A clandestine drug lab was active and "cooking" methamphetamines during a Sunday morning raid when federal and local agents jailed four men and three women.
The lab contained enough precursor chemicals to have made about $2 million in finished methamphetamines. A small amount of finished product and a number of weapons were also seized, along with a second drug lab that was boxed and stowed in a West Jordan storage facility, said Drew Moren, Drug Enforcement Agency agent in charge for Utah. "The second lab was a total surprise. We had no idea we were going to get a boxed-up lab."Agents had been tracking the methamphetamine operation for about one month when enough evidence was collected to get federal search warrants for four separate locations: the working lab, operating in a barn at 10826 S. 1300 West; apartments in Taylorsville and Kearns; and the West Jordan storage facility where the second lab was seized.
Three of the seven people were arrested at the lab itself. Two others were arrested in Sandy after driving away from the lab minutes before the 7:30 a.m. raid. Three people were arrested at the Kearns apartment, two of whom were booked into jail.
State agents trained to execute raids on methamphetamine labs, which use ether and other dangerous chemicals, conducted the actual lab raid. A DEA chemist from San Francisco was also on hand to ensure the South Jordan lab was safely dismantled, Moren said.
Knowing when to raid the lab was somewhat of a guessing game because of the dangerous chemicals involved. "We were able to execute the warrant at a safe time - safer than it could be if they were in the ether stage. The whole thing has the potential of blowing up," Moren said.
The chemist working the South Jordan lab was cooking the chemicals under pressure, which made the lab more dangerous than most labs, Moren said.
South Jordan detective Dan Jack-man said the lab had only been operating in South Jordan for a week or so. South Jordan officers were called in to assist with the lab raid. West Valley City officers were involved in the raids on the two apartments, and Sandy and West Jordan police also played a role in the operation, Moren said.
Lab equipment had been carried to the address in a trailer that had apparently been used to move the lab from place to place on a regular basis to evade detection, Moren said.
A few loose ends remain, but Moren said he believes the principals in the drug manufacturing operation were arrested during the Sunday raid.