The Syndicate is an 8-episode, narrative podcast series about the rise and fall of one of the most sophisticated marijuana smuggling rings of the past decade. Host and reporter Chris Walker digs into how a group of college friends and family members gamed Colorado’s legal cannabis industry to hide a massive, black market operation. The group made tens of millions over a four year run, and even moved illicit pot across state lines using skydiving planes.
From laboratory explosions and daredevil pilots to undercover informants and buried bags of cash, much of the story plays out like a Hollywood movie. But Walker’s investigation reveals how the black market for cannabis is evolving in the era of legal weed, as well as how our country’s patchwork of marijuana laws has created new incentives for interstate trafficking.
Using his FIJ grant, Walker was able to file records requests and obtain over a hundred hours of videotaped interrogations that the State of Colorado conducted with members of the group. He also travelled across the country to meet with former members of the criminal enterprise to get their individual stories. The result is an unprecedented look into the inner workings of a modern day marijuana smuggling ring, with implications for legalization movements across the country.