No one was home when Carter County deputies and Lighthorse police served a search warrant at a South Carter Road residence late Friday. But when the 33-year-old man who occupied the residence found out lawmen were at his house he agreed to come home. And he almost did, before changing his mind and trying to outrun officers in a field near the house.Matlack Smith

Sheriff Milton Anthony said the search warrant was obtained based on information gained during an investigation into allegations  was using the house to sell methamphetamine. The search warrant was executed about 11 p.m. Although Smith wasn’t home, the sheriff said “items of evidence” were seized.

And then the unusual happened.

“The owner of the home contacted Deputy Gus Handke (lead investigator), and advised him she had made contact with Smith and he told her he was willing to return to the house,” Anthony said. “Deputy Handke told her to tell him that was a good idea.”

While some of the lawmen waited at the house, others “staged down the road.” Anthony said about midnight a car approached pulling into a nearby driveway and then immediately backed out and attempted to flee. The car was stopped. Smith bailed out, backpack in hand, and tried to outrun officers in an open field. During the chase Smith abandoned the backpack. However, he was caught and the backback recovered.

The backpack contained 7 grams of a substance that field tested positive as methamphetamine, as well as scales and other items used to sell the drug. The sheriff said Smith also asked for a cigarette from a pack he claimed was his. He then changed his mind and denied the pack belonged to him when he realized even more methamphetamine, packaged for sale, was stashed inside.

Meanwhile a 37-year-old Mannsville woman, identified as Misty D. Matlack and a passenger in the car, was detained when it was discovered she had a used syringe in her pocket that tested positive for methamphetamine, as well as a container that held another 2 grams of the drug.

Smith was booked into the Carter County Detention Center pending a charge of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Smith has a criminal history of drug convictions and also faces an outstanding arrest warrant issued in January when he failed to appear for sentencing after pleading guilty to a similar charge.

Matlack was jailed on a pending charge of possession of methamphetamine.

Anthony said no drugs were found on the driver of the car, who voluntarily appeared at the sheriff’s department and submitted to an interview. He was later released.

“Those who sell drugs don’t take time off for a holiday and neither do we,” Anthony said talking about the fact the investigation rolled into the July 4th holiday.

Sending money by check might not be as safe as you think.

A group of people addicted to methamphetamine started an illegal check washing scam to bankroll their habit.

 U.S. Postal Inspector Troy Sabby says it’s a fairly simple crime, “You get a chemical, you put it in a little wash bin, you can put a check in there, and the hand written ink will come off, and you can therefore use that check and put whatever you want in there.”

Ten con-men were making checks out to fake names and producing phony ID’s.

 “These people were able to get a hold of blank temporary driver’s license copies – and so then they were able to put whatever information they needed on there and they were very good at it,” said Sabby.

Sabby says the many times the losses were personal when checks were sent as gifts.

 “There were checks that were going you know to nephews and to grandchildren for birthdays and you know they find out later that their grandchild didn’t get their check and you know what is that kid thinking on their birthday and It’s a very hard crime for the victims to wash what they did to them away.”

Postal Inspectors advise that you check your bank and credit card statements daily to make sure there are no erroneous charges.

The Strip lures people in with its lights, exclusive clubs and extravagant shows, but underneath its beauty lies a darker world. It is a world known as Sin City, where addictions can run wild. Narcotics are plentiful in that atmosphere.

For many drug users, it starts with innocent curiosity, but in this 24-hour town known for its easy access to the excess, curiosity can lead to a lifetime struggle.drug_addictions_p_0

Nevada is the fourth-leading state for drug overdose mortality rates, with 20.7 per 100,000 people suffering drug overdose fatalities, according to a 2013 report by Trust for America’s Health, a Washington, D.C.-based health policy organization.

The number of drug overdose deaths — a majority of which are from prescription drugs — in Nevada increased by 80 percent since 1999, when the rate was 11.5 per 100,000, the report stated.

“Addiction and alcoholism is in any neighborhood, everywhere and anywhere,” said Heather Frost, director of the Women & Children’s Campus at WestCare, a nonprofit that includes services from substance abuse to homeless and runaway shelters, domestic violence, treatment and prevention and mental health programs.


Almost four years ago, Henderson resident Joe Engle came home to a hot house in the middle of July. He saw his son’s car in the driveway. It was around 1:30 p.m. when he noticed his dogs’ empty water bowls. He knew something was wrong.

After seven months of being clean, Joe’s oldest son, Reese, had died from a heroin overdose.

“It doesn’t matter where you live; addiction doesn’t discriminate, and it seems like it’s being more and more marketed towards suburbia,” Joe said. “If I had a chance to do it all over again, I would lock my son in the room, and I wouldn’t let him leave.”

Stimulants, including methamphetamines, are most commonly cited among primary drug treatment admissions in Nevada, according to the Nevada Control Update 2010 report.

Joe describes his son as an intense young man who was high on testosterone.

“He had a lot of girlfriends at a young age and was always on the move,” Joe said.

When Reese was in junior high school, things started to change. Little did Joe know that Reese and his younger brother Dylan began experimenting with painkillers.

“I’ve been drinking and smoking weed since I was 13,” Dylan said. “It was a natural progression for me to move along to something heavier like painkillers, but toward the end of my addiction, it became really expensive.”

Things quickly progressed.

Soon, there were constant fights inside the household. Joe’s sons had run-ins with the law, and money was always an issue.

Despite his son’s erratic behavior and trouble at school, Joe said he missed the initial signs that Reese had a problem.

“I may have dismissed it as puberty or written it off as stress,” Joe said. “I remember I had taken him to a halfway house, and he was 18 years old. He had his hoodie on, and his face was sunken, and he was pale. I remember distinctly asking myself, ‘How did my son turn into a junkie right in front of my eyes?’ ”

Despite knowing that his older brother died from a heroin overdose, Dylan switched to heroin because it was cheaper, and he enjoyed the “energy and enthusiasm” it created.

“I was so heavily addicted that my brother’s death didn’t faze me,” Dylan said. “I didn’t believe it could happen to me. Heroin took away all my worries and all of the fear that I had. It made me feel like the confident and outgoing person that I wanted to be. It was a euphoria.”

After Reese’s death, Joe started the There is No Hero in Heroin Las Vegas chapter to raise the curtain on the epidemic of heroin addiction. The nonprofit educates youths on the danger of drug use and provides scholarships for youths to get into sober living.

“There’s nobody who suffers more than the parent of a drug addict,” Joe said. “To watch somebody that you raised and sat up with when he was 4 years old and he had an asthma attack, and you spent the night in the hospital with him, and you sat there and patted his back all night long, and he looked up at you like you were his hero, and you couldn’t do anything wrong with him. To know that I don’t have any defense, that I cannot fix what’s wrong with him — that’s harder than anything that I had to go through myself.”


Australia native and president of WestCare Alumni Nevada Barbara Starzynski said she began experimenting with drugs when she was 8 and stole cigarettes. At 13, she tried marijuana and ecstasy.

Almost 20 years later, Starzynski moved to Las Vegas because she craved adventure.

“In the beginning, it was difficult. I was without family and friends. I didn’t know this city, and in all honesty, the city is very challenging. The good and the bad of Las Vegas swept me up,” Starzynski said. “I was into a lot of different things — the party scene, the gang scene and the drug scene. That’s kind of where my addiction really took off.”

In 2008, after trying cocaine, she was introduced to methamphetamine through a club promoter at a nightclub.

That initial taste, which Starzynski describes as “an instant euphoria and a numbing feeling,” turned into a $200-a-day drug habit.

Methamphetamine is a poison. It consumes you from the inside out,” Starzynski said. “It swallowed me as an individual. It swallowed my soul. It destroyed me internally and made me into a criminal at times.”

Soon, her family stopped talking to her, and her physical appearance became depleted. At her lowest, she weighed 112 pounds. Her skin was colored with what she describes as “a gray kind of tinge,” and she did not eat or sleep for days at a time.

After giving birth to her daughter, Child Protective Services took her away.

“I wasn’t only addicted to drugs and alcohol, but I was addicted to the street life and the hustle and the game and the fast pace of Las Vegas,” Starzynski said. “As an addict, I used it to cover my feelings. It numbed me from depression and isolation.”


Dylan may have been one of the lucky ones.

Just last month, he said his 21-year-old friend died from a heroin overdose.

With support from family and willpower, Dylan went clean on May 24, 2012.

“Before I got clean, I spent a month and a half working and staying at my uncle’s house only to pick up heroin after work and go to my room and sit there alone,” Dylan said. “It was the most detached I’ve felt. It was that inner darkness that I felt sitting in that room that made me want to change.”

He soon moved into sober living and kept himself occupied.

It was then that he was able to grieve for his dead brother and escape the grip of his addiction.

“If parents think there’s a problem with their children using drugs or alcohol, then there probably is,” Joe said. “Take action, and don’t give up hope. While they’re breathing, there’s still hope.”

While Joe may question his sons’ paths in life, Dylan said that his drug dependency formed because of a void he felt he needed to fill.

“I came from a great family that raised me well and provided me with everything,” Dylan said. “There was no reason for me to become a drug addict. There was nothing my mom or dad could have done differently. It was just something inside my mind that felt off. I dealt with that my whole life until I found drugs and alcohol to fix that insecurity.”

Starzynski had her breaking point from methamphetamine after visiting her 6-week-old daughter at Child Haven.

“I picked her up from the foster mom, and she wouldn’t look at me, and she was having an anxiety attack,” Starzynski said. “She didn’t know who I was, and she didn’t recognize me as the familiar, safe person that I was supposed to be for her. I wanted to do anything not to have that happen again.”

Once at the Women & Children’s Campus at WestCare in the northwest valley, Starzynski learned that she was an addict —something with which she never associated herself.

“I was doing drugs; I never thought I had a problem,” she said.

She soon began receiving treatment.

“You never really overcome addiction. It’s a lifelong process,” Starzynski said. “An addiction is something greater than me. I’m that person where one drink isn’t enough, and one drug isn’t enough. It’s beyond me as an individual, and it’s something that has a hold on me that I have to be aware of.”

Frost said the key to success is honesty, willingness, openness and the ability to be extremely vulnerable. Alyson Martinez, deputy director at the Women & Children’s Campus at WestCare, added that the client has to want to change first and foremost.

Martinez said that, recently, WestCare officials saw a heroin wave, but last year, synthetics such as bath salts and synthetic marijuana were popular. Methamphetamine, prescription drugs and heroin are constantly an issue, she added.

“A person in recovery is never recovered,” Frost said. “That doesn’t mean they’re struggling their whole life. It just means they have a healthy respect for the disease they have. It takes sometimes going through the gates of hell to rise up into heaven.”

A majority of respondents to the Lebanon Daily Record’s weekly poll said a multi-effort approach is the way to combat methamphetamine addiction in the area. 5599a2eb885aa_image

For the first time in 10 years, Missouri is not leading the list of states with most meth labs, instead ranking third, with 1,495 meth labs found in 2014. The 25 percent drop from the previous year’s total could be a result of changing enforcement tactics or new, more powerful drugs being imported from Mexico, according to Third is still very high atop the list of 50. So meth is still a major problem in the Show Me State.

The poll area residents took online last week asked what can be done in Lebanon and Laclede County to address the methamphetamine addiction problem in the area. The poll offered the following options:

  • More anti-drug education in the schools
  • Stronger law enforcement measures
  • More effective rehabilitation programs
  • A law regulating pseudo ephedrine sales
  • All of the above
  • A solution other than those listed
  • Nothing will help

A total of 274 people responded to the poll, and nearly 39 percent of all responders said all the above measures of more regulations, rehabilitation programs, stronger law enforcement and education in the school systems are the answers to mitigating the meth addiction issue in the area. The next two highest responses were stronger law enforcement measures at 19.3 percent and more effective rehab at 18.2 percent.

EDMONDS, Wash. – A man suspected of burglarizing at least three homes while high on meth was captured Friday after a wild foot chase through an Edmonds neighborhood, police said.

The incident unfolded in the 18400 block of Homeview Drive when a homeowner called 911 to report that a bare-chested man had broken into his house, said Sgt. Shane Hawley of the150703_edmonds_burglary_660 Edmonds police. When confronted, the suspect ran out of the house without harming the homeowner or his family.

As the suspect continued to run around the area, other homeowners began calling 911 with sightings of the suspect. He then broke into a second home nearby and stole food, Hawley said.

Local police and Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputies brought a K-9 police dog to the scene to track the suspect. Meanwhile, another homeowner in the area spotted the suspect on the roof of a house.

When officers arrived at that house, the suspect was already off the roof. The police dog then led officers to a large storage shed nearby, where the suspect was hiding in the loft with the doors barricaded.

The man refused to surrender and ended up fighting with officers. He was finally subdued and taken into custody with the assistance of the police dog and a Taser. He was evaluated by medics and taken to the hospital.

The stolen food was found inside the shed, and police determined that a third home had also been burglarized during the crime spree.

The suspect, later identified as a 30-year-old Bellevue man, admitted to being high on methamphetamine at the time of the burglaries, Hawley said.

He was booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of multiple counts of burglary.

Authorities say they arrested a Rome woman Friday after items she had on her tested positive for meth5597699f6bd15_image

According to Floyd County Jail reports:

Bailey Anastasia Warren, 27, of 410 E. 19th St., is charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug-related objects.

Police found Warren with a needle and some cotton that had a substance on it. That substance later tested positive for meth.

Warren had no bond Friday night.

Officers in the process of serving warrants on a Faust Street man on June 28 discovered he had an active methamphetamine lab “bubbling” in his vehicle.

Robert Lee Kearse IV , 34, 388 Faust St., was charged with possession/manufacturing of methamphetamines, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of controlled substance and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Dilon Malcolm Padgett, 21, of 219 Apache Road, Bamberg, who was with Kearse, was charged with possession/manufacturing of methamphetamines and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The two men were arrested when officers went to serve warrants on Kearse related to a June 1 incident after spotting him in a vehicle with Padgett on June 28.

The warrants stemmed from an incident in the parking lot of the New China restaurant when officers had approached Kearse after seeing him driving erratically and then parking in a manner as to take up multiple spaces. He was compliant but fidgeting and “tweaking” as officers questioned him about his involvement with methamphetamines, the report states. Kearse admitted he had recently smoked some meth and had some in his possession, the report states.

A search of the vehicle turned up meth, Xanax and drug paraphernalia, according to police. There were three juveniles in the vehicle with the man during the June 1 incident. Warrants were sought at that time.

On June 28, officers approached Kearse in the Bi-Lo parking lot to serve the warrants. While being placed under arrest, he told officers that he had a “bottle” in the vehicle, the report states. Due to their meth training, officers understood that “bottle” meant a pot lab which, if active, could explode, the report states.

Donning protective gear, officers searched the vehicle and located an active lab in the process of bubbling and “cooking” behind the front passenger seat, the report states. Additional drug paraphernalia was located in the vehicle, according to police.

VERNON – Police seized what they describe as a mobile meth lab Thursday after getting a call about an “over-due” party.

On Thursday, shortly before 1 p.m., troopers were called to the area of I-84 west bound on the exit 67 ramp to locate a red Ford Transit van being operated by an “over-due” party. Police said the van’s driver, Sheng Clevenger, had not arrived at his destination and was considered missing along with his passenger, a 17 year old girl.meth-labasadada

The troopers quickly found the red van parked in the McDonald’s parking lot, off of I-84 exit 67. Police went up to the van and talked with the Clevenger and the girl and noticed a large amount of chemicals in the van.

The troopers recognized that the chemicals were used with the production of Methamphetamine, and that the van may be a mobile Meth Lab. Troopers immediately evacuated and the area and contacted the Connecticut State Police North Central Narcotics Detectives, Vernon Fire Department, DEEP HAZMAT Team, and the DEA. The Vernon Police Department and the East Central Narcotics Team were also on scene.

State Police North Central Narcotics Detectives and Special Agents from the DEA took the Meth Lab apart and seized a number items as evidence. The hazardous waste and explosive chemicals and materials were seized by DEEP HAZMAT. They also seized a facsimile handgun.

Clevenger and the girl were taken into custody. Police contacted the girl’s family and the Department of Children and Families and took her to the Hartford Juvenile Detention Center.

Clevenger, 24, of Salisbury, North Carolina, was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine, Drug Factory, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Weapons in a Motor vehicle, and Reckless Endangerment.

He was held on $500,000 bond and will be arraigned in Rockville Superior Court on Monday.

The girl was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine, Drug Factory, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Weapons in a Motor vehicle, and Reckless Endangerment and will appear in juvenile court.

A Central Point man and former Klamath County jail deputy arrested in February on more than 30 sex-crime charges was sentenced to seven years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to 13 of them.

Darin Lee Mullica, 41, had sexual relations with a 17-year-old girl over several months in 2013 and 2014 and made video and photos of the encounters, according to a 32-count indictment filed Jan. 21. Darin Lee MullicaInvestigators also believe Mullica had given the girl methamphetamine, the indictment states. Mullica was arrested by authorities in Littleton, Colo., on Feb. 22 on a Jackson County warrant and had been held on $1 million bail. Sheriff’s investigators said they believed Mullica had shared some of the images with other people in person and online.

Mullica unsuccessfully attempted to have evidence seized by investigators under a search warrant thrown out, and had planned to present an affirmative defense to the charges at trial, saying he didn’t know the girl was a minor and was thus unaware he was producing sexually explicit images of a child.

Mullica pleaded guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court to five counts of second-degree sexual abuse, four counts of first-degree encouragement of child sexual abuse, three counts of first-degree possession of material depicting the sexually explicit misconduct of a child and delivery of methamphetamine. Other charges were dismissed under the plea agreement.

Judge Kelly Ravassipour sentenced Mullica to a total of 84 months in state custody. He’ll also have to register as a sex offender.

Under his plea, Mullica will be eligible for sentence reductions and alternatives and may receive credit for time already served. He avoided a potential Measure 11 sentence of 70 months in prison without parole or early release consideration.

The Herald and News in Klamath Falls reported in 2001 that Mullica, a former corrections deputy in Klamath County, had been arrested on charges of official misconduct and coercion for allegedly pressuring two female inmates into having sex with him. In 2002, he was convicted of two counts of first-degree official misconduct and sentenced to 30 days in jail and 48 months’ probation. He was later named a defendant in a lawsuit brought by one of the inmates against the county, which was later dismissed. State records show Mullica’s law enforcement certification was revoked in 2002.

MAHOMET — Shanna Biggs was in her mobile home in Candlewood Estates early Friday evening when she heard a loud boom.

She and her mother, Debbie Bathe, assumed someone in their large mobile home park, on the east edge of town, was setting off fireworks again.

“We’ve been hearing them the last three days,” she said.

But when Biggs, who set out to visit a friend, rounded the street corner and saw her co-worker’s home, she suspected more than fireworks. Fire trucks were parked outside, and the glass in a northeast window of the home was blown out.

Soon the word on the street was a suspected methamphetamine lab had exploded.

“It’s more surprising than anything,” said Biggs, who works with James Payne, one of the people staying at the home.

One man remained hospitalized Saturday following what police say was a meth lab explosion at the trailer, at 362 Logan St.

Jerrad Ryan, whose age and address weren’t available, is being treated for burns at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, according to Champaign County sheriff’s Deputy J.R. Meeker. Ryan’s condition was not available on Saturday.

Sheriff’s investigators continue to investigate the explosion, Meeker said. He added no arrests have been made yet.

The explosion occurred at 5:44 p.m. It blew out a bedroom window on the northeast side of the trailer, which sits across from the park’s swimming pool and community building. It also blew the bedroom door off of its hinges and into the hall.

The Cornbelt Fire Protection District had set up fans to ventilate the trailer, Meeker said.

“There was no active fire at the residence,” he added.

When deputies arrived, they saw a broken window and glass fragments lying in the yard and Logan Street, Meeker said. They also saw torch marks on the siding underneath the window.

“Based on preliminary statements, it was determined it was a small meth lab explosion in that room,” he said.

Meeker said James and Casey Payne were at the residence when the explosion occurred.

“They said they were staying at the residence, which belonged to Casey’s parents who were out of town,” he said. The couple also said they allowed Ryan to come over, and “he cooked meth.”

Meeker said Ryan — whom his department isn’t familiar with — was at large when deputies arrived. However, while a deputy was speaking to a 911 dispatcher, officials at Carle Hospital in Urbana called the communications center to say Ryan had been treated there for burns to the arm, and was being loaded into a helicopter to be taken to the burn unit in Springfield.

After getting permission from the homeowners, deputies searched the trailer to make sure there were no other active meth labs or dangerous components lying around, Meeker said. They also took photographs and surveyed the scene. That’s when they noticed the bedroom door lying in the hall. They also found burned plastic bottles lying in the window sill.

“It appeared that the meth lab was a one-pot cooking or shake-and-bake method,” Meeker said. “They’re just putting all of the ingredients in one container.”

Bob Sisney — who lives a couple of trailers down on Logan Street — said he and a friend were outside working on his sidewalk and landscaping when they heard glass shattering.

“My friend thought it was someone … throwing glass in the Dumpster,” he said, pointing to the garbage bins next to the community building. “I said, ‘No, it’s too close for the Dumpster. I thought it had to be a wreck or something.”

When the men looked up, they saw smoke pouring out of the neighbor’s window, and the wind was carrying it their way.

“I noticed a really foul smell. It didn’t smell like wood burning,” said Sisney, who immediately was concerned for two small children who were at the house. Police said they weren’t inside at the time.

“Then I saw this dude running out of the house as hard as he could,” Sisney continued, adding the man was wearing jeans cut-off shorts and no shirt. “He ran to his van out in the street. He took off tearing down the road like a bat out of hell. (The van) had Indiana plates, so we assumed he was high-tailing it back to Indiana.”

Sisney said then, a woman came out of the trailer, grabbed a garden hose and “started to put out whatever was there.” He said police cars, as well as a crowd of curiosity-seekers, remained on the scene when he went to bed that night.

Sisney and Bathe both said they were surprised to learn about the suspected meth lab.

“It’s a trailer park. There are going to be trailer park people living here,” said Sisney, who has lived there for several years. He said he waves to the older couple who own the home where the explosion occurred, even though he doesn’t know their names.

“But there’s usually not any kind of trouble, at least that I’m aware of,” he said.

He pointed out that Holly Cassano was murdered in her mobile home in the park 5 1/2 years ago, but that was before he moved in. The 22-year-old’s stabbing death remains unsolved.

Candlewood is a very nice place to live,” added Bathe, who has lived there two years. She said it’s full of families, and the owners keep the place up. “It’s like a little town. We’ve never felt unsafe.”

Biggs said she works with James Payne at the Caseys on Prairie View Road, where she’s an assistant manager.

“They’re good people,” she said.

Officers were sent to Wal-Mart, 2900 S. 9th, where they met a 42-year-old woman who said she was shopping at the store when she was accosted by an unknown man at knifepoint.

The woman told police the man started leading her to a restroom, but she pulled away and screamed. The man then punched her on the side of the face and started leaving Wal-Mart.

A store manager confronted the man and he threatened the manager with the knife. He was seen leaving the area in a white Ford Crown Victoria.

An officer later located a vehicle matching that description in the 1300 block of Crescent. Officers were able to locate the man in a residence in the 1300 block of Crescent and arrested him at 9:44 a.m.

Police have identified the man as Jerrid Logan, 31, of Delphos, Kansas. They say he had methamphetamine in his possession.

Logan was arrested and police are requesting he be charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, battery and possession of methamphetamine.

Drug sniffing dogs can be helpful for police patrols, which turned out to be the case when a traffic stop in Shawnee resulted in the discovery of more than 3.5 pounds of liquid methamphetamine, police said.

Shawnee Police Sgt. Dan Shumaker said Sgt. Jon Goss was working traffic interdiction on Interstate 40 when he stopped a vehicle near U.S. 177 for a tag violation and other improper equipment.

“Sgt. Goss observed the occupants were acting very nervous and moving a lot in the vehicle,” he said.

Goss, a K-9 handler, conducted a K-9 sweep of the vehicle with the help of his K-9 partner, Rambo, who alerted on the vehicle.

As a result, police found digital scales and two packages of a liquid substance that tested positive for methamphetamine, Shumaker said.

“The total amount of methamphetamine substance recovered was over 3.5 pounds,” he said.

Arrested at the scene on complaints of aggravated trafficking were Kenneth Vigus, 34, Joshua Law, 33, and Kristina Armijo, 29, all from the Oklahoma City area, Shumaker said.

All three remained jailed Friday night, with Vigus held on a $50,000 bond and the other two held on $25,000 bond, jail records show.

Formal charges have not been filed.

The Shawnee Police Department has several K-9 officers.

“The use of K-9 teams can save hours of time for police officers conducting searches quickly and effectively,” Goss said.

Teenage Methamphetamine Use

Posted: July 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

Meth use among teens has been declining in the last decade, according to data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance study (YRBS), conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2009 teen meth use was only about a third of what it was in 2001 for both 10th graders and 12th graders. Despite the reduction in prevalence in certain sectors of the teenage population, crystal meth has become the most dangerous drug problem of small town America. Kids between 12 and 14 that live in smaller, rural towns are 104% more likely to use meth than those who live in larger cities.

Methamphetamine, also known as speed, meth, chalk, ice, crystal, or glass, is an extremely addictive stimulant.  Meth is made up of a white, colorless, bitter-tasting powder that adversely affects the central nervous system, sometimes permanently damaging and depleting the dopamine and serotonin nerve terminals in the brain. Meth is often snorted, ingested orally, injected and smoked.  A meth user will often describe a feeling of having a “flash” or “rush” effect (a feeling of euphoria) after administering the stimulant.

Signs and symptoms of meth use may include: agitation, aggression, confusion, euphoria, or paranoia, as well as a reduced appetite, weight loss, memory loss, disturbed sleep, and quickened breathing. Unintended side effects include addiction; anorexia; convulsions and hyperthermia, which can lead to death; damage to brain cells and neurons; irregular heartbeat, respiratory problems, and stroke. Meth is extremely addictive, and signs of addiction include a marked increase in secrecy, inability to maintain attention, and changes in attitudes toward money and spending habits.

EVERETT — Police believe a man on meth and driving a stolen SUV caused a five-car crash Tuesday that sent three people to the hospital.

The collision occurred shortly after noon at Olivia Park Road and Evergreen Way.

The driver of a stolen Ford Explorer allegedly blew through a red light, causing the crash. He ran from the scene. The Ford Explorer had been stolen in Spokane over the weekend.

While police were investigating, a man reported that his rental car had been stolen from a Best Western hotel nearby.

The man told police he heard the collision and went to check on the condition of the people involved. In his haste, he left his rented Ford Focus running and it was stolen.

Police found the Focus on a dead-end street near a dog park north of 100th Street SW off 18th Avenue W.

A police dog was used to track the suspect who was arrested just east of Airport Road along Kasch Park Road. He allegedly was carrying a backpack stolen from the Focus.

The accident sent three people to the hospital. One suffered a serious neck injury. The other two had minor injuries, according to a police report.

The suspect, 26, is from Alaska. He was booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of vehicular assault, theft of a motor vehicle, possessing a stolen vehicle and three counts of hit and run.

Police found a meth pipe with burned residue in the stolen Explorer.

When he was arrested, the suspect was described in a police report as being “in an extremely agitated state, screaming, sweating, unable to hold still, jittery in his movements and slurring his speech.”

A woman was arrested in St. Augustine for manufacturing meth and cruelty toward a child after a 15-year-old was found in the house that held a suspected meth operation.

The house has been designated unsafe meaning no one is allowed inside because of dangers from the suspected meth lab.Brandy_Crane

Deputies said they found cooking materials that tested positive for meth in the bathtub and under the sink.

Brandy Crane, 38, was arrested for manufacturing meth, possessing meth and cruelty toward a child.

“It’s kind of scary that it’s right next door,” Chelsea Sugart said. “Just myself being a parent, I would never put my child in danger like that.”

Shugart said she saw a worker from the Department of Children and Families and law enforcement surrounding the home during the meth operation bust and spoke with a deputy to find out what happened.

“I said, ‘Is there something I should be concerned about because I live right next door with my two kids,’ and he said it was a suspected meth lab going on,” Shugart said.

Deputies discovered the suspected meth operation after checking on the welfare of a 15-year-old girl in the house after an allegation was made that the teen was in danger.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said the meth operation was known was one pot, meaning it was the smallest and cheapest way to produce the meth.

DCF said the 15-year-old was given medical check-ups and was put into the custody of her father and is now safe.

DCF is continuing to investigate the incident.

CASPER, Wyo. — Casper police arrested an Idaho woman for methamphetamine use Wednesday after she said shape shifters had forced her to ingest the drug, according to a police report.

Lugenea Vollmar is charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance, the report states.

Vollmar went to Wyoming Medical Center shortly after 9 a.m. She asked for her car to be checked and had a large kitchen knife with her, according to the report. She also had more than $2,500 in her purse.5596f8c532221_preview-620

Hospital staff alerted police. When officers arrived, Vollmar told them “her story was going to be difficult to believe.” Vollmar said she was driving through Casper on her way to Idaho from Denver. She had been in the Wal-Mart parking lot on CY Avenue when several people she didn’t know began harassing her, she told police.

The people were dressed like “Criss Angel” and were hiding behind trees and under her car, the report states. Vollmar accused the people of stealing a shotgun and a BB gun from her car. She also said they were shape shifters and turned into trees and other objects.

Vollmar told police these people went under her car and blew methamphetamine vapor in her car, which caused her to unintentionally ingest meth.

Hospital staff diagnosed Vollmar with amphetamine-induced delirium and anxiety, the report states.

Before being taken to the Natrona County Detention Center, Vollmar told police that people try to get her to deliver drugs because “no one would suspect an old, white, fat woman.”

FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — A missing Phoenix-area couple were killed and buried in the yard of a man who told investigators he was high on methamphetamine at the time, authorities said Thursday.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said Jose Valenzuela, 38, acknowledged killing Michael Careccia, 44, and his wife, Tina, 42.8217140_G

“Essentially he confessed,” Babeu said at a news conference.

Valenzuela has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder. He is being held on a $2 million cash bond.

According to Babeu, Valenzuela was found with a .22 caliber revolver that authorities believe is the murder weapon.

Valenzuela made statements to an investigator that led to a search for the victims on his property. Babeu said Valenzuela borrowed a backhoe from an unsuspecting acquaintance to hide the bodies on his property in Maricopa.

“Instead what he did was he built, not a makeshift grave, but an actual 6-foot grave,” Babeu said. “He put these victims in that grave and buried them.”

Two bodies were recovered from Valenzuela’s property and identified as the couple, authorities said. The grave was not noticeable initially because the suspect had piled other debris and materials on top of it, Babeu added.

The couple was reported missing June 22 by Michael Careccia’s son after Tina Careccia didn’t show up to work. Authorities went door to door, launched air and ground searches and used dogs to try to track their scent.

Sheriff’s officials served a search warrant Wednesday at Valenzuela’s residence, and deputies were seen digging on the property before the bodies were found.

Valenzuela told investigators he and the couple have been acquainted for the past two years and used methamphetamine together. Babeu cautioned that toxicology tests were needed to confirm the allegations.

Authorities said Valenzuela brought meth to the couple’s home the day before they went missing, Father’s Day. Then they went to Valenzuela’s home later that day and Valenzuela brandished a weapon during a fight.

Babeu said authorities believe Valenzuela was high on meth at the time.

Sheriff’s spokesman Mark Clark said he doesn’t know whether Valenzuela has an attorney.

Marla Francisco, who shares a child with Valenzuela, said she no longer lives at the property searched by authorities and was shocked by the arrest.

“Who wouldn’t be?” Francisco said before hanging up the phone.

The couple’s abandoned car was previously found covered in dirt about a half-mile from their home in Maricopa, about 35 miles south of Phoenix.

There has been no activity associated with their phones, bank accounts, credit cards or social media accounts since they went missing, investigators said.

Tina Careccia is an accountant at a Chandler construction company and her husband is a pilot, authorities say.

EUREKA, Calif. – A woman was arrested on domestic violence and assault with a deadly weapon charges, and as she was being booked, deputies said that they found methamphetamine on her body.

On Wednesday at 3:50 p.m., a Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputy responded to the 3800 block of Union Street in Eureka for an assault in progress. The deputy spoke to the 42-year-old male victim and a woman later identified as April Dianne Showers, 55.April-Showers-jpg

The deputy spoke to witnesses and the victim, who told the deputy that Showers and the victim had been dating for over 10 years. According to the deputy, they had recently broken up and today, Showers came over to the victim’s apartment.

When Showers arrived, she began yelling and throwing rocks up in the air and throwing rocks towards the victim. Showers also picked a piece of aluminum framing and threw it towards the victim, but she missed him.

According to deputies, Showers then spit in the victim’s face.

The victim showed the deputy red marks on his body where he was stuck by rocks that Showers threw at him. The victim said he was in fear of his life when Showers was assaulting him.

The victim did not require medical treatment for his injuries. When Showers was throwing the rocks up in the air, one of the rocks came down and struck her in the head. Showers received a small wound to her head, but she refused medical treatment.

Showers was placed under arrest for assault with a deadly weapon and domestic violence. Showers was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility, and during the booking process methamphetamine was located hidden on Shower’s body. Showers was then also booked for possession of methamphetamine.

Shower’s bail was set at $50,000.

PIKEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – A man and a woman from North Carolina were arrested in Louisiana on drug charges, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office reported Thursday.

Officers with the Wayne County Drug Task Force and the State Bureau of Investigation seized a meth lab at 167E Buggy St. in Pikeville on June 1.wayne-county-meth-lab

During an investigation, authorities learned that the two people living at the residence, 37-year-old Bruce Nicholas Parrish and 21-year-old Kristen Rene Little, were involved in manufacturing and distributing methamphetamine.

Authorities issued arrest warrants for Parrish and Little. Both were located and arrested in Louisiana while manufacturing meth.

Parrish and Little remain in custody and are awaiting extradition back to North Carolina. Both are charged with one count of manufacturing methamphetamine.

An agent with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection dips beneath the rear bumper of a white Jeep Wrangler during a busy morning at the Calexico port of entry — the third busiest in the nation. He sweeps his flashlight slowly along the undercarriage of the vehicle, rapping lightly with his knuckles in the search for secret compartments that could be stuffed with illicit drugs.

Ten years ago, he would have searched mostly for marijuana and cocaine, but as the years have progressed, his targets have become more deadly and harder to find.

Now, he keeps his eyes peeled for packages of heroin and methamphetamine, narcotics the State Health Department credits for more than 500 overdose deaths in Riverside County from 2010 to 2012.

The recent surge in technological advancement has made concealing this contraband easier in some ways, as some trafficking organizations use drones and ultralight planes to skirt the law while others launch kettlebells of compacted narcotics over the border with high-powered catapults.

The same technology that makes these acts of avoiding the law possible is matched by that which allows their detection by the El Centro Sector of the Border Patrol — the first and final lines of defense between the drug traffickers and their users.

Established more than 90 years ago, the El Centro Sector of the Border Patrol is responsible for 71 miles of the southwest international border spanning from the Jacumba Mountains to the Imperial Sand Dunes. Operating stations are in Calexico, El Centro, Riverside and Indio, with checkpoints located just south of the Coachella Valley on highways 86 and 111 near the Salton Sea that are among the busiest in the state.

Locating undocumented immigrants may be the Border Patrol’s primary capacity, but interdicting drug traffickers transporting thousands of dollars of narcotics is a close second with more immediate consequences.

If smugglers make it past these checkpoints, their path to major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles and interstate routes is unimpeded, Border Patrol agents said, allowing Mexican and Central American drugs to spread all over the U.S.

The FBI’s Heroin Signature Program found that almost 40 percent of the samples they classified nationally in 2012 were Mexican in origin — the largest percentage in 20 years. According to the report, Mexico has become the top foreign supplier of methamphetamine used inside the U.S. since 2007.

“This is a major trafficking route,” spokesman for the El Centro Sector Border Patrol Guillermo Esparza said. “This checkpoint is considered the last line of defense.”

Since 2005, the makeup of drugs seized by the Border Patrol has transformed substantially, as those most commonly associated with border operations such as marijuana and cocaine fall out of vogue in favor of more addictive and dangerous narcotics such as heroin and methamphetamine, the seizure of which has risen by more than a thousand percent during that time, according to annual fiscal reports.

These numbers might not tell the whole story when it comes to the amount of drugs that make it across the border illicitly, but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s annual threat analysis said they’re largely representative of overall trends.

Marijuana continues to make up the vast majority of illicit substances seized by Border Patrol agents nationally, contributing almost 2 million pounds every year, but local agents have seen a 77 percent reduction in the past decade to around 5,500 pounds a year.

International smuggling organizations now attempt to smuggle larger volumes of marijuana in at a time, often through larger cargo containers, according to Calexico Ports of Entry Director Billy Whitford. These high-quantity, high-risk operations are largely designed to make up for the relatively low price of selling “soft drugs.”

“The profit margin for smuggling a couple of kilos of marijuana is much less than smuggling hard narcotics,” Whitford said.

Cocaine, one of the more traditionally smuggled hard drugs, remains a profitable choice among smugglers, despite crackdowns on the trade that resulted in a 10-year, 59 percent drop in national seizures and 37 percent drop within the El Centro Sector.

Where cocaine sales have fallen off, methamphetamine and heroin have risen with a local increase of 1,022 and 12,878 percent, respectively, in the past 10 years.

“I think what it is is that methamphetamine on the street has become a cheaper drug, a cheaper high,” Whitford said. “We’ve seen an increase in methamphetamine labs being set up in Mexico.”

“(The smugglers) have been trying to nickel-and-dime it,” Esparza added. “They’re switching to harder drugs that have a higher selling value so they can bring them in in smaller quantities.”

Even more concerning, Esparza said, is the additive Border Patrol agents have been finding in the heroin confiscated recently.

Fentanyl, an extremely powerful prescription opioid that raises the potency of heroin by 30 to 50 percent and which can be deadly in doses as small as 0.25 micrograms, increases profit margins for dealers when laced with narcotics.

The drug has been leaving a trail of overdoses in its wake for years, killing more than 1,000 people from 2005 to 2007 when the DEA was able to dismantle a single lab in Mexico and end the surge of production.

The current outbreak was recognized on March 18, when the DEA issued a national alert calling Fentanyl-laced street drugs “a threat to public safety,” after the National Forensic Laboratory Information System reported a 254 percent increase in Fentanyl-laced samples they analyzed this year.

The appearance of Fentanyl in drugs in the El Centro Sector is concerning to the California Department of Health Care Services.

Even though it doesn’t deal directly with the drugs coming over the border, spokesperson Anthony Cava said the department has been working to improve access to overdose rescue drugs like naloxone while cutting down on the abuse of prescription drugs like Fentanyl.

Cava hopes these measures will be enough to protect drug users from the fatal use of fillers, but the DEA fears the future’s body toll will echo that of the past.

21st Century Smugglers

Just as the makeup of the border’s drug problem has changed, so have the organizations working to smuggle them. In just the past decade, the trafficking landscape has made a dramatic shift toward that of technologically-advanced criminal enterprises.

In an increasingly flat world, smugglers are taking advantage of social media and cellular networks to fine-tune their operations and change plans at a moment’s notice.

“The days of agents lying-in-wait for hours at a time or simply saturating an area with increased patrols and manpower were old techniques that would not be met with the same success against new networked (smuggling organizations),” U.S. Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher noted in a 2014 year-end report.

To combat these modern drug operations, the agency has undergone some changes. Two years after the 9/11 attacks, the Department of Homeland Security was established and soon integrated with the U.S. Border Patrol to become U.S. Customs and Border Protection — an organizational shift that brought with it a boost in funding from $6 billion in fiscal year 2004 to nearly $13 billion in 2014.

This integration of both intelligence and resources has helped narrow the focus and broaden the scope of border security, Stickles said, in addition to making available the use of technology usually used in military operations.

The Calexico ports of entry and El Centro checkpoints rely heavily on the use of high-definition X-ray machines that allow agents to check for anomalies in vehicles. This technology has been in use for the past few years, but has already made a substantial difference, Border Patrol agents said.

“We’ve become much more dependent on technology over the last 10 years,” Whitford said. “We have imaging systems in the vehicle environment and the cargo processing facility. … Now we can scan a vehicle in a matter of seconds instead of it taking a couple of minutes to an hour to inspect. It’s definitely enhanced our enforcement capabilities.”

In addition to mobile patrols, the El Centro Sector of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol runs several checkpoints. The Calexico ports of entry are the third busiest in the U.S., with more than 4 million vehicles and 4.1 million pedestrians passing through annually, but the Highway 86 checkpoint near the Salton Sea is widely regarded as the last line of defense for drugs making their way to major cities like Los Angeles. The Highway 111 checkpoint, while significantly less busy than the others, prevents drugs that have already been introduced into the U.S. from spreading any further.

Equipment like license plate readers and fiber optic cameras used to peer into the interior of a possibly booby-trapped car also help keep agents from being harmed.

“We’re different than any other law enforcement agency in that people come to us instead of us coming to the people,” Stickles said. “So we have to have a way to have the upper hand.”

These new methods may not be enough as trafficking organizations continue to utilize technology to avoid detection. Smugglers now commonly use drones and ultralight planes to avoid traffic stops and ground surveillance techniques.

In August 2013, Border Patrol agents near the Salton Sea were able to confiscate more than $657,000 in drugs —189 pounds of marijuana and 12 pounds of methamphetamine — after the ultralight aircraft in which they were flown over the border was discovered abandoned one mile east of Highway 111. One ultralight was even found as far inland as Interstate 8 and Highway 86, less than 90 miles from Thermal, Esparza said.

As some smugglers work to fly over the heads of Border Patrol agents, others try to move beneath their feet. In April, intelligence gained from a separate bust led to the discovery of a 230-foot, lit and ventilated underground tunnel that led from a Mexicali home to a desert location well across the U.S. border.

Such advanced and intensely-engineered methods of smuggling show a more modern side of the trafficking organizations long known for their ingenuity and deep ties.

The strengths that come with the interconnectivity of the modern smuggler also comes with weakness — a loss of anonymity.

Cell phones helped the Lozano-Gonzalez family traffic methamphetamine and heroin into the Imperial Valley for more than two years, but they also brought about the operation’s demise.

Federal wiretaps recorded thousands of text messages and phone calls during a year-long investigation that were used in U.S. District Court to charge 43 people with conspiring to import and distribute illicit drugs.

Prosecutors claimed the organization would pick up the narcotics in Mexicali, use pedestrians and secret compartments in vehicles to smuggle them through the Calexico ports of entry and then transport them to a house in Brawley, from which they would be sold throughout the Imperial Valley.

After months of surveillance, a series of phone and text exchanges over two days in May 2014 between co-defendants Francisco Lozano-Moreno, Carolina Orozco-Vasquez and Jesus Gonzalez-Lozano tied the case together, prosecutors said.

The evening of May 18, Gonzalez-Lozano, who prosecutors claimed was the mastermind of U.S. operations, called Lozano-Moreno, his source in Mexico, asking for “work.” Lozano-Moreno said he would help him out once his “guy crosses (the border).”

The two arranged for Gonzalez-Lozano to buy a half-pound of methamphetamine. The next day, he texted Orozco-Vasquez, his load driver, who planned to pick up the drugs in Brawley once they crossed the border.

Agents arrived too late to catch Orozco-Vasquez picking up the drugs from the Brawley stash house about 9 p.m., but radioed an El Centro police officer, who stopped the car on a traffic violation and called in Border Patrol agents.

A police dog was able to conduct a quick search, revealing the half-pound of methamphetamine hidden beneath the hood of the engine compartment.

At 10:39 p.m., Gonzalez-Lozano texted Lozano-Moreno telling him to take his blue car for payment because “it went to hell.”

For almost six more months, the team of federal and local law enforcement assigned to the case worked to keep up with the constantly-changing disposable phones and the trafficker to whom they belonged.

On Oct. 21, 2014, agents raided 38 homes in Calipatria, El Centro and Brawley. After seizing 30 pounds of methamphetamine worth $1 million, 14 guns and an unspecified amount of cash, police arrested 43 people in the smuggling conspiracy.

While many of the 43 pleaded guilty to lesser charges, Lozano-Moreno, Gonzalez-Lozano and Orozco-Vasquez fought law enforcement’s use of wiretaps and ability to tie the “burner” phone numbers to a specific person.

Texting lingo was also called into question, as the co-defendants fought interpretations of words such as “ice cube” and “rock” to refer to narcotics.

Drug seizures in 2014

Marijuana still makes up the vast majority of drugs seized in the El Centro Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol, in part due to the large quantities required to make a profit. Methamphetamine is a distant second in quantity, due to the small amounts normally transported at once, but it has become one of the more popular substances for which smugglers are apprehended. Cocaine and heroin make up a similar proportion of drugs seized, meeting in the middle as smuggled cocaine falls while heroin rises to take its place. Other drugs such as doses of LSD and prescription pills that are being smuggled are rarely seized in large quantities and are generally not being brought across for widespread sales.

After several motions were struck down, the trio changed their pleas to guilty. They now await sentencing in federal court.

“Today the Imperial Valley law enforcement community has taken down a widespread narcotics distribution ring that supplied the vast majority of the meth and heroin on the streets in El Centro, Brawley and Calipatria,” said Joe Garcia, interim special agent in charge for Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego, at the time of the indictment.

“While the impact on public safety in these communities will be far-reaching for the law-abiding residents, our united force sends a bold message that criminals involved in smuggling drugs and weapons and gang activity should fear.”

Focusing on the complete eradication of a smuggling organization is worth the operation and legal requirements to the new Border Patrol.

Working to seize evidence such as a cell phone or GPS device left behind in a car abandoned during a traffic stop can be one of the most effective ways to use the smugglers’ technological savvy against them. Instead of simply seizing illicit materials, agents in the 21st century focus on developing intelligence on the people that bring them to the border.

Traffickers who abandon their vehicles and make a run for it when ushered into secondary inspection by Border Patrol agents used to be a bane of the border. Now, this last-ditch effort to avoid apprehension leaves agents with clues such as cell phones that when traced can lead to much bigger busts, Whitford said.

Fisher uses the imagery of a conveyor belt in his 2014 report. Border Patrol can simply train agents to remove boxes as they come down a revolving belt or they can work on shutting down the mechanism that turns the belt — the smuggling organizations themselves.

“The (drug) seizures cut down on the traffickers’ life blood, because any seizure that we make, whether it’s five pounds or five tons, keeps the money from getting back into the hands of the trafficking organizations,” Esparza said. “That’s the best way to strike a blow against them, to keep their money from getting to them.”

Smuggling pricier, more dangerous contraband brings with it a greater reward, but also a greater risk. Heroin and marijuana are both classified as Schedule I drugs by the DEA, but someone trafficking 100 grams of heroin can face the same five years in federal prison that someone trafficking 500 times that amount of marijuana can.

The temptation of higher profit margins is overwhelming, but traffickers are more determined than ever to not get caught. So they get creative.

“Some of the drug trafficking organizations are getting desperate and increasing their amount of engineering and the depth of engineering,” Calexico Ports of Entry spokesman Nolan Stickles said. “As the desperation level rises, so do the ingenious, if you want to call it that, things they do.”

Any Border Patrol agent with a modicum of field experience has a collection of strange smuggling stories, whether it be finding liquid methamphetamine hidden in the windshield wiper fluid reservoir of a car, heroin hidden in a fake dashboard or cocaine concealed in truck tires.

Some smugglers even remove legitimate parts of their vehicles and replace the mass with narcotics in an attempt to fool the density detectors vehicles are required to drive over in the checkpoint area.

Recently, Stickles said, they’ve been seeing an increase in pedestrians, mostly teenagers, taping small packages of narcotics to their torso or upper thighs. Nailing down the profile of a drug smuggler is impossible, however, he said. In his time at the border, he’s seen children, doctors and 80-year-old women who have all come to work as traffickers for one reason or another.

“You never know who will fall prey to the drug trade,” he said.

In early June, agents at the Highway 86 checkpoint confiscated more than a pound of heroin that had been wrapped in tape and stuffed in a 26-year-old U.S. citizen’s shoes — a haul worth more than $15,600.

With more than 17,000 cars and 13,000 pedestrians passing through the ports of entry and Highway 86 checkpoints every day, it’s impossible to thoroughly inspect each person without completely shutting down the border, Stickles said, so it becomes necessary to rely not only on the intuition of the officers but some of the most complex but lowest-tech tools they have at their disposal — drug-sniffing dogs.

“Ultimately our dogs’ noses and our agents are our best assets,” Esparza said.

Down the line

Fighting back against trafficking organizations is all about denying them profit, Esparza said, as they aren’t tied to a particular criminal method of making money. Cracking down in one location or on one drug is like squeezing a partially-deflated balloon — the air isn’t removed, merely displaced.

This theory, widely dubbed “the balloon effect,” states that even if every illicit material was confiscated as it crossed the border, smuggling organizations would persist through other illegal enterprises such as human trafficking.

According to Fisher’s report, when the San Diego Sector was able to reduce the transportation of illegal goods by 75 percent in 1994, the criminal enterprise operating there quickly changed location and began working in the desert regions of Arizona. Soon, in the small Mexican town of Altar, more than 60 buses full of undocumented immigrants crossed daily.

In its 2014 fiscal report, Border Patrol estimated that it had spent an extra $3.5 billion to secure the border but that only 3 percent of the border had been truly secured. With that logic, an additional $112 billion would be needed to theoretically bring the entire border under control.

Creating a border that would be impenetrable to illicit substances is impossible, Whitford acknowledged, but said his mission is to secure it as well as humanly possible and prevent the rampant violence that has crept into other border towns from entering the El Centro Sector.

“Our goal for the checkpoints is to be a retention point for anything from drugs to immigration,” Esparza added. “So you try to catch everything you can. Realistically, you can’t catch everything, but you have to be as vigilant as possible and catch everything you can.”

If everything goes as planned in the next few months, one of Calexico’s ports of entry will get a huge boost in its enforcement capabilities.

Bids with the U.S. General Services Administration are still pending, Stickles said, but by August or September, he expects plans to be confirmed to demolish the building that was established in 1974, and build one with six more traffic lanes in addition to a new pedestrian processing facility.

The current facility is too small and cramped for agents to operate and inspect the vehicles and people for drugs and other contraband in the way they should without keeping legitimate travelers waiting for hours, Whitford said.

Working to facilitate legitimate trade in such a large North American Free Trade Agreement corridor while preventing harmful and highly addictive drugs from also making their way into the country is a multifaceted challenge, he added. It’s one that might never strike the right balance, but that can’t be given up.

“It’s a balancing act,” Whitford said. “We’re looking for a needle in a haystack out there. We realize that 99 percent of the people who are crossing the border are legitimate law-abiding people, but it’s that needle in a haystack, that one percent that we’re out there searching for day in and day out.”

HONOLULU — Federal agents last month intercepted a package mailed to Hawaii from Southern California containing a toaster oven. Hidden inside the four-slice toaster, there appeared to be 6 pounds of crystal meth.

Leland Akau Sr. and Allen Gorion, who allegedly received the package in Kapolei, pleaded not guilty Thursday to meth distribution and conspiracy charges. Lab analysis results to determine the purity of the methamphetamine are pending, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Roberts said.

It’s one of the latest cases involving drug packages mailed to Hawaii.

Crystal meth is known as the drug of choice in Hawaii, where it gained a stronghold across the islands long before becoming popular on the mainland. “It’s the No. 1 dangerous drug here in Hawaii,” Gary Yabuta, director of the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program in Hawaii.

In an island state where crowded living makes meth labs scarce, there are limited ways to get the drug. So, traffickers get creative: hiding them in stuffed animals or wrapping them up like Christmas presents before sending them in the mail.

In 2013, 6 pounds of meth were shipped to Hawaii from San Bernardino, California, stuffed into three mannequin heads, according to court documents. The mannequin heads were in boxes wrapped in pink and gold paper. The parcel also contained shirts, shorts, slippers and towels.

In a separate case last year, 4 pounds of the drug was shipped to Hawaii from Ontario, California, stuffed inside two mannequin heads.

“If it fits, it ships,” said Robin Dinlocker, assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Honolulu district.

Mailing or shipping drugs to Hawaii became more common with increased airport security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when it became more difficult to smuggle drugs through air travel, authorities said.

During the 2014 fiscal year, the Honolulu office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which also covers Guam and the Marianas, participated in more than 50 arrests of people who were using the mail to transport drugs. The majority of the cases involved methamphetamine, said Postal Inspector Brian Shaughnessy. For 2012 and 2013, there were about 40 each year, also mostly meth.

The figures don’t include other package delivery services such as FedEx and UPS.

Crystal meth first arrived in Hawaii from Korea and the Philippines around 1979, said Dr. William Haning, professor of psychiatry at the University of Hawaii’s medical school.

Geography wasn’t the only reason the drug took root here, Haning said. It fit in well with Hawaii’s largely service economy, where many residents work multiple, low-wage jobs to survive a high-cost of living. “After a while, with everybody working so many hours … this becomes the perfect performance drug for getting by,” he said.

These days, crystal meth isn’t coming from Asia, but from Mexico, Dinlocker said.

The appetite for the drug, along with the difficulty in getting it here, is reflected in its street value: A pound of meth goes for $20,000 in Honolulu — double what it goes for on the mainland.

The meth hidden in the toaster was in vacuum-sealed plastic bags, according to the criminal complaint filed in the case. The Black & Decker oven box was then placed into a cardboard box and shipped to a residential address in Kapolei from North Hollywood, California.

The parcels of meth are sent here so frequently, “I know we’re not catching them all,” Dinlocker said.

ROME – A Rome woman has been arrested after a methamphetamine operation was discovered, city police said.

Erin Gillespie, 31, was charged with felony third-degree unlawful manufacturing of methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, police said.AR-150709946

Shortly after noon Wednesday, the Rome Fire Department and Police Department were sent to 1003 West Dominick St. for a reported structure fire. Upon arrival, fumes were observed in the first-floor apartment.

Once firefighters entered the unoccupied apartment, they discovered there was no fire but a possible methamphetamine lab, police said.

The New York State Police Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team were notified and responded to render the operation safe.

Police recovered eight one-pot method meth labs, a small amount of meth, and numerous items used in the production of methamphetamine, police said.

Gillespie was not home when police and firefighters arrived but drove up to the scene shortly after their arrival.

She faces an additional charge of aggravated unlicensed operation for operating her vehicle with a suspended driver’s license, police said.

She was being held in the city lockup pending her arraignment.

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Two young children have been placed in foster care after police say an Elgin man was found earlier this week passed out in a hotel room while one of his kids wandered the lobby alone.

Michael John Alexander, 39, faces gross misdemeanor charges for child neglect and endangerment, as well as a felony drug charge for possessing meth, documents filed in Dakota County say.

According to a criminal complaint, an Eagan police officer was patrolling around 2 a.m. Monday when an employee at the Extended Stay Hotel flagged him down. The employee showed the officer surveillance video of a girl, who looked to be about 4 years old, crawling over the hotel’s front desk.

Hotel staff picked up the girl, whose diaper was full to the point of leaking, and tried to find her parents.

After talking with other guests, it was determined which room the girl’s father was staying in. At first, hotel staff tried to call the registered phone number, but no one answered. Then they tried to knock on the door. Still, there was no answer. Finally, hotel staff opened the door and went into the room.

Inside, hotel staff found a 1-year-old child sleeping on the floor and a man, identified later as Alexander, sleeping in the bed. When hotel staff were finally able to wake him, Alexander appeared to be on drugs.

That’s when the police officer was called into the room, and he, too, thought Alexander was high.

In a search of the room, the officer found pipes and what appeared to be plastic bags in the garbage. When the officer asked Alexander whom the drug paraphernalia belonged to, Alexander said, “Just arrest me,” the complaint states.

Alexander had about $2,500 in cash on him when he was arrested, and the substance found in the plastic bags later tested positive for meth.

If convicted of all charges, Alexander faces a maximum sentence of 7 years behind bars and/or a $16,000 fine.

The two children, both of which had extremely full diapers when authorities found them, were placed in foster care.

Virginia Beach, Va. – A Virginia Beach man says his wife’s call to police about a possible home invasion last month led to officers searching his home for methamphetamine.

In an Affidavit for Search Warrant filed in Virginia Beach Circuit Court, a detective wrote that officers responded to James Fuller’s home on Overman Drive in Aragona Village in reference a home invasion on June 11th.

A spokesman for the Virginia Beach Police Department tells NewsChannel 3 the case was reclassified as trespassing and a weapon’s violation and no charges were filed in the incident.

“I came home from eating dinner at Plaza Azteca and there was a weird car in my driveway and a guy I’ve never seen standing in my doorway,” Fuller told NewsChannel 3’s Todd Corillo Wednesday.

Fuller admitted the men were apparently let into the house by his babysitter, but that when officers arrived they began questioning everyone who was present.

“Another set of police officers showed up and they separated all of us. Started questioning us and going through my house.”

According to the affidavit, “responding officers initially observed items that they believed to be precursors for manufacturing methamphetamine.”

Additionally, two people inside the house at the time “were both interviewed and admitted to smoking methamphetamine inside the residence earlier in the evening with James Fuller.”

However, Fuller adamantly denies those claims.

“Do you use meth?” Corillo asked.

“No, I do not,” Fuller responded.

“Do you make meth?” Corillo asked.

“No, I do not,” Fuller responded.

“They said they would leave and everything would be okay if I just admitted to it and I wouldn’t admit,” he continued.

According to the search warrant, officers seized paper work, a scale and packaging materials.

“The scale – yes I have scales. In my kitchen that I use for things. You’ll go most houses in America and you’ll find a scale,” he explained.

“There were baggies – my wife does arts and crafts – and she has a tons of little baggies where she keeps all her little hooks and stuff for making jewelry.”

Virginia Beach Police would not comment on the search warrant, citing an ongoing investigation, but did say no one has been charged.

A Rome man and a Cave Spring woman remained in jail without bond Wednesday after being accused of having methamphetamine at Redmond Regional Medical Center.

According to Floyd County Jail reports:

Ethan Isaac Milliman, 24, of 403 Bolton Drive, and Carolyn Elice Breeden, 20, of 388 Buttermilk Road, were 55943c5560194_image55943c349603a_imagearrested Wednesday afternoon at Redmond after police found methamphetamine and marijuana in their possession. Milliman also had a gun and he is charged with possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime in addition to felony possession of methamphetamine and a misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana. Breeden is charged with felony possession of methamphetamine and a misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana.