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Police who discovered two children living in a Christchurch drugs-lab house found chemicals so hazardous they could spend only moments inside

The boy and girl, aged 12 and 13 at the time, had signs of chemical exposure, rashes, skin lesions and methamphetamine residue in their hair. 

The kitchen was set up like a commercial kitchen, and the food the family was eating was in the same cupboards as the beakers and pots used for methamphetamine

The children’s  mother, 32, was jailed for two years and nine months yesterday on charges of permitting the Linwood house to be used for methamphetamine production and two charges of neglecting her children by exposing them to danger from the drug-lab. 

She was granted name suppression to protect the identity of the children, who are now in the care of a relative and Child Youth and Family. 

The case has appalled Police Minister Anne Tolley, who said methamphetamine “has no place in our communities”. 

Latest statistics held by her office showed 26 New Zealand children were found living in P-labs in 2011 and 28 in 2012. 

“It destroys lives and families. Any case where children have been exposed to this horrible drug is shocking and just heartbreaking,” she said. 

Police raided the Linwood home in 2012. Detective Oliver Rose, the officer in charge of the case, said the smell of toxic chemicals  was “overwhelming“. The boy and girl were home at the time. 

 It was “always shocking” to find children living in such an environment, but keeping drug equipment next to food in kitchen cupboards was “about as bad as it gets”, Rose said. 

Toxic vapours and fumes could fill a house. The smell in this particular home was so unpleasant officers effectively “got in and got out”. 

It was a sad reality that children were living in similar situations across New Zealand, Rose said. “It shouldn’t happen, but it does.” 

The woman’s children were doing better now they were out of that environment. 

At the sentencing, Judge Jane Farish said the mother’s offending had been “a self-serving, selfish act” and she had failed her children “abysmally”. 

She had put them at risk of death or serious chemical burns. The effects of the methamphetamine could cause chronic disease and behavioural development problems, some of which the children had, she said. 

The woman’s son was found with significant skin lesions. Her daughter was “seriously disturbed” and it was not all due to methamphetamine. 

She was now settled and stabilised, and the woman should do nothing to upset that, Farish said. 

Defence counsel Mark Callaghan said the woman was no longer a drug user and she had taken steps to be rehabilitated. She had lost custody of her children, although she still had contact with them. 

CYF operations manager Marion Heeney said children’s safety was the agency’s “top priority”. 

As well as health matters, children living in homes where methamphetamine was manufactured were at risk of neglect and isolation from the wider community. 

At the same sentencing yesterday, a 25-year-old man was sentenced to seven years four months’ prison with a non-parole period of three years four months for using the woman’s home to manufacture methamphetamine, setting up another kitchen for manufacture and possession of equipment and utensils. 

He was also sentenced on charges of assault, threatening to kill and receiving.




MODESTO — A forensic psychologist on Monday testified that a defendant was experiencing “methamphetamine-induced psychosis” when he fired an automatic rifle, killing two people and seriously injuring a third inside a west Modesto home.

Tou Vang Xiong’s defense doesn’t dispute the fact that he fired the shots that killed his girlfriend, Gao Sheng Her of Merced, and his friend, Nhia Yang, of Modesto. His defense attorney says his client had used a lot of meth and thought he was firing an AR-15 rifle at demonic tigers on July 20, 2009.

Xiong, of Atwater, is on trial accused of two counts of murder, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon in the incident at a home in the 1700 block of Radley Place, a few blocks east of Paradise Road. The victims were shot at close range about 5:20 a.m. inside the small, cramped detached room behind the main house.

Forensic psychologist Alex Yufik said he reviewed police reports, the autopsy report, toxicology results, crime scene photos, a video of investigators interrogating Xiong and the defendant’s mental health evaluation. He also questioned Xiong for more than five hours in jail, conducting a clinical interview and a forensic evaluation.

Yufik determined that Xiong has severe anti-social personality disorder, along with substance-abuse disorder. He testified that Xiong, around the time of the shooting, experienced the meth-induced psychosis, which results in an intense paranoia.

“They lose touch with reality,” Yufik told the jury about meth addicts experiencing the psychosis.

Previous testimony in the trial has indicated that Xiong spoke of “killing two tigers” moments after the shooting. Yang’s sister testified that “tiger” is commonly used in Hmong culture as a derogatory term for people they dislike.

The forensic psychologist said in court that some severe cases of meth use result in psychotic behavior, such as delusions, hallucinations of ghosts, demons and angels, and auditory hallucinations like voices in your head. He says these are the classic symptoms of meth-induced psychosis.

Yufik’s credibility as a meth expert was challenged during cross-examination. He used the fifth edition of a standard guide on mental disorders to reach his conclusion in the Xiong case.

He admitted that the guide on mental disorders has changed and its first edition listed homosexuality as a disorder, and the fourth edition listed Asperger’s syndrome, while the latest edition doesn’t list the developmental disorder.

The Xiong trial is the second time Yufik has testified about his findings in court; the first was not too long ago in Fresno. He told the jury that sometimes attorneys on either side don’t call him to testify because his findings don’t benefit their case.

Yufik is an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California in courses surrounding the psychology of criminal behavior. He also sees patients, conducts forensic evaluations in criminal and civil cases, and works for the State Bar of California at the Lawyers Assistance Program, where he supervises other clinicians and conducts evaluations of attorneys who require monitored recovery and treatment from substance abuse or mental illness.

He explained that meth floods the prefrontal cortex with dopamine, which alters the front part of the brain used for decisions, planning and judgment.

The trial is expected to continue today in Stanislaus County Superior Court.

For the second time in as many days, a pair of Hollister men holed up in a motor home were arrested on suspected drug charges, according to the Hollister Police Department.

Mark Cockfield, 51, and Donald Gemette Jr., 50, were arrested at 7:13 p.m. during a probation search of a motor home parked on the 800 block of Prospect Road. Inside the vehicle, the officer said he found methampetamine and hypodermic needles.

Donald GemetteMark Cockfield

The day before, both were part of a six-person bust inside the same motor home. At the time, an officer said he found methamphetamine, heroin and prescription drugs.

Cockfield and Gemette Jr. were transported back to San Benito County Jail and booked on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine and hypodermic needles.

Anyone with information related to the case is urged to contact the Hollister Police Department at 831-636-4330. To remain anonymous, call 800-78-CRIME.



AMARILLO, TEXASA mother of a student at Bivins Elementary School found bags of methamphetamine like substances on the school’s playground.

Jerry Neufeld, spokesperson for the Amarillo Police Department, said they were able to determine the substance was meth after doing a field test.


“At this point now, it’s determining who dropped it, who left it…That’s where it’s going to become difficult,” Neufeld said.

He also said other empty bags were found in the area when officers were investigating. Both officers and drug dogs inspected the area and have found it to be safe for the children.

For parents, this is an alarming incident.

Winslow Ellis is the father of two students who attend Bivins Elementary School.

“We were pretty shocked, we know drugs are everywhere but actually have it right in your front yard or across the street anyways was a little scary because our kids play over there all the time,” Ellis said.

He said this served as an opportunity to speak with his children about the dangers of drugs.

Ellis also spoke with the principal of Bivins Elementary School to see how the school was handling the situation.

In a statement released to Pronews 7, the Amarillo Independent School District said, “We are concerned anytime we learn a controlled substance may have been found around a school in a drug-free zone. Over the weekend, the entire property at Bivins Elementary was searched and no drugs were found. School administrators have and will continue to cooperate with police while they investigate this matter.”

Aside from conversations at home, School Resource Officers are placed in districts to speak with students about topics regarding drug awareness and use.

Tim Nguyen, a Potter County Sherriff’s Office SRO, said topics and conversations depends on who he’s talking to.

“On young kids, some of the things we found successful is hitting the bigger stuff, alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, prescription pills are a big one. If you see something don’t touch it,” Nguyen said.



A mum jailed today for almost three years for raising two kids in a clandestine P lab was blasted by a judge as being an “abysmal failure” as a mother.

The 32-year-old drug addict let her family home in Linwood, Christchurch be used for the commercial-scale manufacture of methamphetamine.

She admitted child neglect charges by endangering the health of her son and daughter by having them grow up in such conditions between August and October in 2012.

A judge granted her permanent name suppression solely to protect the identity of her two children – now aged 13 and 15 – who are still at school. They’ve been taken in to Child, Youth and Family (CYF) care.

Her son saw her and others smoking meth at the house, which Judge Jane Farish said “was almost like a commercial kitchen set up for the manufacture of drugs”.

The child told police the strong smell of chemicals being used to make the drugs would linger for days.

Both youngsters were found with skin rashes from exposure to the chemicals stored in the kitchen pantry alongside food being used by the kids. Methamphetamine residue was found in their hair.

Judge Farish said the woman encouraged and benefited from the drug manufacturing happening in her house, exposing her children to the risk of death by explosions in the volatile operation. She highlighted the recent case of a Northland man who died in a P-lab explosion while cooking the illegal drug.

The children now face short and long-term physical effects from the exposure to toxic chemicals, Judge Farish said.

They were both exhibiting emotional or behavioral problems and face increased risk to acute or chronic diseases, including cancer.

“You placed your children at serious risk of death and serious physical harm,” Judge Farish told her as she sentenced her to two years, nine months imprisonment at Christchurch District Court.

The judge added that her actions were “completely self serving and selfish”.

“You failed abysmally as a mother,” she said. “You really have no idea of how to parent.”

Defence counsel Mark Callaghan said the woman, who has one previous drug conviction, had been using meth at the time, but is “no longer a drug user as such” and has taken some steps to be rehabilitated.

Judge Jane Farish didn’t accept that, however, saying: “You just don’t stop using methamphetamine overnight. She’s been using it since 2011.”

Mr Callaghan said her “foray into criminal offending … has had a devastating effect on her and her children”.

She now has “very little contact with them”.

The woman’s co-accused, a 25-year-old drug addict and her partner at the time, was jailed for seven years, four months, with a minimum non-parole period of three years, four months, after admitting drugs charges, receiving a $2500 stolen car, assaulting his mother and intimidation.

Defence counsel Elizabeth Bulger said the man, who also has name suppression, is seeking treatment for his “significant” drug addiction and wants to become a good father.

“When Child, Youth and Family became aware of the accused’s arrest, we worked with the family to secure safe care arrangements for the children,” said CYF southern regional director Chris Harvey.

“We take their health concerns seriously. Children living in methamphetamine homes are at risk of inhaling, absorbing and ingesting harmful chemicals. They may also be injured by caustic materials used in the manufacture of the drug.”



INDIANAPOLIS –Legislation that would require disclosure of property previously used to produce methamphetamine passed the Indiana House of Representatives on Monday.

The bill, authored by Rep. Wendy McNamara, R- Mount Vernon, requires that property that was once a site for meth labs or a dumping ground for the drug be listed on a website until 90 days after it was certified decontaminated.

One provision of the bill shifts the control and maintenance of the methamphetamine laboratory website from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to the Indiana State Police.

Rep. Karlee Macer, D- Indianapolis, urged support for the bill during House discussion.

“Anything that we can do to, of course, help the safety of our families and make sure that we are more aware of what’s happened in the homes previously is very important,” Macer said.

The bill passed unanimously and heads to the Senate for further consideration.



The mother of Corey Shane Lindsey, who was charged last week by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office for a methamphetamine lab was also charged this week.

Vickie Ruff Lindsey, 53, of 127 Wolfe Branch Drive, Mill Spring was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, maintaining a vehicle/dwelling/place for a controlled substance (all felonies), and misdemeanor simple possession of schedule IV controlled substance (prescription pills), simple possession of schedule VI (marijuana) and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the sheriff’s office.

Corey Lindsey, 26, also of 127 Wolfe Branch Drive, Mill Spring, was charged last week with manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, maintaining a vehicle/dwelling/place for a controlled substance, possession of a firearm by a felon (all felonies), and misdemeanor simple possession of schedule IV controlled substance (prescription pills), simple possession of schedule VI (marijuana) possession of drug paraphernalia possession of a firearm by a felon, according to sheriff reports.

The sheriff’s office discovered a meth lab on Thursday, Jan. 30 at the 127 Wolfe Branch Drive residence during a probation search of the residence.

Corey Lindsey is currently on probation after serving a sentence in prison on a possession of methamphetamine conviction from a May 2013 arrest, according to sheriff reports.

The sheriff’s office said Corey Lindsey was released from prison approximately one month ago.

Investigators discovered one small meth lab in a plastic bottle, that was no longer active but had recently been cooked, sheriff’s officers said.

Last week’s meth lab discovery was the third in Polk County so far this year as two others were also discovered by the sheriff’s office in January.

The county’s largest meth lab in recent history was discovered in Green Creek on Jan. 9 with officers coming into the residence while cooking was occurring.

Officers found the active lab as well as approximately 15 old labs at 315 Scoggins Road, Green Creek and arrested Billy Lawrence Carr and Harold Dean Bailey, according to sheriff reports.

The sheriff’s office also found a meth lab dump site on John Weaver Road, also in Green Creek on Jan. 1.

Vickie Lindsey was still being held in jail as of Monday, Feb. 3 under a $92,000 secured bond.

Corey Lindsey was still being held under a $108,000 secured bond.




A 26-year-old Great Falls woman faces several charges after one of her children tested positive for methamphetamine last week.

Jessica McKinley has been charged with a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor count of criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and a felony count of criminal possession of dangerous drugs.


Police were sent to a residence Jan. 26 for a report of narcotics activity. According to court documents, McKinley and Tyler Goodsell-Bright lived there with five minor children.

McKinley was home with two of the five children and police searched the residence, finding a syringe with a clear substance that tested positive for methamphetamine, according to court documents.

The Department of Family Services removed the children from the residence and took hair samples of each child. The youngest tested positive for methamphetamine and McKinley was arrested Feb. 2, court documents state.

The state requested bond be set at $5,000.


North Korea is experiencing a methamphetamine, or crystal meth, epidemic so large that the Los Angeles Times reports meth “is offered as casually as a cup of tea.”

A Los Angeles Times article defines methamphetamine as “a synthetic drug that was first developed in Japan in the late 19th century, made from chemicals such as ephedrine and distributed as a stimulant.”

The fact that meth can be made conveniently in bathtubs, trailers and kitchens, according to the article, has led to its dangerously booming production.

Crystal meth is gaining popularity in many areas throughout the globe, but it is especially sought after in North Korea. The Washington Post reported that North Korea’s meth problem started in the 1990s when the country was ravaged by a famine.

A small amount of black-market trade brought in food and prevented the collapse of the country. Not only were the people of North Korea starving, but they were also without health care. Medicine ran out, which led to a nonexistent health care system. During this time, North Koreans began to produce meth in “big state-run labs.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that narcotics investigators said the North Korean government controlled the production of meth and opium, as well as other drugs, in the 1990s in order to bring in “hard currency” for Kim Jong Il, the late North Korean leader.

The government was engaging in the drug trade in order to save and improve its economic state as a nation. I do not by any means agree with the actions North Korean government chose to take. Instead of tending to its people’s health issues, it chose to spread life-threatening drugs throughout the world.

In such a heavily government-dependent political system, the people have no hope to turn to a government official and ask for help. Individuals and families turned to the drug in times of desperation, leading to many North Koreans becoming fervent methamphetamine addicts. This situation is devastating and should not be overlooked.
According to CNN, a majority — two-thirds to be exact — of the North Korean population has used methamphetamines. It is reportedly accessible in restaurants and has “become the drug of choice of high-ranking officials and the police.”

The fact that government officials are using meth regularly makes me uneasy. This could be potentially dangerous to our country; what if these leaders choose to act irrationally, in regard to foreign policy, while on a mind-altering drug?
According to World News on, North Korean-produced meth was produced mainly for export. It gets shipped to China, where it is then distributed around the world.

Vice reports that “American officials now estimate that 80 percent of the meth consumed in the US is Mexican-made — with ingredients from China.”

This statement provides evidence that this dangerous drug is making its way into the U.S. where it could ravage citizens. In September 2013, five men were arrested after they were caught trying to bring North Korean-made, 99-percent pure crystal meth to undercover agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Luckily, these men were caught; but, I can’t help but wonder who has not been caught? Is it possible that this highly addictive drug will become a larger problem here in the United States?There will always be some form of illegal drug trade going on in the world. It is inevitable, but North Korea’s meth addiction is spiraling out of control, and we may have to suffer the consequences here in the U.S.




PEKIN – City police cashed in on their latest investigations into meth making and sales in the Pekin area with four arrests last week. More will come soon, they said.
In all, nine persons were charged last month in Tazewell County with meth-related crimes, including one with allegedly operating a conspiracy to make the highly addictive and damaging drug.
WatkinsFernandez Jones Smith
Charges filed last week revealed three suspected methamphetamine conspiracies that remain under watch by local, state and federal investigators, who expect to make more arrests soon, said city police Public Information Officer Mike Eeten.
“Some of (the defendants) are tied together, some aren’t, but they’re all tied to Operation Copperhead,” he said, referring to the ongoing multi-department effort against meth in Tazewell and Mason counties that’s produced more than 100 state and federal prosecutions over the past two years.
Michael Fernandez, 34, of 269 Derby St., was charged in Tazewell County Circuit Court last week with operating a meth conspiracy. He remains in custody on $100,000 bond pending a Feb. 20 preliminary hearing.
He was a “meth cook” who used several different people to purchase an over-the-counter cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine (PSE), a key ingredient in meth, according to a prosecutor’s court affidavit.
Timmy Jones, 33, of 208 Henrietta St., was charged last week with possession of meth precursors, which he allegedly supplied to Fernandez through December.
Megan Watkins, 22, of 119 Crest Lane, Manito, was charged last week with supplying PSE to Aaron Perkins, 25, also of Manito. Perkins and four other people were charged with meth-related crimes in Tazewell County earlier in January.
Watkins told police after her arrest that she had allowed Perkins and others to make meth in her home in the past.
Charles Smith, 20, of 1612 N. Fourth St., was charged last week with possessing PSE, which he allegedly sold over the past two months to another man who has not yet been charged.
The most recent arrests again revealed a key tool that investigators use to track down meth manufacturers. Stores that sell cold medicines containing PSE are required by state law to record the names of purchasers. By monitoring customers’ buying patterns, investigators develop lists of people whom they suspect are supplying PSE to meth makers.
Watkins and Jones also are scheduled for preliminary hearings Feb. 20. Smith will next appear in court on Thursday.

MOUNT CARMEL — It took meth lab suspects more than two hours to call 911 Saturday night following a double box-cutter stabbing, and only after a woman attempted, and failed, to sew up a serious cut with a needle and thread.

The stabbing occurred in a residence at the Valley Village mobile home park, on Wolfe Lane just off of Carters Valley Road in Mount Carmel – at a residence where meth was allegedly being manufactured.

Donald Eric Estes

The stabbing suspect, Donald Eric Estes, 33, 1439 Wolfe Lane, Lot E-20, Mount Carmel, has been charged with two counts of attempted second degree murder, initiating meth manufacture, and resisting arrest.

Witnesses told police that Estes went to his neighbor’s trailer to receive a quantity of meth he’d been promised for his part in their alleged meth manufacturing operation.

Estes reportedly  became enraged when he was told there was no meth for him there.

According to a report filed by MCPD Lt. Kevin Ewing, witnesses stated that Estes was arguing with Coy Allen McMurray, 37, when Michael Neil McCann, 39, stepped in between the two men.

At that point Estes, “pulled a folding box-cutter type knife from his pocket and began slicing and stabbing the two victims,” Ewing said.

Estes then fled the scene.

McCann was cut near his kidney and arm. McMurray suffered a more serious cut across his lower left abdomen, and reportedly had internal organs protruding from his wounds.

Police and EMS were called around 11:43 p.m., but the actual stabbing reportedly occurred more than two hours earlier.

One of the witnesses, Tara Leigh Woods, 28, 1557 Greenfield Avenue, Kingsport, reportedly went to a Walgreens drug store and purchased sewing needles and thread, hydrogen peroxide, and gauze — with the intent of sewing up McMurray’s wound. Apparently she started sewing, realized that wasn’t going to work, and called 911 for an ambulance.

Shortly after responding to the residence where the stabbing occurred, several officers went next door and found Estes in his bedroom, where he was arrested following a brief scuffle.

The box cutter was found on an ironing board near Estes’s bed.

“The investigation showed that Estes, both victims, and both witnesses had been involved in the used and production of meth at the residence where the stabbing occurred,” Ewing said. “Two ‘one pot’ methods, and a ‘gasser’ were recovered at the original scene. Documentation showed Estes had purchased psuedoephedrine on numerous occasions to assist in the manufacture of meth.”

Woods was charged with initiating meth manufacturing and tampering with evidence.

Timothy Birk Ratliff, 49, 1439 Wolfe Lane Lot 2-E, Mount Carmel, was charged with initiating meth manufacture, tampering with evidence, and maintaining a dwelling where narcotics are manufactured or sold.

Ewing added, “During the time between when the stabbings occurred and when the original 911 call was made, Ratliff and Woods removed evidence of the meth labs from inside the residence.”

Estes was being held in the Hawkins County Jail Sunday on $750,000 bond.

Ratliff and Woods were also in jail Sunday with a bond amount still to be set. All three will be arraigned Monday in Sessions Court.

McMurray and McCann both underwent surgery early Sunday morning the Holston Valley Medical Center and were each listed in good condition as of Sunday afternoon.

Meth related charges are pending against both McCann and McMurray.




Dubai: A waitress has been accused of consuming methamphetamine with friends during a birthday party that she threw at home in October 2013.

The 35-year-old Filipina waitress, E.T., was said to have invited four friends to the birthday party, during which they all consumed methamphetamine and amphetamine brought by a 27-year-old Filipino student, L.P.

Drugs prosecutors accused E.T. of allowing her friends to consume drugs and mind-altering substances at her residence in Al Muraqqabat.

L.P. was accused with providing E.T. and others methamphetamine for personal consumption.

 According to the charge sheet, E.T. was also charged with consuming methamphetamine and amphetamine.

L.P. was additionally charged with possessing 0.75 grams of methamphetamine for consumption purposes and consuming methamphetamine and amphetamine.

The defendants entered a guilty plea when they appeared before the Dubai Court of First Instance on Thursday.

The waitress admitted that she opened her house for friends to consume drugs and mind-altering substances when she defended herself before presiding judge Mohammad Jamal.

The student also confessed that he provided others with drugs for consumption purposes.

Drugs enforcement officers raided E.T.’s residence following an informant’s tip-off that the defendants possessed and consumed banned substances.

Records said four Filipinos were referred to the Dubai Misdemeanour Court where they are being prosecuted for consuming a mind-altering substance.

Prosecution records cited the waitress admitting that she and her friends consumed banned substances during the birthday party after she invited them over to her place. Meanwhile L.P. was quoted admitting that he provided others with methamphetamine and amphetamine for free.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — His ex-wife gave him $25 for gas. She didn’t need to. But she did. Somehow he had to get to court tomorrow. His borrowed Jeep was out of gas. And as was often the case these days, Scott Moyers was out of money and long ago out of options. So his ex-wife agreed to help. She didn’t want any more missed hearings. No more arrests. No more excuses. He was going to go before that judge and take some measure of responsibility for all that he’d done.

That was the plan, at least. But tomorrow was still far away.

So Scott got a ride from his neighbor Don up to his ex-wife’s house, where his family lived, what used to be his home, in a nicer part of town, up on the hill there, a place where he could sit on the back deck and breathe. Just breathe. But the house wasn’t his anymore. The understanding wife — a doctor — was now his ex. The kids — two boys and a girl — were distant. The job covering crime and courts for the Southeast Missourian newspaper was gone. And so was the money, at least $250,000. He lost it all. In less than a year.

Still, he held that $25 in cash and thought about taking it down to score some meth, speed, a little go fast. Hard to shake those thoughts. Even now. Maybe even more so now.

But he held. He fought the pull. He put $3 into the gas can and gave Don $5 for the ride and drove his Jeep to a gas station, where he bought a pack of smokes and sunk the rest into the tank. He was broke again. His day in court was coming.


Scott said he hadn’t used in days. He was not sure he believed it himself.

“For right now, I want to quit more than I want to use. It’s …” he said, slowing to hunt for the word, “… tenuous.”

It was dark out. Scott was driving around the town they call Cape. Not The Cape. Just Cape. A small city of 50,000 along the Mississippi River. Home of the Limbaughs. The Gateway to the Bootheel, as he liked to call it. He grew up here. Lived almost his entire life within a five-mile radius.

He’s 41. He still looked a faint bit like he retained membership in that world of upper-middle-class ease. But he no longer owned a single pair of khakis or a white collared shirt. He wore stained jeans, a T-shirt, thin beige fleece. His rectangular eyeglasses hung askew on his scruffy face. He had a scratch mark above one eye. His brown hair was uncombed.

“I don’t feel like I deserve a second chance. I just want one,” he said now, like he’d been ruminating on it all along. “And I feel like if I can manage to just hold on to a few more days …”

So much has been said about the meth epidemic and its labs, junkies, tweakers, its Breaking Bad. Passing judgment is easy, the distance is safe. But meth holds the power to take you down through there. Scott knew that, too. He was a reporter covering crime, which meant he really covered meth. He knew the cops. He knew the judges. He wrote about addicts getting in trouble. He covered the desperate towns limiting sales of sinus cold pills. He was part of an in-depth project for the newspaper called “Life or Meth.”

He knew from his own family. His two brothers were meth addicts. The youngest was in prison right now on a drug charge. The other brother, Pat Moyers, was three years clean. It was Scott who dragged Pat to rehab that first time almost 20 years earlier. Scott was always the good brother, Pat said. A bit nerdy.

“I just don’t get it,” Pat said. “He was writing about the things he’s doing.”


Scott pointed out the newspaper building downtown. He stopped to run up to a ground-floor window and stare at his old desk, careful to not be seen by a former co-worker to whom he owed money. The empty lot across from the new casino — that’s where he grew up, the house long gone. He pointed out the places he discovered chasing his fix.

“I’ve learned so much more about crime since I’ve left than I did watching it from the wooden benches in the courthouse,” he said.

He loved the crime beat. “I always felt a connection to that,” he said, giving a knowing laugh. “I love talking to people who had tragically fallen and somehow picked themselves up. I just liked that — those flawed people who would tell you just anything.”

He didn’t touch drugs until he was 30. A little coke. Then a lot. Then crack. That was a mistake. He was always chasing.

He switched to pills — opiates, then benzos. Followed briefly by heroin. Followed by methadone. Followed by cold turkey. Four stints in rehab. In and out. But through it all, he kept it largely together. Held on to the wife and the kids, the job and the life where he was, if not respected, then at least tolerated. He was somebody in Cape.

Until about two years ago.

He tried meth. Snorted it at first, then loaded it in a syringe. Heightened awareness, that’s what it felt like. Amped. The buzz lasted, too. He’d disappear for hours, using his job as a reporter as an excuse, telling his wife he needed to go check out something he’d heard on the police scanner. Meth also brought on mood swings and paranoia. Things got tense at home. His work suffered. But meth was a forgetting drug. A drug to blot out all the hurt he caused. It happened so fast it was hard to sort it out.

He divorced his wife last March. She tried to help, but he wanted to be free. He got a lump settlement of $250,000. That same month, he wrote his final story for the paper. He was fired. He didn’t care. He focused on getting high. He bought a house. He partied a lot. He dated a girl half his age. Her name was Angel.

“I thought life was good,” he said.

He was in the house just three weeks before the regional drug task force kicked down the door. Scott was charged with felony possession of meth. That didn’t slow him. He sold the house and moved into an apartment. Kept using. In October, he skipped a court hearing. He was a wanted man. The next day, police stopped Scott with more than 2 grams of crystal in his pocket. He had caught his second felony drug charge in six months. He faced 14 years in prison.

He was spiraling down.


The night before court, after having gotten $25 from his ex-wife, Scott fought for sleep.

It felt like the nights he was gorked out of his mind back at the house on the hill, when he’d pretend to be asleep next to his wife. He’d always felt like he was faking it. Like he was “Nicolas Cage, the worst actor in the world.” When the drugs made him droopy, he’d give himself pep talks, “You can do this! You can do this!” But people knew. Darin Hickey, a Cape police officer, visited Scott in jail after the first arrest and warned him he was not cut out for that life.

Scott didn’t fit in with the junkies, either. He looked like a snitch. He was seen as he was in the beginning, before the fall, a man with a nice truck and nice clothes and the doctor wife, a man who hung out with cops and was always writing things down. Nothing good came from writing things down, not in that world. When he first started buying on the street, he had to raise his shirt to prove he wasn’t wearing a wire.

But he was desperate to fit in, like he was a teen back at Central High. He made jokes that no one got, drew blank stares with references to Faulkner and Twain. “Things that people know,” he explained, “but not out here.” He tried to learn the lingo, writing down the expressions he heard in a notebook. He felt like Jane Goodall. He learned “That’s what’s up” meant figuring something out. “I ain’t got no ’plex” meant you didn’t have a problem. And “Get up in your feelings” meant you were letting something bother you.

That morning, with court coming, Scott was up in his feelings.

He was thinking about rehab. He should’ve gone by now. The judge would’ve liked that. Seen that he was serious about change. But Scott hated rehab. Didn’t like listening to the soft-spoken counselors telling him, “Fake it till you make it,” and the group talks about triggers and real vs. imagined fears.

“I just want to outthink this thing,” he said. “And I know if I sit and contemplate on it and reflect on it long enough, I can figure out how I (messed) up and not do that anymore.”

He smiled at the notion. “And that hasn’t worked,” he said. “At all.”

Scott sat on a mattress in his one-room apartment. The place rented for $130 a week. His ex-wife footed the bill. The white walls were blank except for a strand of Christmas lights and a large clock. Pictures of his kids rested on top of a bureau. Dirty dishes sat in the sink. The tiny microwave didn’t work. The black futon was stained with pink gum. A small lamp, its cord cut, sat on a table across from an incomplete set of encyclopedia volumes.

At 8 a.m., Scott heard a knock on the metal door.

“It’s Don, man,” said a gravel-filled voice.

Scott opened the door for his neighbor.

“Get my note?” Don asked.

“Yeah. My brother wants to go to court. I don’t have his number.”

“I’d seen him, said he was worried about you, wants to know that you’re all right.”


“Because I told him I didn’t think you have enough gas to get over there,” Don said.

“I think I do.”

“Figure out how to get ahold of him,” Don told him. “He’s worried about you.”

“I will. Talk to you later, Don.”

Scott jumped in the shower. He shaved a weeks-old beard into a goatee. He put on jeans and a T-shirt. He couldn’t find any socks. He tucked his bare feet into black tennis shoes.

Court was at 1 p.m. He had hours to kill. He decided he needed to find his girl, Angel. He wondered where she was.

He drove to a mobile home park, idled outside, hoping to see her. The gas gauge glowed with an orange “E.” He stared out the window. Minutes passed. It didn’t look like Angel would be coming out. He drove back to his apartment, then to find a friend on the other side of town and then to his brother Pat’s place. He needed socks.

His brother’s house was empty. Scott stood in the front yard.

Scott Moyers stops by his brother’s house as he makes his way to court in Cape Girardeau, Mo., in January 2014.

“Everything is off,” he said.

He lit a cigarette.

“No socks, no Angel,” he said. He took a drag. “I sound like Rain Man.”

He jumped back in the Jeep.

“I just don’t know how to do ordinary things anymore,” he said.


A few blocks away, the Jeep sputtered. He pulled into a parking lot. He stared at the steering wheel. Scott was getting up in his feelings again.

He called a friend, one of the few he had left, to ask for help. The friend said he’d come with a gas can on his lunch break.

“Well,” Scott told him, “that’ll give me time to reflect.”

He looked at the blue digital clock on the dash. It was 11:45 a.m. Missing court again would almost certainly mean jail time.

The idea of rehab terrified Scott. He bartered with himself. Did it make sense to go if he was going to prison anyhow? That’d be three weeks in rehab for no reason. Maybe he should spend that time doing something else.

The minutes flashed by on the Jeep’s clock.

“Now I’m getting apprehensive about court,” he said.

At 12:20 p.m., his friend’s car pulled up. And Scott was off.


Scott Moyers finds his name on the docket sheet at the Cape Girardeau County Courthouse in Jackson, Mo., in January 2014.

Heading to court, Scott pulled out his phone. He dialed the local rehab center and asked for the first available bed. He got it. Four days away. He’d start a 21-day stint in rehab in four days.

Scott thought the judge would approve. He pulled into the courthouse square with 15 minutes to spare. He knew exactly where to go. He’d been here hundreds of times as a reporter. He scanned the day’s docket sheet pinned outside a courtroom. He found his name.

His attorney, Gordon Glaus, pulled Scott aside to go over the plea paperwork. “You’ve seen it before. You’ve seen it a million times,” Glaus told him. Scott faced up to seven years in prison on each count. But the prosecutor — who Scott had known for years — agreed to recommend five years of probation, a common sentence for a first-time drug offender.

Scott told his attorney about landing a rehab bed. “Is it still pretty necessary?” Scott asked.

“It could be the one thing that pushes the judge to take the SIS,” said Glaus, referring to a suspended imposition of sentence.

They walked into the courtroom, past a chain gang of inmates in orange jumpsuits. Scott sat in the second row. A woman in a trench coat walked past, pad and pen in hand. Scott recognized her as the newspaper’s new court reporter. Scott sat on his hands, his legs bounced.

“I’m still not sure about this rehab thing,” he said quietly. “I know I can be different.”

He looked down at his feet. “I wish I were wearing socks.” He tugged at the cuff of his jeans. “It’s so disrespectful. What kind of person comes to court without socks?”

It was time for State vs. Moyers. He stood in front of the judge. Scott knew him a bit. The plea deal was hammered out. The judge set sentencing for late February, several weeks away. Then the judge made sure the old reporter understood what was happening.

Scott nodded. He was done.


He was free. The day was young. He walked into the sunshine and bitter chill. His brother never showed. His wife never came. His Angel wasn’t waiting for him on the courthouse steps. Scott stood alone.

Soon, he would return to his apartment and he would talk to Angel, who would be all happy and giggling, and she would say, “We can do this. We can stay sober.” And he would be so relieved, believing her. Then four days later, Scott would let his bed at the rehab center slip away unclaimed. He would say he was too busy, that he could do this himself, plus he had a line on a job down in Mississippi. A second chance. He just had to hold on.

All of that was coming. Right now, outside the courthouse, Scott climbed into his Jeep, where the gas gauge was again perched on “E.” He was thinking about getting high. Then he drove off, unsure exactly where he was headed.




If the month of January is any indication, the making of methamphetamine (meth) could be a problem for Polk County this year.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office discovered the county’s third meth lab this month on Thursday, Jan. 30, in the Sunny View community.

Corey Lindsey, 26, of 127 Wolfe Branch Drive, Mill Spring was arrested and charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, possession of a firearm by a felon, maintaining a vehicle/dwelling/ place for a controlled substance, which are all felonies, and simple possession of schedule IV controlled substance (prescription pills), simple possession of schedule VI (marijuana) and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the sheriff’s office.

Lindsey recently was released from prison on a conviction of possession of methamphetamine stemming from a May 2013 arrest, according to sheriff reports.

The sheriff’s office arrested Lindsey last week during a probation search of Lindsey’s residence. Investigators discovered one small meth lab in a plastic bottle, that wasn’t active, but was likely cooked in the 12 hours before the discovery, according to the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office has discovered two other meth labs in the county so far this year. The county’s largest meth lab in recent history was discovered in Green Creek on Jan. 9 with officers coming into the residence while cooking was occurring.

Officers found the active lab as well as approximately 15 old labs at 315 Scoggins Road, Green Creek and arrested Billy Lawrence Carr and Harold Dean Bailey, according to sheriff reports. The sheriff’s office also found a meth lab dumpsite on John Weaver Road, also in Green Creek on Jan. 1. Lindsey was still being held in jail Friday, Jan. 31 under a $108,000 bond.

He was scheduled for his first court appearance Jan. 31.



U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at the Calexico, California downtown port of entry Tuesday discovered approximately $265,000 worth of crystal methamphetamine concealed inside the cargo area of an SUV.

Shortly after 11 a.m. on Jan. 28, CBP officers encountered a 2005 Ford Escape, driven by a 20-year-old male U.S. citizen, and referred the driver and vehicle for a more in-depth examination.


During the inspection, officers utilized the port’s imaging system and a detector dog that alerted to the rear seats and cargo area inside the vehicle. An intensive search revealed 10 vacuum-sealed packages of crystal methamphetamine inside plastic containers stored under the cargo area of the vehicle. The narcotics weighed almost 14 pounds.

The driver, a resident of El Centro, California, was arrested and turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations agents for further processing. The subject was transported to the Imperial County Jail to await arraignment and CBP seized the vehicle and narcotics.





RUPERT • A 48 year-old Rupert woman is charged with two felony drug counts after allegedly trying to convince a female jailer to flush meth down a toilet.

Melanie Dawn Simmons was arrested on Jan. 14 when detectives with the Minidoka County Sheriff’s deputies and a Minidoka County probation officer arrived to do a home visit. Simmons had failed to comply with treatment requirement for a 2012 possession charge.

Deputies wrote in a report that Simmons arrived in her vehicle at her residence after the officers had arrived. Simmons’ vehicle and handbag were searched for contraband. A small metallic container was found in Simmons’ handbag containing a small plastic baggy with a white residue.

Simmons was arrested and transported to the Mini-Cassia Criminal Justice Center in Burley. Court Records say that at the jail, a female officer conducted a thorough search of Simmons for additional contraband.

The officer discovered a plastic syringe filled with liquid. According to the report, Simmons had asked the jailer to flush the syringe’s contents down the toilet and asked that it not be reported.

Simmons later admitted to officers that the metal container, baggy and syringe belonged to her and that they had contained methamphetamine.

The residue from the baggy and the syringe’s liquid tested positive for amphetamines and methamphetamines.

Simmons’ arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 3 at 9 a.m. at the Minidoka County Courthouse.



GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Two sisters from Minnesota are accused of dealing large quantities of methamphetamine in North Dakota.

Jacqueline Weiss, 22, and Jennifer Weiss, 25, of Zimmerman, Minn., are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of meth. They appeared Friday afternoon in federal court in Grand Forks.

Authorities say the sisters were arrested Dec. 13 after travelling to Grand Forks to make a drug deal. Police say they found 420 grams of meth in 15 baggies that were hidden in an electric heater one of the women brought into a hotel.

Court documents show that a police informant had arranged to buy 11 ounces of meth from the suspects worth about $12,000. The informant set up the meeting by asking Jennifer Weiss if she wanted to “get together for lunch,” which was a drug code they used for exchanging a load of meth.

Police said the informant admitted to meeting with Jennifer Weiss about every three weeks. The informant would then distribute the drugs to customers in Grand Forks and Walsh counties.

Court documents show both sisters have felony convictions for receiving stolen property.

Jacqueline Weiss waived her right to a detention hearing. A bond hearing for Jennifer Weiss has not been scheduled.

A spokesman from the federal public defender’s office could not be reached for comment.



CHICKASHA — A man who was out on bond was arrested early yesterday morning in Ninnekah after a traffic stop led to discovery of methamphetamine in his car.

Cody Hunt was arrested by Chickasha Police Officer David Michael Harper-Head when a search of his vehicle revealed a metal tin in the pouch attached to the back of the passenger’s seat that contained a white crystal substance.

Harper-Head said he knew White from previous interactions and asked for the assistance of a Grady County Sheriff’s Office K9 unit.

“I spoke briefly with Hunt, and told him based on his past I was going to have the dog walk around his car,” said Harper-Head. “Hunt told me he would consent to a search if I would like.”

Deputy Zak Davis said the dog alerted on the vehicle.

Harper-Head said the substance in the tin tested presumptively positive for methamphetamine.

“I placed Cody Hunt under arrest for possession of methamphetamine,” said Harper-Head. “He told me that his Uncle Keith Hunt had been driving the vehicle also and he thinks the methamphetamine may be his.”

Harper-Head said Hunt was the sole occupant of the vehicle and noted he is familiar with Hunt operating the vehicle in the past.

Hunt was transported to The Grady County Jail.



Kirksville, Mo. – Missouri has something of a dynasty going, but it’s not a leadership role to be proud of.

Headlines such as “Missouri reigns as America’s meth king,” “Missouri is America’s methiest state,” and “Missouri claims name of top-meth maker” have popped up annually since 2003, with the lone exception of 2010 when Tennessee took the crown of shame.

Missouri State Highway Patrol 2013

Missouri may lose that race to the bottom again in 2013, with figures through October showing it trailing Illinois and just ahead of Tennessee in “methamphetamine incidents” reported.

While those numbers are alarming and should serve as a call to action, they are often misinterpreted as a representation of the amount of meth in a given area. The reality is much more complex and likely far different than any report can compile.

What is a meth incident

Contrary to what is often said in media reports about meth, these figures tell nothing about the quantity of meth “seized” or labs “busted.”

A reported “incident” can represent a variety of things. A bust at a single location where three dozen active “one pots” are discovered, a bust with one “shake-and-bake,” and a roadside discovery of an empty soda bottle that tests positive for having helped make meth would each count equally as one “incident.”

There is no comprehensive database regarding the amounts of meth seized.

Within the “incident” definition, Missouri has led the way with a high point reached at 2,860 incidents in 2003 (including 57 in Adair County).

The federal Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act was enacted in 2006, moving all over-the-counter PSE products behind pharmacy counters, setting daily and monthly limits and requiring identification for purchases and logs of all purchases be kept by pharmacies.

Missouri, which had already passed some anti-meth laws prior to the CMEA, saw a massive drop in meth lab incidents reported in 2006, falling to 1,284 (nine in Adair County).

After remaining level through 2007, numbers ticked upward statewide and surpassed 2,000 incidents in 2011. Reported incidents were down slightly in 2012 (1,985). Data for 2013 is only available through October, though incidents were on pace for their lowest totals since 2009.

That hasn’t been the case in Adair County, where the 2013 report already includes 55 incidents. That’s the highest since 2003 and has spurred action with the proposed ordinance to require prescriptions for PSE-drug purchases in Kirksville.

Other areas of the state have also seen a resurgence in meth incidents, with an exception in northwestern Missouri. In 2003, the 15 counties that comprise the Patrol’s Troop H region reported 183 incidents. In 2012 they reported just four and they’ve reported eight in the incomplete 2013 numbers.

Buchanan County (county seat St. Joseph) reported 42 incidents in 2003, dropped to six in 2006 and has remained at or below that number in recent years.

But that number doesn’t correlate to an eradication of methamphetamine, says Cpt. Mike Donaldson of the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily good news,” he said. “It is good news we have fewer labs because they’re dangerous. The manufacturing process, so many things go wrong, with toxic fumes, explosions.

“But we have not had a decrease in meth.”

Buchanan County and the rest of that Troop H region are dealing with a different problem. Rather than “home-grown” meth the region has seen an increase in imported meth from superlabs in Mexico. Donaldson said the meth is driven north along Interstate 35 and distributed as part of a massive drug trafficking organization that includes cocaine, heroin and other illegal substances.

Grundy County Sheriff Rodney Herring agreed. After 34 reported meth incidents in 2003, his county reported just one in 2011 and none in 2012. He said his region’s Nitro Task Force hit meth makers hard, often bringing about federal charges for manufacturing meth and weapons possession.

Those who weren’t caught, he believes, turned from meth making to purchasing.

“Mexican meth flows easily through here. It’s better stuff, you can buy it without the risk of getting a manufacturing charge,” he said. “I think we had success [in limiting labs]…I can remember driving up and down country roads and finding all kinds of meth trash.”

There could be other factors causing low numbers, suggested former Grundy County Sheriff Greg Coon, who is now an officer with the Nitro Task Force. He questioned whether counties are reporting all incidents for inclusion in the database.

The Highway Patrol does not require counties to report lab incidents, but those incidents must be reported to the Department of Natural Resources if they wish to rely on them for hazardous waste disposal.

Coon also believes the drug makers are perfecting their craft.

“I still think there is a lot of dope being cooked in northwest Missouri, but people are being more careful,” he said. “They’ve got it down to an art.”

None of those counties have laws such as the one being considered by the Kirksville City Council.

North Missouri Drug Task Force Director of Operations Chris Brown agreed that if the goal is to make a serious impact on manufacturing meth, further restrictions on PSE-drug purchases is the place to start.

Brown said the Task Force’s area, which includes Putnam, Schuyler, Scotland, Clark, Knox, Macon, Randolph, Chariton, Linn and Sullivan counties (Adair County and Kirksville are no longer in the Task Force) still sees a handful of labs, but those occurrences have diminished tremendously.

“What we’re dealing with now is Mexican meth,” Brown said. “It’s pretty widespread all over the area.

“If they’re buying meth anywhere, 90-95 percent is going to be Mexican meth, or what we believe to be Mexican meth.

“It’s coming from across the border. It’s something we’ve been fighting for years.”

“Mom and pop” dominate Kirksville meth market

The Kirksville Police department estimates that close to 95 percent of the meth they come into contact with is of the “mom and pop” variety, meaning meth that is cooked within Kirksville and Adair County.

The ordinance before the Kirksville City Council is aimed directly at those individuals with the hope of reducing meth labs and crimes related to meth production.

KPD Chief Jim Hughes acknowledged the law increases costs to consumers seeking legal uses of PSE, while stating his belief there are more significant increased costs of doing nothing.

“I would say it’s my belief that based on the totality of circumstances, I believe meth accounts for more community and law enforcement problems than any other drug that we’re currently dealing with,” Hughes said, pointing to assaults, burglaries, thefts and numerous other crimes. “It’s just a mushroom-effect of all this stuff associated.”

Hughes said it is not known how much meth being imported from places like Mexico is in the Kirksville area, pointing to the recent bust where a pound of imported meth was seized in the city of Milan as “unusual” for the area.

Whether a law restricting PSE sales would invite more of that product to Kirksville is unknown, but Hughes said he believes any increases of other drugs will not reach the level of the current meth epidemic.

“If you have a vacuum, something is going to come in to fill that vacuum, but I don’t think it will get back up to that level,” he said. “The importation chain, the difference between methamphetamine and cocaine or heroin or those types of things, that stuff has to come in from outside, and so every place that it stops there is a chance for law enforcement to insert itself. But if you make it here and you only make it with people you’ve grown up with your entire life and who are out stealing for you, stealing property to pay for stuff and also ‘smurfing’ and all that, then you’re fairly comfortable that nobody in your group is associated with law enforcement. So, it’s very difficult to make those cases.

“Let’s say we’re successful in getting rid of the ‘mom and pops,’ which I’m not naive enough to think that we will, but let’s say we have a really statistically significant reduction of that, there could be an increase in the crystal meth and meth coming from other parts of the country, but I don’t think it will get up to that level. It’s more expensive and we have more chances to insert ourselves in the process and so I just don’t think that will happen.”


Lebanon police found yet another methamphetamine lab Thursday night at a motel, which marks the fifth in the past six months and the second this week.

Police converged on room 148 at the Knight’s Inn in Lebanon after receiving information from Smith County authorities about a possible meth lab in a room there.

According to Lebanon police meth technician Chris Luna, a woman staying in the room consented search. He said officers found what appeared to be a one-pot meth lab and called Officer Brian Blackburn, also a meth technician, to the scene.

Luna said Blackburn confirmed the items were consistent with that of a one-pot meth lab.

When Luna arrived at the motel, he said a more detailed search of the room revealed more lab components and finished meth.

Police charged Nathan Andrew Busard, 26, of Lebanon, with initiating a process with the intended result to manufacture meth, promotion of meth manufacture, reckless endangerment, possession of schedule II drugs, three counts of simple possession of drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Busard was taken to Wilson County Jail where he remained Friday on $31,200 bond.

Police also charged Stephanie Marie Mosley, 31, of Carthage, with promotion of meth manufacture, initiating a process with the intended result to manufacture meth, reckless endangerment, possession of schedule II drugs, four counts of simple possession of drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Mosley was also taken to Wilson County Jail, where she remained Friday on $33,200 bond. A Feb. 18 court date was set for both suspects.

Luna remained at the scene until state Meth Crime Unit agents arrived to properly dispose of the items.

Luna said police also quarantined the room and placed a hold on the property. He said the hold would be removed once proof is shown a certified hygienist and contractor properly cleaned the room.



HURRICANE, W.Va. — When Hurricane police descended on the American Inn at 11:30 p.m. on July 8, motel owner Navnit Sangani said he was as surprised as anyone that officers would target Room 120 in their search for a clandestine methamphetamine lab.


Two hours earlier, the motel manager had checked a 57-year-old woman into Room 120. The woman paid with a credit card. Her name didn’t turn up on a West Virginia jail mugshot website.

“They didn’t find the lady [who was] supposed to be in the room,” Sangani said.

Instead, police found a bag of cold pills containing pseudoephedrine, a key meth-making ingredient, and two suspects, who were arrested and charged with operating a clandestine lab.


Sangani has been left to clean up the meth mess. Since that summer night, he estimates, cleanup costs and lost income — many rooms had to be closed for months — have totaled about $100,000.

The American Inn meth bust was one of 28 reported by police in Putnam County last year.

“I’m telling you, it’s a nightmare,” Sangani said last week. “Some junky people come down and mess up your life. For nothing.”

After the arrest, health officials with the state’s Clandestine Drug Laboratory Remediation Program ordered Sangani to shut down 32 rooms at the American Inn.

Sangani asked if he could have Room 120 tested, and then have surrounding rooms checked if the original room tested positive for meth residue. He wrote to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who forwarded his letter to the Department of Health and Human Resources, which oversees the meth lab remediation program.

A DHHR official responded that meth fumes could migrate to numerous rooms through “breaches in walls, floors and ceilings.” The DHHR wasn’t backing down: 32 rooms — an entire two-floor wing of the motel — would have to be tested.

Sangani secured several estimates to test the rooms, some as high as $9,000. He called his insurance company, which agreed to pay for testing but not cleanup. His insurance covered cleaning only if a meth lab sparked a fire, he said.

Tests showed traces of meth in a second-floor room, but not in Room 120. Sangani was perplexed.

“I got an email saying people could have smoked it,” he said. “For all I know, somebody could have taken a Sudafed [pseudoephedrine] in there.”

The 32 rooms remained closed for three months. A meth cleanup company stripped the contaminated room, throwing away the beds, carpet, a television, furniture and light fixtures. The cleanup costs were paid through the West Virginia Crime Victims Compensation Fund — an account initially set up to help victims of violent crimes.

About 20 percent of the victims-fund payments reimburse property owners and companies that specialize in meth lab cleaning. The fund pays only for cleanup costs — up to $10,000 per property.

“They pay for cleaning, but not furniture, new carpet, mattresses, TVs,” said Sangani. “Those can cost $6,000 to $7,000.”

The July 8 meth bust wasn’t the American Inn’s first brush with trouble.

In 2012, Hurricane city officials shut down the motel for “absolutely filthy” conditions — bedbugs, mold, ventilation and structure concerns, according to news reports at the time.

Sangani sued the city in Putnam Circuit Court, alleging that city officials were harassing him and forcing him to make unnecessary repairs. Sangani also claimed the city’s building inspector discriminated against him because he’s Indian.

Three months later, the motel reopened and has stayed open. Sangani recently hired the Hurricane police chief’s sister-in-law and brother-in-law, who help manage the motel.

“I don’t want any crime here,” Sangani said. “That’s the step I have to take. We are taking precautions.”

Sangani said he wants the DHHR to revise standards that require motels to shut down entire sections of rooms — or the entire property — because of a single meth lab incident.

DHHR investigators have responded to 28 meth lab incidents at hotels and motels in West Virginia since 2011.

“They are bringing this program, but they need some type of balance,” Sangani said. “You can’t expect the owner to pay. We don’t have anything to do with it.”

Amanda Edwards, the American Inn’s manager, said the state program puts hotels and motels in a tough spot.

“It’s a teeter-totter effect,” Edwards said. “If we have a tip and report it, we’re doing the right thing, but once you report it, you have to have it tested, and even if there’s [a miniscule] amount found, we have to clean everything out.”

Sangani also wants the state to mandate that commercial insurance companies sell insurance plans that cover meth lab cleanup costs. He said he would be willing to pay $5,000 more a year in insurance premiums for such coverage.

“What happens if somebody does meth? I can’t find insurance,” he said. “Are we just to close the door? Nobody could be in the motel business.”

Last month, West Virginia legislative leaders said they would not support proposals that require insurance companies to provide meth cleanup coverage. However, Sen. Greg Tucker, D-Nicholas, and Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne, have introduced bills designed to reduce meth production.

Last year, law enforcement authorities seized 533 meth labs — nearly twice as many labs as in 2012. The bills would require people to get a prescription for cold pills, such as Sudafed and Claritin-D, which contain pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient used to make illegal meth.

Sangani says he worries every night that somebody will rent a room at the American Inn and smoke or cook meth there.

“We are doing everything we can to keep any kind of drug away from this place,” he said. “Why should a business like us have to pay the price? We are the victim.”




KNOX COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) – An Indiana grandmother was arrested Saturday morning after police say she drove while under influence of methamphetamine.

According to a release from the Indiana State Police, 40-year-old Brandy Parker was driving southbound on US 40 when she hit the median. When she over-corrected, she hit a highway sign and an embankment.

Parker and her boyfriend, 40-year-old Hurley Manning, were taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes for minor injuries.

Officials say Parker’s grandchildren, 3 and 4 years old, were in the backseat at the time of the crash and were not properly restrained. They were taken to the hospital for minor injuries and later released.

Investigation revealed Parker was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the crash. She was arrested and taken to the Knox County Jail on charges of driving while intoxicated, driving while suspended, and child restraint violation.



When vice and narcotics officers went into an Osage Street home Thursday morning, they found a lot of what they expected.

There were all the ingredients for methamphetamine, two active one-pot meth labs and evidence that someone had been dumping old meth down the drains in the home.

Officers also found what’s becoming a common occurrence during many of these raids: children.

In the Osage Street home, there were four children, whose ages ranged from 10 months to 4 years.

In 2013, a record number of methamphetamine labs were seized by law enforcement throughout Indiana. And as the use of the drug has begun to spread throughout all socioeconomic levels and races, more of it is turning up in urban areas including Fort Wayne.

Meth labs soaring

With that, police are finding an increasing number of children around the drug, as well.

Last year, 440 children statewide were found in environments where law enforcement officers found meth labs. That’s up from 372 in 2012 and 362 in 2011.

Those children are usually placed into the care of the Indiana Department of Child Services. It’s another burden on taxpayers when it comes to fighting methamphetamine.

A typical raid already requires many officers, a lot of investigation and now, many times, it includes child welfare.

“It’s very time-consuming to deal with meth labs,” said Noble County Sheriff Doug Harp, who began encountering the drug in the 1990s. “The amount of money it costs is unbelievable.”

Drug of choice

Law enforcement officers throughout the state confiscated 1,808 methamphetamine labs during 2013.

That’s up from the record 1,726 set the year before.

In Allen County, law enforcement found a record 64 meth labs, which is double the number found the year before.

While methamphetamine got its reputation in rural areas – it’s been called the “white trash” drug of choice – law enforcement officials have watched it spread into city areas.

This year, though, was an eye-opener.

“Honestly, this last year it has crossed all racial boundaries,” said Capt. Kevin Hunter of the Fort Wayne Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Division.

“It’s not just a white drug,” he continued. “Other races are using it, as well. And we didn’t expect that to happen this fast.”

Warrant officers with the Allen County Sheriff’s Department are finding many labs within inner-city Fort Wayne, as well, according to officials.

Officials said meth numbers continue to climb because of the easy methods of producing the drug.

A one-pot meth lab is typically made in a soda bottle with materials that are easily obtainable, mainly from a local drug store.

And even though laws have been passed to limit purchases of pseudoephedrine – the main ingredient for meth, sold without prescriptions as Sudafed and other brand names – the one-pot method has allowed a whole new explosion in the drug’s use.

“It’s a lot easier to manufacture and make, so we’re seeing a lot more of that,” said Cpl. Jeremy Tinkel, a spokesman for the sheriff’s department.

The increasing number of children turning up during these drug busts is also a concern for law enforcement.

Per protocol, any child found in a home with a meth lab is immediately taken to a hospital to be examined by doctors, Hunter said. The state Department of Child Services is called in and typically takes custody of the children.

“Being around (meth), it can make them high as well,” Hunter said. “And then all of those materials are hazardous, it can make them sick and poison them.”

Thursday’s raid on Osage Street where the four children were found netted three arrests.

One of those arrested was the children’s mother, who came home during the raid and was charged with several felony counts of neglect of a dependent for leaving her kids in a home with meth.

Two other adults who were at the home at some point were charged with illegal dumping because methamphetamine had been disposed of improperly.

“All that stuff is controlled waste,” said Hunter. “It shouldn’t be dumped in a drain or in the sewage. It will contaminate the house and the pipes.”

The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health showed up during the raid and condemned the home.

The four children were placed in the custody of the Department of Child Services.

‘Chasing our tail’

Law enforcement officials are predicting that, from what they’re seeing on the street, the use of methamphetamine will continue to rise.

So, what to do about the problem?

In Noble County, which traditionally has been the county with the most meth labs seized in the state’s northeast region, law enforcement officials found 66 such labs.

Harp, the county sheriff, said the problem has been on a constant rise, no matter what legislators have done. They passed a law that limited and tracked the buying of pseudoephedrine, which caused a drop in meth activity for a while.

But then meth activity soared with the one-pot method.

“I’d love to say we made positive strides and we reduced activity, but I just don’t feel that’s the case,” Harp said.

Legislators are now bandying about a bill that would make pseudoephedrine a prescription drug in an effort to curb methamphetamine.

Harp, Hunter and other law enforcement officials favor such a law. Harp believes it will help law enforcement fight the problem.

Currently, police officers and detectives keep “chasing our tail” in attempts to bust drug houses that might have 1 gram of methamphetamine, Harp said.

When this happens, many times a cleanup team from the Indiana State Police has to be called in to deal with the meth and, in instances such as the one on Osage Street, the health department and child services have to be called in.

That’s a lot of agencies for few drugs, Harp said.

Making pseudoephedrine a prescription drug would force methamphetamine to be imported from other places. That’s already happening, but Harp says police can get more meth off the street with large busts.

Harp’s agency busted a drug dealer last year with 2 kilos of methamphetamine, which Harp said was a lot for one operation.

“If it’s a drug dealer, you do a couple buys, you go in and you shut him down,” Harp said. “You find a lot of product and a lot of money, and it is much better on our resources.”



Fears of ‘unholy alliance’ between notorious Sinaloa cartel and local triads to take advantage of booming demand for cocaine and ‘Ice’

One of the world’s largest and most notorious drug cartels is targeting Hong Kong as it seeks to expand its operations into lucrative new markets, the Sunday Morning Post has learned.


Already a key supplier of illicit narcotics to many Western countries, Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel is diversifying its business by taking advantage of the booming demand for cocaine and methamphetamines in the Asia-Pacific region.

Details of the syndicate’s push emerged after the Post revealed last month how Hong Kong triad gangs are supplying the cartel with precursor chemicals – such as ephedrine and pseudoephedrine – that are needed to produce methamphetamine, known here as “Ice”.

Following that report, the Customs and Excise Department last week announced it was setting up a dedicated team to crack down on the illegal trade of the controlled chemicals.

Named after the state on Mexico’s Pacific coast where it was formed, the Sinaloa is considered one of the world’s most sophisticated and dangerous drug-trafficking groups and is a powerful player in Mexico’s drug wars, which have claimed 60,000 lives since 2006.

Describing the group as the “most notorious”, a local law enforcement source confirmed that the cartel was smuggling cocaine into Hong Kong, but declined to give more details because it could compromise an investigation.

The source’s comments echo a 2012 study in the US Defence Department’s Prism journal, which highlighted Sinaloa’s push into Asia and its efforts to enter the Hong Kong market.

Access to such markets would not only diversify the syndicate’s consumer base, but would also secure its global narcotics supply chain.

A number of recent arrests across the region have also heightened fears about the cartel’s presence.

On Christmas Day a special task force of the Philippine National Police detained three known Sinaloa affiliates during a raid on a meth lab south of Manila. The bust was followed three weeks later by the capture of four Canadian gangsters thought to have links to the Mexican cartel.

Hong Kong’s triads have long been key players in the Philippine drug trade and police there now fear an “unholy alliance” between the Mexican and Chinese drug syndicates.

“We have to move fast to nip this partnership in the bud,” said Senior Superintendent Bartolome Tobias, head of the Philippine National Police anti-illegal- drugs task force.

In Hong Kong, five Mexicans were sentenced last year to up to 27 years in prison for smuggling 538kg of cocaine into the city in 2011.

Police and customs officials have declined to say whether the five were Sinaloa traffickers and Mexican consul-general Alicia Buenrostro Massieu said “respect for due process” meant she could not say.

However, the ringleader of the group came from Sinaloa territory and operated out of a Mexican port controlled by the cartel.

In sentencing the group, Deputy Judge Mr Justice Gareth Lugar-Mawson said that the individuals – with the exception of the ringleader – were drug mules “driven to participate because of debt problems”.

Leveraging unpaid debts is a common method that such syndicates use to recruit otherwise innocent mules, experts say.

With surging demand for methamphetamine and cocaine, an increasingly affluent Asia presents an enticing market for drug traffickers.

Cocaine seizures by Hong Kong Customs soared from 30kg in 2011 to 600kg in 2012, a rise of nearly 2,000 per cent.

The figure fell to 170kg last year, yet the drug has been classed a “growing threat” in Asia by the UN.

According to customs, most of the seizures were destined for neighbouring countries.

“There is much more cocaine on the market now than in the last 20 years,” said Professor Karen Laidler, an expert in drugs trends at the University of Hong Kong. “Previously it was considered a rich person’s drug, but since the market opened up the price has come down. It is now more accessible. People also learned how to make crack [cocaine] which is more addictive.”

A gram of cocaine in Hong Kong today costs about HK$1,200, down from HK$1,700 five years ago, according to Caritas social worker Debby Wong.

“Ice” is also increasingly popular, with seizures soaring.

Last year, Hong Kong authorities seized 165kg of the substance – a 125 per cent rise from the 73kg captured in 2012.

Similarly, seizures of meth pills in mainland China have risen dramatically, increasing 1,500 per cent from six million in 2008 to 100 million in 2012, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

With an average purity of between 90 per cent and 99 per cent, the “Ice” seized in Hong Kong and mainland China is of significantly higher quality than that in the rest of Asia, a fact that experts attribute to the prevalence of skilled chemists in Chinese drug-trafficking groups.

“It’s really a perfect storm for meth use in Asia,” said the UNODC’s Jeremy Douglas.

“Asia has the raw materials, the market demand and the organised crime.”

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Mexican drug gang targets Hong Kong

The Beaufort Sheriff’s Office says a meth lab discovered at 415 Carrow Road in Chocowinity sent five kids to the hospital.

Investigators with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit received information that 38-year-old Donnie Mayo was cooking Meth at his residence.


Investigators learned that there were five children at the residence.

Investigators say that Mayo was currently on probation and placed on warrantless searches as part of his probation.

Investigators say Mayo and his girlfriend Gina Whaley refused to cooperate with the warrantless search and later admitted that there had been Meth cooked inside the residence.  Mayo told investigators that he used Gatorade bottles to cook the Meth.  Mayo told investigators that there was one hidden in the kitchen oven and one hidden in his bedroom.

Emergency Management, Chocowinity Fire, Chocowinity EMS and Department of Social Services responded to the scene and assisted in decontaminating the five  children and transported them to Vidant Hospital to be evaluated.

Mayo and Whaley are currently detained and waiting for the results of the search to be charged accordingly.