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Marijuana: DEA pot raids tied to Florida jewel theft kingpin known as Tony Montana?

Outside a grow yesterday.
Outside a grow yesterday.

Although details are few about Colorado medical marijuana dispensary raids yesterday, we're learning more from warrants that name ten "target subjects."

These individuals allegedly violated one or more of the eight priorities listed in an August memo guiding U.S. Attorneys in dealing with state pot laws that contradict federal policy. One of those is money going toward a criminal enterprise -- and named target Juan Guardarrama is better known among high-dollar jewel thieves as "Tony Montana."

Back in June of 2012, Guardarrama was involved in another raid of sorts down in Miami; it was part of an ongoing, four-year investigation into jewelry heists and the selling of hot merchandise.

Juan Guardarrama's booking photo.
Juan Guardarrama's booking photo.

According to the Miami Herald, Guardarrama, 49, attempted to buy about $500k in what he was told was stolen jewelry from undercover cops in June of last year.

During the transaction, Guardarrama also allegedly explained that he was part of a medical marijuana operation in Colorado. He's said to have asked the cops out of the blue if they could help move "some of his Colorado-grown medical marijuana" into the Sunshine State.

That wasn't all. Guardarrama -- who also went by "Scarface" (Tony Montana was the name of the character played by Al Pacino in the 1983 film of the same name) -- then allegedly told the cops about a business partner he wanted "taken out." He reportedly asked the undercover cops if they would do the job for him.

Instead, Guardarrama was arrested on June 7, 2012 and charged with more than a dozen felony counts.

The arresting documents revealed a lot about Guardarrama. Included in them were several accounts of violence and threats to kill other people, such as a man who supposedly owed him $15,000 in gambling debts.

He later allegedly got into smash-and-grabs, targeting traveling diamond dealers -- and police say he was the ringleader of two separate gangs of Colombian and Cuban jewel thieves beginning around 2005.

Continue for more about Juan Guardarrama and his link to yesterday's raid on medical marijuana dispensaries.

A photo taken yesterday outside marQaha, a marijuana edibles business raided by law enforcement yesterday.
A photo taken yesterday outside marQaha, a marijuana edibles business raided by law enforcement yesterday.

Authorities say Guardarrama staked out diamond wholesalers and helped the Colombian gang find and rob the targets. The Cuban gang was better known for breaking into jewelry stores.

In either case, Guardarrama would be the fence who sold the diamonds for a profit. But things started to get hairy as other jewelry thieves began to get arrested. So, authorities say, Guardarrama moved on.

By 2010, Guardarrama had landed in Denver and, according to the state Marijuana Enforcement Division, became licensed to work in the medical marijuana industry.

He was not registered as an owner as of June 2012, when he was arrested. However, as we noted above, he was allegedly bragging about being able to move Colorado herb into Florida. He told the undercovers that he had two warehouses in Colorado and even pulled up a live video feed of one of the grows.

Fast forward to February of this year when Guardarrama pleaded guilty to organizing thefts and reselling millions of dollars of diamonds and other jewels. He was facing up to thirty years in prison, but he received a ten-year sentence, reportedly due in part to his "willingness to cooperate in bringing to justice" to other people involved in the jewel heist.

Could Guardarrama also have squealed on people in the Colorado medical marijuana industry? That's among the many questions that are being asked in the wake of yesterday's raids.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Multiple marijuana businesses being raided by DEA, IRS, Denver cops" and "Denver Post adding a weed editor -- but outsiders need not apply."