In 2008, the North Metro Drug Task Force raided a number of “high-end” homes in the Denver suburbs, seizing millions of dollars in drugs and cash. The houses were used as “grow houses,” where marijuana plants were grown. As a result of the raids, Dan Tang, a politically connected Thornton restaurant owner was arrested, allegedly as the ringleader of and the person who funded the drug operation.
The investigation–known as “operation fortune cookie”–may
have been compromised, however, because allegedly someone on the Task
Force wrote a letter to Tang, informing him that he was under investigation.
The letter was discovered when Tang’s house was raided.
Tang was charged with money laundering, but has not been charged with
any drug transactions. On November 20, 2010, he entered a guilty plea
to a single charge of money laundering. He will be sentenced on March
31. It is rumored that he will receive probation.
In a significant development, two of the former members of the Task Force
have filed suit a “whistleblowers” suit in federal court,
claiming that there was “corruption” within the Task Force,
and that when they tried to go up the chain of command in their respective
departments to report the corruption, they were rebuffed and told not
to cooperate in a Drug Enforcement investigation into the source of the
leak to Tang. The officers were subsequently removed from the Task Force.
Further complicating the situation, after the raid, Tang allegedly gave
$400,000 in cash to the former mayor of the City of Thornton and the same
amount to an attorney. Both were to hold the cash for Tang, allegedly
because authorities were in the process of tying-up Tang’s bank
accounts. A short time later, the money was returned to Tang. Neither
of these persons was criminally charged.
I will report further developments in this fiasco. Tang said he knew that
growing marijuana was illegal, but that he was dragged into the operation
by some of his relatives. Some of these other persons have already been
convicted. Tang’s attorney said that Tang had never seen a marijuana
plant or smoked marijuana. It is difficult to imagine how these facts
somehow mitigate the seriousness of what Tang did.Westword newspaper says
that the investigation revealed that Tang’s involvement in the drug
operation involved more than just supplying its financing.