Salt Lake County sheriff's deputies Friday smashed their way into a west-side home they believed was being used as a drug factory, seized two men and two women and took two children into protective custody.
More than $100,000 worth of drugs and the chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamines were seized and an assortment of weapons confiscated, including two centerfire bolt-action rifles, a 12-gauge pump shotgun and a handgun.Deputies said they believe at least one of the four arrested was also arrested about 1 1/2 years ago in another drug raid at the same home, 4444 S. Honeywood Lane (4850 West).
Sheriff Pete Hayward said the home and its occupants have been under surveillance for more than two months. "We waited until the right time and then hit the place, hard and fast," he said.
"We had a no-knock warrant and used a battering ram to get in. We rounded up the four adults without incident. They were in the back of the home, in a bedroom making drugs."
Detectives took the four to the Salt Lake County Jail where they are being held until complaints can be filed Monday, Hayward said. Officers took the two children found in the home - two boys, one nearly 2 years old and another 11 - to a juvenile center.
Capt. Joe Gee, commander of the sheriff's Special Investigations Unit, said his deputies and members of the sheriff's Selective Deployment Unit, patrol deputies and Salt Lake County Fire Department paramedics and a hazardous materials unit were involved in the raid.
"We started our surveillance after complaints from neighbors and some tips. The way these people were making drugs the whole place could have blown up at any time. You could smell the chemicals all over the neighborhood.
"When we broke into the place, the smell was awful."
Salt Lake County Fire Department Battalion Chief Jack Shields said the chemicals found in the home are being handled carefully.
"This stuff is terribly dangerous - highly explosive. A wrong move by the people making drugs here and there could have been a blast that would have destroyed the home and part of the neighborhood."
Shields said the most dangerous chemicals found Friday were handled by hazardous materials experts and are being kept in a special bunker in the county so they cannot hurt anyone if they do explode.
About a pound of dried methamphetamines and several large bottles of less dangerous chemicals were taken by the Sheriff's Department as evidence.
Gee said his department will confiscate the modern split-level home, two pickup trucks parked outside in which drug manufacturing materials were found, a motorcycle parked near the home "and everything in the home and everything around it that we can."
Neighbors seemed generally, pleased with the raid. But Joan Connell, 4139 S. 700 West, who arrived at the home about an hour after the raid started, cried and complained bitterly about the two children being taken away from the home.
She said the two boys are relatives, and the oldest had been living with her. She said the older boy was just in the home babysitting the baby. I know he (the older boy) is afraid, and I don't know why I can't have both children."
Sheriff's officials said they would not release the two children to her but promised her they would be safe and well cared for.