Tip results in Magna marijuana bust; $68K seized

Published: Friday, Jan. 4 2013 12:30 p.m. MST

From left to right, Lt. Justin Hoyal, Chief Jon Fassett and Sgt. Evan Mallas speak to the media at the Unified Police Department's Evidence and Special Operations Building following an impressive drug bust in Magna that yielded more than 43 pounds of marijuana and $68,000 in cash, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013.

Ben Brewer, Deseret News

MAGNA — A tip from the community resulted in Unified police detectives making a large marijuana bust Friday.

About 43 pounds of pot, 18 marijuana plants and $68,000 in cash were seized early Friday at a home at 8780 W. Edith Circle (3250 South).

What made the bust unique for officers was that the arrested homeowner, Mathew Lee White, 31, had no prior criminal history.

"It puzzles us, but money would be the primary reason why. My personal belief is this gentleman has been getting away with it for years and years and it's been lucrative for him. He's been under our radar, and without a concerned citizen coming forward, it would have been difficult to find him," said Unified Police Sgt. Evan Mallis, with the department's narcotics unit. "You don't just start a business like this and get this lucrative overnight. This is something, in my opinion, that takes years and years."

White was booked into the Salt Lake County jail for investigation of marijuana possession and possession with the intent to distribute.

Detectives believe the 43 pounds of marijuana was being shipped in from out of state and White would then allegedly sell that to lower-level dealers. Mallis said White would allegedly purchase his marijuana for about $2,400 and sell it for about $500 per pound. He did not have a regular job.

White was living with his wife and 2-year-old daughter. The investigation into where the drugs were coming from was continuing and charges were pending.

The key to Friday's bust was a tip from the public, police emphasized. Jon Fassett, chief of Unified police's Kearns precinct, encouraged the public to keep its eyes open for things like short-term traffic at all hours of the day and night, and not to be afraid to report suspicions.

"A tip doesn't mean that somebody is guilty. It's information that we use to follow up. And based on that information, we still have to develop all that's necessary to obtain a search warrant legally. A tip doesn't get us in the house, it just points us in the right direction," he said.

"Without an anonymous tipster, I don't see us getting this," Mallis added. "This gentleman had no criminal history whatsoever. For us to go in and have such a great find, we need citizens to be involved."

Tips to Unified police can be made by calling 801-743-3000, or by texting UPDTIPS to 274637, or by going to the website http://tipsoft.com/.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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