Weber-Morgan strike force scores big drug busts

Published: Sunday, May 31 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Ecstasy pills pressed into the shape of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Barack Obama, Homer Simpson, Transformers, Snoopy and Bart Simpson were seized by officers of the Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force in North Ogden Wednesday during a string of three incidents involving large amounts of drugs.

Provided by Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force

The Weber-Morgan County Narcotics Strike Force scored a sort of hat trick this week with a series of drug busts and seizures in Ogden.

Lt. Darin Parke, force commander, said that the busts stemmed from three separate drug investigations that, by chance, were resolved in the same time period. All told, in a 36-hour time period the three incidents resulted in 11 arrests and brought about 500 pills of ecstasy and more than 15 ounces of methamphetamine under police control.

The bonanza began shortly after 8 p.m. on Wednesday when members of the force were informed that "low-level" drug use was happening at 652 E. 24th St. in Ogden. When teams arrived, Parke said, officers approached James Robinson, 41, at the residence and discovered a half-ounce of methamphetamine. A search warrant for the home was written and served.

As a search of the residence ensued, officers discovered a non-operating meth lab with the chemical precursors and glassware necessary to manufacture the drug. Robinson was booked into the Weber County Jail on investigation of possession of a meth lab and child endangerment.

"At the time of the arrest the children weren't present, but they had been living in the home," Parke said. "The lab was positioned between their bedrooms."

Three adults, a 12-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy had been living in the home.

As narcotics agents worked to dismantle the lab, officers with the North Ogden Police Department responded to complaints of a loud party at 455 E. 2175 North at about 2 a.m. Thursday.

At the party, nine people were arrested, including, Eric Woodard, 37, who was under investigation for drug dealing and had a warrant issued for his arrest out of Washington State for an aggravated crime that included a weapon.

Inside the house, officers discovered about 500 pills of ecstasy that were stamped in the shapes of President Barack Obama's bust and the cartoon character Snoopy.

"The pills look exactly like a children's vitamin and our concern is that kids won't know exactly what they are if it's offered to them," Parke said. "(The shape is) really an attempt to minimize the harm associated with the drug."

In recent months, Parke said, ecstasy pills have been collected that are stamped in the likeness of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and Simpson characters. He said the street value of each pill is about $20. The estimated values of pills taken in Thursday's bust was $10,000.

As officers were resolving the incident in North Ogden, the third case developed when Maria Reyes, 31, was stopped in her vehicle near her home at 184 W. Meadow View early Thursday morning. Police discovered two ounces of meth in the car the woman was driving and a search of her home followed.

Drug dogs from the Utah Highway Patrol arrived at the woman's house and discovered a hidden compartment in the gas tank of a car parked in the driveway where an additional nine pounds of meth were stowed, Parke said. A search of the back yard yielded an additional four pounds of meth that had been buried there.

"It was a crazy couple of days, and we were all working for nearly 36 hours," Parke said. "To have all this happen at once was just crazy."

The bust potentially disrupted the distribution of meth in Utah and neighboring states because of the sheer quantity, Parke said, saying that Reyes is among the larger drug dealers in this area. Agents also seized four rifles and two handguns from the house. Reyes was booked into the Weber County Jail on charges of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm by a restricted person and possession of a hidden compartment.

Reyes' husband, Melchor Reyes, 31, is still on the run and police believe he may be fleeing to Mexico.

E-MAIL: cnorlen@desnews.com

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