DENVER -- Some prosecutors in Colorado say they're noticing a new trend: An increase in murders motivated by marijuana.
In Aurora, the last 10 of 15 drug-related homicide cases were connected to marijuana.
Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said it's not the big-time dealers who are involved. For the most part, it has been the small-time ones on the streets.
In Jefferson County, a burned-up car had a dead body inside, and investigators later determined the victim was harvesting marijuana nearly 100 miles away in Agate. When he was killed, he was stuffed into the trunk.
"There is increased crime, sometimes violent crime, associated with legalization of marijuana," Brauchler said. "That's not what you'd expect. You'd expect the harder-core drugs."
Man recent marijuana murder cases involve small-time street dealers getting killed for their marijuana and money.
"If cash is the only way to acquire marijuana, crime follows cash," Brauchler said.
Mark Chafant, 19, is one of many victims. He was allegedly trying to sell a bag of marijuana to some teenagers when he was shot and killed. Calvin Banks and two other juveniles were charged with the crime.
Other cases involve local dealers accused of killing tourists. Brauchler believes the legalization of marijuana is partly to blame for the rise in crime.
"It is easier for there to be black market in a legalized system than there was before," he said.
Brauchler said until law enforcement figures out a way to slow the flow of black market marijuana and the cash that comes with it, the marijuana-related death rate in the state will continue to grow.AlertMe