Investigations conducted by Carbon County authorities resulted in the arrests of seven people last week and the confiscation of drug paraphernalia, labs and a small amount of the suspected methamphetamine.
The first bust took place Wednesday at about 10:30 p.m. in Helper. The Dec. 19 incident began when Helper Officer Lynn Archuleta made a traffic stop and noticed suspected drug paraphernalia in the vehicle.
Archuletta followed the vehicle to a residence on Ivy Street and, when officers went to the door, they reportedly saw other drug-related materials obviously in view within the house.
The officers requested permission to search the home, but the residents purportedly denied the police access. At that point, one officer went to get a search warrant while the others watched the house.
After obtaining a warrant, the Helper police along with state corrections personnel and the Carbon County Sheriff's Office searched the house. The authorities reportedly found a meth lab and the paraphernalia that goes with it, a large amount of packing material and scales.
Three individuals were subsequently taken into custody. Arrested were Cathy Stevenson, 45, and Duane Stevenson, 46, of Helper. Also arrested was a parolee from Montana, Robert Perry, age unknown. All three subjects were booked into jail on felony possession of meth and drug paraphernalia charges.
The owner of the house apparently drove up to the residence during the search and, when questioned, was cited for a suspended drivers license.
"I just hope the bad guys see that we are working hard to eliminate these kinds of problems from out community," said Helper Police Chief George Zamantakis. "We are working aggressively to eradicate these kinds of activities. If they think they can come here to do this and be safe from the law they are wrong."
Early Friday morning, the Carbon Drug Metro Task Force and other local law enforcement agencies in the county went to four different locations simultaneously and arrested four suspects on meth-related offenses
Arrested were Kent Colton, Michael Skrull, Cally Talbot and Timothy Fratt, all of Carbon County. The action took place about 2 a.m. on Dec. 21 as the officers executed the search warrants. Three of the residences were in south Price and the other one was in Wellington.
"The investigation into this case began over a year ago when some of the suspects were seen buying precursor materials for manufacturing meth," indicated Sgt. Tom Stefanoff of the sheriff's department and a member of the Carbon Metro Drug Task Force. "By Thursday about 1 p.m., we had obtained enough information to obtain search warrants."
According to Stefanoff, the drug task force had interviewed people and watched the residences long enough that the authorities felt confident about taking action.
From the time the warrants were issued and served, the residences remained under constant surveillance. When the action took place, it was a large operation.
"We simultaneously served four residences which involved 30 officers," explained Stefanoff. "We had members from the task force, Price City Police Department, the county sheriff's office, Helper City Police Department, Utah Highway Patrol, adult probation and parole and the Wellington City Police Department."
The various charges the four suspects were taken into custody on included possession of a clandestine lab, unlawful possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Skrull was also arrested on some outstanding warrants.
The suspected meth lab confiscated by the investigators was reportedly complete, but was boxed up and not running at the time of the warrants being served.
"One of the suspects had a camera surveillance set up and the monitor was located in the room where he was when we served the warrant," pointed out Stefanoff. "He knew we were coming."
The operation ended at 5 a.m., when the suspects were booked into the Carbon County Jail.
The suspected meth that was confiscated by the law enforcement authorities was not a significant amount.
"It appeared the last cook they had done had been done the night before," stated Stefanoff.
The scale of the investigation into the suspected meth operation and the culmination of the incident last Friday represented landmark case for law enforcement in Carbon County.
"These guys did a lot of work to put this thing together," commented Price Police Chief Aleck Shilaos, referring to the members of the drug task force. "They deserve a lot of credit and a congratulations from the community on this type of work."