ST. GEORGE — A package intercepted at the Parowan post office Monday contained nearly half of an ounce of methamphetamine hidden in a shipment of popular snacks.
An arrest was made, but officials did not immediately identify the suspect.
The package was shipped through the U.S. mail and authorities believe the majority of the drugs would have been sold locally, Parowan Police Chief Ken Carpenter told St. George News Tuesday.
The Iron/Garfield/Beaver Counties Narcotics Task Force spearheaded the investigation and seizure of the drugs.
Armed with a warrant, agents searched the package and found 12 grams of meth hidden in a box of Twinkies, Little Debbie snack cakes and a bag of Doritos chips, according to a statement released Monday by the police department.
The street value is estimated at just under $300.
A former agent with the Washington County Drug Task Force, who asked to remain anonymous, said methamphetamine prices have dropped dramatically over the last few years due to an increased supply.
The price has dropped more than 400 percent since 2010.
The Parowan Police Department employs five full-time officers, one of whom was assigned to the drug task force as a full-time agent a year ago, Carpenter said.
Monday’s arrest is one of more than 65 he has been involved in since he was assigned, and about a third of those involved drugs moving into the Parowan/Paragonah area.
Assigning an officer to the drug task force is critical in reducing crime across the board in Parawan, Carpenter said, adding that a majority of property crimes, theft and even violent crime in the area can be traced back to illicit drug use.
“We have drugs moving into Parowan and by dedicating one full-time officer to the task force we are reducing crime in just about every other area.”
Carpenter said that intercepting drugs means that is one less shipment that will be sold to Parowan residents and possibly reduce the criminal activity potentially associated with it.
“We would not be as successful without the relationships established, community partnerships and leadership of agency administrators,” Carpenter said.
The Iron/Garfield/Beaver Counties Narcotics Task Force is an agency that serves a three-county area of nearly 60,000 people, task force commander Jeff Malcom said.
The team works with police departments, as well as county, state and federal agencies to conduct investigations and make arrests.
Malcom said the task force has five officers, one from each of the participating agencies: Utah Highway Patrol, Iron County Sheriff’s Office, Parowan Police Department, Cedar City Police Department and the Beaver County Sheriff’s Office.
“So it’s basically five guys covering the three counties and we have extremely motivated agents that work very hard.”
The task force operates on an annual budget of about $68,000, with each agent’s salary covered by the police department they are assigned from.
Every year the number of arrests have increased, Malcom said. Last year, the task force had 142 arrests for the year, a number that will likely be eclipsed this year.
“We were at 84 arrests in the second week of June, and the year’s barely half over.”
Malcom said that if every crime, including domestic violence, property crimes, theft and violent crimes, were piled on a table and the illicit drug problem was removed, “a majority of those crimes would go right along with it,” he said.