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IOWA CITY, Iowa — An Iowa City couple faces six counts of child endangerment for allegedly exposing three children to methamphetamine.

The couple is also accused of tying up one of the children and using a stun gun on him.


According to Iowa City police criminal complaints, a narcotics investigation in September 2013 showed that 27-year-old Luis Fernando Chavez-Preciado and 25-year-old Nasra Lorette Fernandez-Kury, both of 3300 E. Washington St., had roughly 2.5 pounds of meth in the residence. Police said the couple shares the residence with Fernandez-Kury’s three children, all who are under eight years old.

When police responded to the residence, they discovered a 5-year-old boy tied up with his hands behind his back. He had minor injuries to his wrist, unexplained bruising on his arms, chest and back and reported being tied up “like a cop,” police said. The boy also told another adult that his mother used a Taser on him once.

Police said they discovered surveillance equipment, a shotgun, a digital scale and a Taser.

The couple was arrested on Sunday. Both face three counts of child endangerment – meth exposure, a class D felony.







CROOKSTON – A Nielsville woman who allegedly paid a babysitter with methamphetamine faces charges of possessing and distributing the drug near a Crookston school.

A criminal complaint was filed April 5 in district court in Crookston against Tonya Ruth Buschette-Gunderson, 39, outlining charges including five felony charges involving drug crimes and assault and five counts of gross misdemeanor endangerment of a child, stemming from December.

According to the complaint, on Dec. 17, officers went to Buschette-Gunderson’s home at the time in Crookston with a search warrant, based on information that Buschette-Gunderson and Lena Lorraine Sawyer, 30, of Crookston, had been selling methamphetamine.

Officers found Kimberly Jean Sutton there with Buschette-Gunderson’s four children and Sawyer’s child, of whom Buschette-Gunderson was legal guardian.

Polk County Social Services was contacted for the children, as living conditions in the house were poor.

Sutton, who had been living with Buschette-Gunderson for more than a month, told an officer that there had been a lot of people coming and going from the residence and that Buschette-Gunderson and Sawyer rarely did anything to care for the children.

Upstairs, Polk County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Nathan Rasch found Buschette-Gunderson and Sawyer in a bedroom, according to court documents.

He told the women to place their hands on their heads, and Buschette-Gunderson initially complied but then grabbed a pair of scissors and pointed it toward Rasch.

Rasch told Buschette-Gunderson to drop the scissors or else he would shoot her. She complied and both she and Sawyer were arrested.

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Sawyer’s face had scabs and her teeth were decayed, indicating longtime meth use, according to court documents.

In an interview with Rasch, Sawyer said she had syringes in her purse and said there was meth in Buschette-Gunderson’s home, but she didn’t know where. She also would not say if Buschette-Gunderson sold meth.

In continuing to search the home, officers found meth and several drug items, including a digital weight scale and scale cover with white residue on it, glass pipes, and papers that appeared to document numerous drug sales and purchases.

Rasch determined the residence was within 300 feet of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and elementary school.

In a police interview, Sutton told officers she did not use meth but said the other two women “always” had meth with them.

On March 28, Polk County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Brandon Larson interviewed Sawyer, who admitted to smoking about 1 gram of meth per day in the month before her arrest, according to court documents.

Sawyer pleaded guilty April 3 to charges of possessing meth near a school and child endangerment and confirmed under oath information she previously gave investigators on Buschette-Gunderson.

She told Larson she got the meth from Buschette-Gunderson, but said she only paid for it maybe twice. The rest of the meth was given to her in payment for babysitting Buschette-Gunderson’s children.

Buschette-Gunderson traveled to Bemidji, Grand Forks, N.D., and Fargo to get the meth, Sawyer told Larson.

Buschette-Gunderson was released from jail Wednesday on a $2,000 bond. A jury trial is set for her June 17.

This case is among several recent methamphetamine-related arrests in the area, including three people arrested in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks on Feb. 19 and an unrelated couple arrested March 19 in Grand Forks.




As heroin-related issues continue to plague Wisconsin, some experts claim another highly addictive drug, methamphetamine, may become a growing cause for concern.

The state is no exception to a national trend where areas see a correlated spike in heroin and methamphetamine usage, Currie Myers, Rasmussen College dean of justice studies and former FBI agent, said at a talk in Green Bay last week.

Department of Justice numbers reflect this increase in use, with methamphetamine-related arrests in Wisconsin rising 86 percent between 2011 and 2012.

“Anytime I see a spike in heroin, I worry about meth coming in,” Myers said. “Heroin is the Cadillac of drugs, but meth isn’t far below it.”

Meth is a powerful stimulant that can be taken orally, smoked or injected, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and it increases the amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine in an individual’s nervous system, giving one a sense of euphoria.

The high from meth is short and exhilarating, but the long-term affects of the drug have proven to be detrimental and sometimes fatal, according to the institute.

James Bohn, assistant special agent in charge of the Milwaukee District office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, said meth rates in northwestern Wisconsin have begun to grow rapidly due to an increased presence of Mexican drug cartels in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.

“The growing meth issue in northwestern Wisconsin can be attributed to the growing cartel influence in the Twin Cities, and their reach is now spilling over into Wisconsin,” Bohn said.

Bohn said drug enforcement officials in Wisconsin are currently focusing most of their efforts on the state’s heroin epidemic, but recognize that the growing cartel and meth presence in areas like Chicago, Minneapolis and St. Paul are having a direct effect on meth usage in Wisconsin.

Communities with heroin issues often develop issues with meth because it is less expensive and usually easier to obtain than heroin, Myers said.

According to the DOJ, meth is made from cold tablets, alcohol, battery and dangerous amounts of ammonia, among other hazardous chemicals. This chemical concoction can cause skin ulcerations and infections as a result of picking at imaginary bugs, as well as prolonged anxiety, paranoia and depression. Many meth addicts suffer from nausea, seizures, paranoia and streaks of violence as a result of abuse.

The DOJ reported that meth usage more recently has seen a slight dip due to law enforcement agencies’ sting operations, shutting down home-made meth labs in Wisconsin.

However, Bohn said the state is threatened with increased flow of the drug because of the growing cartel influence and drug manufacturing.

“Even though the major meth problem in Wisconsin is flowing from the Twin Cities, Chicago is still a major hub for illegal drug trafficking,” Bohn said.

The DOJ estimates that meth addicts perpetrate 90 percent of identity thefts and that the drug has direct correlations with rises in property crimes and domestic abuse.



DECATUR, Alabama–Decatur police say that a shoplifter at Wal-Mart was grabbing ingredients to make meth.

Police responded to the call of a shoplifter at the Wal-Mart on Spring Avenue on Saturday. They found Darryl Pokrzywinski, 25, of New Market, in the custody of store loss-prevention workers.


Pokrzywinski allegedly was shoplifting aquarium tubing and old packs with ammonium nitrate. Police said that Pokrzywinski also had pseudoephedrine and lithium batteries. All of those are used to make methamphetamine.

Pokrzywinski was charged with third-degree theft of property and second-degree unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance. He was booked into the Decatur City Jail and later transferred to the Morgan County Jail on a $5,500 bond.



SAN LUIS, AZ (CBS5) – A 25-year-old Phoenix man is accused of attempting to smuggle more than 22 pounds of methamphetamine at the San Luis Port of Entry.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers selected the man’s vehicle for additional inspection Saturday.

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A narcotics dog alerted to the drugs.

Officers searched the vehicle and its driver, Felipe Camacho, and found 22 packages of methamphetamine in three of the vehicle’s four doors, CBP said.

The drugs were worth more than $65,000.

Camacho was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.




SALISBURY, N.C. — Authorities in Rowan County discovered a meth lab after a trespassing incident led to a teenager’s arrest.

Officers from the Rockwell Police Department were called to a home after 19-year-old Tanner Davis Tutweiler was at the residence and was prohibited from being there.


Officers located a duffle bag containing methamphetamine manufacturing items at the residence.   Tutweiler was arrested inside the home for an outstanding warrant charging him with failure to appear on a charge of failing to report an accident, police said.

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Unit  obtained a search warrant for the residence, and located a ‘shake and bake’ one pot methamphetamine laboratory inside the residence, along with a quantity of methamphetamine.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation assisted the sheriff’s office in processing the scene.



Jessica Couch said she was high on methamphetamine when the shooting occurred in eastern Cherokee County.

A woman has been arrested and charged with shooting her boyfriend twice in their eastern Cherokee County home.


According to a press release from the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, Jessica Couch, 31, has been charged with aggravated assault (FVA) and remains at the Cherokee Adult Detention Center without bond for the incident that occurred Sunday afternoon.

Deputies with the sheriff’s office were dispatched at around 2:30 p.m. April 13 to 480 Hester Drive in the Free Home community. Once they arrived, deputies located David Welchel, 40, of Free Home, who had a gunshot would to his back and another to his shoulder.

Couch allegedly told authorities she shot Welchel because “she thought he was an intruder,” said spokesman Lt. Jay Baker. Welchel was transported to North Fulton Hospital in Roswell where he was treated for non life-threatening injuries, Baker added.

Cherokee investigators arrived on the scene, and obtained a search warrant for the premises. Baker said the search uncovered a .22 caliber handgun, which investigators believe was the weapon used in the shooting.

Baker also said investigators learned both Couch and Welchel allegedly waited about two hours before they called 911 for help.

Couch later admitted to be high on methamphetamine at the time of the shooting, Baker stated.

Also during the search, authorities discovered roughly eight copperheads and one rattlesnake in a cage inside the home.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources was contacted, and Baker said they plan to investigate the snakes’ presence in the home.

Couch is likely to face additional charges, Baker added.




A sting initiated by a special task force last summer and continuing through March resulted in the seizure of 942 marijuana plants, 56 pounds of methamphetamine and $269,000 cash.

Three of 11 people busted in a state and federal investigation into a nationwide drug smuggling operation are from Riverside County, the California Attorney General’s Office announced Monday.

Erwin Alva, Rosemary Alvarez and Ernesto Carrillo are accused conspirators in a trafficking operation targeted by the Department of Justice’s Central Valley Marijuana Investigation Team.

A sting initiated by the task force last summer and continuing through March resulted in the seizure of 942 marijuana plants, 56 pounds of methamphetamine and $269,000 cash.

“Transnational drug traffickers aren’t troubled by the details of law enforcement jurisdictions or government borders, and neither should our enforcement efforts,” Attorney General Kamala Harris said. “Our success shows the pressing need for more collaboration and funding to fight transnational drug trafficking in California.”

Alva, Alvarez and Carrrillo were arrested in Riverside County in March and charged with 13 felony counts, including possession, transportation and sales of controlled substances, possession of restricted ammunition and conspiracy, according to the Department of Justice.

All three are being held in lieu of $500,000 bail in the Tulare County jail.

Their co-defendants are: Angel Pedraza Cervantes, Gerardo Campos Cuin, John DeWayne, Jose Magana, Manuel Munoz, Juan Parra, Christopher Pellegrin and Ana Valero.

Cervantes and Cuin were arrested in Jonesboro, Ark., in February. They’re charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and are being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arkansas.

The other defendants were arrested in Central California.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, Magana was the alleged ring leader, operating a drug trafficking network with connections in Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania. Some of the ring’s clients included Chicano prison gangs based in Northern California.

The Central Valley Marijuana Investigation Team consists of sheriff’s personnel from Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties, agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Forest Service.



Tulare County-based drug smuggling ring busted

A major international drug smuggling ring based in Tulare County has been busted.

California’s attorney general came to Fresno on Monday to announce the end of a year-long investigation into a multi-national drug operation, with ties to Mexican drug cartels and California prison gangs. Eleven people were arrested, including suspected kingpin Jose Magana.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris said the investigation began last summer when law enforcement officials suspected Magana, 33, of marijuana trafficking. Magana lived in Dinuba. Harris said law enforcement officers later learned his organization allegedly had a drug-distributing business stretching more than 3,000 miles and was raking in large amounts of cash.

Harris said the group worked with street gangs associated with the Nuestra Familia prison gang to smuggle methamphetamine and cocaine through San Diego to the Central Valley, and then distribute it to states like Arkansas, Illinois and New York.

Five people — including Magana, Manuel Munoz, Juan Parra, John Dewayne Young and Magana’s alleged girlfriend Ana Valero — were arrested in Tulare County over a four-month period. Four others were arrested last month in Riverside County. The nine are now being held in the Tulare County Jail and face charges of transportation and sale of a controlled substance, and prohibited possession of ammunition. Two others were arrested in Arkansas.

During the arrests, authorities seized 56 pounds of meth, four kilograms of cocaine, and nearly 950 marijuana plants. They also discovered about $270,000 in cash.

“This is about doing the investigative work to go through the various layers of an otherwise highly-sophisticated, intricate organization so that we can get the top guys, and I’m proud to say that in this case we got the top guy of this organization,” said Harris.

Tulare County Assistant District Attorney Dan Underwood said nine of the 11 he’s prosecuting pleaded not guilty. Two defendants are charged in federal court.

On Monday, Harris used the occasion to call on legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown to restore part of the $71 million cut from her budget for such anti-drug efforts. She said she’d start by asking for $7.5 million to deploy more drug task forces, much like the one in this case which made the bust possible.






California officials nab 11 in drug ring bust

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Authorities in California say they have dismantled a drug trafficking organization that sent narcotics smuggled in from Mexico to communities across the United States.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris joined law enforcement officials from the Central Valley in Fresno on Monday to announce the bust, which included the arrests of 11 people.

Harris said the group worked with Nuestra Familia street gangs to smuggle methamphetamine and cocaine through San Diego to the Central Valley and then distribute it to states such as Arkansas, Illinois and New York.

She called on legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown to restore part of the $71 million cut from her budget in recent years for such anti-drug efforts.







— A man who ran off after an apparent meth lab explosion in Tacoma Monday morning was later found and taken to a hospital with burns.

Another man found at the scene also was treated at a hospital for burns.

The News Tribune reports ( ) the blast about 2 a.m. destroyed a 30-foot trailer which was parked behind a house.

Neighbors were advised to stay inside while a hazardous material team responded, but the fire department says it didn’t find any hazardous chemical remaining.





JENNINGS COUNTY, Ind. (WHAS11) – Jennings County Sheriff’s Office have arrested a man after they say he was responsible for supplying the drugs that caused his wife’s death.

Police say they were called to the 700 block of Country Manor in North Vernon on April 5 after 23-year-old Jesse Jo Louden-Jackson was found unresponsive.


According to the report, deputies tried reviving Jackson but were unsuccessful. She was transported to the hospital where she later died.

Police say a search warrant was served to the property and the investigation report revealed that her husband, 33-year-old Jeremy Jackson was responsible for supplying meth to Jesse Jo resulting in her death.

Jackson was arrested and taken into custody on April 11 without incident.

He’s currently facing charges of murder, dealing and possession of methamphetamine.

Jackson is currently detained at the Jennings County Jail.





A woman is in custody today after police uncovered a suspected meth lab inside of a mini storage unit in Warren over the weekend.

Officers were called to the storage unit about 6 p.m. Saturday to investigate a suspicious situation and they located a small amount of chemicals and equipment often used in manufacturing methamphetamine.

Lt. John Eppich on Sunday said one woman was arrested at the scene and the case was turned over to the detective bureau for further investigation.

This isn’t Warren’s first encounter with a suspected meth lab.

Last year, officers were called to American’s Best Value Motel on Interstate 696 near Dequindre Avenue after chemicals used to make lab were found in a room rented by two men. The two suspects were arrested.





Amarillo, TXIn an effort to help those who are battling an addiction in our community, the Mothers Against Meth group in Amarillo is speaking out.

On Sunday, a fundraiser car and motorcycle show helped raise money which will provide education to people struggling with addiction.
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Over 100 people came out to support the group and enjoy the live music, food, raffle and bike ride.

The gathering started Sunday afternoon around 1 p.m. at Tripp’s Harley Davidson and ended in the parking lot of Bazula Furniture.

The main mission of for the Mothers Against Meth is to spread awareness and education regarding addiction.

HUDSON, Mass. —More than 100 elderly residents were evacuated from their apartments and two people were arrested as the result of a hazardous materials incident involving a meth lab in Hudson Sunday night.

The Massachusetts state police bomb squad was called to the Peter’s Grove complex at 11 Lake St.   The incident was confined to one unit of the large apartment complex, the State Fire Marshal’s office said.

Hudson police said Ronald Royse, 46, and Joanna Miles, 44, were arrested after trying to cook meth in one of the units.

Elderly residents of the low-income complex could be seen sitting in wheel chairs outside their apartments.

“It’s very unstable. I mean, you don’t cook something like that in senior housing,” one resident said.

One resident said that she was told she would not be able to get back into her residence until Monday morning.

Because of the large number of elderly residents, Council on Aging vans were called to assist in the evacuation.

Royse and Miles will be charged with possession and manufacturing, police said.





CHARLESTON – CVS Pharmacy sales of a cold medication that’s also used to manufacture illegal methamphetamine have doubled over the past year in West Virginia, according to a Charleston Gazette analysis of sales data released last week.

CVS stores are now West Virginia’s No. 1 seller of pseudoephedrine, a key meth-making ingredient sold under brand names such as Sudafed and Allegra-D.

“CVS stores are really crowding the top of the list,” said Mike Goff, a state Board of Pharmacy administrator and former State Police meth lab investigator.

Michael DeAngelis, a spokesman for CVS, said Friday that the drugstore chain already is taking major steps to keep the cold medicine from being diverted for illegal use.

“Our policies and procedures are designed to prevent illegitimate purchases,” DeAngelis said.

Last month, CVS pharmacies sold 11,506 boxes of the cold medication statewide — up from 5,586 boxes in March 2013, according to a pseudoephedrine tracking system called NPLEx. CVS has 50 stores in West Virginia.

Rite Aid, which has twice as many stores in West Virginia, sold 7,003 boxes of the nasal decongestant that can be used to make meth. West Virginia’s 37 Walmart stores sold 7,903 boxes.

CVS pseudoephedrine sales jumped significantly in November, after Rite Aid stores stopped selling cold medications, such as Sudafed 12 Hour and Sudafed 24 Hour, that have pseudoephedrine as their only active ingredient. CVS still sells Sudafed and other similar generic-version, single-ingredient pseudoephedrine products that meth manufacturers covet, because they yield potent meth without byproducts.

Immediately after Rite Aid stores stopped stocking those medications, CVS pseudoephedrine sales increased from 4,500 boxes in October to 9,961 boxes in November.

CVS sales have increased every month since, reaching a high of 11,506 boxes last month.

Meanwhile, Rite Aid’s sales of the cold medication have dropped by half.

“Clearly, CVS has filled the void that Rite Aid left by the change in its store policy,” said Dr. Dan Foster, who headed a Kanawha County Commission task force that studied the role of pseudoephedrine in the region’s meth lab problem last year.

In February, CVS set new purchase limits that are more restrictive than those under West Virginia law, DeAngelis said. CVS customers can now buy no more than 3.6 grams of the cold medication each month, and no more than 24 grams, or about 10 boxes, per year.

State law allows people to buy 7.2 grams a month and 48 grams each year.

CVS also uses the NPLEx tracking system to block purchases from people who might try to circumvent its more-restrictive limits by shopping at multiple CVS stores.

“CVS is unwavering in its support of measures taken by the federal government and the states to keep [pseudoephedrine] out of the wrong hands,” DeAngelis said. “It is also our policy to decline the sale of a [pseudoephedrine] product if there is reason to believe that it is being purchased for any reason other than a legitimate purpose.”

Individual CVS stores also are now among the top-sellers of pseudoephedrine in West Virginia — a list previously dominated by Rite Aid and Walmart stores.

In March, a CVS pharmacy in Wheeling sold more boxes of pseudoephedrine than any other store in West Virginia. The Martinsburg CVS was the state’s second-largest seller of the cold medication.

In Kanawha County, the St. Albans CVS store sold the eighth-highest number of boxes in the state, while the Kanawha City CVS had the 14th largest total.

Five CVS stores were among West Virginia’s top 10 sellers of pseudoephedrine, and 16 CVS stores finished in the top 30.

Before last November, no individual CVS stores sold more than 240 boxes of pseudoephedrine in a single month. In March, two dozen CVS stores in West Virginia had purchases that exceeded that amount.

“The Sudafed supply isn’t going away,” Goff said. “It’s just moving from store to store. You get rid of it somewhere and it moves somewhere else.”

Just as CVS pharmacy purchases have climbed in recent months, Rite Aid’s sales have dropped significantly.

In March 2013, Rite Aid stores sold 14,360 boxes of pseudoephedrine statewide, compared to 7,000 boxes last month, according to NPLEx sales data.

Total pseudoephedrine purchases at all West Virginia pharmacies dropped 25 percent between March 2013 and last month — largely because of Rite Aid’s store policy change.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is investigating Rite Aid stores and their sales of pseudoephedrine.

Last year, the DEA’s Tactical Diversion Unit requested scores of records from the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy about Rite Aid sales of the cold medication that can be used to make meth.

In 2012, a former Rite Aid pharmacist told a legislative committee that the chain drugstore awarded bonuses to pharmacists in West Virginia based on pseudoephedrine sales. Pharmacists also have alleged that Rite Aid dedicated specific cash registers for sales of the cold medicine. Rite Aid has denied the allegations.

Though Rite Aid pharmacies no longer stock Sudafed and other single-ingredient pseudoephedrine products, the stores still sell cold medications, such as Claritin-D, Mucinex-D and Allegra-D, which combine pseudoephedrine with other ingredients. Meth makers don’t typically buy combination products because they include antihistamines and pain relievers. They’re also more expensive.

Rite Aid stores also now carry displays promoting tamper-resistant pseudoephedrine products, such as Nexafed, that criminals can’t easily convert into meth.

Last year, West Virginia law enforcement agencies seized 530 meth labs in West Virginia, a record number.

During this year’s legislative session, the Senate passed a bill that would require people to get a doctor’s prescription before they could buy medications containing pseudoephedrine. The House gutted the bill, and the legislation died on the last night of the session.

Last week, Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper vowed to do “whatever it takes” to reduce meth labs and curb sales of medications that fuel the clandestine labs. Police busted more than 150 labs in Kanawha County last year.

“If I have to, I’ll put a deputy’s car in the parking lot of every one of these stores,” Carper said. “I’m fed up with it.”




Saturday afternoon, Officer Spencer Fennell, with the Warwick Police Department, pulled over a vehicle driven by Mona Lisa Gomez in a traffic stop.

A further investigation and vehicle search was conducted by Warwick Police Department Drug Commander Lt. Mucci and the K9 Unit.


Methamphetamine, syringes, a pipe and a stolen 9MM handgun were found inside the vehicle.

On top of a previous drug warrant out of Florida, Gomez was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Drug Related Objects, Stolen Firearm by a Convicted Felon, Possession of Tools in Commission of a Crime, Expired Tag and Driving on a Suspended License.





Mona Lisa Gomez’s vehicle was seized and she was taken to the Crisp County Jail.


— Two Long Beach men were arrested Friday after a vehicle stop turned up 23 pounds of methamphetamine, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Martin Valdovinosperez, 20, and Emanuel Gaona-Talvera, 20, were stopped by CHP officers about 6 p.m. Friday on a traffic violation, according to Officer Moises Onsurez.

The men were driving a 2005 Jeep Laredo north on Highway 99 at Le Grand Road, the officer said.

“The reason why the vehicle was stopped was a traffic violation, which was following too close,” Onsurez said.

He said the officer noticed “criminal indicators” when he questioned the men. Indicators can generally be nervous behavior or avoiding eye contact with an officer, he said.

The officer called for the assistance of a CHP K-9 unit, which sniffed out the drugs.

A search of the vehicle yielded 23 pounds of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $230,000, Onsurez said.

Both men were subsequently booked at the Merced County Jail for investigation of drug trafficking.

Gaona-Talvera was released on bail by Sunday afternoon. Valdovinosperez was being held Sunday in lieu of $315,000 bail.





After years of being home to some of the most notorious international drug warlords, a major centre of opium and methamphetamine production and trafficking, drug addiction is now rapidly spreading at home.

But the “problem” has largely been seen within the country itself as being more for the rest of the world to worry about in terms of growing addiction and illegal cross-border trade than as a domestic problem.

Now, that is changing.

In northeastern Shan State bordering China, Thailand and Laos, village elders and senior police officers alike are seeing an alarming increase in crime, addiction and human degradation due to a growing drug business preying on local youth.

In Lashio, the state capital, Pastor Zaw Hpan estimates 60% to 70% of the young men in his area alone are now addicted to heroin or methamphetamines, or both.

“It is very worrisome for us as there will be no reliable workforce in our community in the very near future,” Zaw Hpan, 54, said in Khite Chan, his village of about 55 families 10 kilometres outside Lashio.

Lashio, about 400km northeast of Myanmar’s administrative capital Naypyitaw, is the main trading town on the route to Myanmar’s border with China across which drugs for export are often smuggled.

But with the lack of law enforcement in the area, dealers who may in the past have looked almost exclusively to China and beyond for customers are now offering heroin and methamphetamines, virtually without difficulty, in Lashio and surrounding areas.

In the past three years especially, drug dealers arriving from elsewhere have established their own distribution channels and began offering discount prices to create market demand among a largely disaffected youth.

Community leaders have tried to stem the drug trade, which now includes many local people looking for extra cash. But Hla Tun, 59, said, “We told them to stop selling drugs, but they refused and even reacted aggressively threatening to attack us with sticks and knives.”

Police Maj Nay Aung of Myanmar’s police anti-narcotics squad told local media recently that instability and tension over security in the border areas are major obstacles in trying to clean up the drug trade, which involves not only growing opium but the production of heroin and methamphetamines.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Myanmar remains second only to Afghanistan in production of opium and is far outstripping Thailand and China in production of methamphetamines.

The country is also becoming a major importer of raw materials needed to process opium and make methamphetamine tablets.

Last year, the authorities in Myanmar confiscated more than 10 million amphetamine tablets and the UNODC estimates that opium production in the country rose 26% to 870 tonnes, despite Myanmar having extended its “drug elimination plan” for another five years until 2019.

The 15-year anti-drug program was to have wrapped up this year, but poor government control in border areas and other parts of Shan State and elsewhere has seen drug production increase, not decrease, recently.

Last year, drug cases were up 30% but enforcement has yet to stem the tide of either drug export or addiction at home where the human toll is growing.

Aung Thein, a former addict who now runs a small barber shop in a quiet corner of Lashio, said he and fellow addicts wasted precious years of their youth on heroin and methamphetamines.

“I started using drugs more than 10 years ago, and it took me five years to get off them,” the 35-year-old said.

Many of his friends failed to kick their habits.

“We tried to quit using drugs after we faced a lot pressure from our family and friends and relatives. They didn’t want to talk to us anymore and we were abandoned by our community as we became serious addicts causing trouble to everybody,” he said.

“Most of us couldn’t make it and I found myself now as the only one of us still alive.”

The others, he said, died of drug overdoses or other complications stemming from addiction.

Many other people wil end up the same way if Myanmar is unable to stem the local drug trade as well as the booming drug export business, he said.

For many unfortunate youths in Shan State and elsewhere that seems highly unlikely to happen soon.

Even the UNODC holds little hope for major changes until Myanmar can provide alternative ways for farmers to earn a living other than by growing opium poppies.




KITCHENER — Smugly celebrating her success came back to haunt a Waterloo drug dealer after she got caught with more than $13,000 worth of crystal methamphetamine last year.

Along with the highly addictive substance, police seized a cellphone containing photographs of Ashley Broderick smiling while she counted wads of cash.

Federal prosecutor Kathleen Nolan cited the “disturbing” photos of Broderick, 26, enjoying her profits at the expense of addicts as an aggravating feature of her crimes.

There was also no suggestion that the slight, single woman is a user who resorted to trafficking to support her own habit.

But admitting she got into the business strictly to make money ultimately helped Broderick get a relatively lenient sentence of 30 months in prison.

Both the prosecutor and the judge gave her credit for telling a probation officer she wanted to help her family out financially after growing up poor, but now deeply regrets it.

“Some people might say you were blatantly candid and truthful,” Justice Gary Hearn told her.

Broderick had been on probation for theft for just a few months when police got a tip she was dealing significant quantities of meth.

After surveillance showed her making regular sales while being driven around by a man, they moved in to arrest her in June.

Seized along with meth and marijuana were two cellphones, debt lists and more than $15,000 in cash. A search of her home turned up brass knuckles in her bedroom.

With several relatives looking on in Kitchener court Friday, Broderick cried during an apology to her family, the community and the meth addicts she exploited.

“I was trying my hardest to make ends meet,” she said. “What I’ve done is make matters worse.”

Broderick stayed out of trouble while on strict bail following her arrest and had only a minor prior record.

Nolan said trafficking in that quantity of meth — which she equated to heroin in terms of the harm it does — could easily have resulted in a five-year prison term.

In accepting a joint recommendation by Nolan and defence lawyer Tom Brock for half that time, Hearn said it appears Broderick is genuinely sorry about making money from the misery of meth users.

“There are comments the court doesn’t often see showing remorse and insight,” he said of a background report on her.





BANDERA, TX —  The Bandera city marshal confirmed Friday a 14-year-old found driving a vehicle while her stepfather slept in the backseat also faces drug possession charges.

The revelation comes nearly three weeks after investigators said they found 41-year-old Nathan Hay asleep with around 400 grams of liquid methamphetamine, a syringe and possible drug making materials when his SUV was pulled over on Highway 173.


Police said Hay’s 14-year-old stepdaughter was driving the vehicle.

Last week, Hay was charged with an additional felony count of child endangerment.

Several Bandera residents reached out to KENS 5 in recent days and expressed concern that the teen remains in the custody of Hay and his wife, who live several miles southeast of Bandera.

A spokeswoman for Child Protective Services said the agency is monitoring the case, but could not comment further because the teen is not in state custody.

Hay confirmed his step-daughter was inside the home with his wife, when KENS 5 stopped by Friday.

Hay told the I-Team his attorney advised him not to speak to anybody about the case.

Hay faces up to 99 years in prison for the first degree felony drug possession charge.

He also faces a second degree felony charge of possessing drug making materials

The child endangerment charge is a state jail felony.




Indiana and Tennessee lead all states in production of methamphetamine, according to law enforcement seizures of laboratories used to produce the illegal drug.


Figures from the U.S. Department of Justice show Indiana led the nation last year in meth incidents, such as labs, chemicals and paraphernalia and dump sites: 1,797.

Tennessee was second on the list with 1,616 reports, followed by Missouri with 1,496 and Ohio with 1,010. Ohio came in seventh only two years ago, with 709 reports, indicating the Buckeye State has a growing problem with the popular street drug.

Ralph Weisheit, a criminal justice professor at Illinois State University and an expert on meth, told The Plain Dealer that most of Ohio’s labs are “mom and pop” operations.

“The typical meth cooker doesn’t learn from the Internet or from a book. He or she learns from friends, from people. That’s why meth spreads like a disease, it goes from person to person,” he said.

Some states trying to reduce their meth problem have adopted laws requiring the government to publish online the addresses of busted meth labs. The approach is similar to the shaming tactics used against sex offenders whose names appear in online registries.

Idaho, Alaska, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington all list the locations of houses, apartments, motel rooms and even automobiles used to cook meth.

Indiana just passed its version of the law, which is set to go into effect on July 1. The mandate gives property owners six months to get rid of all traces of a lab, or its location goes up on the Internet. A location can’t come off the list until 90 days after it’s cleaned and declared habitable.




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Officials began investigating the residence in February, according to the release. They found 35 “one pot” meth labs, which were each capable of producing several grams of meth. Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force agents and officers from the Elsmere and Erlanger police departments executed a search warrant on Eastern Avenue Thursday afternoon, according to a news release from the Drug Strike Force.

Officers arrested Charlotte Morris, 24, and Brittany Allen, 24, both of Elsmere, and Jonathan Ahlers, 24, of Villa Hills and Medearis Northcutt, 23, or Fort Mitchell, according to the release.


They were each charged with several counts of manufacturing meth, with each count carrying a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison, according to the release.






GRAND RAPIDS, MI — An Otsego woman has admitted to being involved in a meth trafficking ring through the U.S. mail.

Magdalena Stevenson pleaded guilty this week to two counts of unlawful use of a communication facility, court documents show. Stevenson is accused of receiving shipments of crystal methamphetamine and rerouting the drugs to other parts of the country. 

Stevenson was originally charged in October with possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and use of a communications facility in facilitating the possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. 

Charges were then dropped later that month, and the U.S. Postal Inspector in Detroit declined to comment on the case, citing the ongoing investigation. This week charges were re-issued and Stevenson pleaded guilty. 

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids Thursday, Stevenson admitted to receiving shipments of the drugs from California-based suppliers at a post office box in Otsego “on a regular basis.” Upon receiving the shipments, Stevenson admits to repackaging the meth and sending them to other parts of the United States, including New York, California and Montana.

Stevenson has admitted to redistributing more than two kilograms of “ice,” a drug containing methamphetamine of at least 80 percent purity, the documents show. 

She was arrested after the U.S. Postal Inspection Service found a suspicious package mailed from California at the Grand Rapids Priority Mail Center en route to her post office box in Otsego on Oct. 8. 

Investigators found about seven ounces or 200 grams of crystal meth inside the package. When Stevenson attempted to pick up the package on Oct. 9, she was arrested by members of the West Michigan Enforcement Team.

Stevenson faces up to four years in prison. As a part of the plea agreement, a charge of possession with intent to distribute meth, carrying a penalty of 10 years to life in prison, was dropped. She also agreed to testify in court against co-defendants in the case.

WOOD COUNTY, TX (KLTV) – An East Texas man admitted to authorities that he is one of the largest drug dealers in the area after he was taken into custody Thursday night. He also claims to have ties with the Mexican Cartel.

The Wood County Sheriff’s Office said 25-year-old Eric McQuilliams of Mineola was arrested after his vehicle was stopped on Highway 80. McQuilliams was known to have outstanding warrants for probation violation.


A Smith County K9 Unit was called in to assist deputies in a search of McQuilliams’ vehicle. The search uncovered an undisclosed amount of methamphetamine, marijuana, scales and other items associated with selling and transporting narcotics. A handgun, reported stolen out of Kilgore, was also located inside the vehicle.

Two other vehicles belonging to McQuilliams were also seized, along with $25,000 in cash.

McQuilliams is charged with violation of parole, possession with intent to deliver marijuana and methamphetamine, felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm.

He is being held in the Wood County Jail.





Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) – Indiana state police are warning people about trash left behind that was used to make methamphetamine, which may contain dangerous chemicals.

Police advised civilians to be careful of 1.5 gallon gas cans on the side of the road because they could contain a mix of chemicals to make meth.

Other items they said to stay away from are battery casings, transparent plastic storage bags, empty blister packs and soda bottles.

If you do come into contact with any of these dangerous materials, call 911 immediately.



WILLISTON, N.D. — The blood-drenched man had survived a brutal attack: Beaten with brass knuckles, shocked with a stun gun, slashed with a razor blade, then dumped 40 miles away in Montana, he staggered to a farmhouse for help. His path eventually led authorities back to a quiet backyard in this oil boom town.

What they uncovered was a large-scale methamphetamine ring that had found a home in a state long known for its slow pace and small-town solitude.

The members of this violent gang were all relative newcomers to Williston. They called themselves “The Family,” the feds say, and were holed up in a few campers tucked behind a white-frame house.

Authorities say several “Family” members had abducted and planned to kill one of their own, seeking to enforce their code of silence out of fear he’d spill the group’s secrets. They assaulted him in Williston, stuffed him into a car trunk, attacked him again, then left him for dead in a Montana field. He wound up, instead, in a North Dakota hospital, telling the FBI his story.

The result: Seven guilty pleas. Prison sentences of up to 20 years. And the dismantling of a drug trafficking ring that had been selling meth in one of the fastest-growing corners of America.

The oil boom in the Bakken shale fields has touched off an explosion of growth and wealth on this remote wind-swept prairie. Big money is raining down in small towns. Oil rigs light up the night sky. But the bonanza flourishing here has also brought with it a dark side: a growing trade in meth, heroin, cocaine and marijuana, the shadow of sinister cartels and newfound violence.

Small-town police forces have been flooded with service calls. County jails overflow on weekend nights. Drugs and dealers are popping up in all kinds of places:

Heroin is being trafficked on some isolated Indian reservations. Mexican cartels are slowly making inroads in small-town America. And hard-core criminals are transporting drugs from other states, sometimes concealing them in ingenious ways: liquid meth in windshield wiper reservoirs.

“Organized drug dealers are smart,” says U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon. “They’re good businessmen. They go where the demand is and that’s what we’re seeing here. … There’s simply a lot of money involved, a lot of money flowing around in those communities.”




The Bakken Formation — tens of thousands of square miles of oil-bearing shale under the long, flat prairies of western North Dakota, eastern Montana and part of Canada — was touted as a modern-day Gold Rush. Thousands flocked here, most law-abiding Americans in search of good-paying jobs. But the lure of big money was a guaranteed draw, too, for troublemakers.

Federal prosecutions in the western half of North Dakota nearly tripled — from 126 in 2009 to 336 last year — mostly, Purdon says, because of drug cases involving several people.

In Montana, 70 people have been charged since October in federal drug cases. Last spring, about 10 others, included two reputed members of the notorious Sinaloa cartel, were charged in a drug conspiracy. The two pleaded guilty to distributing at least 80 pounds of meth to local drug dealers within a five-month period; the intended market, the feds say, was the oil patch.

“We have a formidable opponent,” says Mike Cotter, U.S. attorney in Montana. “They market it well. They move it well and it’s a battle that we have to continue to fight.”

With the problems becoming more pronounced, the feds are pouring in additional resources to bolster local police and drug task forces.

Drugs are not new here. Years ago, homegrown meth was a scourge in North Dakota but its supply was sharply reduced by a crackdown on meth labs and legislation that made it harder to buy ingredients.

Meth is still most common, but most of it now originates in Mexico. It’s more potent and tends to be found in larger quantities. (In Ward County, about two hours away, meth seizures jumped from $63,200 in 2012 to $404,600 last year, according to the sheriff’s office.)

Heroin also is more visible, something that “scares me,” says Williams County Sheriff Scott Busching, who deals with a variety of new troubles, including traffic and an overcrowded county jail. He says he’d probably rate the drug problem in his county a 7 on a scale of 10.

Prices are up, too, fueled by demand in an area where lots of young men are flush with cash, far from their families and have little to do in their spare time. Authorities say a gram of meth that might sell for $120 in big cities can cost $200 in Williston.

One more difference: Authorities are seeing more criminals from out of state, some with long rap sheets.

The seven men in the 2012 abduction-drug conspiracy had all come to Williston within two years before their arrests, authorities say. Brian Dahl, also known as Kodiak, had transported meth from Washington, according to documents. Though his felony record should have barred him from owning firearms, he was arrested with 22 weapons.

Jeffrey Jim Butler, also known as Pops, had an assault and drug record. He’s serving a 20-year sentence after pleading guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

In another big drug bust, a 24-year-old Bakersfield, Calif., man who was jailed back home on murder, assault and gang charges was among 22 people indicted in January in “Operation Pipe Cleaner.” The group is accused of trafficking drugs in the Dickinson area, about 100 miles from Williston.


“It used to be if someone was selling methamphetamine in the area, there probably were six degrees of separation from a Mexican cartel or a motorcycle gang,” Purdon says. “Those drugs were passing through a lot of different hands before they ended up on the street. Generally, what we’re seeing now is only one or two degrees.”


“We’re battling our butts off to stay ahead of this,” he adds. “Our concern is that … as people start to compete, the violence will increase. There’s nothing less at stake here than our way of life.”