AURORA | A southeast Aurora couple has been convicted of several federal charges stemming from a massive black market marijuana operation they were running out of their home on East Doane Drive, according to the local U.S. Attorney’s Office.
A Denver jury determined Huanyu Yan, 54, and You Lan Xiang, 50, were both guilty of conspiracy to distribute at least 100 marijuana plants, possessing the same number of plants, and maintaining “a drug involved premises,” according to U.S. Attorney for Colorado Jason Dunn.
Yan and Xiang were among several people implicated in a massive Drug Enforcement Administration sting operation that fanned across the metro area to crack down on illegal marijuana grows in October 2018.
Investigators found 878 marijuana plants in the couple’s home at 20050 E. Doane Dr. as well as nearly 10 pounds of cured product. That combined amount of marijuana would have been enough to roll approximately 150,000 joints, according to Dunn’s office.
“This is an important verdict for the people of Colorado, who’ve been overrun by black market marijuana,” Dunn said in a statement. “This verdict sends a strong signal to anyone growing black market marijuana in Colorado that they can’t hide.”
Per state law, Colorado residents are permitted to grow up to 12 marijuana plants per residence, barring special circumstances. There are different limitations for medical marijuana users. The prior household limit had been six plants per resident over the age of 21, although a new law that took effect last year capped the number of plants per home at a dozen, regardless of how many people are living in the home.
Officials have said Colorado has become a hub for illegal marijuana operations since voters approved Amendment 64, which permitted the sale of recreational pot, in 2012.
“What’s happened in Colorado is you’ve seen these criminal organizations from all over the country move here to grow marijuana and then ship it, the black market marijuana, out of state,” according to Timothy Scott, acting assistant special agent in charge with the Denver division of the DEA, said shortly after agents served warrants Oct. 10, 2018. “I think there’s a mystique out there that maybe you can come here and do whatever you want, and that’s just not accurate.”
Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said last year that a pound of black market marijuana that sells for about $1,000 in Colorado can net as much as $6,000 in states without legalized regulation of the drug, such as Florida.
Aurora Police and the North Metro Task Force helped execute dozens of search warrants across east Aurora the same day investigators removed the plants from Yan and Xiang’s home.
The couple now faces a sentence of at least five years in federal prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 24, 2020.