Author Archive

GRANTS PASS, Ore.—More than 300 local, state and federal officers, some in camouflage gear and helmets, fanned out across rural Klamath County in the pre-dawn darkness Wednesday and arrested 38 people accused of operating a methamphetamine and gun distribution network connected to Mexican drug cartels. Ten more were still sought.

Darin Tweedt, chief counsel of the criminal division of the Oregon Department of Justice, said the raids were the culmination of an eight-month investigation dubbed Operation Trojan Horse. It started last October when agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives came to the state criminal division with information about the ring. State authorities enlisted the help of local authorities and other federal agencies, and the investigation snowballed.

“We have evidence that shows they are linked to the cartels,” Tweedt said of those arrested. “The goal of this particular operation was to send a pretty clear signal that we are not neglecting to enforce narcotics laws in rural Oregon counties. We cast a pretty wide net.”

In the course of searching 23 homes and businesses in Klamath Falls and outlying rural communities, police also seized 4 pounds of methamphetamine and 50 guns.

The Herald and News newspaper reported officers used flash-bang grenades and forced their way in to some homes.

“This operation takes a big group of suspected meth dealers off our streets,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a statement.

Nearly all of the methamphetamine and heroin available in Oregon comes through Mexico, said Chris Gibson, Oregon director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas. Mexican gangs are also responsible for most of the large marijuana being grown illegally on remote national forest lands in Oregon.

The agency’s statistics showed that seizures of methamphetamine and guns in Oregon have been trending upward since 2008, along with drug arrests. Seizures of marijuana and cocaine are down. And seizures of heroin and prescription drugs are up.

Law enforcement taskforces report they are currently investigating 47 drug gangs in Oregon, 24 of which are described as Mexican or Hispanic, Gibson said.

Tweedt refused to comment on whether the ring was connected to the killing last fall of two California men whose bodies were found buried on an abandoned ranch outside the rural community of Bonanza, where some of the arrests were carried out. The slain men were identified as Ricardo Jauregui, 38, of Oakley, Calif., and Everado Mendez-Ceja, 32, of Richmond, Calif. They had told their families they were going to Oregon to buy a horse and hay. Their truck was burned.

The arrests overwhelmed the local jail, which has closed whole sections due to budget cuts related to the loss of federal timber subsidies. Tweedt said the Klamath County sheriff opened unused sections to accommodate all the people being arrested. More arrests were expected as police continued serving warrants. Klamath County Circuit Court started arraigning the first of those arrested. A grand jury will start considering indictments next week.

Tweedt said the drugs were manufactured somewhere else then distributed around Klamath County and neighboring rural areas. Very little methamphetamine has been made in Oregon since laws went into effect regulating the sale of cold medicines, which can be used in making the chemical.

Among the 19 people arraigned was Jose Buenaventura Vinals, 50, of Klamath Falls, District Attorney Rob Patridge said. He was charged with two counts of racketeering and two counts of selling methamphetamine. The district attorney’s information alleged that Vinals was involved with at least six other people in a criminal enterprise dating back to Oct. 1, 2012. Others arrested included men and women ranging in age from 22 to 49 from Bonanza, Chiloquin, Beatty and Klamath Falls.


A woman driving under the influence of methamphetamine and other drugs who ran over and killed a 6-year-old boy walking to school last year and injured his 8-year-old brother pleaded no contest Tuesday to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Tresa Bales-Sterba, who was 52 at the time of the fatal 8 a.m. collision on Oct. 5, is facing a maximum term of 15 years in state prison. Free on $200,000 bail, Bales-Sterba will be sentenced July 15 by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Laurel D. White.

Prosecutors said Bales-Sterba ran a red light while speeding through an intersection in Citrus Heights at Mariposa Avenue and Greenback Lane.

According to police reports, Bales-Sterba’s Chrysler 300 hit a Chevrolet Suburban and then spun into Henry Perez-Rocha and his big brother Juan. Henry died Jan. 16 at UC Davis Medical Center. Juan was released from the hospital four days after the wreck.

The two boys were walking in the crosswalk with their mother to Skycrest Elementary School at the time of the collision.


RADCLIFF – The site of a routine traffic stop on Route 160 turned into a crime scene late Wednesday when a Highway Patrol trooper uncovered what appeared to be chemicals used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Vinton County Sheriff’s deputies and personnel from the Hamden Fire Department and Vinton County Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene.

Authorities uncover meth chemicals, 3 suspects under arrest



Inside the vehicle authorities found meth-making chemicals, meth manufacturing equipment and an undetermined amount of meth.

According to Highway Patrol Lt. Taulbee, three suspects, two males and a female, are in custody charged with allegedly manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of meth-making chemicals and possession of methamphetamine. The identity of the suspects has not been released.

Firefighters and a sheriff’s deputy from a neighboring county neutralized the chemicals. After the contents of the vehicle were inventoried and the vehicle was towed from the scene.

This is a developing story. The Courier will post more information as it becomes available.



OKLAHOMA CITY —Wednesday a man could learn when he will face a trial in the death of his teenaged sister.

Man charged in sister's drug death

A 28-year-old man from Purcell is charged with killing his sister by injecting her with methamphetamine.


Prosecutors have charged Chance Wilson with first-degree murder. They say he gave his 16-year-old sister Saleda Wilson a deadly dose of methamphetamine.

Wilson’s co-worker told police he saw the suspect inject his sister with meth in an Oklahoma City home last year. Court documents claim more was injected into the teen the next morning.

Later that day, police said Saleda’s dad came home to find her dead. The state medical examiner ruled she died of meth toxicity.


NEWTON NC – A grand jury returned indictments on 99 felony charges against 13 suspects for the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine in Burke and Catawba counties last week, according to a release from the office of Jay Gaither, District Attorney.

The indictments are the result of an investigation conducted by the SBI under the code name “Baker’s Dozen,” according to the release.

Assisting the SBI with the investigation were the Long View Police Department, Catawba County Sheriff’s Office, Burke County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Task Force, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Baker's Dozen

Baker's Dozen

 Baker's Dozen

Baker's Dozen

Baker's Dozen

Baker's dozen

Indictments were handed down against:

  • Bobby Lee Biddix, 35, aka “Chester,” of Hickory. Indicted for 16 counts felony possess/distribute methamphetamine precursor chemicals, one count felony conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, and one count habitual felon status. Biddix is being held under no bond in the North Carolina Division of Adult Correction. He is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in Newton on July 8.
  • Mark Allan Biddix, 41, aka “King of Shake,” of Hickory. Indicted for 11 counts felony possess/distribute methamphetamine precursor chemicals, two counts felony conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, and one count felony manufacture methamphetamine. He is being held under no bond at the Catawba County jail. He is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in Newton on July 8.
  • Joseph Cornell Bright, Jr., 40, aka “Jo Jo,” of Hickory. Three counts felony possess/distribute methamphetamine precursor chemicals, one count felony conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, and habitual felon status. He is being held under no bond at the Catawba County jail. He is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in Newton on July 8.
  • Tammy Delores Bright, 46, aka “Six Toes,” of Hickory. One count felony conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. She is being held under no bond at the Catawba County jail and is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in Newton on July 8.
  • Eric Louis Brown, 24, aka “Eric Downtown Brown,” of Connelly Springs. Indicted for eight counts felony possess/distribute methamphetamine precursor chemicals, and one count felony manufacture methamphetamine. He is being held under no bond at the Catawba County jail. He is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in Newton on July 8.
  • James Boyd Hefner, 42, aka “Mamma’s Boy,” of Hickory. Indicted for 10 counts felony possess/distribute methamphetamine precursor chemicals, and felony conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. He is being held under no bond at the Catawba County jail. He is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in Newton on July 8.
  • Dustin Thomas Miller, 24, aka “Dubb,” of Connelly Springs. One count felony conspiracy to possess/distribute methamphetamine precursor chemicals, and one count felony conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. He is being held under no bond at the Burke County jail. He is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in Newton on July 8.
  • Dwayne Winfred Orders, 35, aka “the Comet,” of Connelly Springs. Indicted on six counts felony possess/distribute methamphetamine precursor chemicals, three counts felony conspiracy to possess/distribute methamphetamine precursor chemicals and one count felony conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. He is being held under no bond at the Catawba County jail. He is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in Newton on July 8.
  • Sharon Freeman Orders, 53, aka “Mamma Orders,” of Connelly Springs. Indicted for three counts felony possess/distribute methamphetamine precursor chemicals, and one count felony conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. She is being held under no bond at the Catawba County jail and is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in Newton on July 8.
  • Thaddeus Lane Parker, 41, aka “Tex,” of Connelly Springs. Indicted for six counts felony possess/distribute methamphetamine precursor chemicals, five counts felony conspiracy to possess/distribute methamphetamine precursor chemicals, two counts felony conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, one count felony manufacture methamphetamine, and one count felony continuing criminal enterprise. He is being held under no bond at the Catawba County jail. He is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in Newton on July 8.
  • Clarissa Leann Speck, 32, aka “Clarissa Parker,” of Connelly Springs. Indicted on five counts felony possess/distribute methamphetamine precursor chemicals and one count felony conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. She was given a $30,000 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in Newton on July 8.
  • Alee Vang, 24, of Connelly Springs. Indicted for one count felony conspiracy to possess/distribute methamphetamine precursor chemicals, and one count felony conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.
  • Amy Byrd Whitis, 34, aka “Amy Marie Whitis,” of Morganton. Indicted for two counts felony possess/distribute methamphetamine precursor chemicals and one count felony conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.

According to the release, further charges may be filed as a result of the ongoing investigation.


RICHMOND — A Madison grand jury indicted two women last week on a charge of making methamphetamine in their Turpin Drive apartment.

Richmond police arrested Alison N. Sloas, 25, and Rebecca J. Henry, 38, after they received a complaint April 2 about a strong chemical odor in the neighborhood, according to an RPD news release.

When they arrived, the officers pinpointed the apartment that the odor appeared to originate, the release stated.

Sloas and Henry were in the home and were identified as the residents, police said.

The officers reported finding an active methamphetamine lab in the apartment along with precursor chemicals and equipment used in the making of the drug.

The RPD’s lab clean-up team rendered the materials safe and removed the hazardous items from the apartment.

Manufacturing methamphetamine is a Class B felony, which carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison.



At approximately midnight on Sunday May 12, 2013, a Kern County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Deputy traveling northbound on Highway 99, in the area of Union Avenue, observed a vehicle exceeding the posted speed limit on the highway. The deputy conducted an enforcement stop on the vehicle and determined the driver, 30 year old Bakersfield resident Francisco Orozco, was unlicensed. A search of the driver’s vehicle was conducted by the deputy and during the search he located suspected methamphetamine and heroin. There were approximately four and a half pounds of suspected methamphetamine and approximately one and a half pounds of suspected heroin located in the vehicle, being driven by Orozco. Based on the quantity of narcotics found, the deputy requested the assistance of Sheriff’s Office narcotics officers. Members of the California Multi-Jurisdictional Methamphetamine Enforcement Team (CAL-MMET) responded and their investigation led to obtaining a search warrant for Orozco’s residence. After serving the search warrant in the 1100 Block of Kentucky Street, at approximately 0300 hours this date, deputies located and additional approximately one and a half pounds of suspected methamphetamine in Orozco’s residence. The estimated potential street value of the narcotics seized is to be approximately $350,000.00. Francisco Orozco was arrested and booked into the Kern County Sheriff’s Office Central Receiving Facility. Orozco’s charges include transporting narcotics, possessing narcotics, possessing narcotics for sales and conspiracy as well as vehicle code violations. Also arrested for possessing narcotics, possessing narcotics for sales, transporting narcotics and conspiracy was Orozco’s passenger, 45 year old Bakersfield resident Ernesto Dominguez. Dominguez was also booked at the Kern County Sheriff’s Office Central Receiving Facility.


WEAVER, Alabama — Weaver police have arrested five people following a search at a residence which they believe has been selling methamphetamine since February.

The department announced through its Facebook page that officers executed a search warrant May 3 at a residence in the 700 block of FOP Road.



The search uncovered 33 grams of crystal meth, evidence of sales, drug paraphernalia, marijuana, prescription medication and a .38 revolver.

Police arrested Charles William Bracy, 48, and Dana Murray Williams, 44, both of Weaver, Amanda Bracy Barnette, 41, Alexandria, Ricky Wayne Easterwood, 48, of White Plains and April Darlene Slayton Wallin, 34, of Piedmont. The five are being held in the Calhoun County Jail.

All have been charged with trafficking methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernallia. Bracy, Barnette and Easterwood have also been charged with second degree marijuana possession.

Police are still investigating.



PARAMEDICS are treating more than four times the number of crystal methamphetamine users than they were three years ago, with health experts warning the dangers of this highly addictive stimulant are not widely understood.

A shapshot of non-fatal drug and alcohol-related callouts, released by Ambulance Victoria and Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, showed paramedics responded to 592 crystal meth or “ice” callouts in metropolitan Melbourne during 2011-12, compared with 282 in 2010-11 and 136 in 2009-10.

Methamphetamine 'ice' facts


The average user was a 27-year-old male, who took the drug outdoors and needed to be taken to hospital.

Paramedic and regional manager for Metro West, Simon Thomson, said ice users were often dangerous to treat because the drug made them unpredictable and could trigger psychosis.

ice, crystal meth, meth

Close up of the drug ice, also known as crystal meth or methamphetamine


“It’s a potent stimulant so it elevates their mood and can turn them very aggressive and often quite strong,” Mr Thomson said.

Turning Point director Professor Dan Lubman said the statistics highlighted a worrying trend.

“These data reinforce community concern that our drinking culture is out of control, and we have a growing methamphetamine problem,” Prof Lubman said.

“It is crucial that all arms of government and the community work together to minimise the escalating costs associated with alcohol and illicit drugs.”

The State Government-funded report also said alcohol remained the most common cause of callouts across both regional and metropolitan Melbourne, with paramedics attending an average of 31 alcohol-related cases a day across the state.

Paramedics responded to more callouts for cannabis, anti-convulsants, antidepressants, antipsychotics and painkillers in regional Victoria compared with the city.

Michael Moore, spokesman for Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge, said the Government was supporting hospital emergency departments to better respond to people presenting under the influence of drugs, in addition to preparing legislation for longer sentences for those who attacked emergency workers on duty.



A 23-year-old Boise woman is in the Ada County Jail on a felony charge of injury to child, after doctors discovered she had methamphetamine and marijuana in her system when she gave birth to her daughter in late March.

Alison Helms later admitted to detectives she had been smoking methamphetamine during her pregnancy a couple of times a month.



Deputies declared the baby and Helms’ one-year-old son to be in imminent danger April 2, because of the drug use of Helms and her husband. The children were then placed in the custody of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

“A forensic test later indicated the one-year-old boy also had meth in his system. Deputies began their investigation three days after the baby was born after being contacted by Health and Welfare officials, who were told by hospital staff about the positive meth test,” said Ada County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Patrick Orr.

Helms, who also goes by the name of Alison Perez, is set to make her initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon.

Ada County prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Helms in early May. She turned herself in at the jail Monday night.

The crime of felony injury to child is punishable by up to ten years in prison.



Two Kershaw County men are facing charges after deputies discovered a methamphetamine lab in an outbuilding in Lugoff. 

Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office narcotics investigators arrested 40-year-old Edward Conant and 24-year-old Kenneth Miller after officers discovered a quantity of methamphetamine and a fully assembled methamphetamine lab in an outbuilding at 247 Cricket Hill Dr. in Lugoff, SC.

The report said for about a week Kershaw County narcotics investigators had been looking into the possibility that Conant and Miller were making methamphetamine at the Cricket Hill residence.

Edward Conant
Kenneth Miller

During the course of their investigation they also determined that Miller was wanted on an outstanding bench warrant for failure to appear on a DUS charge.

According to Sheriff Jim Matthews, on Monday investigators initiated surveillance on the residence anticipating that Conant and Miller were preparing to cook methamphetamine.

As investigators approached an outbuilding near the home, they encountered Miller and Conant who had been assembling the meth lab.

Conant gave officers permission to search the building, although the lab was in an open area and in plain view, Matthews added.

Deputies discovered the lab that had already been set up. They also found empty blister packs that had contained pseudoephedrine they had purchased from a local pharmacy, the report stated. The pseudoephedrine tablets had been removed and crushed in preparation for the manufacturing process.

Deputies say they also seized two firearms.

Matthew says Conant has previous arrests dating back to 1996. He has previously been arrested for DUS, fraudulent checks, marijuana possession and disorderly conduct.


Miller’s arrest record dates back to 2005 with arrests for vandalism, marijuana possession, traffic offenses, burglary, larceny, criminal domestic violence, weapons violations, trespassing, disorderly conduct and contempt of court.

Miller and Conant are both being charged with possession of methamphetamine and manufacturing methamphetamine.

Conant is also being charged with simple possession of marijuana.

Both men were transported to the Kershaw County Detention Center and are awaiting a bond hearing.


WAYNESVILLE, Indiana — Residents of a small Indiana town are taking steps to protect themselves after a vicious weekend killing that left four people dead in what authorities said was a drug-related crime.

No arrests have been made since the bodies were found Saturday night in Waynesville, a small community about five miles south of Columbus, Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett told reporters during a news conference Tuesday.

Gorbett said police found methamphetamine at the brick house, along with spent shell casings and a knife used in one of the slayings. A rifle also was recovered, but police said they didn’t know whether it was tied to the killings of 53-year-old Katheryn Burton, her longtime boyfriend, Thomas Smith, 39, and two friends, Aaron Cross and Shawn Burton, both 41-year-old Columbus residents.

Katheryn Burton’s son, Daniel Burton, 27, found the bodies about 10:30 p.m. Saturday. He reported his discovery to police in a chilling 911 call, saying the house had been ransacked, items had been stolen and that there were two bodies on the floor.

“I just walked in and I had two bodies here. I think they’ve both been shot — there’s blood everywhere,” he said, sounding breathless. “I’m not even sure if this is real right now, man.”

He said there might be more victims because the door to the bedroom was locked.

“My mom’s in the bedroom and I can’t get in,” he told the dispatcher. “I’m pretty sure she’s probably dead too.”

PHOTO: A Bartholomew County Sheriff's deputy speaks with a group that stopped Monday, May 13, 2013, near the scene of the weekend slaying of four in Waynesville, Ind. After the chat the group left in their vehicles, declining to otherwise comment. (AP Photo/The Republic, Joe Harpring)

A Bartholomew County Sheriff’s deputy speaks with a group that stopped Monday, May 13, 2013, near the scene of the weekend slaying of four in Waynesville, Ind. After the chat the group left in their vehicles, declining to otherwise comment. (AP Photo/The Republic, Joe Harpring)

County Coroner Larry Fisher said Katheryn Burton had been shot and stabbed multiple times. The other victims all had multiple gunshot wounds.

Contacted later by phone, Fisher declined to disclose how many times the woman was stabbed. Asked if her body was mutilated, he said: “That’s kind of hard to define … It was very vicious.”

Gorbett said investigators believe the deaths are drug-related but didn’t elaborate. He said police have interviewed two people of interest but said Daniel Burton was not considered a suspect.

The slayings have rattled the neighborhood, where tidy homes on one end of the street give way to dilapidated houses with pit bulls chained outside.

April Spires, 28, moved to the unincorporated town of about 950 residents last August from Columbus. She shares a home with her boyfriend and their two children about a block from the scene of the killings.

“It’s really kinda quiet. You see kids out playing. It seemed to be a really good neighborhood,” she said.

Now, she’s keeping her two pit bulls in the house instead of outside for protection.

Spires said the slayings occurred not far from a memorial set up to remember victims of a 1998 quadruple homicide in the community.

“It is kind of creepy, but you’ve got to remember, not everybody’s bad,” Spires said.



Two pounds of heroin and 11 pounds of methamphetamine were seized recently in separate incidents at Laredo ports of entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Monday.

The more recent one occurred Sunday at the Lincoln Juarez International Bridge, when CBP officers processing commercial bus passengers encountered a 29-year-old U.S. citizen from Berwin, Ill., and a 24-year-old U.S. citizen from Chicago, Ill. The two women were referred for a secondary examination that resulted in the discovery of 1 pound of heroin each within the footwear they were both wearing. A total of eight packages containing the alleged 2 pounds of heroin were valued at $64,000.


The other seizure occurred Friday at the Gateway to the Americas Bridge when CBP officers encountered a 17-year-old U.S. citizen from Fort Worth traveling in a Mexican taxi. The taxi and the passenger were referred to secondary for an inspection, during which CBP officers found 11 pounds of alleged liquid crystal methamphetamines within the passenger’s baggage that included 10 beer bottles.

The alleged methamphetamines have an approximate street value of $352,000.

CBP officers seized the heroin and arrested both the man and female bus passengers and turned them over to Homeland Security Investigations special agents for further investigation.

The taxi passenger was also arrested by CBP officers and turned over to the Webb County district attorney’s office for state charges.


A Portsmouth man and a Sciotoville woman were among the three people arrested at a meth lab in South Shore, Ky. Alvin Branham, 42, of Portsmouth and Tasmine Hammons, 25, of Sciotoville, are both charged with trafficking in methamphetamine while Dennis Darby, Jr., 45, of South Shore, faces charges of manufacturing methamphetamine, first degree wanton endangerment, and possession of heroin.

On Saturday, at around 8 p.m., Greenup County Sheriff Keith Cooper said the Greenup County Drug Interdiction team discovered a large amount of methamphetamine inside a vehicle in South Shore. Upon further investigation, the Drug Interdiction team responded to 259 Sunshine Lane in South Shore.

Alvin Branham

Two men and a woman arrested in South Shore meth bust

Two men and a woman arrested in South Shore meth bust

Frank Lewis


Once at that residence an active methamphetamine lab was located. Inside that residence were Darby and a five-year-old child. There was a large amount of drug paraphernalia and items used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine inside the residence.

During a further search, heroin was found hidden on Darby’s person. All three were lodged in the Greenup County Detention Center.

Cooper said more charges are expected to be forthcoming. He said the case is being investigated by deputies Cody Fuller and Jason Bryant.



PETER LLOYD: Health authorities in Victoria are raising the alarm about the skyrocketing use of crystal methamphetamine, or ice.

Ambulance figures show the number of emergencies involving crystal meth more than doubled in the past year.

Simon Lauder reports.

SIMON LAUDER: Crystal methamphetamine, or ice, makes people feel euphoric, excited and energetic. It can also make them paranoid and aggressive.

The coordinator of the emergency department at Melbourne’s Angliss Hospital, Fran Chandler, says ice makes a shift in the emergency ward a lot more challenging.

FRAN CHANDLER: When they are confronted with a patient who is screaming and kicking and punching and spitting, and it is just so frightening. And it happens often.

SIMON LAUDER: Every year the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre collates data from Ambulance Victoria to track drug trends across Melbourne.

The last couple of years has seen a massive increase in ambulance call outs for people on ice. In 2010 there were 136 cases; in 2011 there were 282. Last year, there were 592.

Researcher, Dr Belinda Lloyd.

BELINDA LLOYD: They increased by 110 per cent between 2010-11 and 2011-12, and this follows on from an increase of around 108 per cent between 2009-10 and 2010-11.

And this is of real concern in terms of those acute harms in the population.

SIMON LAUDER: So is that people who have overdosed on the drug?

BELINDA LLOYD: It’s a combination of kinds of attendances. So it may be people who’ve overdosed; people who are experiencing mental health symptoms like psychosis as a result of their use; people who have been either victims or involved in cases of violence; maybe in motor vehicle accidents, so they may have been driving while they were drug affected; or had an accident, another kind of accident, so say falling for example.

SIMON LAUDER: Do you think this means more people are now using ice than before?

BELINDA LLOYD: That’s a difficult thing to assess because population level surveys of the general population don’t show a real increase in new populations using these drugs, but potentially this is being driven by new populations or by people who may have used other drugs in the past or used less frequently, perhaps using more frequently and experiencing more harms associated with their use.

It may also be a marker of increasing purity of a drug or increasing availability. For people who are already using those drugs, their use patterns might change and that may increase harms associated with use.

SIMON LAUDER: Dr Lloyd says the Turning Point study is the only one in the world to collate data from frontline paramedics, so there are no comparable figures for the rest of Australia.

Drug and alcohol counsellor for Odyssey House Victoria, Rene De Sant’Anna, is not surprised to hear ice is causing more harm to people year upon year. He says it’s becoming a mainstream party drug for young people and it’s cheap.

RENE DE SANT’ANNA: It’s seen as a Friday night sort of weekend party drug. The average price that I’m hearing now is around $40 a point of shard. That would keep them going for a good 24 hours or so.

In the scheme of things as a party drug, they do get a lot more bang for their buck.

Pretty much, they feel like they’re six foot tall and bulletproof.

SIMON LAUDER: And what about the long term impact? What are your concerns about what we might be seeing five or 10 years from now?

RENE DE SANT’ANNA: Definitely long term impacts would be depression and psychosis. Also the other issue for society is this whole normalisation of the drug actually becoming popular and normalised in our culture.

SIMON LAUDER: While the ice trend has the paramedics, hospitals and drug counsellors concerned this year, it’s a long way from being their biggest problem.

As always, the number of people who need an ambulance because of alcohol far outstrips anything else and the report released today shows callouts for alcohol related harm increased by 27 per cent in the past year.

PETER LLOYD: Simon Lauder.



Methamphetamine labs are being found more in Somerset County than in previous years, said Cpl. Dennis Ulery, a supervisor on the Pennsylvania State Police Clandestine Lab Response Team.

“Last year we had a 40 percent increase statewide and we are on pace with that this year, or possibly ahead of that,” he said in a telephone interview.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports that 96 methamphetamine labs were found in Pennsylvania and 11,210 were found nationally in 2012. Southeastern states have had the most labs discovered.

Meth products

Items seized in a meth lab bust



Ulery will present a program on how meth is “cooked” and the dangers associated with it at 6:30 p.m. May 29 in the Meyersdale Area High School auditorium. Somerset County Drug-Free Communities is coordinating the event because of recent meth lab busts in Meyersdale and Somerset. Other sponsors are the Somerset Single County Authority for Drug and Alcohol, the Twin Lakes Center for Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation and the Pennsylvania State Police. The event is open to the public.

“Methamphetamine is extremely addictive,” Ulery said. “The chemicals are easily accessible and it is easy to process — and highly dangerous. The likelihood of a fire or explosion sometime in the person’s career of cooking meth is very high. They will burn themselves or burn something down.”

One step of the process involves manufacturing a crude hydrogen chloride gas generator. In the final stage of the process, deadly hydrogen chloride gas is present and poses a severe health risk to the person making the methamphetamine and those who live in the same residence or nearby.

At the community meeting, Ulery will explain the warning signs of a nearby meth lab and how people can tell if others are using the synthetic drug.

Erin Howsare, director of the Somerset Single County Authority for Drug and Alcohol, said she is encouraging people to attend the meeting to learn to identify the signs that a meth lab is being operated so they can call the police to take appropriate action.

“We also hope that parents and teachers will be aware of the signs that children may be living in a home where meth is being cooked,” she said.

Methamphetamine, known as speed or meth, can cause psychotic behavior, hallucinations and strokes when used over a long period of time. Howsare said that meth users often don’t sleep, which can lead to psychosis, and people using or making meth may have open sores on their bodies from chemical burns. Meth use, like other drug use, can lead to additional crimes as the drug user needs money for more drugs. Pennsylvania State Police Sgt. Greg Keefer said in an earlier interview that at least 90 percent of crimes committed are linked to drug use.

Ronna Yablonski, prevention coordinator at the Twin Lakes Center, said that there are many problems that communities across Somerset County have to face — drug use and abuse, unfortunately, has to be one of them.

“We cannot ignore the problems that drug use causes to our communities, families, children, schools and businesses,” she said. “As concerned citizens of the county, please come and learn all you can about methamphetamine — a very dangerous drug that is having an increasing presence in our county. The more educated the public becomes, the more the problems can be addressed and curtailed.”



JONESVILLE — A Pennington Gap man is facing multiple drug charges for allegedly selling and cooking methamphetamine after local, state and federal authorities executed a search warrant on his residence earlier this month.

According to Lee County General District Court records, Jeffery Lynn Fleenor, 56, 237 Hiltons Drive, Pennington Gap, was charged May 8 by Virginia State Police with three drug-related felonies. The charges include distribution of between 28 and 226 grams of methamphetamine, conspiracy to distribute between 28 and 226 grams of methamphetamine and manufacturing a controlled substance.

Lee County man facing drug charges

Jeffery Lynn Fleenor


Authorities with knowledge of the investigation said the charges were filed against Fleenor after members of the Drug Enforcement Agency executed a search warrant on his residence, which is located in the Woodway community near Pennington Gap.

The VSP and Lee County Sheriff’s Office assisted with Fleenor’s arrest.

A spokesman with the DEA declined to provide additional details.

Fleenor was arraigned May 8 in Lee County General District Court and is being held at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail.



A La Crosse man hit his brother in the head with a crowbar multiple times while high on methamphetamine and prescription drugs early Sunday, according to police reports.

Jerry Smith, 26, faces charges of second-degree recklessly endangering safety, battery and disorderly conduct, all with use of a dangerous weapon, and criminal damage to property in La Crosse County Circuit Court.

Smith was dropped off at his brother’s 10th Street apartment while having a bad experience on drugs. He first threatened brother Raymond Smith, then hit him three to four times with the crowbar, reports stated.

Raymond Smith pushed his brother out of the house. Jerry Smith then threw rocks and bricks through the apartment’s windows and a car before police found him in an alley about 4:30 a.m.

Police took him to a hospital and later to the La Crosse County Jail. His brother also was treated at a hospital for injuries to his head.

Smith returns to court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing. He remains jailed on a $10,000 cash bond.



Two Effingham County men with a history of drug arrests are back in jail on methamphetamine charges.
Robert Stanley Davis, 30, and James Grover, 44, both of Guyton, were arrested Thursday after the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office Drug Suppression Unit got a tip that the two men were in possession of drugs.
Investigators stopped the car Davis and Grover were riding in near the Effingham County Courthouse.

Repeat offenders back behind bars
Robert Stanley Davis
Repeat offenders back behind bars
James Grover

“Deputies located methamphetamine and roxycodone inside of the vehicle, as well as inside an orifice of Mr. Davis,” said ECSO spokesman Detective David Ehsanipoor.
After further investigation, deputies discovered a methamphetamine lab at Grover’s home in the 200 block of Southern Charm Way. He was charged with possession of methamphetamine, unlawful possession of pseudoephedrine, and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.
Davis was charged with criminal attempt to manufacture methamphetamine, unlawful sale and possession of pseudoephedrine, and possession of methamphetamine.
Both men have been arrested on methamphetamine charges before, including two arrests for Davis last year. Davis was arrested on several meth-related charges including trafficking methamphetamine in April 2012, and on charges including manufacturing methamphetamine in October 2012.
Davis was out on bond at the time of his most recent arrest, which, according to Ehsanipoor, is all-too-common when the ECSO makes a meth arrest. He said the majority of the cases involve people who have had prior arrests, are on probation or are out on bond related to methamphetamine.
“It seems to be an ongoing cycle,” Ehsanipoor said. “It’s a very addictive drug. It’s a very dangerous drug. There are some instances of people getting off meth, but it seems that the majority of people who do it keep doing it.”
With that in mind, Ehsanipoor said, “Our main targets in this county are the people manufacturing meth.”
Both Grover and Davis are being held in the Effingham County Jail.



Soldiers of the Pha Muang force early Tuesday morning seized 1.66 million methamphetamine pills and 43 kilogrammes of crystal meth, or “ice”, with a total estimated street worth of one billion baht.

After receiving a tip that there would be an attempt to smuggle a large amount of illegal drugs into Thailand through the nearby border, Pha Muang force commander Maj Gen Somsak Nilbanjerdkul sent a special task force to patrol the Mae Sai-Koh Chang road in tambon Mae Sai of Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district.

The patrol was on the rural road at Ban Wiang Hom when they spotted seven men carrying big fertilizer sacks on their shoulders. They signaled them to stop but the men instead dropped the sacks and fled back over the border to Myanmar.

They opened the abandoned sacks and found 1.66 million methamphetamine pills and 43 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine.

The soldiers believed the smugglers were members of the gang run by the self-styled Lt Col Yise, which brings drugs across the border and then hands them over to other gangs for delivery throughout Thailand.



A MASSIVE jump in emergency calls due to crystal meth abuse across Melbourne has prompted warnings for authorities to act now before another epidemic occurs.

The latest Ambulance Victoria figures reveal a doubling of call-outs for crystal methamphetamine, known as ice, within a 12-month period.

Paramedics were called to deal with 592 crystal meth cases across the city in 2011-2012, compared with 282 a year earlier and 136 in 2009-2010.

An image of the base form of methamphetamines

Ambulance call-outs for crystal meth have doubled in Melbourne within 12 months, a new report says.



Dr Belinda Lloyd, from the Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Centre, says the huge magnitude of the meth increase has pushed it to levels of harm not seen in 15 years.

“It used to be something that was relatively uncommon, and that ongoing increase is an issue,” she said.

All levels of government needed to come up with “innovative responses” to stop the meth increase, she said, including campaigns to boost the public’s understanding of the drug’s many harms.


Meth is highly addictive and has been linked to stroke, heart failure, and violent episodes of psychosis and paranoia.

The federal government’s chief drug adviser, the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD), has warned that the supply of the drug is continuing to increase nationwide.

“People don’t realise what they’re getting into,” ANCD executive director Gino Vumbaca said.

“It has the potential to cause a lot of harm to people in the short and long term.”

He said governments needed to take a balanced approach to the problem, with preventative programs, treatment centres and police crackdowns all to be considered.

“If you don’t act, and act early … then it’s likely to increase,” he said of the crystal meth problem.

Use of the drug tends to spike during the weekends, especially in Melbourne’s CBD, and puts pressure on paramedics and emergency wards.

Fran Chandler, an emergency department care coordinator at Angliss Hospital, said nursing staff could face unpredictable and agitated patients.

The community needed to know more about available drug abuse support services, she said.

“It’s just a matter of educating people about the problems and educating them about the resources that are available.”

The annual Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre report, which compiles Ambulance Victoria data, also showed a 27 per cent jump in alcohol call-outs in the city.

In rural Victoria, the rate of call-outs for cannabis and prescription drug abuse was higher than in the city.

Turning Point director Dan Lubman said the data showed an out-of-control drinking culture and a growing methamphetamine problem.



Combine methamphetamine chemicals and a car filled with gasoline and you have the makings of a volatile situation, said a police officer who specializes in drug cases.

Early Saturday those elements came together on Boardman-Canfield Road as officers pulled over a car that eluded them two weeks ago. They found what they think is a rolling methamphetamine lab.

Arrested and being held in the Mahoning County jail until their arraignments today in Mahoning County Court are Donny Thompson, 22, of Fenton Street in Niles; Joshua Curry, 20, of Briggs Road in Leavittsburg; Anthony Smith, 25, of Gillmer Road in Leavittsburg; and Phylicia Chalker, 22, of Robert Street in Vienna.

All face a single count of possession of chemicals used in the manufacturing of a Schedule 1 drug. Thompson, who was the driver, faces an additional count of driving under suspension.

Trumbull County Sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Orr, who heads the Trumbull-Ashtabula Law Enforcement Group Task Force, which specializes in drug investigations, said he knows of all four people but was not sure of any open investigations in which they may be involved.

Orr said Trumbull County has seen a rise in methamphetamine labs within the last six months, including the rolling kind where chemicals are stored in a vehicle to make the drug. He said the mobile trend has picked up since dealers figured out how to make the drug in a plastic two-liter bottle, which makes it easier to make on the run but also creates a dangerous situation because of the chemicals that are mixed to make it.

“They are way more dangerous,” Orr said of the mobile labs.

Compounding the problem, Orr said, is that often meth dealers also use the drug and sometimes it makes them hard to deal with in a tense situation. “They’re usually very paranoid people.”

Boardman police Sgt. Mike Hughes, who heads the department’s narcotics investigations, said Saturday’s arrest was the first mobile lab he has seen. He said it is not uncommon for meth makers to travel all over to buy the pseudoephedrine in cold medicines for the drug because pharmacies have a limit on the amount of Sudafed-type products a person can buy.

“They try to beat the system,” Hughes said.

Hughes said an average person seeing the assortment of chemicals and pills probably would have no idea what they were being used for.

Reports state officers spotted a car driven by Thompson about 2 a.m. Saturday on Boardman-Canfield Road near Hitchcock Road that was weaving and had no rear license plate light. An officer tried to pull a similar car over last month near the Walgreens on Boardman-Poland Road, but it turned down a side street and got away, reports state. At the time, officers went into the Walgreens and were told that a man had tried to buy a large amount of cold medicine but was not allowed because the computer system had detected repeated purchases of the same items.

After the car was stopped, police found out none of the four inside had a valid driver’s license and they began to check the car. They found a pink liquid known to be used in methamphetamine, a box of cold pills, a pill grinder, brake fluid and starter fluid, reports state. These are ingredients commonly used to make meth, authorities said.

Members of the Canfield post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol also assisted Boardman officers, reports state.

Court records from Trumbull County Common Pleas Court show that Curry, Smith and Thompson all face pending criminal charges. Curry was indicted by a grand jury in April on charges of misuse of credit cards and theft. Smith and Thompson were both indicted in March on charges of breaking and entering into unsecured homes.

Hughes said methamphetamine use is not as prevalent in Mahoning County as it is in some of the surrounding counties, including Summit and Trumbull, but said he has no idea why that is.

In Trumbull County, TAG agents serving a warrant found a meth lab in Leavittsburg on April 26, and portions of a meth lab were found April 23 in a yard on Douglas Street Northwest in Warren. Also, on March 31 in Newton Falls, a family on a walk reported seeing pieces of a meth lab in a wooded area.



STANTON — A 44-year-old homeless man was arrested near a playground in Woodland Park following a complaint that a suspicious person was watching children in the area.

Johnnie Janzen, who is a registered sex offender, was arrested after being contacted by a sheriff’s deputy and found in possession of methamphetamine, said Stanton County Sheriff Mike Unger.

Janzen, who lists himself as a transient, was taken into custody and was being held in the Pierce County jail on felony drug charges and driving under the influence of drugs, Unger said.

A state trooper arrested two California men Monday on drug charges after the officer searched a motor home in Carson County and found 100 pounds of methamphetamine valued at more than $3.6 million, the Department of Public Safety said.

Shortly before 7 a.m. Monday, DPS said a trooper patrolling Interstate 40 pulled over a 1992 Winnebago motor home on a traffic violation. During the stop, the trooper searched the vehicle and found several bundles of methamphetamine hidden inside false compartments in the motor home, DPS said.

The driver, Felix Lopez Vasquez, 58, of Perris, Calif., and his passenger, Victor Hugo Gutierrez, 43, of Orange, Calif., were arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance, a first-degree felony, DPS said, and the men were booked into the Carson County Jail.

The DPS said the drugs were being transported from California to Tulsa, Okla.



The Rodent King will remain caged for a bit longer.

Robert Hollywood, 55 – the man who made headlines in 2004 following his arrest for keeping hundreds of rats and mice, dozens of them dead, in his Menlo Park home – was sentenced Friday to 16 months in County Jail after pleading no contest to felony possession of methamphetamine. As part of his sentence, he received 181 days credit for time served, according to prosecutors.


On Feb. 9, police patrolling the Rolison Road area of Redwood City asked Hollywood if he was on probation, and he said yes even though he wasn’t. The officers found a small amount of methamphetamine on him and arrested him.

In 2004, Hollywood was convicted of felony animal cruelty after more than 200 domesticated mice, 68 rats, two boa constrictors and a cat were reportedly found in his Colby Avenue home in Menlo Park. About 70 of the rodents were found dead and either stuffed in a freezer or in the garbage disposal.