Expensive homes in three Front Range counties have allegedly been rented by a couple who have used them to grow marijuana, according to the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department.
The suspects were identified as Brian Wayne Coplen, 24, and Melissa Violet Haraldson, 21.
The couple are accused of renting high-end homes in Arapahoe, Douglas and El Paso counties, often using stolen identities to shield themselves and to obtain the necessary utilities to carry out their marijuana-growing operations.
Authorities know of at least five properties where the couple grew marijuana, according to Sgt. Larry Etheridge, spokesman for the South Metro Drug Task Force.
The investigation began in late March, when Arapahoe County deputies werecalled to a home in the 3200 block of Lenaview Circle in Bennett on a report that marijuana was being grown in a home there.
The homeowner had been renting the property and called authorities after suspecting that the house was being used to cultivate marijuana.
Deputies called the South Metro Drug Task Force, which obtained a search warrant for the home and discovered what investigators described as a "sophisticated marijuana-growing operation" with more than 100 marijuana plants inside.
During the task force's follow-up investigation, Coplen and Haraldson were identified as suspects.
The task force said today that it is believed the couple utilized expensive rental homes in rural areas of Arapahoe, Douglas and El Paso counties to illegally grow marijuana.
Etheridge said that charges have been filed against the couple in connection with the alleged marijuana-growing operation.
He said that Coplen faces more than 20 charges. They include possession of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute, identity theft, money laundering, forgery and criminal impersonation.