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Major drug-growing operation discovered in a Tooele home

Police value the pot and mushrooms at about $40,000

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A Tooele man has been arrested in connection with a massive psychedelic mushroom-growing operation inside a home.

Agents from the Tooele Drug Task Force raided a home near 400 West and Vine Street on Wednesday, seizing more than 200 pounds of mushrooms and 30 marijuana plants growing inside the home. Police said the entire house had been converted to grow the illegal drugs.

"The whole house," Tooele Drug Task Force assistant commander Todd Hewitt said Friday. "Each stage of the grow was in a separate part of the house."

Police said the homeowner kept the place dark and they found a lot of water and fertilizer inside.

"He had all the growing lights, the potting materials," Hewitt said.

Officers also seized books downloaded from the Internet on how to grow marijuana and mushrooms.

The investigation began with an anonymous tip in December. Agents with the task force — made up of Tooele City police, Tooele County sheriff's deputies, Adult Probation & Parole, the Utah Highway Patrol and Grantsville police — began looking into the drug operation.

Tooele city police said this is one of the largest busts of illegal mushrooms they have ever made. The psychedelic mushrooms were growing in tubs, waiting to be picked, police said.

"There was also five pounds of packaged marijuana ready for sale in one-pound bags," said Hewitt. "There was about nine ounces of packaged mushrooms."

The task force estimates the mushrooms would have a street value of about $20,000. The marijuana plants seized would yield another $20,000 if cultivated.

Benito Cordova, 30, was booked into the Tooele County Detention Center on investigation of drug cultivation and possession with intent to distribute. Bail has not been set yet, jail officials said.

E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com