The toilet used to be a narcotics officer's worst enemy.

Many a gram of dope gets flushed away before cops - crashing through the front door with a no-knock search warrant - can get their hands on the contraband.A jury this week made life a little easier on those cops.

Jeff Hirschi, 22, was convicted Wednesday in 3rd District Court of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute for value even though detectives had none of the white, powdery stuff to present as evidence.

When Salt Lake County sheriff's detectives forced their way into Hirschi's home, 8894 S. 1240 East, on July 13, they found him in the bathroom and watched the cocaine go swirling down the commode.

Efforts by officers to retrieve the evidence were futile.

Detectives took a chance, though, and gathered all the drug-related items in the house. They took it to to the Salt Lake County attorney's office and got a complaint charging Hirschi with drug dealing and with destruction of evidence, of which the jury also found him guilty.

Deputy County Attorney Charles Marson prosecuted the case.

"It sets a real good precedent for us," said Detective Kendra Herlin. "Usually the county attorney's office won't file charges for us unless we have the actual dope."

Herlin said drug dealers often flush dope down the toilet but have also used washing machines to destroy the evidence.

"Marson took a chance on us and won."

Marson convinced the jury that Hirschi was involved in cocaine trafficking because of the hundreds of small packages, the scales, cutting agents and large sums of money that were found in the defendant's residence.