Price police on dinner break drug bust: ‘It completely came together right’
Mar 23, 2018, 11:23 PM | Updated: Mar 24, 2018, 10:48 am
PRICE — Just because they’re on break doesn’t mean police aren’t watching.
Three Price Police officers grabbing tacos Tuesday during a 10:00 p.m. dinner break said they spotted something suspicious at a nearby car wash, and the discovery led to multiple arrests and drug seizures in two counties.
“As we were eating, we watched (a car) pull up into the car wash bay and a car pull up nose-to-nose with it,” said Officer Tyler Cressall. “When we watched him get out of his car and get into the other car—that’s when we made contact with them in their vehicle.”
Cressall said the female driver, identified as Kylie Thompson, 19, threw a backpack in the backseat and the man also appeared to be trying to conceal something.
“We pulled both out of the car, and when we did I frisked the male for weapons, and I saw a glass meth pipe sticking out of his hoodie pouch,” Cressall said.
Cressall said the man, subsequently identified as Jonathan Croft, 32, also had baggies of meth and heroin.
“At that point, he was placed in custody and we interviewed people and got information that they were both there to have a drug interaction,” Cressall said.
Detectives said the officers discovered information that suggested Thompson and Croft were involved in “collaborative drug dealing activities.”
The initial stop, police said, led them to execute a search warrant at Croft’s home at 468 South 100 West early Wednesday morning.
Detectives said they seized a “sophisticated” surveillance system, along with paraphernalia, cutting agent, ledgers and a personal use amount of marijuana.
As officers were waiting to execute the warrant, investigators said a man and woman in a Chevy Cavalier registered to a Utah County resident pulled into Croft’s driveway.
Investigators said the two people gave suspicious answers to how they came into possession of the car, including not knowing the name of the car’s owner.
Police said the man, identified as Michael Helmlinger, 56, of Huntington, had a statewide warrant for his arrest.
After some tense moments in which officers said Helmlinger kept reaching for his pocket and then pulled out a BB gun that looked like a .45 semi-automatic pistol while saying, “it’s a fake.” Investigators said the woman, Andrea Tanner, 37, of Price, became visibly upset.
“The female subject started getting nervous, started crying and admitted that she had heroin in her bra,” Officer Nick Parker said.
Officers searched the car and discovered nearly two grams of heroin, more than 11 grams of meth, paraphernalia and alleged records of drug deals.
“We found ledgers detailing sales, who they sold to, how much, the amount, and they also, in one of them, wrote what they started with in drug weight and what they still had after each sale,” Parker said.
Police said investigative information led them to believe that Helmlinger was a partner to Croft, and that Croft was allegedly spending $5,000 to $10,000 a week bringing meth and heroin to Carbon and Emery counties.
“They split everything—money, drugs—even,” Parker said.
Information gathered by police led to an additional search warrant at a home in Emery County, where more drugs, paraphernalia and other “evidence of controlled substance distribution” was discovered and seized.
A post on the Emery County Sheriff’s Facebook page said the investigation led to a total of five arrests, but it was unclear late Friday the identity of the fifth individual arrested.
Croft, Helmlinger, Tanner and Thompson were all arrested and booked into the Carbon County Jail on suspicion of felony drug distribution and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, police said.
“This one—it completely came together right at the right time,” said Sgt. Stephen Regruto, who was also in on the initial traffic stop.
For the three officers, the added paperwork from their investigation was simply a ‘cherry on top.’
They went out to grab a bite, and instead took a bite out of crime.
“That’s what we do,” Cressall said. “That’s our every day job, looking out for stuff like that.”