The Syndicate

The Syndicate

Buried cash. DEA moles. Sibling rivalries. Skydiving planes. Fast cars. And an exploding hash lab. A group of college friends took advantage of Colorado’s medical marijuana laws to create one of the longest, most lucrative smuggling runs in U.S. history. But when a drug mule flipped, the whole enterprise came crashing down— and revealed how the marijuana black market is not just evolving in the era of legal weed, but thriving. New episodes publish Tuesday mornings.... Show More

Episodes

June 15, 2020 1 min
A group of college friends gamed Colorado’s marijuana laws and made millions in the most sophisticated black market growing operation we’ve seen in America since states began legalizing pot. This 10-episode, narrative podcast follows the group’s rise... and spectacular fall. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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August 11, 2020 33 min
In June 2014, a Kansas State Patrolman pulls over a minivan on a routine traffic stop, only to discover $374,000, a gun, and 66 pounds of pot stuffed into the rear luggage compartment. The roadside bust seems insignificant, but will ultimately lead to the takedown of a multimillion dollar criminal enterprise. Welcome to The Syndicate. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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August 11, 2020 42 min
Andrew Cohen moves to Colorado to help his longtime college friend Tri Nguyen start a marijuana business. But when Tri throws a duffle bag filled with cash and a GPS tracker off the side of a mountain in the Rockies, Cohen begins to realize the business is not exactly above-board. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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August 18, 2020 35 min
Tri takes his marijuana business from a cottage industry to full scale industrialization with growing facilities all over Denver. The weed mogul also devises ways to perfect his "caregiving" model to fool cannabis regulators, all the while hiding his criminal activities in plain sight. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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August 25, 2020 43 min
Even as the Syndicate's growing network expands, distribution remains a problem. Getting the organization’s product across state borders is as risky as it is profitable. And early on, the Syndicate goes through growing pains and personnel issues. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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September 1, 2020 43 min
Even as the Syndicate hits its stride as an illegal operation, Tri sets up a big play to go legal. He wants to leave the black market forever. But what will it take -- and what will the Syndicate sacrifice in order to go legit? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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September 8, 2020 45 min
The backstory of the Syndicate's kingpin. We explore Tri's motivations, his history with the Syndicate's key distributor in Minnesota, and why he reacted the way he did when things in Denver started to go terribly sideways. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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September 15, 2020 40 min
After Joe Johnson flips and becomes an informant, the noose starts to tighten around the Syndicate. In October 2014, police execute 18 simultaneous search warrants, bringing down the entire enterprise with SWAT teams and over a hundred armed police officers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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September 22, 2020 42 min
Lifelong friendships and familial bonds shatter as law enforcement pressures members of the Syndicate into ratting on one another to avoid lengthy prison sentences. But looking back, did their outcomes consitute justice? And what did “Operation Golden Go-Fer” mean for marijuana's black market? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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September 29, 2020 23 min
In this first bonus episode, Special Agent Steve Bratten with the Colorado Department of Revenue discusses the prior cases and investigative techniques he devised that informed his investigation of the Syndicate. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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An extended conversation with drug historian Emily Dufton about history of cannabis in the United States, the protagonists who shaped it, and what we might expect for nationwide legalization going forward. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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