DENVER (AP) – A Colombian national who was arrested during raids on Colorado medical marijuana businesses says he was singled out for prosecution because of his race and nationality, according to federal court documents asking a judge to dismiss the indictment.
Hector Diaz, 49, was charged with possession of a firearm while in the U.S. on a business or tourism visa. He was arrested during the Nov. 21 raids on more than a dozen sites, many of them medical marijuana businesses in Denver and Boulder.
After Diaz's arrest, prosecutors released a photo they said shows him wearing a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency cap while holding two semi-automatic rifles and two handguns.
Federal law bars foreign visitors to the United States from possessing firearms without a hunting permit. But Diaz's attorney, Abraham Hutt, said in court filings this month that the distinction between visitors with permits and those without is unconstitutional. Diaz is being selectively prosecuted, Hutt wrote, noting that hundreds of foreign tourists visit shooting ranges each year without a permit. He said the government has "turned a blind eye to white and Asian tourists from countries such as Ireland, Canada and Japan committing the same offense."
Prosecutors haven't provided defense attorneys with the warrant used to search the upscale home where Diaz was arrested. But Hutt said that because his client "is a Latino from a country believed to be involved in the illegal drug business, he is being singled out for prosecution based on his race and nationality."
Hutt also argued that the indictment is a violation of Diaz's Second Amendment right to bear arms. Prosecutors have not responded to the motions.
Diaz is the only person known to have been arrested in the raids, which came in the weeks before Colorado allowed sellers of recreational marijuana to open for business. Prosecutors have not disclosed the reasons for the raids, nor have they said how Diaz's arrest was related to them.
In other recent filings, prosecutors have described the investigation as complex and continuing.