Salt Lake man previously arrested in big drug bust faces new drug charges

A man arrested several years ago during a big drug bust in Cottonwood Heights is facing new charges of operating a drug lab to make bath salts.

A man arrested several years ago during a big drug bust in Cottonwood Heights is facing new charges of operating a drug lab to make bath salts. (Eddie Phantana, Shutterstock)


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SALT LAKE CITY — A man arrested during a major drug bust six years ago, but not convicted in court, is facing new charges of manufacturing drugs.

Daniel Jeffery Orton, 43, and Ethan Michaelson Pitts, 44, both of Salt Lake City, were each charged Monday in 3rd District Court with having precursors and/or equipment for a clandestine lab, a first-degree felony; and being a restricted person in possession of a weapon, a third-degree felony.

Orton received an additional charge of operating a clandestine lab, a second-degree felony. Pitts received additional charges of possession of clandestine lab supplies and drug distribution, second-degree felonies.

The investigation began on June 3 when a South Jordan police officer working with a Department of Homeland Security task force received information that Pitts was making bath salts at an apartment near 1100 S. Redwood Road, according to charging documents. A confidential informant "stated that Pitts has been importing chemicals from China in order to make his own bath salts," the charges state.

The apartment where the bath salts were being made was being leased to Orton, a known drug dealer, who was using an alias, according to the charges.

On June 5, police served a search warrant at the apartment.

"In Orton's room, a search discovered suspected bath salts, handwritten instructions for making bath salts and a handgun," the charges state. "The garage contained several chemicals and chemist equipment. The garage was turned over to Drug Enforcement Administration clandestine lab agents."

A gun was also recovered from Pitts' room, court documents state.

In 2018, Orton was arrested after a drug lab was allegedly found in Cottonwood Heights. A variety of drugs, precursor chemicals and an entire clandestine lab were seized. Police described the scene as being like a pharmacy.

"There's heroin, there's meth, there's suboxone, there's testosterone. There's a myriad of drugs in this kit. Unbelievable pills. A ton of pills," Cottonwood Heights Police Lt. Dan Bartlett said at the time.

Orton was charged with having a clandestine lab. But the case was dismissed several months later when the state was unable to proceed due to witness issues.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.

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