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Jul 12, 2011 4:55 AM by Kate Richards

23 people indicted for smuggling marijuana

A grand jury has indicted 23 people suspected of bringing in more than 45,000 pounds of marijuana over about a year into the Denver area by hiding the drugs in tour buses from Mexico.

Authorities said Monday that a Jefferson County grand jury returned a 96-count indictment June 3 and that 18 of the suspects have been arrested.

Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey says the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas is believed to be involved in the operation.

Colorado and federal authorities say the investigation that began last year found buses traveling twice a week from Mexico to a suburban warehouse were carrying about 400 pounds of marijuana each time. The drug was compressed into bricks.

Authorities estimate the street value of the drugs smuggled at $36 million.

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