The Home Front: Springs politicians blame ‘cartels’ for black-market pot. But ‘that’s not an accurate representation of what’s happening’

“A frequently used criticism by law enforcement of Colorado’s legalized marijuana industry is that it invited dangerous drug cartels into the state, where they operate in black market shadows,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “Law enforcement in El Paso, Teller and Pueblo counties say it in news releases when perpetrators are of Cuban or Mexican descent. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, said it in January, alleging ‘cartels have rushed into Colorado, resulting in 19 cartel operation busts in the last 18 months.’ … The shock value is immediate, as it conjures images of a city overrun by violence and corruption, mysterious disappearances and the most feared names of the drug world — names like Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman of the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel, now in U.S. custody, or the late Pablo Escobar of the Colombian Medellin Cartel. The problem is, that’s not an accurate representation of what’s happening, at least not in a way that law enforcement agencies have documented with provable data or resolved court cases. Rather than being widespread, the cartel activity appears limited in scope — small factions with possible ties to cartels instead of large, organized operations within the state.”

“It took 16 years to break Zane Selvans. He moved to Boulder in 2002 after completing his Ph.D., drawn by the desire to fight climate change alongside people as fiercely committed as he to creating a better world,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “He got involved in a number of civic and political causes, joined the city’s Transportation Advisory Board and advocated for many measures related to affordable housing. Surely, he thought, his fellow green-minded citizens would agree that more density and fewer cars were necessary solutions to a global problem, ones that aligned with Boulder’s values. Sixteen years later, Selvans has come to a different conclusion. “It was this long, stumbling realization that actually the city is full of (expletive).”

“Customers who purchase insurance through the state health care exchange could see smaller rate increases than in previous years, and some rates could decline,” reports The Durango Herald. “Across the state, insurance rates through Connect for Health Colorado are set to rise 5.95 percent on average, according to a news release from the Colorado Division of Insurance.”

“The lawyer representing Michaella Surat was admonished for his release of body camera footage showing her arrest to the Coloradoan and a Denver TV station,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “Judge Joshua Lehman, in an order issued June 4, found that defense attorney David Lane had violated one rule of criminal procedure but declined to make a ruling on whether Lane had violated a professional conduct court rule, as the District Attorney’s Office argued. Lehman said the Colorado Bar Association would be the more appropriate agency to make a ruling on the second claim. … On Friday, Lane took exception with Lehman’s admonishment. ‘You cannot admonish me for doing what is constitutionally permissible to do,’ he said. Lehman disagreed and said he would not rescind his order because the video released was different from what was released in a public hearing.”

“More than half of the acreage the Bureau of Land Management plans to offer in its Sept. 6 oil and gas lease sale in Colorado will entail national forest lands in Garfield and Mesa counties,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “The BLM said Friday that it plans to offer 20 parcels totaling about 8,160 acres at the sale. About 4,755 acres are south of Rifle and Rulison in the White River National Forest, with 160 of those acres in Mesa County and the rest in Garfield County.”

“You wake up one day and find your car ransacked, or worse, missing altogether. So you go to the police department to file a report,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “You’re ready to list what was missing, the details of your car, your own personal information, but the officer throws you a curveball: Could they collect your DNA? As a victim in a crime, your gut reaction might be ‘Why in the world do they need my DNA?’ But collecting ‘elimination DNA,’ as it’s called, is a common practice, according to Lawrence Kobilinsky, a professor and deputy chair in the department of forensic science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.”

“On my tour of the State Armory Event Center on Greeley’s 8th Avenue this past week, Justin Kleinsorge took me to a corner on the second floor,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “‘John Elway would have sat right here,’ Kleinsorge, the husband of building director Lindsey Kleinsorge, told me. ‘This was the raised booth area, and he would have sat in this corner right here. That’s the legend.'”

“U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton has received more than $1 million in contributions for his re-election in the 3rd Congressional District, giving the Cortez Republican a substantial lead in campaign funds over Democratic challenger Diane Mitsch Bush,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “Tipton is running for a fifth term in the huge district, which includes all of the Western Slope but juts east far enough to include Pueblo County. According to federal campaign finance reports for the period that ended June 30, Tipton’s committee had received slightly more than $1 million in contributions in this election and still had $775,000 on hand.”

“More than 30 water managers and state officials gathered in Glenwood Springs last week for meetings of the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Colorado River District, and most of them struggled to find good news to share with their colleagues,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “Instead there were tales of extremely low flows, dazed fish, stunted crops, discouraged ranchers, idle fly-fishing guides, early cattle auctions, burnt forests and rivers and streams blackened by ash runoff. “I’ve got to chime in on drought,” Mike Sullivan, the deputy state engineer at the Colorado Division of Water Resources, said Wednesday morning when various state officials were giving their reports.”

“The Silver Creek Fire has spread and closed the Sarvis Creek Wilderness Area,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “The Silver Creek Fire is just inside Sarvis Creek Wilderness Area on the eastern side of Gore Mountain near the boundary of the Routt and Arapahoe national forests. Though it is in Routt County, it is moving toward the Grand County line. According to Inciweb, the fire has grown to 85 acres in multiple directions, spreading southeast, southwest and northwest despite some rainfall and cloud cover Saturday.”

“An offender serving time at Colorado State Penitentiary for first-degree murder died Sunday after a fight at the facility,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “Mark Fairbairn, the public information officer for the Department of Corrections, in a press release said Thomas LaPerch, 27, died Sunday because of injuries sustained in a “serious offender fight” Saturday at the facility. The other offender involved in the incident was not identified.”

“Riding a bicycle 150 miles over a weekend is easy compared to what a family faces when a loved one has cancer, said Amber Dunlap on Sunday when completed the 29th Courage Classic, her sixth tour,” reports Summit Daily. “The Courage Classic is an annual two-day bicycle tour at Copper Mountain in support of Children’s Hospital Colorado. Around 2,000 people participated this weekend. No times were kept, no trophies awarded and organizers were quick to correct anyone who called it a race because everyone got a medal at the finish line. While the Courage Classic isn’t a race, the two-day tour stands as the hospital’s single-biggest fundraiser of the year, asking people to form teams and drum up money in support of the hospital and the people who seek care there.”

“Chloe Fasen, 15, was struggling to sleep at about 2 a.m. Sunday when she heard shouting outside the Westminster apartment she shared with her mother and two siblings,” reports The Denver Post. “She stepped onto the apartment’s balcony and heard someone scream, “Help me. I’m trapped. The building’s on fire.” Chloe bolted inside and woke her mother, Danielle Fasen, who ran to check the knob on the front door. It was cool to the touch. She opened the door and the apartment began to fill with black smoke. She couldn’t see the hallway and knew they couldn’t take the stairs.”

The Colorado Independent is a statewide online news source operating in a time when spin is plentiful, but factual, fair and unflinching news in the public interest is all too rare. Our award-winning team of veteran investigative and explanatory reporters and news columnists aims to amplify the voices of Coloradans whose stories are unheard, shine light on the relationships between people, power and policy, and hold public officials to account. We strive to report the news with context, social conscience, and soul, and to give Coloradans the insight they need to promote conversation, understanding and progress in this square, swing state we call home.


  1. Colorado’s legalization of pot has been compromised by the government’s appetite for tax revenue. It has become a cash cow with the result that the black market for pot continues to exist. One of the considerations for the legalization was to eliminate or suppress the criminal activity which leads some people to regard pot as a gateway drug. Granted, marijuana is usually not good for you. Alcohol addiction on the other hand is far more devastating in its effects on families and job performance. We should not be taxing anything to the point that the black market finds an avenue for cash. That means that legislators need to quit making trips to their candy store to feed their addiction to our tax money.


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