Is Pueblo the Drug Bust Capital of Colorado?

Earlier this year, High Times announced that it would move its annual Cannabis Cup to Pueblo after it was forced to relocate the event from Denver. And while the plan subsequently fell apart (and the Cup headed to California, at least temporarily), the idea of the Cup in Pueblo made sense since the community has been viewed as one of the more marijuana-friendly in Colorado.

But that reputation appears to be changing in a big way.

The number of busts aimed at allegedly illegal marijuana grows has skyrocketed in the city, with another one taking place this week. Since mid-March, the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office has reportedly confiscated 5,900 marijuana plants and arrested 35 people in 25 homes.

Meanwhile, the PCSO has announced the breakup of a drug-trafficking operation with alleged links to a Mexican cartel — the conclusion of a months-long investigation that led to multiple seizures of methamphetamine, plus cocaine and heroin.

According to the sheriff's office, the investigation into the drug ring began in September 2015, with a traffic stop during which deputies found twelve pounds of meth hidden in the lining of a car seat.

Then, the following month, another traffic stop netted an additional eight pounds of meth that had been plastic-wrapped in fifteen separate packages and stored in the vehicle's gas tank.

The person to whom the meth was bound is said to have been Benito Granado-Valenzuela, a 46-year-old Mexican national who "has been deported several times and is currently in the United States illegally," the PCSO maintains.

The subsequent investigation reached fruition in May, when detectives with the sheriff's office learned that Aleyda Lopez, whose current address is in Arizona, was en route to Granado-Valenzuela's residence on the 2100 block of East Ninth Street in Pueblo with what's described as "a supply of illegal drugs."

After Lopez arrived, authorities executed a search warrant and found two pounds of meth, eight ounces of cocaine and ten ounces of heroin hidden inside a dog food bag.

In all, investigators have grabbed 21 pounds of meth since the inquiry began, as well as the aforementioned coke and heroin, a handgun and $21,000 in cash.

Afterward, Granado-Valenzuela was busted for suspicion of possessing a Schedule II controlled substance and three counts of conspiracy to distribute. For her part, Lopez was cuffed for possession.

In regard to the latest marijuana raid, it took place on the night of Monday, June 6, at a property on the 4600 block of Rock Creek Road in southwest Pueblo County.

The sheriff's office says deputies received a tip about an illegal grow on the property.

Upon their arrival, they found 245 marijuana plants and three pounds of dried cannabis in the foundation of the home, which is unfinished, as well as two nearby greenhouses. Estimated value: $247,000, by law enforcement's reckoning.

The person overseeing this crop was Bradley Glavin, thirty, who was living in a fifth-wheel trailer parked nearby. After the sheriff's office says he failed to produce "paperwork to substantiate the grow," Glavin was busted on suspicion of possession with the intent to manufacture and cultivate marijuana.

Oh, yeah: The PCSO reveals that deputies also received another report of a possibly illegal grow at a nearby property on Muldoon Road — but because the number of plants was within the legal limit, no action was taken against the resident.

This appears to have been an exception to the rule of late. Indeed, the Pueblo Chieftain recently asked Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor if the arrests were causing a strain on his agency's budget. He insisted that most of the raids had taken place during regular business hours. “I can’t say we haven’t incurred OT," he told the paper, "but not a substantial amount of it."

Look below to see photos from Glavin's grow, followed by his mug shot and booking photos for accused meth-ringers Granado-Valenzuela and Lopez.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts