A Miami man who was busted for trying to fence a half-million bucks in jewels is at the center of controversial raids on pot dispensaries in Colorado.
Juan Guardarrama, a 49-year-old with such a lengthy criminal record that cops called him "Tony Montana," was arrested in a Miami hotel room in June 2012. Last week, he was named one of ten target subjects in DEA raids on more than a dozen marijuana dispensaries, our sister paper in Colorado, Westword, reported.
The raids were particularly significant because Colorado recently approved recreational use of marijuana, which the federal government classifies as a narcotic.
Guardarrama is a Miami High graduate who studied at Miami Dade College, according to a profile by El Nuevo Herald's Melissa Sanchez. He's been arrested for pulling a gun on a driver on Ocean Drive, extortion, illegal bookmaking, and other offenses.
How exactly he is involved in Denver's pot raids is unclear. The feds haven't explained the raids, which also involved two private homes. An attorney for one of the owners of a raided dispensary said the cops took $1 million worth of plants -- and their only instructions were "don't plant more."
"There was no court order of cease and desist," attorney Skip Wollrab told the Denver Post. "No explanation."
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In August, the federal government stated it wouldn't interfere with legalization but added it would aggressively police crimes surrounding illegal cultivation and sales of pot. Among the crimes was moving pot to states such as Florida, where the drug is illegal.
After his arrest in Miami, Guardarrama moved to Denver, where he was busted this past February for jewel thievery. Guardarrama, a Cuban-American, has worked with Colombians and might have connections to drug cartels in that country. Westword wonders whether he might have "squealed" on the others and set off the raid.