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Arrests link meth, genealogy

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 5 2005 12:00 a.m. MST

Davis County sheriff's investigators are trying to determine the size of an operation that involved swapping methamphetamines for the identities of people who purchased products for genealogy research.

Three men were booked Tuesday in Davis County Jail for investigation of various forgery, drug and weapons charges.

About 10 p.m. Sunday, a deputy made a routine traffic stop in North Salt Lake but only discovered the true identities of the driver and passenger after having problems getting a valid license and registration from the driver, Davis County Sheriff's Lt. Brad Wilcox said.

The deputy obtained consent to search the car and found identification cards, drivers' licenses, Social Security numbers, blank checkbooks, passports and birth certificates, Wilcox said.

Also in the car was material for a meth lab, Wilcox said. The driver and passenger were arrested.

During the investigation, sheriff's officers went to a trailer in an industrial park in North Salt Lake. It's the place of business for Heritage Creations, which, according to its Web site, helps people do electronic research on their family histories, offers tours to Salt Lake City for genealogy research and has magazines on the topic.

Inside the trailer, officers found stacks of credit card receipts from customers of Heritage Creations, Wilcox said. They arrested the son of the owner.

"Customers would call in and do business, but he kept that information about the client and apparently was selling or trading that information to one of these guys for drugs," Wilcox said. "Meth was his drug."

The Deseret Morning News could not reach the owner of Heritage Creations Tuesday night.

Detectives spent the early part of this week going through the evidence they seized. They also have talked with the FBI, the Davis County Attorney's Office and the Utah Attorney General's Office, Wilcox said.

One arrested man is cooperating, Wilcox said, and detectives are tying to identify the full scope of the crime. They believe it was running for two weeks to a month.

"It's going to take a long time to investigate, to find out who the victims are," Wilcox said. "As with any identity theft situation, you don't know if there's an honest victim until one steps forward or until you investigate far enough to find it."

Anyone who recently purchased items from Heritage Creations is asked to call the Davis County Sheriff's Office at 801-451-4100.


E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com

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