was taken to and from the site in the dark. He estimated the grow was about 30 minutes to an hour out of town, but he didn't know in what direction. "Today he was told to bring everything off the mountain and get in the car. [He] did not know who the boss was or where they were going," according to an affidavit.

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During questioning, the other man "kept rubbing his thumbs together during the entirety of the interview and broke down almost crying at times out of fear," a TRIDENT officer reported. He said that he'd been promised to make $250 per day, and "had been told that he was going to come here and plant trees where a fire had burned through."

He said the driver was not working with them at the grow, that he only picked them up that day. "They had told him that if he talked they would kill him and his family," though he couldn't say who "they" were, according to a TRIDENT report.

TRIDENT officers believed that two of the men were "involved in intent to distribute" the marijuana, while the other two were only involved in its cultivation.

The two who refused to speak with investigators, which included the driver, were arrested on charges of possession with intent to distribute more than 50 pounds of marijuana, a Class 1 drug felony. The passenger was also arrested on felony cultivation of more than 30 marijuana plants.

The two who spoke to investigators were arrested on felony cultivation of more than 30 marijuana plants.

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