Surveyor says he’ll be cleared in pot grow case
EAGLE COUNTY — Drug Enforcement Administration agents say Vail Valley natives Ted and Tom Archibeque were illegally growing marijuana in the Sweetwater area of rural Eagle County.
Ted Archibeque said they did nothing of the sort.
“When the truth comes out, I will be cleared of any wrongdoing,” said Ted Archibeque, who is the elected Eagle County surveyor.
The brothers were taken into custody Thursday and released without having to post bond.
Their arrest follows a Nov. 1 DEA action at which Eagle County sheriff’s deputies assisted.
According to a statement issued Thursday afternoon, DEA agents served a federal search warrant on property that they say Ted Archibeque owns. They claim the Archibeques knowingly allowed marijuana to be grown on the land.
The agents say they found 28 growing marijuana plants and 65 pounds of processed marijuana. They also say they observed what appeared to be recent construction of multiple greenhouses and an airfield.
It’s legal to grow marijuana in Colorado, but only if the growers are licensed by the state. The Archibeques do not have a grow license, according to Eagle County records.
Eagle County is home to three licensed industrial outdoor grow operations. The targeted property is not one of them, said the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.
No bond required
Eagle County Judge Katharine Sullivan released the Archibeques without requiring them to post bond.
Bruce Carey, Ted Archibeque’s attorney, said that the two being released on personal recognizance speaks volumes to him.
“Judge Sullivan seems to be well aware of what the purpose of bond is, and let them go on their personal recognizance,” Carey said.
Carey declined comment on the specifics of the case.
“If there is anything we learned from Martha Stewart, it’s that you should keep your mouth shut. I don’t know what they think my client’s involvement was until I get to read discovery,” Carey said.
It’s the law
Sheriff James Van Beek said marijuana enforcement is the law.
“We, as law enforcement professionals, value and respect the will of the voters who allowed the recreational use of marijuana, but we also have a responsibility to enforce the laws keeping our community safe and healthy,” Van Beek said. “We support and protect those who operate within the legal parameters, but will continue to seek out those who do not.”
District Attorney Bruce Brown cautioned that persons are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law, and that charges are merely accusations.
“Colorado has established a robust system for the cultivation of marijuana,” Brown said. “Law enforcement has a responsibility to enforce the laws and detect illegal grows to support the integrity of lawful operations, which includes a collection of tax revenue. Illegal operations disrupt a level playing field, which cannot be where one is subject to regulation and tax, and another where no rules apply. In this situation, the alleged involvement of a publicly elected official reflects poorly on the integrity of an elected office.”
Both Archibeques have been charged with knowingly allowing the cultivation/manufacturing of marijuana, a Class 1 drug felony. If convicted, they face a mandatory eight-year prison sentence.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935.