CEDAR CITY — Agents with the Iron-Garfield-Beaver Counties Narcotics Task Force have recently arrested several drug trafficking suspects following separate investigations.

Fifth District Courthouse, Cedar City, Utah, April 15, 2021 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

In one recent case, Matthew Skyler Lasley, 33, was arrested after he allegedly sold marijuana on multiple occasions to undercover informants. 

According to the probable cause statement filed in support of the charges, Lasley was arrested on Feb. 29 in Cedar City following an alleged drug deal involving a 17-year-old girl who was riding in the car he was driving. A search of the vehicle yielded a “large quantity” of marijuana, approximately $1,400 cash, a double-sided hatchet and various items of drug paraphernalia.

In another case earlier in February, task force agents arrested Bryan Shayne Smeets, 21, following an investigation that had started in January with multiple undercover purchases of marijuana and THC products. 

Smeets was arrested at his residence in Cedar City on Feb. 7 and has been charged with multiple counts of possession of drugs with intent to distribute, a third-degree felony, along with misdemeanor counts of possession of drugs and paraphernalia. 

Smeets, who is currently out on bail, made his initial court appearance on Feb. 26. His next scheduled appearance is a roll call hearing on March 19 before 5th District Judge Ann Marie McIff Allen. 

On Feb. 27, task force agents arrested Von Paul Reber, 63, in Cedar City on suspicion of selling methamphetamine, a schedule I controlled substance, on at least three separate occasions to an undercover informant. Reber faces three counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, with each being a first-degree felony. He entered not-guilty pleas to all three counts on Monday, March 11.

Reber, who reportedly has multiple prior convictions for drug distribution, is currently being held without bail in Iron County Jail. His next scheduled court appearance is a status hearing on March 18.

Iron County Jail, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 22, 2024 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

On Feb. 4, after Virgil Orlyn Widle, 50, was pulled over for speeding and arrested on suspicion of DUI, Utah Highway Patrol troopers found 1 pound of meth inside the vehicle, according to charging documents. The following day, narcotics task force agents, who reportedly had reason to believe Widle was selling and manufacturing drugs, executed a search warrant on his residence and storage unit. 

During the search, agents reportedly found seven pounds of marijuana, 367 grams of THC dabs, 2 grams of cocaine, along with various narcotic pills in baggies. The search also yielded 37 firearms and more than $4,000 in cash, charging documents state. 

Widle is currently being held without bail in Iron County Jail. His next scheduled court appearance is a waiver hearing on March 18 before 5th District Judge Matthew L. Bell.

On Jan. 16, following a six-month investigation, drug task force agents arrested 45-year-old Chad Edward Engstrom, outside his home. A subsequent search of a backpack found inside the residence yielded 27 grams of meth, approximately 100 fentanyl pills, many unknown pills and items of paraphernalia. Agents also found marijuana and 4.5 grams heroin, according to the charging documents. 

On March 11, Engstrom pleaded guilty to three counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, each a second-degree felony, with five other similar charges being dismissed according to the terms of a plea agreement. Judge Bell ordered Engstrom to be released to treatment and set his sentencing for April 22.

In early January, Tryston Griffin Evan Gillman, 20, was arrested by Iron-Garfield-Beaver Counties Narcotics Task Force agents who, acting on a tip that Gillman was selling marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms, paid him a visit at his home. 

“Once inside agents smelled marijuana and saw marijuana and paraphernalia all over the front living room,” the charging documents allege. 

As the two officers attempted to take Gillman into custody, he allegedly resisted arrest and assaulted both of them.

Evidence seized in a recent case involving the sale of psilocybin mushrooms and THC gummies, Cedar City, Utah, March 2024 | Photo courtesy of Iron-Garfield-Beaver Counties Narcotics Task Force, St. George News / Cedar City News

On Feb. 7, Gillman pleaded guilty to two felony counts of drug possession with intent to distribute, one of which was a second-degree felony and the other a third-degree felony; in addition one count of receiving a stolen firearm, a second-degree felony; and one count of assaulting a peace officer, a third-degree felony. In exchange for the guilty pleas, several other charges were dismissed. Gillman’s sentencing has been scheduled for March 20.

And in the most recent case, Nicholas Warino, 19, was arrested March 6 by task force agents who had conducted multiple undercover purchases of psilocybin mushrooms. After observing hand-to-hand transactions conducted in the parking lot of a gas station, agents pulled over Warino’s truck on March 6 and found in the center console 16 capsules that investigators described the “pill form of ‘shrooms,’” in addition to $1,500 cash in Warino’s wallet.

Then, after obtaining a search warrant for Warino’s residence, task force agents reportedly found and seized four firearms, 572 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, 3,101 grams (6.8 pounds) of marijuana, 69.9 grams of THC gummies and 54 grams of THC vapes. 

Warino made his initial appearance before Judge Bell in 5th District Court on Monday, March 11, after which he was released with conditions. His next court appearance, to be via WebEx videoconference, is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on April 2, before Judge Allen.

Anyone who has information about suspected illegal drug transactions and related activities is asked to call Cedar Communications dispatch at 435-586-9445. Tips may be submitted anonymously.

This report is based on statements from court documents and law enforcement officials and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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