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.