4 with ties to Colorado marijuana accused of laundering

By: Associated Press
April 28, 2014 Updated: April 28, 2014 at 5:41 pm

DENVER — Four men with ties to last year's raids of Colorado medical marijuana businesses wired and laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars from Colombia to buy a Denver grow house, federal prosecutors said Monday.

The Colorado U.S. attorney's office announced international money laundering charges against Denver attorney David Furtado, 48, and dispensary operators Luis Uribe, 28, and his brother, Gerardo Uribe, 33. They are associated with VIP Cannabis, one of more than a dozen sites raided in November in the weeks before Colorado allowed recreational sales of the drug.

Furtado and the younger Uribe made their first appearances in federal court in Denver, but authorities have been unable to find the older brother. Hector Diaz, a Colombian man arrested on a weapons charge during the raids, was also indicted on money laundering charges and lying to authorities about the reasons for his visit to the United States. A federal magistrate ordered the indictment unsealed Monday, but it was not immediately available.

Among the allegations, prosecutors said the men hatched a scheme to divert more than $400,000 from Colombian banks into Colorado accounts to try to buy a warehouse for marijuana cultivation. Furtado, Gerardo Uribe and Diaz tried to conceal the source of the money by transferring it into a bank account associated with Colorado West Metal, which the U.S. attorney's office described as a shell company set up by Diaz.

Furtado is also accused of using his attorney trust account, held in the name of his law firm, to facilitate the purchase of the warehouse.

Attorneys representing the younger Uribe and Furtado declined to comment after the brief court hearing.

The raids on the medical marijuana dispensaries — in which federal agents pulled pot plants from warehouses and left them piled on the side of the road — were the biggest in the state industry's history. Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said the raided businesses violated guidelines issued last summer from the U.S. Department of Justice, which said the federal government would largely ignore states that flout federal drug law by allowing marijuana, as long as the pot business keeps the drug away from children, the black market and federal property.

"More than one of the enforcement priorities outlined in the department guidance are implicated in this ongoing criminal matter," Dorschner wrote in Monday's statement. He declined to elaborate.

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