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25 pounds of meth seized, DEA says more to come

SALT LAKE CITY — The Drug Enforcement Administration said Monday on the heels of one of their biggest methamphetamine busts that there's more to come.

"We're pursuing a particular group, looking to push a case forward, which hopefully will lead to another seizure and additional arrests," Frank Smith, assistant special agent-in-charge for the Rocky Mountain Region of the DEA, said.

Sunday, the DEA announced it completed two actions simultaneously over the weekend: seizing 25 pounds of meth from a vehicle on I-15 and a "significant stash" of marijuana and weapons, including assault rifles, from a home in a gated community in Emigration Canyon.

Because of the sensitive nature of the case and the ongoing investigation, officials Monday were releasing few details about the seized drugs, including whether the two cases were related.

However, Smith said the amount of methamphetamine seized — a drug that is usually referred to in grams and ounces — was a good indication of the significance of the operation.

"Whenever you deal with that much methamphetamine, there's organized crime behind it — whether it's cartels, drug trafficking organizations — you can't have that much meth without having a significant infrastructure and there is a significant infrastructure in this investigation," he said.

A bust of 25 pounds of meth was the largest Smith had seen during his four years with the DEA. The drugs had an estimated street value of $500,000. The meth is coming straight from Mexico from so-called, "Super Labs," he said.

Smith estimated that 90 percent to 95 percent of all meth in Utah today comes from Mexico.

Large outdoor marijuana grows, like the kind found in remote mountain locations, and methamphetamine pose the two most significant threats to Utah, Smith said. He noted that all 25 pounds of meth that was seized was earmarked for Salt Lake County alone.

He said the only way to stop it was going to be a communitywide, tiered effort.

"You can't arrest your way out of these issues. We're naïve when we think law enforcement is the absolute solution," Smith said.

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