Drug Enforcement Administration


William T. McDermott, Special Agent in Charge

December 12, 2018

Contact: Special Agent Randy Ladd

Phone Number: (571) 387-2270

Denver DEA and Auto Theft Task Force take down black market marijuana & auto theft ring

DENVER - During the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018, investigators from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the CATPA Metropolitan Auto Theft Task Force executed eight search warrants on suspected illegal marijuana grow houses and locations where stolen vehicles were located in the Denver Metropolitan Area.

The search warrants were a result of a six-month investigation initiated by C-MATT. In collaboration with DEA, C-MATT was able to identify an organized criminal enterprise and multiple illegal grow operations in the metropolitan area. During the investigation, the identified individuals were found to be operating a scheme that involved stolen VIN-switched high-end and luxury vehicles as well as illegal marijuana cultivation and distribution out-of-state. Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Arizona, Maine, and California were among the states involved in this investigation. Approximately 17 stolen vehicles were recovered in relation to this case, with a total value of $1.2 million dollars.

“Criminal organizations use the marijuana industry in Colorado to operate in not only black-market marijuana cultivation and distribution, but also many other criminal related activities,” said Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Denver Field Division William McDermott.  In this case, multiple people were victimized through the theft of the vehicles and subsequent sale of the vehicles to unsuspecting buyers of the stolen high-end vehicles.  SAC McDermott also said, “This case is another example that demonstrates the great working relationship that the DEA has with State and Local law enforcement throughout the Denver metro area.”

C-MATT is a multi-jurisdictional task force in the Denver Metropolitan Area that investigates complex auto theft related cases. C-MATT is comprised of detectives from the Colorado State Patrol, Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Denver Police Department, Aurora Police Department, Lakewood Police Department, Wheat Ridge Police Department, National Insurance Crime Bureau [NICB], Colorado Attorney General’s Office, and attorney’s offices with Denver, Arapahoe County, Jefferson County, and Adams County. C-MATT is a grant-funded task force who receives its funding from the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority [CATPA] executive board. This board, through state legislation, receives $1 dollar from every vehicle insured in the State of Colorado; the money is then distributed to several auto-theft prevention groups, including C-MATT.

The 18th Judicial Attorney’s Office will be the prosecuting agency for this case.

For more information regarding C-MATT and C-MATT’s involvement with this case, please contact Kassie Borth at 720-595-7215.

For more information regarding DEA and DEA’s involvement with this case, please contact Randy Ladd at 303-434-8780.

DEA US Badge
United States Drug Enforcement Administration DEA.gov is an official site of the U.S. Department of Justice