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Police Crack Colo.-to-Chicago Pot-Smuggling Ring



An undercover investigation into a Colorado-to-Chicago marijuana trafficking operation has led to four arrests and a raid on a 100-acre clandestine pot-growing operation in Elbert County, authorities said Monday.

The investigation began in March when U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents learned that people in Colorado Springs were sending big shipments of marijuana to Chicago, said Colorado Springs police spokeswoman Barbara Miller.

The probe grew to include the Illinois State Police, the Elbert County Sheriff's Office and the Metro Vice, Narcotics and Intelligence Division, a task force involving several law enforcement agencies in El Paso and Teller counties.

On Friday, Illinois State Police arrested four people in Chicago who have ties to that city, Colorado Springs and Elbert County, Miller said.

Daniel Haggerty, Matthew M. Tunzi and Anthony M. Munizzi were charged with felony cannabis trafficking, unlawful delivery of cannabis, and possession of cannabis, Miller said. The cases will be prosecuted in Chicago.

Another suspect, Mary E. Miller, was arrested and released pending further investigation.

Also on Friday, metro vice unit officers executed three search warrants in Colorado Springs and Elbert County, Miller said.

In Elbert County, investigators raided a remote 100-acre property where they seized 140 pounds of refined marijuana and 26 plants, she said. Officers found several growing operations in buildings and green houses along with outdoor pot crops concealed among large pine trees and rocky outcroppings.

"The entire location was used for the cultivation, manufacture, packaging and distribution of illegally grown marijuana," Miller said.

The investigation took root in March in Colorado Springs, where DEA agents conducted surveillance on several suspects and locations, Miller said.

Federal agents soon stopped a suspect vehicle and recovered about 8 pounds of marijuana, she said. This led to an undercover operation where marijuana was delivered to suspects in Chicago. There agents made arrests and seized money, guns, and narcotics.

In June, metro vice investigators raided a Colorado Springs house containing 42 marijuana plants, 3.5 pounds of pot and a growing operation for about 500 more plants, Miller said.

Last Wednesday, Illinois and Colorado investigations initiated an undercover operation that tracked the shipment of 50 pounds of marijuana from Colorado Springs to Chicago, Miller said. Metro vice detectives linked a suspect, who delivered the marijuana to Chicago, to the Elbert County growing operation.


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