Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jan 2012
Source: Standard-Examiner (UT)
Copyright: 2012 Ogden Publishing Corporation
Author: Scott Schwebke


OGDEN -- Indoor marijuana operations, like the one the Weber-Morgan 
Narcotics Strike Force reportedly discovered just before a deadly 
shootout earlier this month at the home of Matthew David Stewart, are 
not that common, a Drug Enforcement Agency official said Wednesday.

Most marijuana in Utah is grown outdoors, because there is plenty of 
open land and water sources, according to Sue Thomas, a spokeswoman 
with the DEA in Salt Lake City.

The main purpose for growing marijuana indoors is to keep the 
operation secret, Thomas said.

"It's to conceal it from law enforcement or other would-be drug 
thieves," she said.

An indoor marijuana operation also poses health risks to the grower, 
from mold that can form inside dwellings because of the moisture of 
irrigation and the heat from fluorescent lights used for growing, she said.

A dozen members of the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force were 
executing a search warrant at Stewart's home, at 3268 Jackson Ave., 
on the night of Jan. 4, when a gun battle broke out.

Stewart is charged with killing Ogden Police Officer Jared Francom 
and wounding of five other officers in the firefight. Stewart also was hurt.

A woman told police last year that she observed marijuana growing in 
the basement of the home.

The names of the woman and the suspect she reported have been 
redacted from Ogden Police Department documents obtained by the 
Standard-Examiner through a request under the Government Records 
Access and Management Act.

The newspaper requested police investigative reports related to the 
shootout at Stewart's home.

A woman told police on Sept. 15, 2011, she had personally seen a 
hydroponic marijuana-growing operation at 3268 Jackson Ave.

"She stated that it produces approximately 12-15 marijuana plants," a 
police report states.

Some of the marijuana was kept in a freezer, and some was sold, the woman said.

Typically, mature marijuana plants have a street value of $1,000 to 
$2,000 each, depending on quality, Thomas said.

A hydroponic system to grow marijuana involves the use of filters, 
buckets, tubes, fertilizers, planting soil, water and fluorescent lighting.

An officer stated in the report obtained by the Standard-Examner that 
he was unable to locate any prior drug activity related to the 
woman's allegations.

The report does not mention whether the woman's statement to police 
led the strike force to execute the Jan. 4 search warrant at Stewart's home.

Stewart, 37, has been charged with aggravated murder, seven counts of 
attempted aggravated murder and production of a controlled substance 
in a drug-free zone.

Stewart's house is directly across the street from a meeting house of 
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, making the house a 
drug-free zone.

Weber County Attorney Dee Smith is seeking the death penalty against 
Stewart, who remains hospitalized and under police guard.

Officers wounded in the shootout were strike force agents Shawn 
Grogan and Kasey Burrell, both of the Ogden Police Department; Sgt. 
Nate Hutchinson, Weber County Sheriff's Office; and Jason Vanderwarf, 
Roy Police Department. Ogden Police Officer Michael Rounkles also was 
wounded when he tried to help the injured strike force agents.

Burrell remained in fair condition Wednesday at McKay-Dee Hospital. 
The other officers have been released following treatment.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom