A woman living in Monument's upscale King's Deer neighborhood said she was relieved that her many calls about a marijuana grow across from an elementary school didn't fall on deaf ears.
She watched Friday as Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided her neighbor's home at 19150 Breton Place, removing 4- to 7-foot plants and piling them 3 feet high in the driveway.
Children could be heard playing from the driveway of the home just west of Prairie Winds Elementary, 790 E. Kings Deer Point.
"To do that right next to a school in a house so open, I just think that's so bold of them," said the woman, who asked not to be identified.
The early morning raid was part of a federal investigation into drug trafficking, said Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office. He could not provide details, but the DEA tweeted that the grow is part of an out-of-state operation. It wasn't clear whether agents had made arrests.
Later Friday, DEA agents surrounded a home in Cascade, said El Paso County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jacqueline Kirby. The raid, which happened at 9625 U.S. 24, was connected to an illegal marijuana grow, Gazette news partner KKTV reported.
A storage unit was also raided, but the unit's location is unknown, KKTV reported. It is unclear whether the three raids are connected.
The home in Monument is in a pricey area where large yards and trees offer some privacy. The El Paso County assessor valued the home at around $589,000. Neighbors, however, said they had seen signs that something suspicious was going on.
The tenants began renting the property about two years ago and almost immediately started making home improvements, neighbors said.
One resident said he was surprised to see construction supplies backed up to the home but was told the residents were remodeling the basement.
A woman who lives nearby said she later saw the power company installing a second electric box on the house. Living "downwind," she said, she smelled marijuana "at all times of the day."
She asked local and state authorities to look into her suspicions that a large, illegal grow was underway there, but she said nothing else really stood out as concerning.
"Unless you were really looking, you wouldn't be suspicious," she said.
That's mainly because the Hispanic family living there was so "nice," always friendly, keeping up their yard and painting the house trim, neighbors said.
"The older man, he didn't speak much English, but we'd wave in the yard and he'd bring me a beer or I'd take him one," said another neighbor, also declining to have his name published.
Neighbors said they hope the case alerts others to be aware and to tell law enforcement when things don't seem quite right in their community.
"As a neighbor, you kind of accept it . . . but I didn't accept it," the woman said.
The Gazette's Ellie Mulder contributed to this report.
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