Man gets probation for Battlement Mesa pot operation
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The final suspect arrested in connection with an illegal marijuana grow operation of nearly 900 plants near Battlement Mesa in November 2008 received probation Tuesday for his involvement.
Luis Luna-Flores, 32, was sentenced to three years of supervised probation and 80 hours of useful public service, among other stipulations. Luna-Flores pleaded guilty to one count of possession of more than 8 ounces of marijuana in late 2009.
In return for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped four felony charges of cultivation, conspiracy to cultivate marijuana, possession with the intent to distribute, and conspiracy to distribute.
On Nov. 28, 2008, Luna-Flores was driving a Dodge Caravan, which officers pulled over near the site, two days after officers confiscated the plants.
According to the officer’s statements in the affidavit, they returned to the site and witnessed Luna-Flores rush from the grow site to the Caravan, which was blocking County Road 309.
When the officers pulled the vehicle over, they discovered a black trash bag full of “stems” and another bag containing close to nine-and-a-half pounds of marijuana.
An August 2009 trial date was canceled after Luna-Flores fired his attorney in July of that same year. He entered a not guilty plea in March 2009. Another trial date was scheduled for this month. Luna-Flores represented himself after firing his attorney.
The two other men arrested in connection with the case were sentenced for their part in the operation in March 2009.
Humberto Bautista-Flores, 37, and German Ortiz, 27, also pleaded guilty to possession of 8 ounces or more of marijuana in February 2009.
Bautista-Flores was sentenced to 18 months in prison and two years of parole after his release. Bautista-Flores was given credit for 120 days which he spent in the Garfield County jail.
Ortiz received three years of probation. Similar to Luna-Flores, the two also had multiple charges dropped including cultivation, possession with intent to distribute and distribution of marijuana.
The three were arrested after the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team confiscated the plants, some as tall as 10 feet, in a canyon south of Battlement Mesa, after the landowner tipped off authorities of the operation.
Authorities stated in the arrest affidavit that they believed the grow was operational for “multiple years.”
The grow area covered about 150 yards, according to the report. Investigators also found hundreds of feet of hose, plant fertilizer, weed killer, and rodent poison at a camp near the site, along with sleeping bags, a tent, food, and several empty Vodka bottles.
According to court records, TRIDENT officers found medical records at a camp located near the grow site with the name “Flores” on them.
However, prosecutors had a tough time proving the extent of Luna-Flores’ participation in the operation. Throughout the case, Luna-Flores argued that he did not have anything to do with the grow and that he didn’t know what was in the bags that authorities discovered in the van he was driving.
Ninth Judicial District Court Judge Gail Nichols said that there was not enough evidence to determine the extent of Luna-Flores’ involvement in the operation.
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