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The good news is meth labs in Springfield appear to have practically disappeared.

The bad news: Mexican meth distribution in the city has grown exponentially — so deeply infiltrating the area drug market that addicts seem to favor buying the more potent and less expensive drug over cooking it themselves.


In exclusive interviews with the News-Leader, local, regional and federal authorities described Mexican drug organizations like multinational corporations — working hard to capture the Springfield market by flooding the area with a better, cheaper product.

Mexican meth has taken over,” said Dan Banasik, a task force member assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Springfield office.

“I think they are trying to take over the market.”

Despite the apparent halt of local production, Springfield police continue to find and seize meth at historic levels.

“I’ve never seen the amount of meth being seen here,” said Sgt. Bryan DiSylvester, who has investigated drugs in Springfield for more than 20 years.

“Back in the day — in the mid-90s — we used to seize an ounce and that was a pretty good pop. An ounce is nothing anymore.”

Police recovered more than 22 pounds of meth in 2013, which is more than a 1,000 percent increase over the year before. And the trend continues.

DiSylvester, who now heads the department’s narcotics unit, said that although meth from Mexico is imported into the city by the pound, it is distributed mostly by locals.

“We haven’t contacted the true, Mexican organized crime,” he said.

“We know people in other cities have contacts with people here, in the area, to distribute Mexican dope.”

DEA agents are intercepting growing amounts of meth as interstate shipments continue to head for the Springfield area.

Banasik said most shipments are believed to originate in Mexico and cross the U.S. border into Texas or California before traveling by courier to the Midwest.

Banasik said a recent investigation resulted in the discovery of about six pounds of meth.

“That used to be unheard of,” he said.

The drugs coming across the border are also more potent than homemade, Banasik said. Many recent seizures were found to be more than 90 percent pure. The highly potent meth, known as “ice” or “crystal,” has a more crystalline appearance than locally made powder.

On the street, buying Mexican meth might help users avoid detection, Banasik said.

Cooks risk getting caught buying acetone at the hardware store or getting pseudoephedrine at the pharmacy.

The drop in meth labs, Banasik said, might simply be a matter of convenience — buying the drug is less hassle than manufacturing it.

“Why bake cookies when you can buy them?” Banasik said.

Springfield police give at least some credit to enforcement efforts for the recent drop in labs.

Working with police, prosecutors have been trying to keep chronic cooks locked up while a case moves toward trial. But success has been limited.

Despite the drop in labs, there is no evidence that meth use has declined at all.

In fact, meth-related emergency room visits at Mercy Hospital have increased significantly in recent years.

In 2011, there were 76 cases in which meth was listed as the cause — either for use, abuse, dependence, addiction or poisoning.

So far this year, there has been 145 and, traditionally, the numbers peak during the summer months, according to data provided by Mercy.

Common trend

The trend isn’t just in Springfield.

Sgt. Jason Grellner is former president of the Missouri Narcotics Officers Association and head of the drug unit in Franklin County, an area that is historically plagued by a large number of meth labs.

But today?

“There has been a huge ramp up of Mexican meth — flooding the market at a low price,” Grellner said.

Over the last several years, Grellner said, Mexican drug cartels have invested heavily in developing new procedures for creating large quantities of highly potent meth.

“It took them a while to get the price down,” he said.

“They had a lot of money in research and development.”

Grellner sees a direct relationship between the flood of Mexican meth and the drop in local labs.

As an example, Grellner described a recent three-month stretch without a single meth lab discovered in his jurisdiction.

Then, the drug unit seized a shipment of Mexican meth weighing more than a kilogram.

Within days, multiple meth labs began popping back up in Franklin County.

“The minute we got rid of a large amount of meth, we saw the labs again,” he said.

That’s why Grellner still supports prescription requirements for pseudoephedrine. It is used by meth cooks to make their products in small labs.

He credits, at least in part, the cities and counties requiring prescriptions with helping to reduce the number of labs found across the state.

Down from No. 1, Missouri now ranks third for meth lab incidents behind Tennessee and Indiana.

Those states are also struggling with an influx of Mexican meth, Grellner said, but only Missouri has 70-or-so communities that have outlawed pseudoephedrine without a prescription.

If Missouri law enforcement officials are able to disrupt the flow of imported meth, Grellner suspects addicts will quickly adjust by ramping up local production with meth labs.

“People who haven’t been addicted to drugs don’t know the power of that addiction,” Grellner said.

No measure in sight

A year ago, Springfield City Council was headed toward a vote that would have required a prescription for pseudoephedrine.

On the day of the vote, council members instead voted to delay the measure for a year. Councilman Craig Fishel, who led the effort to delay, said he believed the state legislature might take action against the main meth ingredient. Fishel said then that council should take up the issue again in June 2014, after the legislative session ended.

The legislature, as many predicted, did not pass any bills that would have further controlled pseudoephedrine in the state.

Today, with only five meth labs discovered so far this year, council is not expected to take up the issue.

Councilwoman Cindy Rushefsky strongly endorsed a citywide prescription requirement last year. She chided her colleagues for delaying action on the measure.

She and others argued that the city should address the hazards of meth labs in the city. They’ve led to kids being exposed to toxic chemicals. They’ve exploded and caused fires that threatened the occupants of hotels and apartment buildings. They are expensive and dangerous to clean up.

So far this summer, Rushefsky and other supporters of a prescription requirement have been silent — citing the recent drop in meth labs.

“I don’t see any point in creating a controversy when there doesn’t seem to be a pressing need at the moment,” she said.

“If the situation deteriorates, then obviously we will have to look at it again.”



A big breakthrough after months of drug investigations for the North Central Iowa Narcotics Task Force and the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities have made several arrests.

Christopher Black, Jeremy Collins, Duane Robinson, Edward Walter and Jonathan Wheeler all from Mason City are being charged with delivery of methamphetamine.

Toccara Delaughter of Clear Lake was also charged with delivery of methamphetamine.

And Roger James Foat was charged with two counts of delivery of hydromorphone.

All suspects are on $10,000 bond each.

The following suspects have not been located and are still wanted by law enforcement:

Lewy Lee Curtiss, Daniel Lee Vavrik, Broderick Christopher Vollbrecht, Christopher Michael Winters and Adam Andrew Mertz all from Mason City, IA; and Derek Anthony Demory of Albert Lea, MN.

If you have any information on any of the suspects, please call authorities at (641) 430-4701.




Criminal cases for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2003 have been filed against two women arrested for possession of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu and drug paraphernalia in Baras town.

Catanduanes PNP officer-in-charge Senior Superintendent Adelio Benjamin Castillo identified those charged as Amelia “Miling” Tatac Tabilog and Nena Barrameda delos Reyes, both of barangay Juan M. Alberto.

First to fall was delos Reyes who was arrested at 6:47 A.M. of May 25 when joint elements of the Baras PNP, Catanduanes Police Intelligence Section and Catanduanes Police Public Safety Company led by Inspector Jhon Erlano implemented a search warrant issued by Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 43 Presiding Judge Lelu P. Contreras.

A search of the delos Reyes residence by designated searcher PO1 Aldrin Castuera yielded two pieces of small heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets containing shabu, a medium-sized sachet containing shabu residue, six pieces of crumpled aluminium foil used as improvised tooter, and three small sachets containing residue.

The following day at 6:40 A.M., it was the turn of Amelia Tabilog to have her house searched for drugs and drug paraphernalia by a separate joint team led by Baras PNP officer-in-charge Inspector Emsol Icawat.

Searcher PO1 Rommel Sarmiento found in the suspect’s house a sachet containing suspected shabu, two small sachets containing shabu residue, 24 folded aluminium foil placed inside a checkered native wallet, three small empty sachets, seven empty sachets placed inside a plastic bag, a shoulder bag containing two cigarette lighters and two pieces of aluminium foil, and 17 more pieces of crumpled aluminium foil.

Both operations were witnessed by barangay captain Eliseo Lizaso and representatives from the Department of Justice and the local media.

The two women were charged with violation of Republic Act 9165 after inquest proceedings and subsequently committed to the San Andres District Jail of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.




Phoenix, AZ (KPHO) – A Valley father is accused of giving his infant son meth.

Officers arrested Christopher Telles, 24, on Wednesday at his home on one count of child abuse.


Police said he brought his 11-week-old baby boy into the Maricopa County Hospital about 7 a.m. on April 27, because the child was having seizures.

Police said during an interview with Telles at the hospital the following day, he admitted crushing meth with his thumb at his apartment about 4 a.m. and then used that same thumb with the drug on it to “calm” his crying son, according to the police report.




A Lafayette man was arrested on drug charges early Saturday after police reported seeing him carry a smoking bag to a curbside trash can.

Harold W. Bucher, 39, faces preliminary charges of manufacturing methamphetamine and operating an illegal drug lab, according to Lafayette police.


Officers noticed Bucher about 3:30 a.m. Saturday while investigating a report of a possible meth lab at 1400 block of Washington St., said Lt. Perry Amos.

After talking to Bucher, investigators checked the smoking bag in the trash can and found what appeared to be an active meth lab, Amos said in a press statement.

The Indiana State Police meth suppression team was contacted and confirmed it was an active lab.

Bucher remained in Tippecanoe County Jail Saturday evening. Bond is set at $12,500 surety or $1,250 cash.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Lafayette police at 765-807-1200 or the We-Tip hotline at 800-782-7463.



The surge in imported crystal methamphetamine in this area has created a lot of extra work for the Franklin County Narcotics Enforcement Unit.

“It’s way up,” Detective Sgt. Jason Grellner, head of the task force, said of the jump in investigations. “It’s crazy.”

As task force investigators follow tips and make arrests, those have been yielding additional leads, Grellner noted.

It’s been like fishing in an overstocked pond,” he remarked Friday.

“Since Wednesday, May 28, we have done 12 searches including two controlled deliveries and six search warrants,” Grellner said.

As of Thursday night, 30 people had been arrested in those drug investigations and 11 children had been placed in protective custody, he explained.

“During that time period we have recovered nearly a pound of methamphetamine, over a half-pound of marijuana, crack cocaine and prescription medications,” Grellner said.

Officers also seized four handguns in those investigations.

And, he said, task force officers were going out on additional raids Friday.

“We’re going so hard that we’re running over each other,” he added.

In most cases, suspects arrested are booked and released while authorities wait for evidence to be analyzed at the Missouri State Highway Patrol lab.

Because of the backlog of cases, it can take six to eight months to get results back from the lab.

Many who were arrested in the nine-day period are repeat offenders and known to the task force. But Grellner said they also are seeing some new players enter the market.

Thursday night, two men, ages 51 and 60, were arrested in Sullivan.

The older suspect, Grellner said, is suspected of trafficking large amounts of crystal meth in the Cuba, Bourbon and Sullivan areas. It’s believed he was bringing in the drug from the Springfield area, he noted.

In two instances, task force officers worked with the U.S. Postal Service and intercepted packages that contained crystal meth.

“We’re also continuing to work with several federal agencies and other officers following up leads in the Kansas City area,” Grellner noted.

He said a couple of his officers were in Kansas City this week to assist in serving search warrants that were issued based on information obtained here.



The Indiana State Police will oversee a registry of houses and apartments that used to be meth labs.

If you’ve ever wondered if an Indiana house or apartment used to be a meth lab, there will soon be a way to find out.


A new state law will introduce a registry of houses and apartments authorities believe were previously used to make meth, as reported by WIBC. The Indiana State Police will oversee the registry, which will publicly list such properties until they’ve been decontaminated.

Homeowners have at least 180 days to decontaminate their houses or apartments once a report has been made to police that a property was previously used as a meth lab, WHAS reported. The property is then added to the list if it is not decontaminated. Police have to remove properties from the registry within 90 days of decontamination.

The law goes into effect July 1.

Indiana led other states in the number of reported meth-related incidents in 2013, according to a report from the Missouri State High Patrol. There were a total of 1,797 incidents. Furthermore, the Associated Press reported cooks are starting to make the drug in hotels.

A Rome woman was being held on $8,300 bond Friday morning after officers found drugs in her purse following a traffic stop, according to Floyd County Jail reports.


According to the report:

Julie Kathleen Harrell, 53, of 436 Kraftsman Road, was stopped by Floyd County police Thursday night on Park Avenue in Lindale and consented to a search of her purse.

The officer found two bags of suspected methamphetamine. The report noted that Harrell was operating the vehicle while under the influence of drugs and she failed field sobriety tests.

A straw with suspected methamphetamine residue was discovered by Floyd County Jail staff in Harrell’s purse after she was brought in for booking.

Harrell is charged with felony possession of methamphetamine, along with misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence of drugs, and possession and use of drug-related objects.

Two Puryear residents were arrested on felony drug charges Wednesday afternoon after Metro Crime Unit officers found a potent form of methamphetamine inside a teddy bear at a home where three children were present.

Chris D. Bario, 31, of 6400 Highway 641 north of Paris and his girlfriend, Melissa S. Axley, 35, of Big Sandy, were each charged with possession of crystal methamphetamine with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver by Sheriff’s Sgt. Jamie Myrick of the Metro Crime Unit.


Also charged was Charles Felts, age and address unknown, who was wanted on active warrants from Benton and Cheatham counties for evading arrest, child neglect and contempt of court.

According to information from the Metro Crime Unit, officers found a felony amount of the drug, known as ice, inside the home.

He was arrested after offices found him in a camper outside the home.

Since three young children were inside the home when the drugs were found, additional charges against Bario and Axley are pending.

Canine officers from the Paris Police Department and Henry County Sheriff’s Department assisted in the search.

In addition to those departments, officers from the Puryear and Henry police departments assisted.

Bond for Axley and Bario was set at $15,000 each.

Both were scheduled to appear today in Henry County General Sessions Court.

Hamilton County officers arrested four people after they discovered heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, and 67 new and used syringes in a car during a routine traffic stop.

Florida resident Michael Cardona, 32, was driving 15 miles over the speed limit on Interstate 75 when he was pulled over. When the officer walked to the car, he noticed that Cardona’s hands were shaking. Three other passengers were in the vehicle.

When the officer asked for registration, Cardona’s girlfriend, 30-year-old Desiree Albritton, opened the glove box.

Here, officers observed a bag of pills.



Cardona said the pills were antibiotics he got from a friend. Because they were not prescribed to him, officers said Cardona possessed the pills illegally. They used this as probable cause to search the vehicle.

In the front, officers discovered a black bag that contained used drug syringes and 12 small bags that contained meth. The bag also contained a scale and various other drug paraphernalia.

In the back of the vehicle where Andrea Locicero, 44, and Michael Carl, 37, were sitting, officers found even more meth, this time a larger back. They also found many more used syringes.

On the floor under one seat, officers discovered a spoon with a brown substance that tested to be heroin. Under the other seat, officers found a McDonald’s bag containing yet another syringe and some marijuana.

According to her statement, Ms. Albritton said while she knew about the drugs, none of them belonged to her. She said she was being paid to take Ms. Locicero and Carl from Florida to Kentucky.

 All four people were charged with criminal conspiracy to possess drugs for resale, possession of  methamphetamine for resale, possession of heroin for resale, possession of marijuana for resale, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers are cracking down on smurfs — not the little blue creatures, but people who buy cold medicine for drug ringleaders to use in methamphetamine production.

Legislation that criminalizes smurfing passed the state House 105-3 on Thursday. It’s part of a bipartisan package of seven bills that take aim at meth makers by creating a meth offender database and certain meth-related felony charges.

Lawmakers aim to curb the meth supply by making it harder to buy key ingredients: ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which are most commonly found in over-the-counter cough and cold medicines.

“You can make meth out of a wide variety of ingredients, but you can’t make it without pseudoephedrine,” bill sponsor Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, said. “So these are all aimed at keeping pseudoephedrine out of the hands of people who use it for the wrong reasons.”

Meth abuse is “a scourge in mainly rural areas” of Michigan, Kivela said.

“We’re fearful it’s going to start getting to the urban areas,” he said. “But it’s a big issue, both the addiction to the drug, and the manufacturing. Unlike other drugs, the manufacturing aspect is just as deadly and dangerous.”

While it is difficult to track illegal drug use in the state, Department of Community Health spokeswoman Angela Minicuci said the department has focused on heroin and prescription drug abuse in recent years because it sees more treatment cases for those drugs than for meth abuse. In budget year 2013, publicly-funded treatment programs had 13,376 heroin abuse cases, 8,570 other opiate cases and 22,787 alcohol cases. There were 896 people treated for meth that year, up from 820 in 2012 and 542 in 2011.

Michigan State Police data show there were 641 meth incidents in 2013, up from 553 and 525 in the previous two years, but down from 760 in 2010. Meth incidents include labs, dumpsite and manufacturing components cases.

Four other lawmakers sponsoring the package all represent districts near the Lower Peninsula’s southwestern shore. The House bills now go to the Senate, while the House takes up related Senate bills.

The legislation requires Michigan State Police to report meth convictions to a national database that tracks real-time pharmacy sales of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. Michigan began using the system in 2011 to generate stop-sale orders for someone who tries to purchase more than the legal amount, State Police Sgt. Amy Dehner said. An alert is generated if someone buys more than 3.6 grams in a day, or more than 9 grams in 30 days.

With the new act in place, the system would also alert a pharmacist if a person trying to buy the drugs has had a meth-related conviction in the past 10 years. People with records could only buy the medicine with a prescription.

Dehner said the system has improved officers’ ability to track people suspected of meth offenses, but she could not provide data. Before using the national database, pharmacies used written ledgers “kind of on the honor system,” she said. The real-time online database allows police to get “information more rapidly.”

“I can see Joe Smith tried to buy at six different places in the Lansing area and he’s been over his quantity in the last six weeks,” Dehner said. “At the very least, it could lead to an investigation.”

Twenty-nine states including Michigan use the database to track ephedrine or pseudoephedrine sales, but only five of them have stop-sale measures in place for people with meth convictions, Dehner said. Michigan would become the sixth, along with Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alabama and Illinois.

Michigan Pharmacists Association government affairs manager Amanda Lick said the database works well for pharmacists and the association supports the laws.

The bill package also makes it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison or a $5,000 fine to buy or possess any ephedrine or pseudoephedrine knowing that it will be used to make meth. It makes soliciting people to buy those drugs — smurfing — up to a 10-year felony or a $10,000 fine.

“Typically it’s younger people that get involved because someone asks them, ‘Hey, here’s 20 or 40 bucks, go buy it for me,'” Kivela said. “And what happens is all of a sudden, they start maybe sampling the product a little bit, and now they’re (smurfing) instead of for money, for a little cut of the drug.”

Marquette County Prosecutor Matt Wiese said the legislation “doesn’t quite hit the mark” because smurfs can already be prosecuted for co-conspiring to manufacture meth, which is a 20-year felony. The smurfing bills may not help as much as lawmakers intended, but are “a step in the right direction” for raising awareness of meth abuse, he said.

“It would be better if we made Sudafed a prescription drug rather than pass a smurfing law,” Weise said. “I believe the Legislature compromised on this point.”

The term smurfing is a play on the animated television show “The Smurfs,” Kivela said.

“Papa Smurf used to go get all his underlings to go do his work for him,” he said.





A Silver Creek man who was incarcerated in the Floyd County Jail in May found himself behind bars Friday.

Charles Ladell Akins, 35, of 1732 Pleasant Valley Road, was transferred from Ware State Prison in Waycross for allegedly forcing a fellow inmate to swallow methamphetamine and then threatened and sodomized the man, according to Floyd County Jail records.


According to jail records:

Akins was booked back into in Floyd County Jail on Friday.

He is charged with felony false imprisonment, terroristic threats and acts, possession of drugs behind the guardline, aggravated assault, sexual battery and aggravated sodomy.

Warrant information states that sometime between 9 p.m. on May 30 and 5 a.m. on May 31, Akins was an inmate at the jail.

He allegedly grabbed another male inmate by the hair and forcibly held his head. Akins then made him ingest methamphetamine.

Akins then sexually assaulted and sodomized the man and threatened to “beat him to sleep,” if he told anyone.

Jail officers said Akins admitted to having methamphetamine while in jail, the warrants state.

Akins was being held late Friday without bond with an additional hold for the Georgia Department of Corrections.





WINSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) – A sheriff’s deputy is behind bars and charged with manufacturing methamphetamine.

Winston County deputy Grady Concord is charged with second-degree manufacturing methamphetamine.

He was arrested during an on-going investigation between the FBI and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.

Concord is in the Lauderdale County Jail on $500,000 bond. Winston County Sheriff Rick Harris says such conduct is unacceptable by law enforcement officers and must be dealt with accordingly.



SAN JOSE — Federal agents searching a home near San Jose High School uncovered a sophisticated, clandestine drug lab that is capable of refining large quantities of crystal methamphetamine and has the hallmarks of cartel-based drug trafficking, authorities said.

Two adults were detained and two children were expected to be placed in protective custody following the Friday morning raid where agents from the Homeland Security Investigations division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement served a search warrant at a home on North 20th Street near Julian Street east of downtown.

Authorities are analyzing drug evidence to determine the exact scope of the operation, but early signs point to the yield being substantial, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

“Based on initial estimates and a visual inspection, so far, conservatively represented, hundreds of thousands of dollars in meth was coming and going from the building,” said Deputy District Attorney Patrick Vanier, a narcotics prosecutor.

Agents served a state search warrant at the home about 7:15 a.m. and, while clearing the building of people, discovered the drug lab, authorities said.

“Because of the potential danger, we called the DEA and state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement” for their expertise and to “exercise deliberate caution for public safety because of the materials there,” said Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for ICE, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

A hazardous materials team from the San Jose Fire Department was also summoned to help rule out any explosives danger before allowing investigators to resume their search.

The investigation was sparked by information culled by Homeland Security Investigations that drug activity was happening at the home, said Vanier, whose office would prosecute any charges resulting from the probe.

Agents recovered crystal methamphetamine and liquid methamphetamine in amounts that suggest the operation might have been supplied by Mexican drug cartels. Vanier said evidence found Friday is consistent with a distribution chain that begins with raw materials being smuggled from Mexico and ends with its refinement at a “transfer point” — like the North 20th Street home — before being sold on the streets.

“This resembles a cartel-style operation,” Vanier said.

Details about the two adults taken into custody, such as their connection to the lab, were not immediately known. Kice cited “ongoing case sensitivities” and said the case records are sealed.

Vanier said that, given the amount of money at stake with the lab, it is unlikely that someone with only fleeting involvement would be entrusted to be at the home.

“There was substantial evidence of narcotics trafficking,” he said. “This is a very sophisticated process.”

The county Department of Family and Children’s Services was summoned to tend to the children who were detained.

While ICE is most commonly associated with immigration issues, its Homeland Security Investigations division works cases involving “smuggling of narcotics, weapons and other types of contraband, financial crimes, cybercrime and export enforcement issues,” according to an agency abstract.

Meth production and dealing were targeted by Homeland Security Investigations in another recent San Jose case: In May, a couple who lived behind Oak Hill Cemetery was indicted on meth trafficking charges after 90 pounds of the drug were found hidden beneath the stairwell of their Plateau Drive home. Maria Anay Castaneda-Aleman was arrested, but her husband, Emmanuel Navarro Gallegos, aka Armando Roberto Espino, eluded capture and remains at large.






WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Never try to clean up a meth lab on your own. It can be detrimental to your health, according to IDEM.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management said it can cause health risks to clean up a meth lab or use paint to cover meth residue. Meth residue is usually undetectable to the human eye, which makes it impossible to determine the level of exposure without a test.


Law requires the area where a meth lab was present to beprofessionally tested by a qualified inspector. The inspector can determine the amount of meth contamination that is present.

IDEM said entering a property without first assessing the levels of contamination can seriously jeopardize your health. Officials added that entering may also interfere with the validity of the testing and could complicate cleanup.

After results are received, the cleanup plan can be determined based on the level of contamination. That level, officials said, determines the complexity and cost of the cleanup. In addition, cleanup must occur under the supervision of a certified meth lab cleanup inspector.

IDEM said a final test is required to verify that levels are safe and the structure, vehicle or watercraft, can be reoccupied.

To find out more detailed information on inspection and cleanup of illegal drug labs, visit IDEM’s website.




Amherst County now may bill the creators of methamphetamine for the cost of cleaning up their drug labs.

That was just one of several changes supervisors made to county code at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

Under the ordinance change, people convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine may be required to reimburse the county’s Department of Public Safety for costs associated with cleaning or removing the labs and replacing personal protective gear.

Other changes to county code include:

» Trash and weeds: Supervisors approved an ordinance that provides guidance on how the county addresses nuisances such as trash and overgrown weeds.

County residents will have 10 days from the issuance of a notice to remove and properly dispose of refuse, defined as debris such as trash and abandoned property. In contrast, county residents only will have three days from the date of issuance of a notice to remove and dispose of garbage, defined as “readily putrescible” organic materials, which may be reduced to 24 hours if a serious threat to public health exists.

Property owners will have 10 days from issuance of a notice to cut back weeds or vegetation more than 12 inches in height.

If such actions are not taken in the designated timeframe, the sheriff may deem the property neglected and have an agent address the problem at the property owner’s expense. Beginning July 1, a designated agent can clear weeds and trash on both vacant as well as occupied properties, following a change in state law.

Civil penalties may include $50 for the first violation to no more than $3,000 in a 12-month period for subsequent violations.

» Facilities that produce beverages of low alcoholic content for distribution or sale now may operate as a permitted use in the general commercial and industrial district and as a special exception in the agricultural residential and village center district.

» Medical clinics: The county has added clarifying language defining certain types of medical clinics in shopping centers and the general commercial district. The action follows the withdrawal of a zoning application by a company that wanted to locate a substance abuse treatment facility in Madison Heights.

» Applications for several types of permits including special exception, variance, rezoning and land disturbing permits, now will be considered incomplete if the associated property is delinquent in real estate, personal property or business taxes.




TWIN FALLS • A man high on meth caused nearly $5,000 in damages to a motel room, Twin Falls police say.

Bryan Merrill Eames, 50, of Twin Falls, was arraigned Thursday in Twin Falls County Magistrate Court on a felony charge of malicious injury to property. His bond was set at $100,000.


A police report gave this account:

About 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, police arrived at the Monterey Motor Inn, 433 Addison Ave. W., to find Eames, naked, sweating and speaking rapidly. Officers said Eames was most likely suffering from “excited delirium,” caused by illegal drug use. Eames admitted to “shooting meth” police said.

Broken glass was scattered on the sidewalk and parking lot in front of Eames’ motel room. Both front windows were shattered.

The entire room was in disarray and much of the furniture was badly damaged.

“I would see furniture upside down, the mattress off the box springs, the T.V. removed form the wall mount, broken glass, broken lamps, broken recliners, broken recliners, a broken dining table, broken nightstands and a damaged microwave,” Officer David Weigt wrote in the report. “In the rear portion of the motel room I saw the tub overflowing with water, the upper toilet tank shattered and leaking water, the bathroom window mostly shattered, the carpet pulled from the tack strip and away from the wall and the carpet and flooring submerged in water.”

Other motel guests had called 911 when they heard glass breaking.

Repairs and replacements in the room would cost $4,775, the motel owner told police.

Eames was examined by a doctor at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center, then taken to jail.

A preliminary hearing was set for June 13.





Police evacuated the Hartsville Motel on North 5th Street after they say a makeshift meth lab was found Thursday afternoon in the bathroom inside one of the rooms.

Three people have been taken into custody. Their names and specific charges aren’t being released.


Officers say they went to the motel after getting a tip of the meth lab.

A cleanup crew was called to Hartsville to dismantle the makeshift lab, according to police.





Jasper — The Hamilton County Drug Task Force (HCDTF) arrested two women recently on charges of trafficking in methamphetamine, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO).

Reports state that on Saturday, May 24, an investigator with the Department of Children and Families, along with an HCSO deputy were following up on a report of child abuse going on at 4877 NW 25 Lane in Jennings. The investigator said she was told that Patricia Blanton, 47, Jasper, was living at the residence in Jennings and making meth in a nearby shed, and that the odor was entering the main house where Blanton’s six-year-old daughter was living.

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When the deputy and investigator arrived at the scene, Blanton and Donna Jean Thomas, 52, Live Oak, were standing near two sheds in front of the home and then walked away toward two cars parked nearby. Blanton denied there was any meth being made and consented to a search of the shed. Upon opening the door to the shed, the deputy observed a meth lab in plain view and a strong odor. He contacted dispatch and asked that HCDTF respond to the location, reports show.

When HCDTF arrived they confirmed the active meth lab, removed it, and placed it in a safe area. A search warrant was obtained and served on the residence. Active ingredients for a meth lab, equipment to manufacture it, along with multiple items of drug paraphernalia were discovered in the search, reports state.

Blanton and Thomas were arrested and transported to the Hamilton County Jail, charged with drug and narcotic equipment possession, and trafficking in amphetamines. The following day, Blanton was also charged with an out-of-county warrant from Madison for child neglect, according to HCSO.



Authorities believe a small explosion in Greenbrier county was caused by a Meth lab. Greenbrier county Sheriff deputies were called to the scene Monday night outside a Mobile home park in Fairlea after reports of a small fire. The fire was quickly contained and no damages to any of the surrounding homes. Witnesses say the fire was not large, but smoke could be seen from the road.
Deputies found meth making materials and determined that the shed outside the Mobile homes had been used for a meth lab. Sheriff deputies are still searching for the suspect fled the scene.
The investigation is ongoing.

GREAT FALLS – The use of meth in and around Great Falls is increasing, and that has law enforcement officials concerned.

Meth is on the rise again,” Cascade County Sheriff Bob Edwards said. “It’s concerning to me, because it’s deadly.”

Meth has been rampant across Cascade County for years. In the early 2000s, law enforcement – including Sheriff Edwards – were cleaning up hundreds of labs per year.

Hundreds and hundreds, and that’s just in Cascade County,” Edwards explained. “The state was just inundated. I’ve cleaned them up in campsites, I’ve even cleaned them up in cemeteries.”

Labs have faded since then; in fact, Sheriff Edwards says he’s had none reported across the county this year. However, meth use is rising.

“Now, we have the one-pot meth, where they’re highly portable and get a quick turnaround time, where they’re making them but they’re smaller amounts,” Russell Country Drug Task Force Sergeant Eric Baumann explained.

Sheriff Edwards says, like any business, meth use is dependent on the economy as well as supply and demand. “There’s a demand [here], so the supply is coming,” he said.

The meth is coming through trade, with a large amount originating in Mexico and making its way north.

“I think we’re starting to see more come from Washington,” Sgt. Baumann said. “Mostly near the Spokane, Tri-Cities area. It just gets shipped here because it’s more affordable.

More affordable, but the drug is not cheap. One gram can cost near $120, lasting a user just a day or two. Sgt. Baumann and Sheriff Edwards say drug use is linked to many crimes.

“The people out burglarizing homes and breaking into cars or forging documents often are doing so to fund or support their drug habit,” Sgt. Baumann said.

Sheriff Edwards says meth is one of the most addictive drugs

“Ninety-percent of the people who try it stay on it, it’s very powerful,” the Sheriff said. “And the thing that concerns me now is the people we put away 14 years ago are starting to get out of prison. So are we going to see more labs?”

More labs is something the two hope they do not see more of as cleanup of meth labs can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000.

“They’re expensive and there’s no funding to clean those up,” Sheriff Edwards said. “So that would fall on the county dime.”

The occasional labs we find are the biggest safety concerns because it’s more than just the individual that’s putting themselves in danger,” Sgt. Baumann said. “They put the community, the environment in danger.”




NO wonder ice has become the world’s worst drug problem — it’s six times better than sex.

That’s what New Zealand ice expert and former drug detective Mike Sabin told yesterday’s Melbourne summit on methamphetamine.

Ice can also damage your brain and turn you into a psychopath, he said.

But what gets people hooked in the first place is a feeling far greater than sex.

Mr Sabin said methamphetamine releases 1250 units of dopamine — the brain’s natural reward chemical — into the system.

That’s six times more than sex, which drops 200 units, and three times more than cocaine, which releases 400 units.

The average pat on the back at work releases a mere 100 units.

“The world has never known another drug that can reinforce such a major response,” Mr Sabin said.

But it erodes the brain’s ability to naturally rel-ease dopamine, which is why heavy users say they can no longer feel happy without the drug.

“They take the drug to try to feel normal,” Mr Sabin said.

Usually, he said, these users go on a three- to 15-day binge to maintain their high.

Often they go into a state called “tweaking”, where they stay awake for days at a time, prompting the most irrational and dangerous behaviour.

Mr Sabin gave evidence to the Victorian parliamentary inquiry into ice last night.

He said Victoria had a chance to lead the country’s approach to ice by creating a cultural shift such as those related to smoking, drink-driving and skin cancer.

Mr Sabin called on authorities to strike a balance between reducing both supply and demand, coupled with treatment, instead of focusing on reducing the harm.




SUMTER – The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office and the S.C. Highway Patrol reported last week that Ashley Meghan Pack, 29, of 20 Sheffield Court in Manning, was arrested May 29 on Ramsey Road in Sumter and charged, along with two Sumter men, with criminal conspiracy and manufacture of methamphetamine.


Pack was arrested along with Anthony Dustin Dill, 28, of 1280 Bell Road in Sumter, and Ricky Lee Watford, 42, of 2270 Swallow Drive in Sumter, after a traffic stop. Dill was also charged with DUS; SCSO deputies and troopers found a spoon with methamphetamine residue in Dill’s pocket and the vehicle’s glove compartment. SCHP also found syringes, starter fluid, Drano, lithium batteries and nasal decongestants, all items used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Pack was granted a $5,000 surety bond after her arrest and remains at the Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center, according to the jail’s website. Her next court appearance is set for July 11.




Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell announced Thursday that an Orangeburg couple were arrested for cooking methamphetamine with children in the home.

“Officers were investigating complaints of a meth lab along Menefee Court in Cordova on Wednesday, June 4, when they observed numerous bottles outside the back door of a residence that had material in the bottle from a meth cook,” Ravenell said. “Investigators were allowed to search the home of Jonathan Eric Vaughan and Kristen Vaughan, and inside they found items associated with a meth lab.”

Each of the Vaughans was charged with six counts of unlawful conduct toward a child.

Jonathan Vaughan was further charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and disposal of meth waste.

Kristen Vaughan was also charged with distribution of methamphetamine.

Orangeburg Magistrate Peggy Doremus set bond Thursday at $40,000 cash or surety for Kristen Vaughan and $60,000 cash or surety for Jonathan Vaughan.

Ravenell said Jonathan Vaughan admitted to investigators that he cooked meth in the home. Kristen Vaughan told investigators that she would purchase the off-the-shelf materials needed for Jonathan Vaughan to make the illegal narcotic, the sheriff said.

Authorities said several children were located in close proximity of the illegal — and potentially dangerous — material.

“Our investigation determined as many as six children ranging in age from 6 to 14 have been in the home while meth was being cooked,” Ravenell said. “Jonathan and Kristen’s children were present while the meth was cooking. The four other children in the home were relatives of the Vaughans.”

The sheriff said that in the past three weeks, authorities have found eight methamphetamine labs.

“By far, this was the most dangerous because of the children that were present in the home and nearby while this illegal activity was taking place,” he said.




MIDLAND, Texas (AP) — More than two dozen suspects have been nabbed in a crackdown on a West Texas-based methamphetamine ring linked to California and Nevada.

Prosecutors in Midland say 29 people arrested Thursday or already in custody face federal or state charges. Authorities are seeking nine more suspects.

Investigators say the meth was funneled through San Diego, Las Vegas and Dallas to West Texas.

Federal indictments unsealed Thursday in Midland include charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Some defendants were indicted earlier on charges of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

Some suspects face state parole violation counts or other warrants in the Odessa-based ring operating since September. The defendants are from Midland, Odessa, Amarillo, San Diego and Las Vegas.