Metro VNI Indictments

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In August 2016, detectives from the Colorado Springs Police Department Metro Vice, Narcotics, and Intelligence Division began an investigation into several illegal retail marijuana stores in the Colorado Springs area. Two of the main stores were identified as Hoppz’ Cropz Boulder, 2402 East Boulder Street, and Hoppz’ Cropz Delta, 2549 Delta Drive.

Detectives presented the case to a Colorado Grand Jury who later indicted a total of thirteen people involved in this criminal activity. All thirteen defendants faced an extensive list of felony charges as a result of these indictments.

On March 20, 2019, the last of those indicted was sentenced. All thirteen persons pled guilty to felony charges involving the trafficking of marijuana, weapons-related charges, and/or tax-related felonies. Three of those indicated face lengthy custodial sentences. Nathan Bernheisel pled guilty to a Class 2 drug felony (Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana), and was sentenced on March 20, 2019, to a four-year custodial Community Corrections sentence. Derrick Bernard took a guilty plea for the Possession of Weapons by a Previous Offender (a Class 5 felony) and was sentenced to 32 months in the Colorado Department of Corrections.

The person identified as the leader of this conspiracy, Joseph Hopper, pled guilty to a Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA) charge, a Class 2 felony, and a charge of Tax Evasion, a Class 5 felony.

After a custodial sentence, Hopper will face eight years of supervised probation. If he should violate his probation, the sentencing range for the

COCCA charge would put Hopper in prison for 8-24 years. The criminal enterprise of “Hoppz Cropz” was also levied a fine of $1,370,275.50.

During the course of this investigation, detectives estimated the marijuana sales through the stores at over 200 pounds. Firearms, currency, and other narcotics were seized in the over forty search warrants which were executed during the course of the investigation between August 2016 and May 2017. In the indictment, investigators with the Colorado Department of Revenue calculated that those associated with this enterprise had failed to pay taxes on approximately $257,880 of taxable income.

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