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ROANE COUNTY, TN (Knox News) — A man caught making methamphetamine in two one-pot labs while his 6-year-old son slept in the unfinished, rodent-infested house they occupied has been charged with aggravated child abuse and manufacturing meth.

Christopher Michael Raby, 39, is also charged with violating probation and remains in the Roane County Jail. Both he and his son were decontaminated at the Dogtown Road scene in Ten Mile, and the child was taken to Roane Medical Center’s emergency room for a checkup.

Deputy Mark Steinmann said he and another deputy received information of an active meth lab at Raby’s residence, learned that he had a history of buying pseudoephedrine — a key ingredient in meth-making — and went to the home Tuesday.

After getting permission to enter the residence, Steinmann said he detected the “strong chemical odor” of meth and saw Raby’s son asleep on a living room chair.

The East Jakarta Police have launched an investigation into Cipinang Penitentiary following information from an arrested prison guard, identified only as FM, who claimed that the prison was host to a crystal methamphetamine factory.

FM, 28, who was arrested for smuggling drugs into the prison, told police that smuggled crystal meth would be processed in the prison before being distributed, the head of the drug unit at East Jakarta Police, Adj. Sr. Comr. Afrisal said as quoted by on Wednesday.

He said the police also expected to arrest other suspects in the case.

“We still have targets, we will uncover the network,” he said.

Afrisal said the police were still waiting for the green light from the Justice and Human Rights Ministry to question a convict, identified only as HY, who was allegedly the leader of the prison’s drugs syndicate.

FM was arrested after allegedly being caught red handed carrying about 500 grams of crystal meth into the prison.

The deputy head of East Jakarta Police, Adj. Sr. Comr. Abrar Tuntalanai said that for every meth delivery FM received Rp 2 million [US$172]. The money was transferred to FM’s wife’s bank account.



(WBIR) A meth lab, methamphetamine, and needles were found inside a bedroom Thomas and Melanie Hamby shared with their two children, ages 14 and 7, according to the Knoxville Police Department.

Thomas and Melanie Hamby

The couple along with Joshua Lyons are facing meth-making charges after police discovered the illegal items inside their south Knoxville home at Stonewell Apartments on Sevier Avenue Tuesday night.

Joshua Lyons faces

Officials said they believe at one point a meth lab also started a fire in the apartment. Officers found scorched areas in the kitchen and freezer where it looked like someone tried to put out the fire with a broom but eventually threw it into the freezer.

Authorities said they’re continuing to investigate, but three of the four adults found in the apartment are facing the following charges: manufacturing of methamphetamine, promotion of meth manufacture, and drug paraphernalia. Additional charges are pending, said police.

meth lab, methamphetamine, and needles

Crews took the children to East Tennessee’s Children Hospital for evaluation. The Department of Children’s Services have since placed the children in a family member’s care.

Previous story:

Knoxville police found a meth lab in South Knoxville Tuesday with two children inside.

They investigated a unit at Stonewall Apartments on Sevier Avenue shortly before 8 o’clock. Police say they found evidence of a meth lab. Four adults were inside, and so were a 14-year-old and 7-year-old child.

The Knoxville Fire Department is decontaminating the scene and checking the health of everyone in the apartment.

The Family Crimes Unit and the Department of Children’s Services are investigating.

Knoxville police say charges are pending in the case.



MURFREESBORO — Murfreesboro Police officers discovered disposable meth labs in a vacant rental property Wednesday morning on East Northfield Boulevard, according to a statement sent out by the department.

MPS spokesman Sgt. Kyle Evans said officers discovered four single-pot meth labs, commonly referred to as mobile labs or shake-and-bake labs, during a routine patrol check at 6:40 a.m. Wednesday.

117 E. Northfield Blvd

“Officer Mic Rea and the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force rendered the labs safe and prepared for disposal,” Evans said.

Meth can be made in a single two-liter bottle when pseudoephedrine, lithium batteries and other ingredients such as drain cleaner and camping fuel are mixed and shaken. Once dried, the mixture yields about 10 grams of methamphetamine.

To report suspected meth activity, visit the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force’s website at




A woman described as a large-scale ice methamphetamine dealer is facing federal charges.

Hilda Trujillo-Rojas has been ordered to be detained pending the outcome of her case.

Two men who were with her at the time of her arrest were also taken into custody.

Authorities said during the week of March 24, law enforcement identified a cooperating source in the Chattanooga area who was buying large amounts of ice meth. Agents conducted controlled communications between the CS and “Hilda.” At the direction of law enforcement, an arrangement was made between the CS and “Hilda” for the CS to purchase approximately 1.5 pounds (approximately 680 grams) of ice methamphetamine from “Hilda.”On March 28, in anticipation of the methamphetamine delivery, surveillance was established on the pre-arranged meeting location in Chattanooga. Agents observed an individual fitting the physical description of”Hilda” arrive at the location, at which time agents approached and detained her.

A search of her vehicle resulted in the seizure of approximately 1.5 pounds of a crystalline substance, which field-tested positive for methamphetamine.Ms. Rojas-Trujillo declined to make a statement to law enforcement.

While she was being arrested, a vehicle with Georgia tags occupied by two men was observed slowly driving by the meeting location. Once the scene was cleared, the vehicle returned to the meeting location, slowed down, and the occupants appeared to look around the scene. Suspicion aroused, agents stopped the car and received permission to search it. Nunchucks were found inside the vehicle.

Curtis Ross Steele (driver) and Yerhel A. Caballero-Mejia (passenger), were taken into custody. Steele acknowledged that he has known Ms. Trujillo-Rojas most of his life and that she approached him and asked him to follow her while she made a drug delivery to Chattanooga. Both Steele and Caballero-Mejia stated that they were aware that Ms. Trujillo-Rojas was transporting methamphetamine and that she had agreed to pay them each $500 to follow her and provide security as needed, with payment to be made after delivery.

Agents said among their directives were to intervene if law enforcement began following Ms. Trujillo-Rojas by speeding or performing some other traffic infraction to distract law enforcement from her.

Law enforcement checked the call history of Caballero-Mejia’s cell phone and found recent calls between it and Ms. Trujillo-Rojas’ cell phone.Ms. Trujillo-Rojas was charged with knowingly possessing with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, Schedule II controlled substance.

HUDSON, N.H. — A 37-year-old Hudson woman is being held on $75,000 cash bail after Hudson police and agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency say they discovered a methamphetamine lab in her apartment on Wednesday afternoon.


Rachelle Bourassa, 37, of 1 Burns Hill Road, Unit 3, was taken into custody after agents and police went to her apartment about 1:30 p.m., according to Hudson police.

A biohazard team from the DEA removed all potentially hazardous items and materials from Bourassa’s apartment, according to Hudson police.

Bourassa is charged with a single count of manufacturing methamphetamine.

Bourassa is scheduled to be arraigned in Nashua District Court on Thursday.



JASPER COUNTY — A woman was arrested by local officials this week for selling what is described as a “look-alike” drug to an undercover law enforcement officer.

According to the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, an investigation was initiated on March 9 when the JCSO Drug Interdiction and Investigation Unit received information that a female subject, later identified as Kristin Wireman, 33, of Highland, Ind. was in possession of methamphetamine. According to officials, additional investigation provided reliable probable cause that Wireman in fact, wished to sell the drug methamphetamine.




U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers found nearly $236,000 worth of methamphetamine concealed inside a vehicle at the Calexico downtown port of entry on Thursday.

CBP Finds $236k Worth of Meth in Vehicle

A canine team screening vehicles around 11 a.m. on April 17 alerted officers to a 2008 Chrysler Sebring. A CBP officer found anomalies with the passenger side rocker panel, after which 36 pounds of methamphetamine was discovered in all four rocker panels of the car.

The driver, a 25-year-old Mexican citizen, and passenger, a 22-year-old U.S. citizen, were turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations agents for further processing.




ROSEBURG, Ore. — Sheriff’s deputies arrested a Green District couple early Wednesday morning, after authorities say a toddler was brought into the hospital with meth in her system.

Michelle Lynn Burke, 40, and James Timothy Pohl
On Tuesday night at about 11:30 pm, officials say Michelle Lynn Burke, 40, and James Timothy Pohl, 44, both from the Green District of Roseburg, took their 2-year-old daughter to Mercy because she was not acting normally.

The Sheriff’s office says blood tests showed the child had methamphetamine in her system.

Deputies went to Burke and Pohl’s residence on Rolling Hills Road, where they say they found a glass pipe with methamphetamine residue, syringes and bindles containing methamphetamine residue.

Burke and Pohl were both arrested and charged by deputies with child neglect, endangering the welfare of a minor and unlawful possession of methamphetamine.

Both were lodged in the Douglas County Jail.

The Department of Human Services was contacted by the Sheriff’s office, and authorities say they are working to ensure the safety of the victim and the other two children in the home, a 10-year-old girl and a 5-month-old girl.



Brazos County jurors on Wednesday heard from the ex-wife of a former Madisonville police sergeant on trial for allegedly planting methamphetamine on the woman he twice married.

Jeffrey Covington’s ex-wife testified that when she was arrested in November 2011 after a Texas DPS trooper pulled her over and found drugs in a magnetic key holder under her vehicle, she immediately suspected Covington was somehow responsible.

“Is this because of my ex-husband?” Laura Covington could be heard asking the trooper in a video of her arrest played for jurors on the second day of Jeff Covington’s trial. The pair was first married in 2004, then legally separated and remarried before being divorced for a second time in December 2010.

The defendant was indicted in February 2013 on felony charges of delivery of a controlled substance, obstruction or retaliation and official oppression, and is accused of working with another former Madisonville officer, Justin Barham, to have a police informant plant drugs on Laura Covington.

The trial was moved to Brazos County based on change of venue requests from the state and the defense granted by Judge Donald Kraemer of the 12th District Court.

As the result of her arrest, Laura Covington said her two older children were taken away from her for more than a month after Jeff Covington, their father, informed a judge she was arrested and requested temporary custody. At the time, she said, she was about seven months pregnant with her third child whom the defendant is not the father of.

The drug possession charge against Laura Covington was dismissed based on a lack of evidence.

Through their questioning, prosecutors have asserted that Jeff Covington’s motive in planting the drugs was to gain custody of the couple’s two children, whom Laura Covington said rarely saw their father even though he had visitation rights. In November 2012, he voluntarily terminated his parental rights, stating that he believed it was in “the best interest of the children,” according to court documents presented during the trial.

Based on evidence from the state, including testimony from Covington’s OB-GYN, Laura Covington did not use drugs during her pregnancy, though she did admit on cross-examination to using methamphetamine on a regular basis in 2010.

Assistant attorney generals David Glickler and Jonathan White, who were appointed to prosecute the case after Madison County District Attorney Brian Risinger recused his office, rested their case late in the day. Bryan-based attorney Jim James will begin presenting the defense’s case Thursday morning.

In addition to Laura Covington, state attorneys called on several Madisonville police informants, including Jeremy Kidd, who testified on Tuesday that he’d planted the drugs on Laura Covington’s car after being asked to by Barham.

Another state witness, James Richards, told jurors he was approached about being an informant after being arrested in summer 2011 for violating his probation terms and not long afterward had a phone conversation with Jeff Covington in which the defendant implied he wanted Richards’ help in setting up his ex-wife.

DPS Trooper Carl Clary, who arrested Laura Covington after finding the drugs under her pickup, was one of several law enforcement officers who testified for the state that Jeff Covington had mentioned he believed his ex-wife was driving with drugs on her and encouraged them to stop and search her.

Clary said Jeff Covington suggested that, if the trooper were to get consent to search her, he look under her vehicle.

While cross-examining law enforcement officers, James pointed out that it was not unusual for police to tip off other officers if they believe someone to be “riding dirty” and that Laura Covington was not the only individual his client had mentioned that might be carrying drugs.

The trial will resume at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in the 272nd District Courtroom.



OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA) — Four people face federal indictments for attempting to bring methamphetamine into north Mississippi.

Arthur Langster Fenderson, Jimmy Ray Grimes, Tamatha Lamb, and Claude Collins with conspiracy to distribute the drug in Lee, Tishomingo and other counties across the northern part of the state.

The indictment says Grimes and Fenderson were arrested after Grimes drove to Nashville and purchased 27 ounces of methamphetamine from Fenderson.

Fenderson left the hotel and was stopped by agents, who recovered $30,000 in cash.

Grimes was arrested at the hotel with the drugs and $11,000 in cash.

The indictment says Lamb and Collins had differing roles in the conspiracy, but did not give specific information about what those were.

Fenderson, Lamb and Collins have all pleaded not guilty, while Grimes is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

All four remain in the custody of the U. S. Marshals Service.




MANSFIELD — The death of a 3-month-old baby boy took a surprising twist when Mansfield police found a meth lab inside the infant’s home.

One man is under arrest, and police say there could be more arrests coming.

Investigators say that the mother took the baby to OhioHealth MedCentral, but he was pronounced dead on arrival.

News of the child’s death is spreading along West Fourth Street.

“I’m surprised. I’m really surprised,” said neighbor Albert Twyman.

Twyman has lived across the street from where the baby died for almost two decades.

He says he had no idea what was going on inside the home. He said he didn’t notice any unusual activity.

“They pretty much kept to themselves,” said Twyman. “The children played outside, and that was it.”

While police were investigating the child’s death, they stumbled onto a meth lab upstairs.

They had to evacuate immediately, not knowing what volatile chemicals were inside.

1398215721000-dicksonAlexander Dickson(Photo: Richland County Sheriff’s Office)

“For safety of all those involved we retreated from the residence and detectives from the METRICH drug task force and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation neutralized the meth lab,” said Sgt. Doug Noblet with the Mansfield Police Department.

Police don’t know if the lab contributed to the baby’s death.

Police arrested 29-year-old Alexander Dickson for making drugs and possessing the chemicals to make them.

The neighbor next door — who didn’t want to be identified — feels bad about the family’s loss.

She is also angry that there was a suspected meth lab just feet away from where her children sleep.

“It’s sad. I have kids, and it’s sad that something could take place so close to kids in the neighborhood, and it could blow up anytime. They have kids, newborns around here, and it’s just sad,” she said.

The medical examiner is doing an autopsy to help give them an idea of what caused the infant’s death.

There were three other children inside the home, and they are now in foster care.




•Acacia Bowers, 29, and Lacey Preston, 30, are charged with robbery, unlawful use of a weapon and possession of meth

•Police say they held up workers at Twin Perks Espresso in Portland, Oregon, last fall

•Detectives tracked down the suspects after they were spotted on footage from a security camera that captured the heist

•The footage shows one of the women walking up to the coffee counter and pulling a gun on a barista before making off with a wad of cash

•The second woman then pulls up at the stand in a vehicle and pretends to be a concerned patron who offered to call 911, police said

•But the emergency call was never made and police determined she was an accomplice trying to buy the robber getaway time

•The drive-thru coffee stand is one of a number in the area that is serviced by women in swimwear


Two women have been arrested for allegedly robbing bikini-clad baristas at gunpoint at a coffee shop in Portland, Oregon.

Acacia Bowers, 29, and Lacey Preston, 30, are charged with robbery, unlawful use of a weapon and possession of meth after police say they held up workers at Twin Perks Espresso last fall.

Detectives tracked down the suspects after they were spotted on footage from a security camera that captured the heist.

But the emergency call was never made prompting investigators to conclude the woman was an accomplice trying to buy the robber getaway time.


Surveillance cameras caught the car’s license plate and detectives were able to identify the women.

The suspects have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

Investigators believe the pair also robbed the Smokin’ Hot Java Bombshell Baristas a week prior. They are still trying to link them to that crime but they could face additional charges.


Twin Peaks Espresso owner Tracy Fields told that her swimwear-wearing staff were shaken up after the robbery.

‘It’s traumatizing,’ Fields said. ‘You can’t have a gun put in your face without walking away from it with some sort of damage.’

She added that she and her employees are thrilled police continued to follow leads since the robbery took place.

‘You don’t know what they’re going to do, so the (baristas) are extremely relieved (they’re caught),’ she said.

Fields said she’s confident her security system will deter prospective thieves.

‘We’ll get them every time. You just have to put the money in to protect your employees and make people understand this is not OK,’ she told the TV station.

‘It’s a bad idea to try and rob us.’


It might look like a simple styrofoam custard cup, but police say what it is used for is a recipe for disaster – a portable methamphetamine lab known as a “one pot” or “shake and bake” operation.

“The chemicals involved in a meth lab are highly combustible, highly explosive,” said Scott Bonno, St. Lawrence County undersheriff.


Authorities say meth lab seizures in St. Lawrence County are up 500 percent.

Officials have been gearing up in what they describe as a proactive attack on meth makers.

“The user who’s producing meth is even more dangerous because often times they’re high and they’ll knock over chemicals – creating fires, explosions or placing fumes into the community which are dangerous. The meth producers are equally dangerous to the community because they’re providing cheap drugs to users and it’s a very, very dangerous drug,” said District Attorney Mary Rain.

A total of five active labs have been found since January, including two found on the same day in Canton and Ogdensburg.

That is raising new concerns about the lethal drug’s availability, impact and safety not only for the meth-makers, but the public.

“We’re in fear of this becoming an epidemic, if you will, and we don’t want it. We had a heroin problem last summer and now we’re on to meth,” said Sean O’Brien of the county’s Drug Task Force.

Mixing cold pills containing pseudoephedrine with substances such as acid, toxic cleaners, lithium batteries and other ingredients in a plastic 2-liter soda bottle or small sytrofoam cup can make small batches of meth with little odor in a house or even a car as part of a portable or rolling lab.

The explosive fire from a portable meth lab is not only fast but dangerous.

County Drug Task Force members say the increase in meth manufacturing, using and distributing is a dangerous sign and needs to be addressed before the problem gets out of hand.

In addition to the meth labs being very dangerous, toxic and highly explosive, anyone convicted of the highest count of making meth can face up to 25 years in state prison.





Shawn Lindsey was bound and tortured by a group of men at a west Wichita auto shop before he was injected with a lethal dose of meth, a prosecutor told a Sedgwick County jury on Tuesday.

“They taunted him, they tortured him, and they shot him with BB pellets for their own amusement,” Assistant Sedgwick County District Attorney Tyler Roush said.

At one point, Roush said, the men wrapped an electric fence around Lindsey, and one of them fired pellets at the on switch.

Wichita police investigate him

Roush said it was all done because Lindsey owed money to the owner of the shop, Dang Sean – a man that a defense lawyer described as “a scary guy” with a volatile temper.

Sean, 33, and two other men, brothers Jason and Justin Jones, both 31, are charged with first-degree murder in Lindsey’s death. Jason Jones is the first of the three to stand trial.

Wichita police said Lindsey, 34, was killed on the night of Jan. 11, 2013, in an auto repair shop at 116 S. Vine. Police said his body was then taken to a wooded area near K-96 and Hillside and dragged into the brush, where it was found five days later by surveyors.

Wichita police investigate

Roush said police initially didn’t know the cause of Lindsey’s death.

“There was no obvious sign of trauma,” he said. “There was no bullet hole in head or anything like that.”

An autopsy later found meth in his system.

“The amount of methamphetamine is not just a lethal dose,” Roush said. “The amount found is eight to 10 times what you’d expect to find in an overdose.”

Defense lawyer Carl Maughn told the jury that everyone in the shop used meth. He said Lindsey was a former co-owner of the business who had been using the company credit card for personal expenses. He said Lindsey was a meth user and dealer who sometimes got his drugs from Sean even after their business relationship had ended.

Maughn said his client was at the shop on the day Lindsey was being tortured, but was not a participant.

“He was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the company of the wrong people doing bad things,” he said.

Maughn said Jones last saw Lindsey on the night of Jan. 11, 2013, when he was loading him into a pickup to be driven to the hospital.

“At that time, Shawn Lindsey was awake, alert, alive and talking,” he said.








Authorities on Saturday arrested two suspects at a Scotts Valley auto repair shop on suspicion of possession of controlled substances.

The suspects are Lonni Locatelli, a 52-year-old resident of Scotts Valley, and Lauren Lotz, 23, of Ben Lomond.


Locatelli was arrested on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a stun gun and ammunition, while Lotz was arrested on suspicion of possession of controlled substances, Santa Cruz County sheriff’s officials said.

Members of the Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Team Gang Task Force and Narcotics Task Force, along with members of the Scotts Valley Police Department and the Santa Cruz County Auto Theft Reduction Task Force, made the arrests as they served a search warrant at about 11:05 p.m. Saturday at an auto repair shop in the 5300 block of Scotts Valley Drive.

Police had received various nuisance complaints about the property and the shopkeeper, Locatelli.

The auto repair shop was also found to be operating unlawfully, according to the sheriff’s office.



ROGERS COUNTY, Okla. — Small children were found living in a meth lab operation. Now, a dozen people are behind bars. FOX23′s Morgan Downing spoke exclusively with sheriff’s investigators about what they found on a rural Rogers County ranch. Of the 12 people arrested, six of the people were family members. Sheriff’s investigators say this meth addiction spanned over three generations and was growing. The Rogers County THUG Task Force had been investigating two homes on the Bates ranch for six months. Sheriff Scott Walton said there was a lot of illegal activity going on behind closed doors.

“They help a lot of people in this community feed their habit of meth addiction,” Walton said. Investigators served a search warrant on the homes and found a large amount of meth, marijuana and several guns. Walton says the most concerning thing was the small children, a 2-year-old and 8-month-old, who were living inside the home. “These people have no concern for small children whatsoever. Their focus is on feeding their addiction,” Walton said. The children are in DHS custody.

The lead investigator told FOX23 thanks to a database that tracks who buys pseudoephedrine, they knew exactly how much people were buying and bringing to the homes. In the last year, investigators say more than 150 packets of pseudoephedrine were bought and used to make meth at the homes; more than 15 packets just his month.

Deputies say Helen Bates, Marty Bates, Vicki Bates, Londa Bates, Derek Bates, Briana Bates, are all family members who played a role in the illegal operation. Nicole Noble, Warren Harper, David Thelin, Rosemary Burrows, Billy Bob Thornton and Travis Bitting were arrested too.

“Even while we were in the process of serving the search warrant, there was customers pulling up to the driveway and driving off. Some of them which we made contact with,” Walton said.



GREER, S.C.Greer police said they were flagged down in a Walmart parking lot Sunday night by someone reporting screaming toddlers left in a car.

An officer said as he walked through the parking lot on the Walmart on Wade Hampton Boulevard in Greer looking for the vehicle, he could hear a child screaming, even though the windows of the SUV were rolled up.


The officer said a male toddler in the back seat of the SUV was screaming continuously and rocking back and forth. A female toddler, who was also in the backseat, was unresponsive, the officer said. The SUV door was unlocked, and another officer who had arrived at the location opened the door to check on the children.

The officers said they were unable to awaken the girl, who they said was breathing shallowly at the time. The officers said the children were filthy and had soiled themselves, and they called for EMS.

When they searched the car to try to find identification they found drug paraphernalia including hypodermic needles and a glass pipe, and they also found a substance that appeared to be meth, police said.

Several minutes later, a woman, later identified as 37-year-old Audrey Thompson Atkinson, came out of the Walmart pushing a cart filled with items, police said.

Officers said they recognized Atkinson as a chronic drug abuser with whom they were familiar. She was taken into custody.

Police said as they processed Atkinson’s purse, they found items they determined had been shoplifted.

Investigators said that a Walmart loss prevention officer provided surveillance video showing Atkinson going into the store at 10:12 p.m. and coming out of the store at 10:50 p.m. The officer also provided video from inside that store that investigators say shows Atkinson shoplifting.

The police report said when Atkinson was later at the jail, she admitted she left the children alone in the car because they were sleeping and because she “had been using meth.”

After a Department of Social Services agent met with the toddlers’ father, they were released into his care.

Atkinson is charged with unlawful neglect of a child, shoplifting, possession of methamphetamine and having an open liquor container in her vehicle. She was being held in the Spartanburg County Detention Center.


WATERTOWN — Police spent several hours Tuesday investigating a suspected methamphetamine lab in a duplex on William Street.

Detective Ronald E. Gatch of the Metro-Jeff Drug Task Force said the Jefferson County Probation Department got an anonymous tip about suspicious activity at 200 William St. and called the task force to investigate.

Firefighters patrol the front yardAn investigator works on the case ofAn investigator sifts through evidence

Detective Gatch said materials and equipment used in manufacturing methamphetamine were confiscated from the house. No one has been arrested, nor were police seeking anyone, he said. The property was turned back over to the tenants.

“It is an active investigation,” Detective Gatch said.

Unidentified tenants cooperated in the probe, which began about 10:30 a.m. and lasted until about 6:30 p.m. At one point, a dozen police cars, other vehicles and a state police meth team trailer lined the busy city street, while state police wearing black hazardous materials suits with respirators worked inside.

Tenants living in the suspected unit and apartment next door were evacuated because the production of meth can be dangerous and could cause an explosion or fire. A Watertown Fire Department pump truck was called to the scene as a precaution.

Working under temporary white canopies, investigators processed evidence. One investigator carried evidence bags to his vehicle.

Several motorists driving by the duplex asked what was happening and said they were not surprised to hear police were investigating a meth lab.

It would be the fourth meth lab discovered in the city this year and about the ninth in Jefferson County since July, “which is kind of scary,” Detective Gatch said. It’s becoming harder to detect because it once took two or three days to cook meth and now it can be done in less than an hour, he said.

Detective Gatch could not say why there seems to be such an epidemic of meth labs in the county after more than a decade.

“Where there are addicts, there’s going to be people cooking up meth,” he said.



WARREN COUNTY, Ky. (WBKO) – The Warren County Sheriff’s Office said the Horseshoe Camp Modern Cottages on Louisville Road in Bowling Green were first reported to be on fire just before 4:00 Tuesday afternoon. Police said they heard three loud explosions that went off inside the building; Explosions they believed were caused by meth labs inside.

The current owner of the building is the sister of Sheriff Jerry “Peanuts” Gaines along with her husband. The couple says it tears them apart to see a building with so many memories, go down so fast.


“She’s very emotional right now, which is why I’m talking and she’s not. She’s so emotional, having been born here and raised until she got her first professional job. She lived here for about 20 something years,” said Bud Tarry, Co-owner of Horseshoe Camp Modern Cottages

“A fella here was kind of suspicious and he started running. They deputies ran him down. They got to questioning him and he was high on something. After he got to talking, he started talking about another fella who was making meth up there in one of the old cabins. They’re looking for him now,” said Warren County Sheriff, Jerry “Peanuts” Gaines.

The sheriff’s office hasn’t released the name of the man arrested. They’re still searching for the other suspect.

The motel closed in the 1970′s, and was the second oldest motel in the county. It is considered a total loss.



MIDDLETOWN, Calif. – A vehicle stop conducted Friday afternoon resulted in three arrests and the seizure of 7 pounds of methamphetamine, reported to be the largest seizure of the drug by the sheriff’s office with an estimated value of more than $320,000.


Arrested following the stop were Santa Rosans Rosa Elvia Carrillo-Salas, 24; 24-year-old Artemio Rivera Sandoval; and 22-year-old Pedro Infante-Camarena, according to Lt. Steve Brooks.

At approximately 4:40 p.m. Friday, April 18, a deputy was traveling northbound on Highway 29 near Butts Canyon Road in Middletown behind a silver-colored Toyota sedan, which varied its speed between 38 and 50 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone, Brooks said.

The deputy also noticed that the driver was continually tapping the brakes, causing the brake lights to illuminate for no apparent reason. Brooks said the deputy followed the vehicle for approximately three miles and noticed the driving pattern continued.

Brooks said the deputy also noticed by the time they reached Grange Road there were nine vehicles behind him due to the Toyota impeding the flow of traffic. The deputy conducted an enforcement stop of the vehicle which pulled into the Hidden Valley Food Mart.

The deputy contacted the driver, who was identified as Carrillo-Salas, and explained the reason for the stop and advised she needed to pull over to allow cars to get around her. Brooks said the deputy asked for Carrillo’s driver’s license. As she handed the deputy her California Identification Card, the deputy noticed her hand was trembling and she appeared nervous.

During the stop, the deputy also contacted the front seat passenger, who was identified as Sandoval and the rear seat passenger, identified as Infante-Camarena, Brooks said. Carrillo said she did not possess a driver’s license and advised the deputy that neither Sandoval nor Infante had a driver’s license or spoke English.

A K-9 unit responded to the scene and assisted the deputy with the enforcement stop. The deputy had Carrillo exit the vehicle and advised she was detained for driving while unlicensed. Brooks said she denied having anyone local she could call to drive her car home.

Because neither Carrillo nor her passengers had a driver’s license and there was no one readily available to drive the vehicle, the deputy requested a tow truck respond to the location, Brooks said.

Prior to conducting an inventory search of the vehicle, the deputy requested the K-9 officer use his partner to conduct a search of the vehicles exterior. The K-9 officer deployed his canine which provided a positive alert to the odor of a controlled substance, according to Brooks.

During a search of the vehicle, deputies located what appeared to be approximately four pounds of methamphetamine. Brooks said the methamphetamine was packaged into 1 pound bags and was located in the backseat area of the vehicle.


The Sheriff’s Narcotics Task force was notified of the enforcement stop and the large quantity of methamphetamine seized. Brooks said narcotics detectives responded to the scene and took possession of the methamphetamine.

Carrillo-Salas, Sandoval and Infante-Camarena were arrested for possession of a controlled substance for sale and transportation of a controlled substance. Brooks said they were transported to the Lake County Hill Road Correctional Facility and booked.



An Alabama man remains behind bars after reportedly being found in possession of $20,000 worth of methamphetamine during an April 15 traffic stop on I-85 near Hamilton Mill Road in Buford.

Rafael Pineda, 28, was traveling northbound on I-85 when a Gwinnett County Police officer noticed Pineda’s 1998 BMW had window tint which appeared to be darker than what is allowed by law. The officer conducted a traffic stop and, upon looking in the passenger side window of Pineda’s vehicle, noticed freshly opened air fresheners, air fresheners still in their packaging and two cell phones.

During the course of speaking with the officer, Pineda reportedly said he had come from Alabama where he had worked on a roof.

In the report, the officer noted Pineda did not fit the description of “your normal roofer.”

“His hands appeared undamaged and smooth, his clothes appeared to be designer style and he had two earrings in his ears,” the officer wrote in the report. “I also noticed the vehicle had no tools, which is very uncommon for your average roofer.”

After determining Pineda did not have a valid driver’s license, the officer placed him under arrest for driving without a license.

Pineda advised he did not have anyone who could retrieve his vehicle, so the officer requested a wrecker for impound. During the impound inventory of the vehicle, the officer discovered a paper bag in the rear seat behind the driver’s seat. Inside the bag, the officer found another bag containing a crystal-like substance which later field-tested positive for methamphetamine.

The officer read Pineda his Miranda rights and questioned him about the methamphetamine. Pineda allegedly admitted it was “ice” and that he had paid $20,000 for the 1.14 pounds of drugs. Pineda reportedly explained he needed the money for his family and sold the methamphetamine to provide for them. Upon further questioning, Pineda declined to provide additional information indicating “they” would kill him.

Pineda was booked into the jail on charges of trafficking in methamphetamine and driving without a license. He is also being detained on an immigration hold.

In one photo, an 8- or 9-year-old Synthia Varela is dressed in a Brownie uniform, a beret atop her head, hair braided neatly to the side.

Other photos from the same era show her at her dining room table, pondering homework; gleefully sitting inside a vintage toy pedal car; relaxing along a mountain lake in Switzerland; and standing among ruins in Jordan. The photos of this seemingly happy child were taken when Synthia was about the same age as her son, Omaree Varela at the time he died allegedly at the hands of his mother – now Synthia Varela-Casaus.


A  young Synthia Varela grew up in a middle-class family in the Northeast Heights with professional parents. The family lived overseas for a while and traveled extensively, affording Synthia and an older sister a larger world view.

As she got older, Synthia’s world shrank as her drug addictions grew. Last December, the 38-year-old mother of four was arrested for Omaree’s death and commented while being led away by police: “I was disciplining him and I kicked him the wrong way. It was an accident.”


The autopsy on Omaree, however, indicates the boy was savagely beaten. He had multiple injuries and his body bore signs of previous abuse.

In the months since his death, the Journal has learned that:

  • Omaree was born while his mother was in prison on drug trafficking charges;
  • Biological father Christopher Clewis, no stranger to the criminal justice system, claimed Synthia shut him out of the boy’s life;
  • Synthia’s current husband, Steve Casaus, recently arrested for drug possession, has a long criminal history and, according to a 911 recording, was verbally abusive toward Omaree;
  • The Children, Youth and Families Department, as well as the Albuquerque Police Department, missed opportunities to remove Omaree from, or prevent Omaree from returning to, his abusive home environment. CYFD has confirmed that there were nine referrals concerning Omaree or his family, but only two could be substantiated; and
  • Before Omaree was born, Synthia gave her father and stepmother custody of her much older first-born son who, in contrast to Omaree, led a normal and apparently happy life. He sports a tattoo that reads: “Truly Blessed.”

What went wrong?

Contemplating why Synthia – a once “very happy child” who was offered so many opportunities – chose a path in life that brought her to such a dark place is an exercise her stepmother says she has engaged in often since Omaree’s death. Part of the answer lies in “abandonment issues” Synthia has harbored since her father and biological mother divorced soon after Synthia was born in 1975, she says.

The father began raising the two girls with the help of his mother – the girls’ paternal grandmother. Synthia and her sister seldom saw their mother after that, she said.

The father and the girls’ now stepmother met in 1976 when they both worked as engineering technicians for the Army Corps of Engineers. They began dating about 1981, when Synthia was 6 and her sister was 11. They married in 1983, the same year their government jobs took them to Saudi Arabia.

The children went along, a family adventure that allowed them to live in and experience another culture for a couple of years. Family life was good, and there were other excursions, including vacations to Jordan, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, Amsterdam, Italy, Hawaii, Singapore and Hong Kong.

“I think the girls appreciated it and understood how lucky they were to have those cultural experiences,” she said.

Synthia Varela, on a 1983 family vacation, visits the ruins at Jerash in Jordan. (Courtesy of the Varela family)

Synthia Varela sits at the kitchen table doing homework in Saudi Arabia in 1983. (courtesy of the Varela family)

Back in Albuquerque, the girls were raised as “not particularly strict” Catholics, but they did go to church regularly and attended public schools. Her stepmother said Synthia had always been a high-energy child with a willful and independent streak, “a rebellious nature” and a penchant for “questioning authority.”

In high school, those character traits led to “behavior problems.” Synthia got kicked out of Sandia High School, then La Cueva. At age 15, she ran away from home, was picked up by police, and placed in group homes in Albuquerque and Santa Rosa. “She fled those places, too, and eventually ended up in the juvenile detention center,” said her stepmother.

“My husband went to juvenile court all the time, trying to stay on top of it. Synthia wasn’t yet 18, and we wanted to get her into the right environment to get her help, but, by the time she was in the D-home, she was already pregnant.”

Synthia turned 18 in June 1993 and she was released from juvenile detention in October, just before her son was born.

Also by this time, Synthia had begun accumulating a lengthy list of arrests that over the years has come to include shoplifting, disorderly conduct, concealing identity, failure to appear in court, contempt of court, failure to comply with the conditions of her probation, aiding illegal activity, multiple arrests for prostitution, and a host of drug-related arrests for such things as possession, distribution and trafficking.

Not all the cases resulted in convictions and many were dismissed, but a printout of her Bernalillo County Person History Report, generated by the Metropolitan Detention Center, fills 28 pages.

Both Synthia’s father and older sister declined comment for this story.

Her public defender, Todd Farkas, said that his office hasn’t yet received all the information and evidence from the state and state agencies relating to the case against Synthia and the death of her son. “It’s important to remember that these are allegations only and she is innocent until proven guilty.”

He further said that “based on early investigation and background research,” he expects issues to emerge concerning “the physical facts of Omaree’s injury and death; serious mental and physical conditions affecting Synthia’s behavior; improper police extraction of a so-called ‘confession’ from a mentally and emotionally vulnerable woman”; and other matters and mitigating circumstances linked to his client’s case.

Drugs ruled

Her stepmother summed up the root cause of Synthia’s bad choices and destructive lifestyle in one word: “Meth.”

“It just ruined her life. She hung around meth dealers and pimps. That became her whole life. There were a few months when she’d get sober and we’d be in contact again, but then she’d go back to using meth and disappear.”

Shortly after her oldest son was born, Synthia began living with an Albuquerque man, Alan Waseta, also 18, and a known drug dealer, police said at the time.

In February 1994, officers raided the home while Synthia was preparing a bottle to feed her baby. According to newspaper stories and Bernalillo County Sheriff’s incident reports, as deputies entered the home’s front door, Waseta grabbed a briefcase, pushed Synthia out the back door with him, then exchanged gunfire with a deputy. Waseta was struck in the torso and fell on top of Synthia. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition, had surgery and survived.

The briefcase contained money, drugs and a gun. Inside the home, officers found more drugs and weapons, including a submachine gun – and the uninjured baby.

Synthia was also taken to the hospital, where doctors examined her, and found she had numerous burns and other marks. She eventually conceded that Waseta abused her.

Waseta was later sentenced to one year in prison, five years on probation and ordered into a two-year residential drug treatment program.

The baby was immediately taken into CYFD custody. Fearful she would never see her son again, Synthia agreed to have the child placed in foster care with her father and stepmother until they could formally adopt him.

It was something Synthia came to regret for the rest of her life, said her stepmother. Synthia had three more children, Omaree being the oldest of that trio. Steve Casaus is not the father of any of the children, although he was married to Synthia and in prison at the time the two younger ones were born, the stepmother said.

“Synthia always regretted her decision to give up (her first-born child) and she hated us for it. Because of that, she was careful to never give up control of the other kids.”

Children as collateral damage

As her drug addiction ebbed and flowed, she would agree to place the kids with family or friends acting as guardians. If the guardians got too attached or attempted to make the placement more permanent, “she would rush in and reclaim the kids” – something she learned she had a legal right to do.

“When he was 5, Omaree lived with Synthia’s older sister for about seven months. The cops came in the middle of the night and took him out of his bed. Synthia wanted him back. Her whole thing was control. Later, she did the same thing to that Essie woman.”

Essie Sotelo was an older woman who had befriended Synthia, and began taking care of Omaree and, later, his younger sister when Synthia failed to return home for extended periods of time and care for the kids herself. In September 2009, CYFD’s Protective Services Division recommended that Sotelo remain as guardian of the two kids. Synthia subsequently gave Sotelo a letter granting her permission to take the children to Phoenix, where they were going to live with Sotelo and her daughter, Shana Smith.

In March 2011, two months after they moved to Phoenix, a CYFD caseworker contacted Sotelo and said Synthia wanted her children back and they were to be returned to a CYFD office in Albuquerque. The family complied.

Over the years, Synthia would periodically show up on the doorstep of her father’s and stepmother’s home asking for money, “or she’d go to the neighbors’ homes and make up stories about how she needed money for daycare, and promising them that me and her dad would pay them back later,” said the stepmother. Synthia usually came without Omaree or his siblings and was deceptive about where the children were. “She was a pathological liar. It was just constant.”

The stepmother said she only recently got to see Synthia’s two younger children for the first time. After Omaree’s death, they were removed from the home where they lived with their mother and Steve Casaus, and are currently in CYFD custody.

Casaus got out of prison in 2010, where he had been incarcerated on a multitude of charges, including drug trafficking and possession, and transfer of stolen vehicles.

While trafficking in drugs was part of their criminal history, the stepmother said she can’t recall that Synthia or Casaus ever held a job. The family did, however, get some public assistance, the stepmother said. Synthia had gotten Omaree qualified for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, and the family received food stamps and were on other programs, though she wasn’t sure what those were.

“So he (Casaus) gets out (of prison) and all of a sudden they’re one big happy family,” the stepmother said. “That’s when they rented that house on Comanche” – the house where Omaree Varela was found cold and unresponsive by police after allegedly being stomped to death by his mother.

“Do you know what it’s like to sit in a funeral home making burial arrangements for a 9-year-old child? It’s the most horrible thing we’ve ever had to do. I think about it all the time. I wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning asking myself, ‘How the hell did this happen?’ ”



ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Despite telling people he’d rather “shoot it out” with law enforcement than return to jail, an armed Steve Casaus was arrested Monday and charged with a host of violations — some of which may result in federal prosecution.
Casaus, 41, is the stepfather of Omaree Varela, the 9-year-old boy who was allegedly kicked to death by his mother last December, and who was caught during a recorded 911 emergency call last June directing an abusive and obscenity-laden verbal tirade against the child.
At the time of his arrest on Monday, Casaus had an active felony warrant for a probation violation. A convicted felon, he also had in his possession a .25-caliber semi-automatic handgun, a quantity of methamphetamine and $17,000 cash, according to Albuquerque Police spokeswoman Tasia Martinez.
APD narcotics detectives received information that Casaus was selling methamphetamine, was armed and had told several people that he would “shoot it out” with officers before returning to jail.
APD set up an undercover purchase that resulted in his arrest at 4:30 p.m. near the intersection of Juan Tabo and Menaul NE.
Also responding to the scene were agents from Homeland Security Investigations. Agency spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said the arrest was part of a “border enforcement security task force investigation.” She could not provide further details.
Casaus was taken to the Metropolitan Detention Center and booked for being in possession of a controlled substance, and for the outstanding warrant for failure to comply with the terms of his probation stemming from a drug arrest in March.
Casaus remained in jail Tuesday on a $5,000 cash or surety bond.
Martinez said the case will be forwarded to the US Attorney’s Office for review and possible federal prosecution.
In addition, a police case against Casaus in connection with the death of Omaree Varela has been submitted by APD investigators to the District Attorney’s Office in Bernalillo County. That case is currently under review, DA Office spokeswoman Kayla Anderson said Tuesday.



Gregory Livingston, 31, and Stalatus Grundy, 42, both of Texarkana Ark were arrested in Foreman after Arkansas State Police and South Central Drug Task Force officers were working in Foreman for the purpose of purchasing methamphetamine.

According to the report, Livingston and Grundy allegedly delivered one ounce of methamphetamine to a cooperating individual in Foreman.

After the delivery was made the subjects were stopped and arrested by officers with the Arkansas State Police and Little River County Sheriff’s Office.

At the time of arrest Officers seized $1735 dollars from the suspects which included the $1300 which was used to purchase the methamphetamine.

Both Livingston and Grundy were charged with Delivery of Methamphetamine and a$50,000 bond was set on each suspect.

On Tuesday, April 8, both suspects appeared in Little River County Circuit Court for a first appearance.

Both suspects are still incarcerated at this time.