The best laid plans of pipes & men

Mapleton’s recent drug bust is no isolated incident.


Illustration by John-Ross Boyce

Pop quiz, hot shot: You’re running an illegal weed growing operation out of your home. You get a tip that the dreaded fuzz is on their way to put the proverbial kibosh on your little farm. You’re not going have the time to carefully move your beloved plants to a safe location. What do you do? What do you do?

If you’re like Rhett Summers, a 27-year-old resident of Mapleton, you try and incinerate your entire crop right in the fireplace of the very home the cops are about to descend upon­—not smart. Now your whole neighborhood stinks like a Phish concert and the harsh, offending smoke is very conspicuously billowing out of your chimney. At this point, you have no promise. See if Johnnie Cochrane will take your case and in the meantime, while you’re sweating it out over in County, try your damndest not to drop the soap.

On January 7, Mapleton police responded to a tip about individuals growing marijuana in their home. Officers arrived at 1650 W. Maple St. and immediately identified the smell of burning marijuana coming out of the home. A search warrant was quickly obtained, whereupon Mapleton’s finest confiscated over 60 marijuana plants, equipment used for cultivating, various drug paraphernalia (most likely bongs, pipes, blacklight posters featuring Bob Marley and a lion, etc.) and several firearms. Summers was arrested at the scene. Three days later, Dean K.Woods was arrested in Herriman.

Both Summers and Woods are being charged with possession and cultivation of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a firearm by a restricted person and obstruction of justice. With 60 plants, each plant possibly yielding up to a pound of smoke-able product, the value of the confiscated crop is estimated at about $62,000.

This is certainly not the biggest drug bust in Utah, by any means. Nor is it an isolated incident. Last month, four individuals were arrested in Ogden with a pound of methamphetamine, estimated to be worth around $26,000. In August 2010, Centerville police seized 35 pounds of weed from some idiot transparent enough to store his supply in a vacant home at – get this – 420 N. Main St. In April of 2010, six Mexican nationals connected to the Zetas drug cartel were arrested in suburban Riverton. Police found around four pounds of close-to-pure meth, a pound of heroin and a pound of cocaine. In December, Sgt. Troy Burnett of the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force told The Standard-Examiner that Salt Lake City has begun serving as a juncture point for drug running in the Northwest United States.

But Mapleton is no Salt Lake. In fact, Riverton, Ogden and Centerville are all larger urban and suburban communities with populations that dwarf Mapleton’s mere 5,809 people. Yet, with the exception of the Riverton bust, the value of the crop confiscated in Mapleton is one of the largest in Utah during the last year. It is most certainly the largest and most notable bust in Mapleton’s quiet history.

Some might find Mapleton an appropriate place to grow large amounts of marijuana, given that it is a comparatively more agrarian city than Ogden or Riverton. Summers and Woods’ operation was, however, running out of a house in a relatively suburban section of town – certainly not anything so rural and removed as to be free from the prying eyes or discerning sniffers of meddling neighbors.

Basically, with enough basement space and the right equipment, this trick could be repeated anywhere in Utah, from sleepy little Goshen to a basement south of BYU campus. Or even again in Mapleton.

“There could be other growing operations in the community,” said Dean Pettersson, Chief of Mapleton Police. “But, at this point, we don’t know.”

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