Steamboat Springs Two men face felony charges related to a sophisticated Routt County marijuana-growing operation that police say was used to produce and ship marijuana to Illinois.
The charges stem from an investigation by the All Crimes Enforcement Team drug task force that led to the search of three area homes in March. While producing and consuming marijuana is legal in Colorado, it remains a crime to ship it to other states.
Two arrest warrants recently were issued for two men police say were involved in the operation. On Monday, Geoffrey S. Guinn, 29, turned himself in and was booked on charges of felony money laundering and two felony charges related to marijuana drug laws. There also are two sentence enhancers that would extend Guinn’s sentence if he is found guilty. He was released from custody after posting a $5,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Routt County Court on Sept. 24.
Alan Arce, 26, is the second man facing similar charges. Steamboat Springs Police Chief Joel Rae said Arce is being represented by an attorney and is expected to turn himself in.
Attorney Morley Swingle, of Parker, is representing Guinn. He said Guinn is cooperating with authorities and he intends to plead not guilty.
“With marijuana being legal in small amounts in Colorado now, this makes this a pretty interesting case,” said Swingle, a former state and federal prosecutor.
Swingle said that during the search of Guinn’s home, ACET seized a small amount of concentrated marijuana wax, a truck and $8,000 in cash.
According to Guinn’s arrest warrant, ACET officers found digital scales, a vacuum sealer and butane canisters.
“Guinn used a vacuum-sealing device to attempt to...(get) the marijuana past detection measures used by United States Postal Service,” the warrant states.
According to Guinn’s arrest warrant, Guinn spoke to ACET officers about how he had shipped marijuana to Illinois, and he had helped grow the marijuana with Arce.
ACET officials believe 70 pounds of marijuana was shipped across state lines at a price of $3,000 per pound. Police have said the person who received the marijuana was then mailing back cash. ACET originally learned about the operation from a suburban Chicago police officer whose agency had intercepted one of the shipments.
After searching Arce’s home, ACET officers found 48 plants and a room for drying marijuana.
“I had reason to believe the marijuana in the aforementioned drying room was going to be used for the next illegal shipment out of Colorado,” Guinn’s arrest warrant states.
During the search, Arce produced paperwork that showed he could have 99 plants and 33 ounces of marijuana for medical use.
Routt County Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Karzen explained why charges against Arce and Guinn were filed months after the original search.
“The execution of search warrants provides evidence,” Karzen wrote in an email. “After that, in order to ensure we do not make a hasty decision that will have a substantial impact on a person’s life, we take the time required to objectively evaluate the evidence, pursue any necessary follow-up investigation, and conduct any necessary legal research, prior to seeking an arrest warrant and/or filing formal charges. In this case, the evidence recovered pursuant to (the) warrant led to a substantial follow-up investigation which took some time to complete and review.”
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland