El Paso County Sheriff’s deputies assisted the Drug Enforcement Administration in executing search warrants in Peyton on Thursday morning, according to spokeswoman Jackie Kirby.

The actions were part of a multi-state investigation into the illegal distribution of marijuana outside Colorado.

Police and federal agents arrested more than 40 people and seized piles of pot plants and elaborate growing equipment Thursday during raids of about 30 properties which spanned from south of El Paso County to the north Denver metro area and are linked.

Illegal marijuana targeted in raids by feds, local officers across Front Range

In recent weeks, authorities have pursued drug traffickers who illegally grow marijuana in Colorado to ship to other states, where it can sell for more than double what it could in a legal pot shop.

Officials say traffickers have been moving from other states to seek safe haven in Colorado’s flourishing legal pot market.

A home in Peyton, near Hopper and Spur Ranch roads, was surrounded by authorities Thursday morning. It was one of four homes raided in the Colorado Springs and Monument areas under suspicion of being involved with marijuana grow operations, Gazette news partner KKTV reported..

The yearlong investigation that led to Thursday’s raids began after residents living near the grows complained about the smell of weed, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press. The official wasn’t authorized to comment on the ongoing investigation and did so on the condition of anonymity.

The official said the case involves people who moved to Colorado from Texas specifically to grow marijuana that would be illegally exported.

The North Metro Drug Task Force and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration referred questions to the state attorney general’s office, which refused to comment.

At one home in a residential neighborhood, agents confiscated grow lights and laid them on the lawn and driveway. In an industrial spot in Denver, large pot branches were stacked up in bushy piles outside a trailer and loaded onto a National Guard vehicle, the pungent stench drawing curious onlookers.

Traffickers hide among the state’s sanctioned warehouses and farms, but also in neighborhoods where concerned neighbors sometimes tip police, authorities say.

In Pueblo, seven separate investigations this month have led to the arrests of 12 people from Florida, many of whom are originally from Cuba. The Pueblo County sheriff’s office has said all were growing the drug for shipment to more lucrative markets. Some had relocated to Colorado just weeks earlier.

The Associated Press and the Denver Post contributed to this report.

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