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Officers sickened by drug lab materials while responding to burglary call in Cottonwood Heights

Posted at 6:35 AM, Sep 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-12 12:04:53-04

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah -- Two officers were sickened Wednesday when a call about a burglary led to a bust at a suspected drug lab in Cottonwood Heights Wednesday morning.

Sgt. Dan Bartlett of the Cottonwood Heights Police Department said things began with a call about a burglary near 1200 East Waterside Cove, and when officers arrived they found the suspects in the parking lot.

Fox 13 News first heard report of the incident just before 5:30 a.m.

Bartlett said those suspects began "ditching drugs" before fleeing, but officers caught up with them and located their vehicle.  Bartlett said they deployed a K-9 and the dog indicated the presence of drugs in the vehicle.

Police secured a search warrant and began going through the contents of the suspect vehicle, which is when Bartlett said the two officers began to experience symptoms consistent with exposure to drug lab materials.

Mug shot: Daniel Orton

"Once they got in the vehicle, the officers started suffering like burning nose, burning throat," he said. "They were getting headaches, they found a bunch of glassware: and that's when the alarms went off for them. They thought that they had a meth lab."

The officers pulled back and called a hazardous materials team from Unified Fire Authority. Those units responded to secure the materials, and Bartlett said they suspect the home that was involved in the initial burglary report is the site of a DMT lab.

Bartlett said DMT is a psychedelic and a Schedule 1 controlled substance.

"So it's illegal for them to produce and to have," he said. "Very dangerous. It doesn't have the explosive components of a meth lab, but still very dangerous chemicals and obviously the officers got sick from it, so we just took every precaution."

Police took two people into custody at the scene. Bartlett said a man with a prior history of charges related to drug labs will be booked into jail. Police identified the man as 37-year-old Daniel Orton.

Bartlett said the other person is a woman who is 6-months pregnant and they "needed to get her some help." The woman was taken to a local hospital.

Police say they ultimately determined the pair had previously lived in an apartment at the complex but had recently been evicted. The burglary was reported when neighbors saw the pair allegedly trying to force entry into that unit to retrieve belongings.

Fox 13 News will update this story as more details emerge.