An estimated $352,000 in marijuana snatched during a late-night drug bust Tuesday is believed to be Utah County's largest single seizure of the leafy narcotic.
Armed with a search warrant, members of the Utah County Major Crimes Task Force, made up of specialists from most Moun-tain-land law enforcement agencies, raided the Orem home of a reputed drug dealer at about midnight Tuesday.Searches at the home yielded only a small quantity of drugs and paraphernalia. But information received from informants and undercover officers during the search of the home allowed police to justify another search warrant for a near-by storage unit, 1060 S. State, where the bulk of the drugs were hoarded, said Orem Police Lt. Steve Clark.
A dog trained to sniff out illicit drugs immediately pinpointed the storage unit where 63 pounds of marijuana were found bundled in plastic wrap and axle grease.
Police also found 1.5 pounds of methamphetamine and one ounce of cocaine.
"The dog hit right on it and very aggressively," Clark said.
Police seized three vehicles and a motorcycle as well as the narcotics.
The seized drugs, packaged in 6-inch bales, covered two large banquet tables as Orem police dis-played them Wednesday morning at a news conference.
"I think we'll see the price of marijuana around here climb," Clark said. "We've taken a large supply away."
Two male Mexican nationals who had been deported in 1996 for prior drug offenses were taken into custody Wednesday. Both were booked into the Utah County Jail. The men likely will be deported by officials from Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Both men were arrested on suspicion of aggravated re-entry into the United States and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, methamphetamine and cocaine in a drug-free zone.
Undercover officers have been working on this bust for nearly three weeks, Clark said.
"This is by far the largest quantity of drugs we've ever seized," he said.
In the past year, the task force has recovered an estimated 10 pounds of methamphetamines.
"Ten pounds may not sound like a lot, but it's a lot to a doper or to a cop," Clark said.
The task force was created in July 1997 when the former Narcotic Enforcement Team and the Utah County Gang Project merged. A federal grant helps support the anti-drug and gang organization.