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KILGORE, TX (KLTV) -  An East Texas man was arrested on drug charges after police found methamphetamine in his underwear.

On Friday, Kilgore Police Department Officer Brady Middlebrooks stopped a Chevy pick-up driven by 50-year-old Julius Randolph of Kilgore due to a traffic violation. During the traffic stop, Middlebrooks searched the pick-up and located several items of drug paraphernalia and narcotic-type packaging material.


Randolph was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia and taken to the Kilgore Municipal Jail. While booking Randolph into jail, officers discovered he had approximately 30 grams of methamphetamine hidden in his underwear.

He was additionally charged with delivery/sale/manufacture of a controlled substance.




Three men were arrested Monday night following a month-long investigation into drug sales at a Woodside-area home, police said today.

Members of the Governor’s Task Force and Kent County Drug Unit raided a home about 7:30 p.m. in the 700 block of Walnut Shade Road, seized drugs and weapons and arrested the two men living there, said Master Cpl. Gary Fournier.

arrested Monday night following Franklin E. Morris  Nathan E. MorrisHoward G. Griffin Jr

A third man was nabbed in the driveway of the same home as he was delivering a supply of marijuana.

Nathan E. Morris, 29, and Franklin E. Morris, 62, both of the Walnut Shade Road address, each were charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance with aggravating factor, possession of a firearm during a felony, possession of a deadly weapon by a person prohibited, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Nathan Morris also was charged with possession of a destructive weapon, Fournier said.

Howard G. Griffin Jr., 42, of Camden, was charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana with aggravating factor and possession of drug paraphernalia.

A search of the Morris’ house, where two children ages 8 and 7 also live, uncovered 10 grams of marijuana, assorted drug paraphernalia, a .20 gauge sawed-off shotgun, a .38 caliber revolver, a fully loaded .25 caliber handgun, a .12 gauge shotgun and more than $1,600 in suspected drug money, Fournier said.

The children were turned over to the custody of a relative.

Griffin, meanwhile, was arrested in the driveway of the Morris’ driveway as he arrived with more than 127 grams of marijuana.

Nathan Morris is being held in the Vaughn Correctional Center in lieu of $35,750 cash bail. Franklin Morris is being held there after failing to post $57,250 cash bail.

Griffin was released after posting $6,000 secured bail.




HARTFORD — It was a strange relationship from the start.

One was a meth-addicted dealer from California. The other was a charismatic Roman Catholic monsignor in Bridgeport.

During their first meeting on the West Coast, drug dealer Chad McCluskey and Msgr. Kevin Wallin, the former pastor of St. Augustine’s Cathedral in Bridgeport and St. Peter’s Church in Danbury, struck a deal.

At McCluskey’s expected sentencing Tuesday, documents filed in federal court further detailed the crystal meth trafficking deal he had with Wallin.

The documents detail disputes over quantities of meth sent and payments lost in the mail, including a $27,000 payment in 2011.

Senior U.S. District Judge Alfred V. Covello granted a request from Todd Bussert, McCluskey’s lawyer, to postpone sentencing to a date yet to be scheduled. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Caruso is asking for a sentence ranging from 87 to 108 months behind bars.

McCluskey, according to the prosecutor, “was, plainly put, at the top of the conspiracy. He ensured that Wallin’s distribution operation enjoyed a steady flow of methamphetamine from the West Coast.”

By early 2009, McCluskey began mailing Wallin “eight-balls” consisting of 3.5 grams of crystal methamphetamine, according to a statement he gave Caruso. Wallin, then assigned to St. Augustine’s, would sell the drugs and mail cash back, according to federal court documents.

Over time, the grams grew to ounces and then pounds — as many as three pounds per month. Payment went from hundreds to thousands, and finally, tens of thousands sent via the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and wire transfers.

In addition, Caruso said McCluskey and his girlfriend, Kristen Laschober, also supplied Wallin with 32 ounces of GHB — often referred to as the date rape drug — between August and December 2012.

The trio, along with Michael Nelson and Kenneth DeVries, Wallin’s next-door neighbor, all pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to traffic in crystal meth following their arrests and indictments.

Only DeVries, who is suffering from full-blown AIDS and prostate cancer, has been sentenced. He is serving 27 months in prison.

It was in the fall of 2010 that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Connecticut State Police Statewide Narcotics Task Force began looking into Wallin’s operation.

They enlisted wiretaps, surveillance, and an undercover police officer to make buys. They also raided Wallin’s Waterbury apartment in January 2013, and seized his cell phones and numerous documents. One letter was a Dec. 5, 2012, letter sent by Wallin to McCluskey that contained the dealers’ responses, and details about shipments sent and payments made.

For example, there was Wallin’s claim that he sent $13,000 via the U.S. Postal Service on Aug. 21, 2012, that never made it to the supplier. Another time, authorities said, Wallin detailed a $1,000 addition mistake on a payment. He also billed McCluskey for the drugs he used during a visit to Wallin’s Waterbury apartment.

“…Now we come to the juicy part, you laid claim to 10.44 grams (by my notes) in the course of your visit. Now I like to think of myself as a generous host and you were able to eat and drink and celebrate with my other friends while in my apartment and as I always do, I paid no attention to how much of anything was consumed,” Wallin wrote McCluskey.

“…So it seems only just that you compensate me, just as my other friends do under those circumstances. However I won’t charge you the street price. I’ll just ask you to replace it.”

“Are you serious?” McCluskey responds. “I spent $2,000 on travel to get to you so that we could reaffirm our business partnership. When we got to your house I (was) taken aback by the amount of house guests you had. I came to the conclusion that it would be this way for the duration of my stay. I chose to get a hotel room and transportation…”

“Let’s say I consumed no more than $75 worth of food and drink, and I am disappointed that you even bring that up. I do recall the dinner I purchased in Palm Springs the last time we met totaling over $100. I really find that comment in poor taste.”

In a Dec. 16, 2012, text message to Nelson, Wallin tells him: “I made a joke about the stuff he took when he was here you know, to use himself. I said to him I’m not going to charge you the street prices. You should see the note he sent back…I attempted a joke but Chad didn’t get it.”





PONTE VEDRA, Fla. – A fourth suspect has been arrested in connection with a meth lab found inside a Ponte Vedra home Friday.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office discovered the suspected meth lab while issuing a search warrant at a home in the 100 block of Bermuda Court, near the Ponte Vedra Golf and Country Club, Jan. 24.

Deputies find suspected meth lab in Ponte Vedra home

Four days later, Sean Lawrence Anderson, 25, was charged with drug possession, methamphetamine possession and drug equipment possession following an alleged domestic dispute with an ex-girlfriend, according to a report from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

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Deputies arrived on scene at a home in the 9000 block of Portsmouth Court and found Anderson in the process of moving out of his 27-year-old girlfriend’s house. Deputies asked Anderson for his ID, which showed his address as the same home in the 100 block of Bermuda Court searched Friday for being a possible meth lab.

Anderson was searched and was found to be in possession of eight syringes, three small glass containers containing methamphetamine and several prescription pill bottles not prescribed to Anderson, according to the report. Some of the pill bottles had the name ‘Kayleigh Wyman’ on them. Wyman was arrested Friday at the Bermuda Court home and charged with possession of methamphetamine, production of methamphetamine, maintaining a drug dwelling and possession of drug paraphernalia. Wyman is the mother of Anderson’s child, the report detailed.

Anderson was booked into the St. Johns County Jail early Tuesday morning and is being held on a $15,5000 bond.



LAKE COUNTY — Four individuals arrested by Washington authorities on Friday were suspected of ramming a stolen airport courtesy car through Westland Seed at around 5 a.m. on Jan. 21, stealing guns from the establishment, attempting to steal guns from Ronan Sports and Western earlier that same day, and thieving a Porsche.

Lake County Undersheriff Dan Yonkin could not release the identities of the individuals or the town they were arrested in as of press time. Authorities say the brazen crimes are just the latest in a string of gun thefts, burglaries, and other high profile incidents that are related to a resurgence of methamphetamine demand in the area.


“It seems like guns are the new money for drugs,” Tribal Police Chief Craige Couture said. Thieves target guns because they are easily transported across state lines and difficult to track because people often don’t keep records of the serial numbers, Couture said. Thieves have grown bold in recent months in their quest to take firearms to pay drug debts.

On Dec. 12, 2013, burglars struck the home of Ronan resident Thom Chisholm in broad daylight and took 18 firearms and 28 other valuables. Chisholm said the crime was almost identical to another theft where firearms were taken around the same time. The victim of that burglary was not available for comment.

The burglary at Chisholm’s residence took place just two days after 24-year-old Luis Denobrega, of Spokane, crashed his car into a snowy ditch on North Crow Road after leading authorities on a chase where he exceeded speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. Denobrega almost hit at least a dozen vehicles, court documents allege. The crashed vehicle contained a black hatchet, red hooded sweatshirt, a 12-gauge shotgun, two rifles in a backpack and a 20-gauge shotgun. Denobrega told officers that he was a gang member of the Bloods called the Native Lynch Mob. He admitted to perpetrating a drive-by shooting at a house containing five adults, one small child, and an infant on Dec. 7, 2013. Denobrega told law enforcement he was “higher than s—” the day of the shooting, had abused methamphetamine for 13 years, and that he was consuming methamphetamine every day at the time of the event.

Tribal and county authorities said they did not have any indication the guns Denobrega used in the shooting were stolen or that there was any kind of gang problem in Lake County.

More than one month later, a break-in was reported at the Ronan airport on Jan. 16. Thieves stole a Porsche and tools from a hangar, according to Yonkin. Police increased patrols in the area, but thieves were still able to access the airport on the morning of Jan. 21.

At around 4:30 a.m. would-be thieves used a sledgehammer in an attempt to break the door to Ronan Sports and Western. Store management said the shatter-proof glass door was cracked, but did not break. Little more than an hour later the Ronan airport’s courtesy car was stolen and driven through the front door of Westland Seed. In eight minutes, a thief stole between eight and 10 guns, including a .50 caliber high-powered rifle. The car was left running and in gear at the scene of the crime.

Two days after the break-in, Washington authorities called the Lake County Sheriff’s office. They caught four individuals they believed were linked to the Westland Seed burglary and the theft of the Porsche at the airport.

“I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never seen big city crime like this in Ronan,” Westland Seed CEO and President David Sagmiller said.

The root of the problem

The influx in crime is directly tied to a drug route where methamphetamine is pouring in from Washington state, authorities said. A more pure and potent form of the drug is trafficked from Mexico, northward into California and Washington, and on into Montana.

Mexican cartels have targeted Indian reservations for years, according to a 2006 document released by the U.S. Department of Justice and Congress of American Indians.

“Mexican drug cartels have been purposefully targeting rural Native American reservations, both for sale of meth and as distribution hubs,” the paper reads. “Native Americans now experience the highest meth usage rates of any ethnic group in the nation. Some of the reasons drug cartels have targeted Native communities are the complex nature of criminal jurisdiction on Indian reservations, and because Tribal governmental police forces have been historically under-funded and understaffed.”

In recent years a decline in funding has made it more difficult for local agencies to staff positions focused solely on drugs, Couture said.

“When we were busy in 1999 to 2004, we had a drug team,” Couture said. “With cutbacks we don’t have as many officers out there investigating drugs.”

A few other factors compound the problem. Drug dealers, manufacturers, and users that were sentenced to 10 or 15 years in prison for their crimes at the height of Lake County’s war on meth are now being released.

A lot of people we sent to prison on drug charges are getting out,” Couture said.

The released prisoners who return to Lake County find a drug landscape where a simple change in the supply chain makes it much easier for criminals to continue their meth habit with fewer risks.

In the past decade, Montana legislators cracked down on activities that fueled locally-made methamphetamine. Laws were passed that made it more difficult to access cold medicines used to manufacture the drugs and imposed a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence for manufacture charges. Prosecutors can try to sentence manufacturers to life in prison.

The number of meth labs in Lake County dropped dramatically as the risks of manufacturing the drug grew. In the early 2000s authorities busted an average of 11 labs per year, with 22 busts occurring in one year.

“Now we find maybe one each year,” Couture said.

The sentences tied to trafficking the drug are much less stringent, with a 2-year minimum and 20-year maximum sentence.

“It used to be meth labs, but now it is just methamphetamine,” Couture said. “If people have that demand, they will supply it.”

Undercover drug agents in Washington often pose as customers from Montana.

“They know Montanans will pay,” Couture said.

Attacking the roots

In 2005, a multi-million dollar advertising campaign called the Montana Meth Project was bankrolled by software billionaire Tom Siebel’s foundation.

The organization became the state’s largest advertiser and launched a stringent offensive with graphic, gritty depictions of the worst side effects of the drug. The campaign gained national media coverage for the grisly advertisements.

Then in 2008 and 2010, separate reports from the University of Western Australia and the University of Montana claimed the advertising had no impact on the overall decline in meth usage in the state. The project disputed those claims.

Montanans may have noticed the bombardment of television advertisements dropping off, but it isn’t because the project isn’t still in full swing. Just as authorities had to adjust to changes in supply of the drug, the Montana Meth Project had to alter the way it reaches its target audience of teenagers.

“We’ve shifted our advertising model from the traditional ways people were used to seeing us on television, radio, billboard and print,” said Amy Rue, executive director of the project. “It’s an online experience where teens are consuming their lion’s share of media these days.”

Instead of paying for costly advertisements scattered on billboards throughout a geographically vast state with low population density or broadcasting across airwaves where an 80-year-old gets the message instead of a 12-year-old, the project began using data mined from online gaming, social media, and other websites to orient its campaign. Beginning in 2011, the project revamped its website to include 350 pieces of interactive content so teens could converse about meth in cyber space. Now advertisements are sent directly to the phones and web browsers of Montana teenagers.

“We were able to improve saturation rates while still being highly effective and conscious of the cost,” Rue said.

The group also launched an online resource for schoolteachers with pre-made lesson plans meant to educate children early about the dangers of meth.

“We want to maintain a consistent conversation with them about reinforcing that message of ‘not even once’ (trying meth),” Rue said.

For those that do get hooked on the drug, the state’s method of preventing relapse has also changed.

In 2007, the state legislature opened Nexus, an 80-bed meth treatment facility for men and Elkhorn, a 36-bed facility for women in Boulder.

Representatives of the facility did not return calls for comment by press time, but statistics from the Montana Department of Corrections show the program has been successful.

In 2010, the recidivism rate for the facilities was almost zero. Of the 299 offenders who completed nine-months of treatment, none had been convicted of a drug-related offense since release.

The programs cost between $4 million and $5 million each year, according to legislative budget reports. Those who enter the facility are often repeat offenders. According to a 2013 Department of Corrections report, men who entered Nexus facility had been arrested more than 19 times on average. The group’s average number of felony convictions was four and the average number of misdemeanor convictions was 15. The numbers for the Elkhorn facility weren’t as high. Women enrolled had been arrested an average of three times for felonies, eight times for misdemeanors, and 12 times overall.

But the 116 beds in the facilities are nowhere near the number of drug charges reported by the Western Montana region in 2012. More than 1,200 offenses occurred. The state does not release the number of individual meth charges.

Treating the symptoms

Recent burglaries are merely a symptom of the larger drug problem in Lake County, but local authorities have tips to help prevent against subsequent crimes.

“A lot of people don’t lock their cars as they should,” Couture said. “They don’t lock their houses as they should.”

Simple precautionary measures like barking dogs, motion detection floodlights, and locks can be big deterrents for burglars, he added.

People should report suspicious activity to authorities.

“Every time I read another burglary report it seems like somebody saw something, maybe the mailman or somebody else, who saw something suspicious at the time, but they didn’t report it,” Yonkin said.

If someone is hit by burglars, actions taken before the crime can help determine the outcome of an investigation.

For law enforcement to properly identify property, especially firearms, serial numbers and a list of distinguishing marks is crucial. Most people don’t keep a log of this information because it is tedious, but smartphones have simplified the process.

Couture recommends that people take inventory of their personal belongings by taking photos with smart phones and storing those digital files.

“It’s so much easier,” Couture said.

KINGSBURY — A Kingsbury man was manufacturing methamphetamine in the busy Geer Road Mobile Home Park in recent weeks, the second methamphetamine arrest in the Hudson Falls area in a matter of weeks.

Joseph D. Tardif, 30, was arrested Wednesday after an investigation by the Capital District Drug Task Force, Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy said. The Sheriff’s Office is a member of the task force.

Murphy said the arrest was part of a months-long investigation that began in early December.

He said he could not comment on how police came to visit Tardif’s home at 8 Geer Road. But he said chemicals and equipment that were indicative of meth manufacturing were recovered.

The seized items were confiscated and there were no indications of environmental issues stemming from the chemicals used in the meth manufacturing process.

Murphy said police have no comment on how much methamphetamine Tardif was making or whether he was selling it or using it.

The arrest comes after a Nov. 17 arrest at a home on Tidmarsh Street in Hudson Falls, where police concluded a resident was making small amounts of meth in a second floor apartment. Charges are still pending against the suspect in that case, Nicholas Deyette, 28.

The highly addictive stimulant has devastated parts of the country, leaving behind not only addicts but contaminated sites where it was made. Murphy said police are learning methamphetamine is becoming more prevalent in Washington County.

“It’s not a matter of if it becomes a problem, it’s when it becomes a problem,” Murphy said. “We are seeing more and more of it.”

Warren County sheriff’s Sgt. Tony Breen said his agency has not seen much indication that methamphetamine is widely available yet in Warren County, despite the recent arrests in neighboring Washington County.

Tardif was charged with third-degree manufacturing methamphetamine, a felony.

He was in Warren County Jail on an unrelated misdemeanor charge when he was arraigned in Kingsbury Town Court on the new felony Wednesday. He was returned to Warren County Jail.

Tardif has a lengthy criminal record that includes at least two prior felony convictions for grand larceny and robbery, according to prior media reports.




In the past few weeks, Missoula has experienced a spike in violent crimes,  from the shooting  of a police officer, to home  invasions, to burglaries, to armed robberies of motels and convenience  stores, even a coffee kiosk.

New Zealand's Largest Drug Bust

Newly-named Public Information Officer with the Missoula Police Department.  Travis Welsh, said on Monday, January 27, that the uptick in violent crime can  be traced to an increased sale and use of methamphetamine.

“While I can’t comment on any certain case, I can tell you that  we have  seen on the street level, what appears to be an increase in the distribution and  use of methamphetamine lately,” Welsh said. “Whether that applies specifically  to any certain incident, I don’t know, but typically, with that type of drug, we  see a level of violence that may not accompany other types of crimes. That  violence may show itself in armed robberies, or property crimes associated with  methamphetamine.”

Welsh said the very nature of meth can lead to basic physiological and  psychological changes in those who use the drug.

“Number one, the drug is terribly toxic,” Welsh said. “The ingredients that  are used to manufacture it do not have a positive effect on the human body. “Of  course, it’s also terribly addictive, to the point where people say a friend or  a loved one is not the same person, they’ve become someone totally different,  and start to do things they wouldn’t normally do because of this addiction. They  may also engage in a certain level of violence that is not characteristic of  their personality before using the drug. It’s so addictive that people will do  things that they feel they have to do to get the drug, or have the means to get  the drug.”

Welsh said there may be new sources of the drug coming into the area.

“It may be that there is a new distribution route coming from sources that  may be heading up this way,” Walsh said. “There may also be the appearance of a  new network, but whatever the cause, we’re seeing an upswing in the use of  methamphetamine lately.”




MOULTRIE — Moultrie police arrested a Moultrie man on prostitution and drug charges Saturday in an investigation targeting the advertising of sexual services on the Internet.

Justin Cedric Suber, 30, 2359 Hwy. 37 E. Lot 5, was charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and prostitution after he showed up at an arranged rendezvous point on North Veterans Parkway, Moultrie Police Department reports said.


“An undercoer police officer solicited for sexual acts and met him in the parking lot of a local business,” said Sgt. Daniel Lindsay of the department’s Crime Suppression Unit. Police found Suber on an “online social media site and we answered an ad that was posted and received a response.”

It was the second time this year Moultrie police have arrested alleged prostitutes who advertised for sex.

At the time of the arrest, Suber had about a gram and a half of methamphetamine that would sell for about $150, Lindsay said.

At the time of his arrest, Suber was on the Georgia Sex Offender Registry for a 2002 conviction on a charge of statutory rape.

He also served about 19 months in prison on a 2005 conviction for aggravated stalking in Thomas County, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. Suber was released from prison in October 2010.

Six people are facing meth charges after Huntington city and county police raided a Huntington address Sunday night, police said today.

Police said in a statement they obtained a search warrant for a home in the 200 block of Oak Street because they suspected methamphetamine was being manufactured there.

While searching the residence about 7:30 p.m., about 24 one-pot meth labs were located, the statement said.

It said six Huntington residents were charged with one count of manufacturing methamphetamine, and were being held at the county jail.

Casey L. Newsome, 29, was being held on $100,000 bond, the statement said. It said five others were being held on $75,000 bond each — Brandi E. Leon, 22; William W. Story, 18; Paula A. Easterday, 42; Bryant W. Steward, 23; and Cory M. Sell, 30.

The scene was processed by the Huntington City and Indiana State Police meth suppression teams, the statement said.




KITCHENER — The ripple effects of drug addiction were highlighted Monday as one man with a crystal methamphetamine problem admitted to almost 100 crimes.

Started within 10 days of his release from jail for other offences, the prolific spree took Catlin Dodds, 29, from Kitchener to Brampton several times, with side trips into Cambridge and Guelph.

Just reading the charges for him to plead guilty to them all took an hour, with a break halfway through so the clerk in Kitchener court could catch her breath.

The final tally included 16 vehicle thefts, 12 attempted vehicle thefts, 30 counts of mischief for breaking into vehicles, 23 thefts from those damaged vehicles, four home break-ins, three counts of possessing stolen vehicles and drug possession.

Before he finally got caught in November at a Kitchener house where stolen goods were stored in the basement, he also led police on two chases and racked up dangerous driving charges.

“It’s more than just a nuisance,” said Justice Gary Hearn. “It becomes a criminal rampage.”

More than 100 other charges were withdrawn by Crown prosecutor Bill Wilson under a plea deal that resulted in a sentence of two years less a day in jail — on top of almost three months already served — and three years on probation.

A stocky man with numerous tattoos on his face, neck and arms, Dodds briefly apologized to his many victims.

“I wasn’t in a clear mind state,” he said. “I have a serious addiction and I need help with it.”

In the courtroom to hear his apology was a Kitchener couple who lost about $30,000 worth of property during a break-in during which the entire house was ransacked.

Along with their sense of security, the losses included a necklace the man gave the woman on their wedding day and numerous family photos.

“You can’t put a price on things like that,” Wilson said.

One of the chases followed that break-in when a suspicious neighbour called police while Dodds was loading up a stolen car with the stolen goods.

He ran a red light and drove into oncoming traffic before the officer backed off due to safety concerns.

Later the same day, after narrowly getting away, Dodds broke into another Kitchener home.

Court heard Dodds typically targeted older cars by punching out the ignitions and starting them, or trying to, with a screwdriver.

He often kept them just long enough to go from one city or one crime scene to another, with underground parking garages a favourite for car-hopping for sunglasses, loose change, GPS devices and other items.

Numerous vehicles were hit, for instance, in a garage located right across the street from a police station in Brampton.

The cost of the spree in terms of damage and stolen goods wasn’t tallied in court. Dodds admitted many of the crimes after his arrest and was tied to others through DNA left on cigarette butts.

Defence lawyer Richard Marchak said Dodds began abusing substances as a 12-year-old after a difficult childhood.

At the time of the spree, Marchak said, he was hooked on crystal meth while trying to cope with the end of a relationship and the drug-overdose death of a friend.

Although the spree began in July, most of his crimes were crammed into an especially busy October.

PORTLAND – A drug-sniffing dog helped uncover 31 pounds of methamphetamine hidden in a suitcase during a traffic stop on Interstate 84 Friday.

Officers stopped a vehicle on I-84 at Exit 18 at 3:45 p.m., according to Sgt. Pete Simpson of Portland police.


After receiving consent to search, K-9 dog Nikko sniffed the vehicle and alerted officers to a suitcase in the trunk of the vehicle.

Investigators obtained a search warrant and found 31 pounds of meth in the suitcase, Simpson said. The estimated street value of the drug was $1.5 million.

The vehicle’s driver and two passengers initially denied owning the suitcase. Police arrested Nestor Catarino Zazueta-Valenzuela, 26, in connection with the drugs. The other two people in the vehicle were released without charges.

According to court documents obtained by KGW Monday, Zazueta-Valenzuela eventually admitted he had been paid $1,000 to deliver the bag to Tacoma but he said he didn’t know what was inside.

“This [arrest] had the ability to affect a lot of people’s lives,” said Sgt. Pete Simpson of the Portland Police Bureau. ”I mean, we know methamphetamine is an absolutely destructive drug in the community. There are no good qualities that are coming out of it.”

On Monday, prosecutors argued successfully to increase Zazueta-Valenzuela’s bail to $250,000, citing the fact that he was from Mexico and could pose a flight risk.



La Crosse police found more than 60 potentially manipulated packages of illegal drugs and prescription pills in the department’s evidence room after a lieutenant’s August arrest, according to reports.


Former Lt. Brian Thomson admitted stealing and using methamphetamine from the evidence room at least three times last year. He was arrested and resigned Aug. 13 after taking 20 fake prescription painkillers during a sting set up by his department.

His sentencing set for Monday for attempted possession of narcotic drugs without a prescription, a felony, was rescheduled until Feb. 25.

The department began investigating Thomson in June after he volunteered to sort evidence. His captain noted his watery and bloodshot eyes and sores on his face.

Thomson’s captain wrote in a report released Monday under a Tribune open records request that, during an audit of drugs stored in the evidence room, he identified 63 packages containing heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine or prescription pills from 46 cases where the envelope or tape appeared tampered with.

Police also found burned tinfoil and packaging from medication used to treat drug addictions during a search of garbage collected from the firearms range, where Thomson liked to work because it was quiet, reports stated.

Prosecutors dismissed two drug cases in the wake of Thomson’s arrest, but it’s still too early to determine what effect his conduct will have on other pending cases.

At his sentencing, attorneys will jointly recommend probation, although prosecutors want him to spend at least part of a one-year jail sentence in custody. Thomson’s attorney will argue he spend that time on electronic monitoring.



The new Murrumbidgee District Mental Health Director says the use of crystal methamphetamine and ice is rife and the impact is violence.

Dr Anthony Samuels says the majority of patients admitted with mental illness have a substance abuse problem.


Dr Samuels says there is no easy solution to the problem, but it must start with community awareness.

He says harm minimisation, prevention and more treatment resources are currently the only weapons available in the fight against these drugs.

“There’s no doubt about it that there is a very strong correlation between the use particularly of crystal methamphetamine and psychosis,” he said.

“All we can try and do is get the message out there that these substances are extremely dangerous.”

“It is a major, major problem in our community.”

“And I’ve worked for a long time in forensic services and certainly there is a very strong correlation between ice use and crime.”

“We certainly see a lot of violence associated with Ice use. It really is a major problem.”

Dr Samuels says drug and alcohol abuse is the most significant factor in mental illness in the Riverina.

The psychiatrist says the common use of crystal methamphetamine is leading to psychosis.

Dr Samuels says there are also issues with elderly patients having reactions from the medications they’re prescribed and substance abuse is a big factor.

“The majority of patients who end up in our services have some associated drug or alcohol problem,” he said.

“They may well have started off with a mental health problem and used substances in various ways to try and self-medicate and treat their illnessess.”

“But the two do go hand in hand”.

Dr Anthony Samuels says mental illness and substance use are closely linked, but drugs that effect the mental health of older people are not always illicit.

He says it’s often due to a combination of drugs they’ve been prescribed by their doctor.

“Often we see people with mental disturbances secondary to the many medications they are prescribed,” he said.

“Older people are often very sensitively affected by medication.”

“We often see people who come in with multiple medications and part of the treatment approach is really just to try and reduce some of the things they are on.”

“It’s certainly one that is a priority for us.”

“We need to look at the way in which we manage aged-care mental health in this region.”

“And it’s a problem that’s going to rise exponentially in the coming years.”



The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested a woman at the Burger King on Cypress Street in West Monroe early Monday morning on numerous drug and gun offenses.

Jodi J. Zuber, 31, of Tupak Street in West Monroe, was arrested on charges of possession of methamphetamine, possession of Xanax, possession of drug paraphernalia, attempted armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and possession of a firearm while possessing a controlled dangerous substance.

According to the arrest report, the victim told deputies Zuber came to her house and demanded $250 or a television. When she refused, Zuber reportedly showed a handgun.

Deputies located Zuber during a traffic stop and discovered the gun, two bags of suspected methamphetamine, numerous suspected Xanax and two pipes commonly used to smoke methamphetamine.

Zuber denied using or threatening to use the gun and said the negotiations for the cash and television were calm.

Deputies also arrested Christopher B. Hobbs, 33, on charges of possession of meth, possession of Xanax and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

Deputies believe Hobbs assisted in the attempted robbery by driving Zuber.

Both were booked at the Ouachita Correctional Center.



YANJI, China, Jan. 27 (UPI) — While North Korea’s  government has gone out of the drug business, individuals make methamphetamine  and sell it beyond the nation’s borders, a researcher says.

Homemade meth from North Korea, known as “orum,” or “ice,” was found in 16  drug arrests in China since 2008 in quantities of up to 22 pounds, Harvard  University researcher Sheena Chestnut Greitens said.

“Meth is a product you can make in bathtubs or trailers. You have a wide  range of people involved in production and trafficking,” she said.

Government drug manufacturing operations ceased after 1999, and with  analgesics scare, North Korea has been relatively easy about homemade narcotics  and their use, with little stigma attached to using opium paste, marijuana or  “ice,” the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Interviewed in Nanji, China, Park Kyung Ok, 44, explained her role as a drug  dealer after a North Korean coal mine where she worked stopped paying salaries.  She bought grams of meth in a nearby city, Chongjin, and sold it in her hometown  of Hoeryong, earning “just enough money that I could buy rice to eat and coal  for heating.”

Meth is also ideal for entrepreneurs who cook the drug in kitchen  laboratories, then sell it to be exported by smugglers who also traffic in  cellphones, DVDs and cash. Last month, five alleged drug smugglers were  extradited from Thailand to the United States to face charges of smuggling 220  pounds of crystal meth, and told a federal court in New York the drug originated  in North Korea, the newspaper said.




A Clearlake woman was arrested Saturday after being found with a stolen firearm during a traffic stop near Calistoga, according to the Napa County Sheriff’s Office.

Leighann Marie Painchaud, 28, was a passenger in a vehicle stopped by sheriff’s deputies for expired registration shortly before 10 a.m. at Petrified Forest Road and Foothill Boulevard, Deputy Sharon Fong said.

A deputy saw a suspected marijuana pipe near Painchaud and asked her if there were drugs in the vehicle, according to Fong. After Painchaud admitted having methamphetamine with her, the deputy searched the interior and found one-tenth of a gram of the suspected drug, Fong said.

The search then turned up a semiautomatic handgun that had been reported stolen from Clearlake, according to Fong.

Painchaud was detained on suspicion of receiving stolen property, as well as possessing a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. She was booked into the Napa County jail.




Days after a Bell County man showed up at a southern Kentucky hospital covered in burns from a meth lab explosion, LEX 18 has learned that he has died.

Police say the meth explosion happened in Bell County on Tuesday. The same day, a man came into the Pineville Community Hospital covered in burns. He told staff that he was burned by an ATV battery, but police figured out the lie.

The emergency room was quarantined for 7 hours while workers de-contaminated about 25 people who came into contact with the man.

His name has not been released.



AUBURN — Police investigating a child pornography case against a former St. John’s High School star hockey goalie and honors student stumbled upon what they believe to be one of the first full-blown methamphetamine labs in Worcester County.

Derek A. Ransom police trooper walks investigators walk in the back

Auburn and state police were at the home of Derek A. Ransom, 30, of 11 Bylund Ave., with a search warrant for child pornography on Thursday night when,  according to police, Trooper Kevin Dwyer discovered a  bucket of chemicals in the cellar and was overcome by fumes. The house was evacuated and the search halted.

“These situations can be very volatile,” Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said.
Trooper Dwyer was evaluated at St. Vincent Hospital’s emergency room in Worcester, according to court records.

After obtaining a separate warrant to investigate the suspected lab, state police were back at the house Friday with federal drug officials and state and local authorities, including the state police bomb squad, Boston Police officers, and Auburn Fire Department and state environmental officials.

As a result of the investigation, Mr. Early said, possession and manufacture of methamphetamine warrants were issued for Mr. Ransom’s arrest late Friday. He will also be charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.

Mr. Early said investigators were methodical in their work at the house Friday, and took extra precautions. He said he also wanted to reassure neighbors that the dangerous chemicals were removed, and there is no danger to their health.

“There have been six meth labs (in the state) since the television show ‘Breaking Bad,’ ” Mr. Early said. “Breaking Bad” is an AMC television series about a high school chemistry teacher who turns to a life of crime manufacturing meth.

Mr. Early declined to comment on the quantities of drug-making materials or meth seized Friday.  While investigators combed through his house Friday for evidence, Mr. Ransom was arraigned in Worcester Central District Court on child pornography possession and dissemination charges.

He waived his Miranda rights and voluntarily provided a recorded statement that he downloaded child pornography using file-sharing networks and kept them on an external hard drive that he recently purchased to store the child pornography, according to court records.

“He stated that he looked for and downloaded both child pornography and adult pornography on a daily basis and felt that he was in need of help,” according to court documents.

Judge Paul L. McGill ordered Mr. Ransom held on $20,000 cash bail and ordered him not to have any unsupervised contact with children younger than 16 and not to access the Internet.  Court records also show Mr. Ransom told police that for “approximately one year he has been ‘cooking’ methamphetaminein his house.”

Neighbors said they hadn’t noticed any unusual activity at the house or traffic on the street. “This is a quiet street. We know who comes and goes. I haven’t seen anything suspicious,” said neighbor Darcy Cook, who lives across the street.

Ms. Cook said Mr. Ransom and his brother have lived in the house since their parents moved to Florida several years ago.
She said the brothers love music and sometimes had parties in the summer.
“They’d have bands playing outside. You could hear them until late at night, but they didn’t do it all the time. They weren’t really a disruption,” she said. “This is very surprising, to have a meth lab in the neighborhood.”

The investigation into child pornography charges that led to discovery of the lab began last fall. Sgt. Michael Hill of the state police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force forwarded a peer-to-peer file sharing investigation to state police detectives in Worcester on Oct. 18.  Material sent over the Internet was traced to the Internet address at 11 Bylund Ave., according to court documents. Child pornography videos and images were downloaded and viewed from the same address.

Mr. Ransom graduated from St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury in 2001. He attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute for a period of time and was a member of a fraternity, according to his Facebook page.

The house at the center of the investigation is owned by Albert F. and Wendelin B. Ransom, of Flagler Beach, Fla., according to town records. Mr. Ransom is scheduled to be back in court on Feb. 21 on the child pornography charges.


ROGERSVILLE — Police allegedly seized components for a highly dangerous “red phosphorus” meth lab at a Rogersville motel room last week, as well as two active labs in the motel parking lot.

Last Monday morning the Rogersville Police Department responded to a suspicious person report at the Comfort Inn Motel, 128 James Richardson Lane, Rogersville.

Upon their arrival RPD officers detained three motel guests who were allegedly found to be in possession of red phosphorus (Red P) meth lab components and ingredients.

The Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit was then called to the scene.

Among those arrested were: Shanna Danielle Moorefield, 27, 359 Lowery Road, Abingdon, VA.; William Leonard Brown, 30,  507 Butt Road, Abingdon, VA.; David Shaun Bernard, 38, 2290 Loss Mountain Pike, Greeneville.

According to a report released Sunday by Sheriff Ronnie Lawson, Brown was initially found to be in possession of a container of crushed-up ephedrine pills, which is the primary component in meth manufacturing, as well as a small amount of marijuana and other drug paraphernalia.

“Upon entrance to the motel room, narcotics officers observed various items of drug paraphernalia, such as glass pipes with meth residue lying in plain view, as well as a cutout line of what appeared to be meth,” Lawson said.

Officers also allegedly seized an assortment of Schedule IV and Schedule III pills which weren’t prescribed.

A coat, determined to belong to Moorefield, was allegedly found to contain a significant amount of red phosphorus, iodine crystals, crushed ephedrine pills and coffee filters.

Lawson said those are all components of the “Red P” method of meth manufacturing which releases phosphine gas, and is “extremely lethal” gas if inhaled.

A vehicle parking outside the motel which belongs to Moorefield was towed away to be searched safely away from the public.

Inside the vehicle deputies allegedly found two mason jars concealed under the center console, as well as an assortment of pseudoephedrine pills.

One Mason jar contained a red-colored bilayer flammable liquid, and the other jar contained multiple coffee filters soaking in a red-colored liquid believed to contain red phosphorus, which Lawson said is consistent with the “Red P” method of manufacturing meth.

The Tennessee Methamphetamine and Pharmaceutical Task Force responded to the scene, as well as the Rogersville Fire Department, Hawkins County EMS and Hawkins County EMA to be on standby while the Red P labs were disposed of.

Moorefield was charged with initiating the process to manufacture meth, possession of meth, two counts of possession of Schedule IV narcotics, possession of Schedule III narcotics and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was released from the Hawkins County Jail on $100,000 bond.

Brown was charged with initiating the process to manufacture meth, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia, and remained held in the Hawkins County Jail on $100,000 bond.

Bernard was charged with maintaining a dwelling where narcotics are housed or sold, two counts of possession of Schedule IV narcotics, possession of Schedule III narcotics, and possession of drug paraphernalia, and he remains held in the Hawking County Jail on $100,000 bond.





Methamphetamine house madness

Posted: January 27, 2014 in Uncategorized
City officials combat onslaught of illegal drug labs, but home buyers still susceptible to toxic exposure.


There’s a house for sale on a dead-end section of South Purdum Street you could buy for $29,900. The property is in poor to fair condition, and sold as is.
You could buy it, but if you did, you’d be moving into a property contaminated by meth.


In September 2012, Kokomo police found an active meth lab on the property at 1719 S. Purdum St. and arrested three people for maintaining an illegal drug lab.
That same week, the Howard County Health Department condemned the house, like it does to every property where police discover meth manufacturing activity.
An Indianapolis-based company called Tax Lien Trust took ownership of the residence through a tax sale in February, and the house has been on the market ever since.
But it shouldn’t be. State law says any home polluted with meth residue must be decontaminated by a state-certified cleaner before it can be sold.
Nathan McCain, a trustee with Tax Lien Trust, said he was aware there was meth activity in the house, but there doesn’t appear to be any problem with it.
The health department disagrees, and the house remains condemned. County health officials say no one has cleaned the property to get rid of the toxic residue that could cause serious health problems to anyone who moves in, including liver and kidney damage, neurological complications and an increased risk of cancer.

“I wish they’d just burn the place down,” said 70-year-old Ray Prater, a retired Chrysler employee who has lived beside the house for the last 40 years.

Ever since it was condemned, Prater said, the property has become a target for vandals, and he doesn’t like living beside a former meth house.

“You know how kids are. There may be someone going in there and drugging up,” he said. “Who knows?”

The house on Purdum Street is just one instance of a crisis facing communities across the country: How to deal with meth houses.
It’s an especially big issue in Indiana, where there were more than 1,800 lab busts in 2013. Indiana was the third highest state for meth seizures in the country in 2012.
Howard County ranked seventh place in 2012 for the most lab busts in Indiana. Police seized 47 labs — a tie with Noble and Kosciusko counties. The number dropped in 2013 to 23 labs seized, but Miami County rose to eighth highest with 49 labs busted.
“In reality, those are small numbers compared to the amount of meth getting cooked out there,” said Kokomo Police Sgt. Shane Melton.
So what are Howard County officials doing to deal with the problem?
Bar the Doors
When a meth lab is seized from a house, state law requires police report it to the health department, which prohibits occupancy of the residence.

“We condemn them as soon as we hear of it. The end,” said Brook Milburn, an environmental health specialist with the Howard County Health Department.

That’s the case for around 30 houses in the county right now. One property has been condemned for 10 years after police discovered meth activity there.
Once the house is condemned, police padlock the doors and board up the windows. Milburn said that’s more than most counties do with meth houses.

“That helps us a lot,” he said. “It’s a great tool for us to keep people out of the house, but it’s an expense the city has to lay out every time they head out to one of these properties.”

After that, though, responsibility for the property lands in the lap of the owner.
State law says before anyone can move into the house, homeowners have to pay a state-certified cleaner to test the property and decontaminate it.

The law doesn’t require owners to actually clean the property, however.
“There’s nothing in the rules that say you have to clean a meth house,” Milburn said. “It says you can’t live in a meth house.”

Matt Duncan, owner of Bio-Meth Management LLC, who has decontaminated around 20 residences in Kokomo, said cleaning up meth residue can be an expensive process.
For a small area like a one-car garage, he said, clean up could cost $1,500. For a large, two-story house, owners may be looking at a $20,000 bill.
It’s a pricey undertaking — one that many homeowners can’t afford. If it doesn’t get clean, then that’s usually the end of the line. Unless the city decides to demolish it, the house sits vacant. Then it becomes a health hazard.

“It’s a bad thing,” Milburn said. “If it sits there long enough, the windows get broken out and kids start messing around in it. It’s not good for the community, it’s not good for property values and it’s not good for the kids messing around in it. It’s just a bad deal all the way around.”

And while the city waits for owners to clean up the property, things can happen, like banks taking the house over and putting it back on the market. That’s what happened to the property on Purdum Street.
It may be illegal, but there’s little recourse to stop it.
Kokomo Deputy Fire Chief Nick Plover said if officials learn someone is trying to sell or rent a meth house, they inform the owner it has to be decontaminated. If people are living in a meth house, they have to leave. Beyond that, Plover said, he doesn’t know of any legal options.
Kokomo Police Sgt. Melton said officers do their best to monitor condemned meth houses, but they only respond to the properties if they suspect criminal activity.

“We can’t babysit these homes once they’re condemned,” he said. “We as police don’t have anything in it once we do the arrest or raid. We just seal them up the best we can.”

Milburn said city and county officials are discussing the best way to deal with meth houses, but there aren’t any easy solutions. Without guidance from the state, he said, counties are left to solve the problem.

“We’re trying to get a process in place so we don’t have these houses sitting around forever, but the law doesn’t account for it. It just doesn’t address it,” Milburn said. “ … Everybody knows that it’s messed up, but nobody knows how to fix it.”

Buyer Beware
Not every residence that housed a meth lab sits vacant, however. Milburn said 54 houses have been decontaminated since 2008, and the properties are open for habitation.
But officials only take action on the meth labs they catch. What about the houses authorities don’t know about?

“Any place where people are cooking or smoking meth is a public health hazard,” Milburn said. “But I can only deal with what I’m aware of.”

That leaves renters and homebuyers with the task of discovering whether a house has meth contamination, and Indiana law isn’t a helpful guide.
According to state statute, owners or Realtors are not required to disclose whether a house was used for the illegal manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance unless the buyer makes a “direct inquiry” into the matter.
Even then, the law only says sellers “may not intentionally misrepresent the fact concerning an … affected property.”
On the other hand, the home seller’s disclosure form required by the state asks owners to report to a potential buyer any hazardous conditions inside a house, including toxic materials, methane gas, asbestos or lead paint.
The vagueness of Indiana’s meth disclosure laws caught the attention of State Rep. Wendy McNamara, a Republican from Posey County, who this month introduced a bill requiring owners to explicitly say if a house has been used in “the manufacture of methamphetamine or dumping of waste from the manufacture of methamphetamine (even if the owner does not know whether the property is contaminated).”

“My intention is to protect the public from others who don’t seem to care,” McNamara said in a press release.

The bill received its first reading earlier this month and was referred to the Government and Regulatory Reform Committee.
Even if the bill passes, it doesn’t guarantee home buyers won’t move into a residence where someone cooked or smoked meth.
Jim Horton, owner of HyTek Home Inspection in Kokomo, said checking for meth residue isn’t a standard test when doing a home inspection for a buyer. He said he might suggest it if he had a strong suspicion of meth activity, but generally the owner or buyer has to specifically ask for it.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of (meth use) going on, but few request to have a home tested,” he said.

Amy Pate, executive vice president of the Realtors Association of Central Indiana, said area real estate agents are becoming more savvy at spotting potential meth activity in a house thanks to training offered by law enforcement agencies at Realtors’ conferences.

“It’s a real issue in real estate and in our community,” she said. “Part of it is just making people aware of what a suspicious scenario is. A lot of people wouldn’t know that a 2-liter bottle and tubing could be an issue.”

Pate said if a real estate agent suspects a home has been used to cook meth, they call police.
In the end, Police Sgt. Melton said he hopes anyone who knows a house contains meth pollution informs authorities and owners pay for decontamination.
Meth residue can be absorbed through the skin, so children crawling around on carpet in a meth house are especially susceptible to its harmful effects, he said.
Even brief exposure to meth residue can cause shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain, dizziness, lack of coordination or burns.

“We’re proactive when it comes to meth,” Melton said. “We track it, we trace it and we go after the bad guys … But I sure don’t want to be a landlord who knows your place had a meth lab and rent it out to a family with little kids. They’re going to get sick.”



CRYSTAL meth is one of the most destructive drugs on the scene.

So addictive is the feeling of euphoria it induces, people have been said to become hooked after their first use.

Mackay Crime Prevention Unit Sergeant Nigel Dalton said, anecdotally, he’d heard of people completely changing their lifestyle to revolve around their next hit, after just two weeks.

It is the purest form of methylamphetamine and its street names include ice, shard, gear and uppers.

With its high street value, Sgt Dalton said the cost would generally outweigh a person’s income.

This can push them towards committing crimes in a desperate attempt feed their drug habit.

Mackay Magistrates Court regularly has men and woman pleading guilty to dishonesty and property offences as a result of drug addiction.

Mackay GP Superclinic’s Dr John McIntosh said crystal meth was one of the most concerning drugs currently available because of its extremely addictive nature.

“It gives you a very rapid high euphoric feeling, (but) you also come down the other side of this big peak and have a severe crash,” Dr McIntosh said.

“That’s the process that produces dependency and addiction.”

Sgt Dalton said hypersexuality and increased aggression were effects of the drug.

“Someone who’s on ice (is) very difficult to calm down,” he said.

Both he and Dr McIntosh labelled it very destructive.

Two common forms of taking ice were through smoking or injection.

However, Sgt Dalton said those purchasing the drug had no idea what additives had been used to bulk it out.

These could include the poison, strychnine, and common brick dust.

Dr McIntosh said first-time users often thought, ‘I’ll stay in control’.

“There is no control,” Dr McIntosh said. “The effects are so addictive that you will not be in control, no matter now strong willed you are.”




YANJI, China — After the North Korean coal mine where she worked stopped  paying salaries, Park Kyung Ok tried her hand at business.

Buttons and zippers, candy and dried squid, fabric, plastic tarpaulins, men’s  suits and cigarettes.

“I sold just about everything,” said Park, 44.

But it wasn’t until she started hawking methamphetamine  in 2007, she said, that she was able to earn a living.

Methamphetamine, known as orum, or “ice,” is a rare commodity  manufactured and sold in North Korea, where most factories sit idle, the  equipment rusted or looted. The North Korean government once produced the drug,  and others that are illicit in the West. Resourceful entrepreneurs have since  set up their own small facilities, and evidence suggests that they are  distributing the drug beyond the nation’s borders.

Last month, five alleged drug smugglers — Chinese, British and Thai men among  them — appeared in federal court in New York, extradited from Thailand in a plot  to smuggle 220 pounds of crystal meth to the United States. They said that their  product originated in North Korea.

A Harvard  University researcher, Sheena Chestnut Greitens, has tracked 16 drug busts  from 2008 to the present in China involving crystal meth from North Korea in  quantities of up to 22 pounds.

“Meth is a product you can make in bathtubs or trailers,” Greitens said. “You  have a wide range of people involved in production and trafficking.”

Park, a bantam-size woman who tittered nervously when recounting her own  audacity, said she got into the meth business fresh from a divorce, while  struggling to support her children and a disabled sister in Hoeryong, a  hardscrabble mining town of 130,000 on the Chinese border.

Park used to travel to another North Korean city, Chongjin, to buy meth that  she would carry back hidden in a candy box. She would sell it behind the counter  at a bicycle parts store at the public market. Hidden among the spare parts were  metal plates, burners and other drug paraphernalia.

She usually paid the equivalent of $15 for a gram of high quality product,  which she would then cut with cheaper meth and divide into 12 smaller portions  to resell for a few dollars’ profit.

“It was just enough money that I could buy rice to eat and coal for heating,”  said Park, who was interviewed recently in China and, like most North Korean  defectors, used an assumed name.

North Koreans say there is little stigma attached to meth use. Some take it  to treat colds or boost their energy; students take it to work late. The drug  also helps curb appetites in a country where food is scarce. It is offered up as  casually as a cup of tea, North Koreans say.

“If you go to somebody’s house it is a polite way to greet somebody by  offering them a sniff,” said Lee Saera, 43, of Hoeryong, also interviewed in  China. “It is like drinking coffee when you’re sleepy, but ice is so much  better.”

Despite its draconian legal system, North Korea has long been easygoing about  narcotics use. With analgesics scarce, opium paste is commonly sold for pain  relief. Marijuana (called “mouth tobacco”) is legal and frequently grown at home  to be mixed in with rolling tobacco.

Methamphetamine is 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.

Through the 1990s, the North Korean government ran the production of opium,  meth and other drugs for Office 39, a unit raising hard currency for late leader Kim  Jong Il, according to narcotics investigators. But the North Korean  government has largely gone out of the drug business, according to the U.S.  State Department’s 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.

When the North Korean government controlled the business, the drugs were  strictly for export. Privatization made the drugs more widely available within  North Korea. North Koreans say meth first appeared on the streets around 2005  and that it came from Hamhung, the onetime center of the nation’s pharmaceutical  and chemical industry, and thus a city filled with unemployed scientists and  technicians. The industry then spread to Chongjin and the capital,  Pyongyang.

“North Korean people learn fast to reuse their skills,” said Kim Yong Chol,  58, a truck driver who fled North Korea in August.

Meth was ideal for budding North Korean entrepreneurs because it could be  cooked in small “kitchen laboratories,” with chemical precursors readily  available across the border in China, which has laxer control than many other  countries.

The finished product finds its way back across the border, carried by  smugglers who also traffic in cellphones, DVDs and cash.

Sensitive about their traditional political ties with the communist country,  the Chinese don’t often complain publicly about North Korean drugs and Chinese  news reports do not mention the neighboring nation. “The stories would often say  they arrested somebody named Kim from the border of a foreign country, so you  could figure it out,” Greitens said.

In Yanji, a Chinese border city of 400,000, the number of drug users  increased nearly 47 times from 1995 to 2005, according to a paper published in  2010 by Cui Junyong, a professor at the Yanbian University School of Law in  China.

“Smuggling of North Korean drugs into China hurts the health of the province  and the region and endangers the stability of the region,” Cui wrote.

The case in a New York court last month involved a gang reportedly working  out of Thailand and the Philippines. The drugs never reached the United States,  but samples provided to undercover agents proved to be 99% pure, according to  the indictment filed in U.S. District Court in New York.

Those arrested said they were the only remaining providers from North  Korea.

“The NK government already burned all the labs. Only our labs are not  closed,” a Chinese citizen who was one of the gang reportedly boasted to an  undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

Because of the purity of the meth seized by the DEA, experts believe it might  have been stockpiled and left over from the days when the North Korean  government ran the drug manufacturing. The drugs produced by private  entrepreneurs are of lower quality, according to Greitens.

It is unclear how serious the North Korean government is about cracking down on the drug trade, or if it is merely trying to reassert control over a lucrative business. Lee, released in 2011 from a North Korean labor camp where she was sentenced for illegal border crossing, said that of 1,200 inmates, up to 40% had been arrested for trafficking meth.

Park, the self-described former dealer from Hoeryong, said, “If you are  caught once or twice, with only a small amount like me, you can get away with it  if you have connections. But a third time, you will be in real trouble.”

She said she soured on the meth trade after a few years. In her inminban, the neighborhood committee by which North Korean society is  organized, there were two or three people who were serious meth addicts.

“Mostly men, they would get crazy and fight with knives,” Park said.

She was distraught when her teenage daughter admitted she sniffed meth to  concentrate on her studies.

“I was doing bad things because everybody else was doing bad things,” Park  said.

She quit the meth trade in 2009, she said, and left North Korea the following  year in hopes of rebuilding her life.




MARIETTA — A Sandy Springs woman was arrested by the Cobb Sheriff’s office after  they say she mailed a Cobb jail inmate an illegal substance.

Jodi Garceau, 31, was arrested Jan. 17 after a warrant said she attempted to mail a  letter laced with liquid methamphetamine through the U.S. Postal Service to  Robert Klicka.

Klicka, of Alpharetta, was arrested Dec. 3 on charges of  possession and trafficking of illegal drugs, according to his booking report. He  has not been granted bond.


The letter, which contained Garceau’s return  address, tested positive for methamphetamine, the warrant said.

Garceau  was already out on bond after being arrested Nov. 11 in Cobb on charges of  possession of methamphetamine, according to the warrant.

She was granted  a $10,000 bond this month, but she is being held for transportation to Fulton  County, the booking report said. Garceau was arrested Oct. 31, 2007 in Fulton on  three counts of selling cocaine.



CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Methamphetamine lab seizures jumped 85 percent in West Virginia in 2013 as police discovered the illegal drug-making operations in 45 of the state’s 55 counties.

Authorities seized 533 meth labs, compared to 288 in 2012, a West Virginia State Police report says. Kanawha County led the state with 159 meth lab seizures, followed by 36 in Wood County, 28 in Putnam County, 27 in Upshur County, 21 in Mason County, 20 in Cabell County and 19 in Greenbrier County.

“It’s an epidemic, a cancer and a scourge on this state,” Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper told the Charleston Gazette ( “And I believe the numbers are much higher. Those are just the ones that got caught.”

Delegate John Ellem, R-Wood, said meth labs frequently cause fires in his county.

“It seems like we average about one lab every week,” he told the newspaper, “and, sometimes, two a week.”

Ellem supports legislation that would require a prescription for cold medications containing pseudoephedrine, which iss a key ingredient in making meth. The bill exempts “tamper-resistant” pseudoephedrine products, such as Nexafed and Zephrex-D, that can’t easily be converted to meth.

“Not only are people from Wood County buying from our stores, but even people from as far away as Kanawha County are coming up here, seeking more avenues for ‘smurfing’ and coming up to buy the product,” Ellem said, referring to people hired by meth makers to buy pseudoephedrine for them.

Cabell County Delegate Kelli Sobonya, R-Cabell, opposes the legislation, saying meth labs are not a statewide problem.

“It’s a Kanawha County issue,” Sobonya told the newspaper. “I want to help Kanawha County, but look at all these counties that have no meth labs.”

“This does not reduce meth deaths, and it does not reduce meth use,” she said. “So why don’t we as a Legislature want to help people get off meth?”

A state law passed in 2012 requires statewide electronic tracking of pseudoephedrine and limits the purchase of the cold medication to about three boxes a month and 20 boxes a year.




HONOLULU — A Hawaii corrections officer has been charged with allegedly smuggling methamphetamine into an Oahu prison.

FBI Special Agent Tom Simon said Sunday that 45-year-old Marc Damas was arrested about 11 a.m. Sunday at the Halawa Correctional Facility where he works.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser ( ) reports Damas was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possessing with the intent to distribute five grams or more of meth.

Simon says Damas will be taken to a federal detention center before a Monday appearance in U.S. District Court.

Damas is the latest prison guard arrested for allegedly smuggling meth into Halawa Correctional Facility.

On Jan. 12, 31-year-old James Sanders III was arrested and charged with two counts of distributing methamphetamine and bribery. He has pleaded not guilty.