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Officers seized tons of drugs over 2017, cocaine busts up from last year

UHP HEADQUARTERS – Police say they’ve taken in millions and millions of dollars worth of illegal drugs throughout 2017.  Investigators say they believe they know where the drugs are coming from and where they’re intended to go.

Over the course of 2017, public safety officers busted 227 people driving through Utah with drugs in their vehicles.  Utah Highway Patrol Lieutenant Jared Garcia says, “During those traffic stops, we were able to seize 4,050 pounds of marijuana, over 550 pounds of methamphetamine, and 46 pounds of heroin.”

Those numbers are on par with the amount of drugs taken in 2016, but, Garcia says there was a big spike into the number of cocaine busts.  “We seized 100 pounds of cocaine this year, whereas last year we had around 46 pounds or 42 pounds,” Garcia says, adding it may be partially due to the arrests made as part of Operation Rio Grande.

This adds up to several million dollars worth of drugs, Garcia says, although, no one has officially done the math to determine an exact dollar figure.  He also states they’re getting a clear picture of where they’re coming from.  “They’re coming from, primarily, southern California and Mexico, specifically when we’re taking about methamphetamine,” Garcia says, adding that most of the marijuana is coming from northern California.

Where are the drugs going?  Garcia says Utah is proving to be a destination and a pit-stop for traffickers.  “It’s being distributed all throughout our country.  We did have 40 cases, this year, that can be tied to Utah and the majority of them are coming into the Salt Lake Valley.”

Along with the drugs, troopers found restricted persons with firearms and groups conducting card-skimming operations.

(Photos: Department of Public Safety)