Huge meth bust may stop flow to Utah County


    By Annie Reynolds

    The Utah County Major Crimes Task Force recovered $170,000 worth of cocaine and methamphetamine after two arrests Wednesday. The seizure ended part of a month-long undercover investigation of drug trafficking and distribution in Utah County.

    The investigation culminated when officers coordinated a plan to arrest the two men suspected to be a distributor and drug runner of methamphetamine. Officers arrested Cesar Contreras, 27, in a planned traffic stop that resulted in the confiscation of over four ounces of methamphetamine.

    At the same time the traffic stop occurred, officers searched a Payson residence they believed to be the place of distribution of the narcotics. The search of the home resulted in the discovery of three pounds of methamphetamine, firearms and an undisclosed amount of cocaine. Miguel Trujillo, 22, from Payson was arrested as a result of the search at the residence.

    “We make drug busts daily but not of this size, this is significant amount of meth,” said Lt. Mike Forshee, field director of Utah County Major Crimes Task Force. “This guy was a large distributor here.”

    Contreras was booked into the Utah County jail on two charges of distribution of methamphetamine. Trujillo was also booked and charged with possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute and possession of a weapon by a restricted person.

    The Office of National Drug Control Policy reported that in 2002, methamphetamine abuse had become Salt Lake City”s biggest drug problem. During the first quarter of 2002, methamphetamine sold for $16,000 to $17,000 per pound and $1,000 to $1,500 per ounce.

    Methamphetamine is Utah County”s largest drug problem also.

    “Meth is the drug of choice,” Forshee said. “It doesn”t kill people as much as heroin does, buts it is the most prevalent drug in the area.”

    Although methamphetamine is the most used drug in the area, officials have had success in controlling its production.

    “Back in 1999 and 2000, Utah was dubbed the meth capital of the United States because we had more labs per capita than any other area,” said Kevin Taylor, deputy director of DEA Metro Narcotics Task Force.

    Since then, agencies launched a war on methamphetamine, preventing the prevalence of meth labs in Utah, Taylor said.

    “We made it much more difficult to get the precursor chemicals and we put a lot of the meth cooks into jail,” Taylor said.

    Forshee said the majority of methamphetamine is now coming from outside the area, a lot of it is produced in Mexico and then transported in.

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