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Area law-enforcement officials continue to host presentations about drug trends in the Tuscarawas Valley.

“We’re facing pretty much everything,” Orvis Campbell said recently to a group gathered at the Tuscarawas County Public Library. The various drugs police are encountering include cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

Campbell, a chief deputy at the Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Department, and Detective Chaz Willet of the New Philadelphia Police Department addressed a group of nearly 30 people.

“The drug problem is the crime problem,” said Campbell, adding that 94 percent of crimes in the county are drug-related. He added that, on a national level, $634 is spent per second fighting drugs in America and cocaine is the “drug of choice” of most Americans.

“We’re not going to win this war,” Campbell said. “But it’s a war we’re going to keep fighting.”


An increasing number of meth labs have been discovered in the Tuscarawas Valley, including Tuscarawas, Holmes, Harrison and Carroll counties.

In 2013, there were 161 meth labs discovered throughout those four counties.

In the summer, more than 200 meth labs were found or dismantled.

In November, four meth  labs in Gatorade bottles were discovered at a Midvale residence. Two meth labs were actively cooking when law enforcement officials arrived on the scene. A Newcomers-town man was arrested in mid-November after two nonactive meth labs and drug paraphernalia were seized from his home.

Those labs brought the 2014 total of meth labs discovered to 372, according to Sgt. Joe Mullet of the Holmes County Sheriff’s Department.

Mullet is the leader of the sheriff department’s three-man Meth Containment Team, which includes Sgt. Tim Stryker and Junior Troyer, a firefighter and reserve deputy.

Mullet credits the rise in discovered meth labs to the public’s taking a proactive approach in helping law enforcement target the problem.

“I think word’s getting out there a lot more of what to look for,” he said. “People are becoming more aware of what they see.”


Even though the public is taking action in helping law enforcement locate possible meth labs, Mullet said the problem isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

Meth, I’m afraid, is not going away,” he said. “As long as there is a demand for it, it’s going to be there.”

To minimize the demand for meth, Mullet said, prevention tactics would play a large role, which would include teaching young children about the dangers of drugs.

Besides meth, the biggest drug problem in the area is heroin. Mullet said law enforcement is encountering more heroin overdoses and seeing more of the drug on the street.

Mullet said drug trends usually last about 10 years, with the drug being present in the area and then slowly fading away. However, Mullet believes meth will not be replaced with another drug.

“It seems all the drugs go in a cycle,” said Mullet. “For awhile, we never saw heroin, for years, and now it’s coming back into play again.”

Mullet said reaching out and informing the public is vital to combating drugs.

“The most important thing is if people see something, contact law enforcement,” he said. “I think there’s always going to be a war on drugs. As long as there’s a demand, they’re going to supply it.”






Tim Stryker is a member of the Holmes County Meth Lab ContainmentHOLMESVILLE – Staying focused is critical when attempting to dismantle a cooking methamphetamine lab, says a local law-enforcement officer.

“I’ve had a lot of incidents when the lab caught on fire while being dismantled,” said Sgt. Tim Stryker, a member of the Holmes County Sheriff’s Department’s Meth Lab Containment Team. “You can’t keep that on your mind, or it will slow you down. You have a job to do.

“If you’re scared of the situation, you shouldn’t be doing it.”

One of the ingredients of meth is lithium, which can react to moisture in the air.

“The quicker you can contain the lab, the safer you are,” he said.

Styker, a Millersburg native and a graduate of West Holmes High School, has worked for the Holmes County Sheriff’s Department for 15 years — 13 years as a deputy — and has been a member of the Meth Lab Containment Team for the past three years. The team, commanded by Sgt. Joe Mullet, has cleaned up meth labs in Holmes, Tuscarawas, Harrison and Carroll counties. The members all have received extensive training.

Stryker wears many hats.

In addition to serving on the containment team, he is also Holmes County’s K-9 officer, working for the past several years with King, a Belgian Malinois.

King assists Stryker in searching for other drugs, but not meth. If the dog were to be taken to a location where there was an active cook, King could suffer dangerous health consequences from the fumes.

Stryker is also a captain on the Millersburg Fire Department, serving as both a firefighter and an EMT.

When team members arrive for a containment operation, the first thing they do is size up the situation, he said. They talk to the first responders to get as much information as possible. “You don’t want to walk into an unknown situation unless you have to,” he said.

Then they suit up in special safety apparel.

“We always have two guys on scene,” Stryker said. “One watches out for the things you might forget.”

Not only are active meth labs potentially dangerous, but team members also have to be aware of the fact that each cook has his or her own recipe, which can change the situation.

At one of the team’s most recent calls in November, they had to deal with four one-pot meth labs in Gatorade bottles at a residence in Midvale. Two of the four were actively cooking.

One of the most unnerving situations the team was involved in occurred in Holmes County. Going undercover, Mullet learned that some people were cooking meth at a remote campsite.

A group of five or six officers was assembled to make the wintertime bust. They had to hike about 150 to 200 yards along a trail through a forest to reach the site. Stryker led the way.

“Going in, the element of surprise was limited,” he said.

He could smell lithium in the air, so he knew it was an active cook. “There’s no other smell like that,” he said.

Stryker walked into the camp and started talking to a man who was cooking the meth. It was then that Stryker realized the potentially dangerous meth lab was sitting right at his feet.

Calls about meth labs in the four counties spiked earlier this year as public awareness grew about what to look for. He praised police and firefighters in Tuscarawas County, who have all received training from the Holmes County team. “They’re great to work with,” he said.

Hotel owners in Tuscarawas County have also been tipping off authorities about potential problems. “Their awareness is high,” Stryker said. “They know what to see and smell.”

While there has been a recent lull in activity, Stryker said the problem has not gone away. “It’s still out there.”

The people cooking meth now just haven’t made any mistakes that would tip off law enforcement or the public.

“It’s just a matter of time before the next call comes in,” Stryker said. “It might slow down, but it’s always there.”









An unauthorized nap led to the felony arrests of two people Sunday.

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A person housesitting for a friend found Andrew John Hines, 21, of Winona, asleep on the front porch at 12:50 p.m. Saturday. Hines was known to both the housesitter and the homeowner, and the sitter was aware that Hines was not welcome, nor did he have business on the property. The police were called and Hines was removed.

A bit later it was determined that two packages delivered the previous day and a laptop computer were missing from the Orrin Street residence; however, items of clothing belonging to Hines and a backpack were inside the house — leading police to suspect Hines of the presumed theft. An investigation indicated that entrance to the residence had been gained through a pet door.

Night shift officers were briefed on the crime and Hines’ probable involvement. At 1:30 a.m. Sunday, an officer on patrol spotted Hines getting out of a vehicle at the Kwik Trip at Broadway and South Baker Street. When officers approached Hines, he resisted, and in the ensuing scuffle an officer’s jacket was torn. Hines was placed in the back of a squad car where continued to resist, kicking at the windows.

Officers questioned the driver of the vehicle Hines exited. Sara Rene Edmunds, 23, of Winona, said the television set in the back seat had been put there by Hines. A search of her vehicle and purse yielded several grams of methamphetamine and mephedrone, an illegal synthetic drug, and a small pharmacy of prescription medications. She was placed under arrest.

On Monday, Hines made his first appearance in Winona County District Court to face felony charges of second-degree burglary, fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, theft, and gross misdemeanor obstructing the legal process — interfering with a peace officer.

Edmunds appeared in court charged with third-degree possession of methamphetamine, fifth-degree possession of mephedrone, fifth-degree possession of Clonazepam — all felonies; as well as misdemeanor charges of possession of a legend drug (hydroxyzine), and possession of a legend drug (buspirone).







Potter County authorities arrested two people on drug charges after vehicle search Sunday uncovered more than 25 pounds of methamphetamine valued at more than $900,000.13933554

About 4 p.m. Sunday, a Potter County deputy stopped a vehicle on a traffic offense on Interstate 40 west of Amarillo. During the traffic stop, deputies identified numerous signs of criminal activity when they talked to the driver, Gerardo Ramirez, 26, of Bellflower, Calif., and asked him for consent to search the vehicle. Ramirez refused to grant his consent and a canine unit was called to the location, according to information from the sheriff’s office. The dog alerted to a “narcotic odor” wafting from the vehicle, which was searched. During the search, deputies found 25.2 pounds of methamphetamine in the spare tire compartment. The methamphetamine was packaged in 20 different bundles and had an estimated street value of $903,168, authorities said.13933565

A passenger in the vehicle, Karla Molinar, 19, of Phoenix, told deputies she was in the U.S. illegally. Both Ramirez and Molinar were arrested. They were booked into Potter County jail on charges of possession of a controlled substance.





Four young men, ranging from 21 to 26 years old, have ingested a batch of drug ice and are now fighting for their lives. Another one is seriously ill but stable. The patients are under intensive care in hospitals in Melbourne and Victoria, according to police reports.

The men were suffering from breathing difficulty, which was likely caused by ice overdose and so they were brought to the hospital. Friends, who knew the victims and who also used the same batch of drugs, experienced persistent cough. Others had headaches, chest pains, fever, and shortness of breath.

According to Clandestine Laboratory Squad investigators, two of the men, who are in their mid-twenties, went to the Monash Medical Centre on Nov. 19 with respiratory problems. They are now in intensive care.

The other two were admitted at the Bairnsdale hospital in Gippsland last week. One of them is now in a stable condition at the Sale Hospital while the other patient, named Mitch, is still in critical condition at The Alfred.

Doctors say that the lung damage caused by smoking lethal batches of drug ice is irreversible. There were also reports that the drug was mixed with Paraquat, an herbicide that can cause death and serious damage to the respiratory system. An anonymous source provided one of the hospitals with a sample of the drug that was used. The substance is being examined by authorities.

Victoria police and health officials are still investigating how this illegal drug trade is taking place in the region. Several youngsters in the area who were experiencing the same symptoms are also suspected to have ingested the same drug. Authorities request the public’s cooperation on the matter to prevent more young people from suffering the same fate.

According to the Australian Drug Foundation, 2.1 percent of Australians aged 14 years and over have used methamphetamine in the previous 12 months. Of these people, 50.4 percent report crystal or ice as main form of the drug used. In Victoria, the daily number of all amphetamine-related ambulance attendances in 2012 to 2013 increased significantly compared with the previous year – 88 percent increase in metropolitan Melbourne and a 198 percent in regional Victoria. This is attributed to an increase in the number of attendances relating to crystal methamphetamine or drug ice.







DEADWOOD — A Spearfish woman was recently indicted on several charges related to possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

Penelope Salway, 41, was indicted Nov. 13 on two charges of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, two charges of possession of methamphetamine, one charge of keeping a place for use or sale of controlled substance, and one charge of unauthorized ingestion of a controlled substance.

Court documents allege officers the Spearfish Police Department found their way to Salway’s house after searching a vehicle during an Aug. 30 traffic stop and discovering approximately seven grams of meth and related paraphernalia. The driver of the car allegedly told the officers the materials were in his car because his passenger, identified only as “a juvenile,” was holding the materials for Salway, who was concerned about a potential police search of her house that day. The driver was arrested for possession of amphetamine.

Local law enforcement obtained a warrant to search Salway’s house based on the aforementioned information and performed a search on Oct. 28, finding an undisclosed amount of meth, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia.

Salway allegedly confessed to officials with the Spearfish Police Department that the meth and paraphernalia discovered in the traffic stop was hers, that she used meth and purchased it in ounce quantities at a time to repackage and sell to customers, and that she’d flushed an 8 ball (3.5 grams) of meth down the toilet before officers searched her residence.

Salway was screened for drugs while in custody and allegedly tested positive for amphetamines, meth, THC, and opiates.

Possession of methamphetamine, unauthorized ingestion of a controlled substance, and keeping a place for use or sale of a controlled substance are Class 5 felonies, each punishable by up to five years imprisonment in the state penitentiary and an additional fine of no more than $10,000. Possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute is a Class 4 felony, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment in the state penitentiary and an additional fine of no more than $20,000.







BOISE – Sunday kicked off National Meth Awareness Week. Methamphetamine is considered one of the most highly addictive substances known, and according to the Idaho Meth Project, one in three teens see little or no risk in trying it.

The Idaho Meth Project launched a prevention campaign in 2008, and since then has seen a 56 percent drop in teen meth users in Idaho. Many of the commercials are graphic and disturbing, but Idaho Meth Project Executive Director, Adrean Cavener, says the images are true and make an impact.

Methamphetamine is a very addictive synthetic stimulant that affects the pleasure centers of the brain. Boise resident, Jason Zimmerman, says once he started he couldn’t stop. Zimmerman is a recovering addict. He was first around the drug at just 12-years-old. He says that some family friends got hooked and then disappeared.

“Hopefully they found a way out, but a lot of people don’t,” said Zimmerman. “I swore I would never use meth, but when I was 18-years-old someone put it in front of me and I used it.”

The Idaho Meth Project says the average age to first try meth is 14 or 15-years-old, and 90 percent of them become addicted after one time. A major hurdle is meth is inexpensive. Two grams of meth costs about $50 in the Treasure Valley and is enough for 20 hits.

The affects of using meth are devastating. Appearance is drastically altered and there are also severe psychological and social consequences. Many users end up in prison.

“It’s just that powerful of a drug,” said Zimmerman.

Jason served time and ten years later is speaking out about the dangers of meth. He visits prisons, detention centers, colleges and high schools across the state.

“The way I stay sober is by passing it on,” said Zimmerman.

Passing on the facts about meth is what the Idaho Meth Project is all about, but it starts with parents.

“If you’re not talking to your kids about meth someone else is,” said Cavener.

The Idaho Meth Project is a non-profit organization. If you want more information, click here.







A MOTHER had methamphetamine in her system when she crashed into a truck on the South Eastern Freeway, killing her four-year-old daughter. a court has heard.    792027-bf1e5ae2-78f9-11e4-a0f0-f6e11a4d80ae

Today in the District Court, Kylie Anne Hie, 31, pleaded not guilty to causing the death of her daughter, Charlotte, on the South Eastern Freeway, between the Heysen Tunnels and Mount Osmond, on November 20 last year.

Prosecutors will allege Charlotte died when the van being driven by her mother slammed into the back of a B-double truck.

Today, the court heard prosecutors would also allege Hie had methamphetamine in her system when the crash occurred.

Hie — who, before she was charged, told The Advertiser her daughter was “such a beautiful and happy little girl” — has long maintained she would defend the driving charge.

She was remanded on continuing bail to face court again next month.







The millennium was just a few hours away and Ryan Fails, then 18 years old, was gearing up to celebrate the coming of a new year with friends in Cleveland.

During the course of the all-night party, someone offered Fails something he had never seen before. That was the first time Fails tried meth — and it wasn’t the only time he would use it.

The millennium was just a few hours away and Ryan Fails, then 18 years old, was gearing up to celebrate the coming of a new year with friends in Cleveland.

During the course of the all-night party, someone offered Fails something he had never seen before.

Curiosity struck.

“I didn’t really know what it was,” Fails said as he recalled that night, some 14 years ago. “But I just said, ‘OK.’ ”

He was offered to take a “bump,” or snort, of methamphetamine.

That was the first time Fails tried meth — and it wasn’t the only time he would use it.

During the course of the next several weeks, the Claymont High School graduate would go to weekend parties where meth was easily accessible, and he soon found out that the drug would enable him to stay awake during parties that lasted until the next morning.

This triggered the beginning of a seven-year meth addiction for Fails. It was one in which he traded his health for a man-made high.

“It just progressed from there,” said Fails, who is now 33 years old and calls New Philadelphia home. “It worked its way into where it was part of my daily routine, either snorting it, smoking it or injecting it. I did it every day.”


Fails’ meth use became similar to a person smoking multiple cigarettes every day. It was normal for him to use meth — up to 20 times a day. He used it as an incentive for other bad behaviors, and even as a way to grieve after his father’s death in 2004.

In 2005, Fails moved to San Francisco at the request of his worried sister, Shelly Reffett, who knew about his growing drug addiction. While out west, Fails’ meth habit grew and he would do almost anything to get it — hooking up with people or driving drug dealers and other meth addicts around. But Fails said he never stole or manufactured meth — or spent any time in jail. He didn’t have to make it because it was so accessible.

Fails used the Internet as a tool to get meth.

Using dating websites, Fails said he would look for a signal: who could he meet with to get meth? In the profile descriptions of individuals on dating websites, Fails said he knew people had meth because they would use a capital “T”.

“People say ‘ParTy and Play’ and they’ll have a capital T, which means to they have Tina — meth,” Fails said. “If I didn’t have any (meth), I would go find meth. Somehow, someway, I would find meth so that I had it whenever I woke up. It becomes that much a part of your life.”

In San Francisco, Fails found a job writing mortgages and was able to work from his home, which enabled him to keep his meth addiction going strong.

“I would wake up and take a hit off the pipe, then take a shower,” said Fails, describing his regular daily routine. “I could be doing meth while I was working. To me, it was such a normal life.”


In 2006, the housing market took a turn for the worse. Fails lost his job. He was no longer able to live in his house and his BMW became his home.

“I found myself homeless, addicted to meth and living in a car in San Francisco,” Fails said.

He couldn’t sell his car because he would no longer be able to drive around addicts and dealers, who would give him meth in return.

Fails had barely any money and a distant relationship with his family as he devoted his time to seeking out meth.

Fails’ mother, Rosanne Dixon of New Philadelphia, said she knew her son was addicted to meth, but she didn’t know the extent of his addiction.

“I was unaware that Ryan was dealing with meth addiction for seven years,” Dixon said. “I thought it only last for two or three years. During that time, Ryan moved around and never informed me of any problems.”

In 2006, Dixon’s daughter living in Washington, D.C., Heather Reffett, informed her of Fails’ ongoing meth habit. When Dixon saw her son during a holiday trip to California, she witnessed firsthand how bad Fails’ health had deteriorated.

“During my visit to San Francisco for Christmas, I got to see Ryan and was overcome with feelings that I would never see (him) alive again,” she said.

Replacing eating with doing meth, Fails, who stands at 5 feet 11 inches, dropped 25 pounds — weighing in at 115 pounds. His face appeared sunken in and his teeth began to rot and fall out. He became paranoid, thinking people were spying on him. His longtime friends became nonexistent as they were replaced with ones who could help him score meth.


One night while Fails was in his car trying to sleep off a meth high — a normal thing for him — he immediately had an epiphany. It was like he heard the voice of God, he said, telling him that it was time for a change.

Fails thought a new location would help him overcome his addiction and get back to living a sober life. He eventually sold his car to buy a plane ticket home, moving to New Philadelphia to be closer to family and his friends.

But nothing really helped. Fails just used the leftover money from selling his car to buy more drugs.

It wasn’t until he had a second realization that he finally pushed himself to end his addiction and get professional help.

After watching an episode of “Intervention” on A&E, Fails saw his life mirrored right in front of him on television, giving him a different vantage point on his own life — and his addiction.

“I just happened to be flipping through the channels and it was the first time I saw the show,” Fails said. “And I felt like I was watching my life on there.”

Fails researched his options for treatment and rehabilitation both in Ohio and California, and he went back out to San Francisco to take advantage of the state’s free drug rehab and use Medi-Cal, which is free health coverage in California for people who are financially strapped.

In 2007, Fails used meth for the last time and entered the Walden House in San Francisco to begin his treatment to overcome seven years of meth addiction. The injecting, snorting and smoking was gone for good.

“When Ryan entered treatment,” his mother said, “I was relieved that he was getting help and I was hopeful that it would work for him. I was very proud that he was able to stick to it and complete his treatment.”

Fails spent four months at residential treatment and a year-and-a-half in a sober living residential treatment facility. He successfully completed his treatment and rehab and is approaching seven years of being sober.

In 2009, Fails then moved back to New Philadelphia and enrolled at Kent State University at Tuscarawas to major in criminal justice, hoping to become involved in helping others who are addicted to drugs. In May, Fails graduated cum laude with honors and is currently working toward being admitted into law school so he can use his experiences and knowledge of drug addiction to help influence state policies and federal laws.

“From a young age,” Fails said. “I have always wanted to be a voice for those who do not have or cannot express their own. As I become more experienced, my desires have evolved to wanting to work in social justice law, whether it is fighting the injustices in our criminal justice system.


Fails returned to New Philadelphia from Washington, D.C., in late September after taking a nine-week LSAT prep course and eventually took the LSAT. Fails said after doing well on his first attempt at the test, he plans to take it a second time in December with the hopes of scoring high enough to be admitted into a Top 14 Law School, which includes Yale University, Harvard University and Stanford University.

Earlier this month, Fails moved to Keystone, Colorado, where he is working a seasonal job as a vacation coordinator at Keystone Ski Resort.

Fails said that people addicted to drugs can get help and “can have a successful life. To even think that Harvard is in the realm of possibilities for an ex-meth addict are the stories that people need to hear. Around here and in California, there’s such a negative connotation with admitting that I’m addicted to meth and I need help. I think it’s stories of people who have been through it and made it out the other side would maybe encourage people struggling with addiction and struggling with meth to get help.”








10850014POLICE PURSUIT: Dominic Joseph Sullivan fled police from Brougham St to the Southern Motorway, where he lost control of his car and went down a bank.

A 20-year-old whose meth-fuelled driving was compared to that in the computer game Grand Theft Auto has been jailed for nine months.

Dominic Joseph Sullivan, of Sydenham, was also disqualified from driving for a year, and ordered to pay reparations of $350 for one of the cars he damaged.

His mother told the Christchurch District Court at his sentencing that the real financial impact is a $20,000 bill she has received from the insurance company for the rest of the damage.

Sullivan was appearing for sentence on charges of driving while forbidden, possession of a pipe for smoking methamphetamine, possession of tools for breaking into cars, failing to stop for the police, reckless driving, failing to remain stopped for the police, possession of amphetamine, breach of bail, unlawful possession of prescription medicines, and possession of methamphetamine.

Judge Jane Farish described him as “a relatively young man who has been mixing with the wrong crowd“. She was told he had split with his partner at the time of the October 7 incident. The judge noted she had recently taken pleas from that woman on serious drug charges.

“You need to stay away from that environment,” Judge Farish told Sullivan.

She said that after reading the police account of his driving exploits, she was not surprised to hear that methamphetamine was involved.

Defense counsel Josh Lucas said Sullivan had been on both methamphetamine and amphetamine at the time of the incident, which may have caused him to react with “paranoia and panic attacks” when police stopped him.

“He acted more like a character from the Grand Theft Auto computer game, and not the hardworking young man he is,” said Lucas.

During his two-month remand in custody he had dissociated himself from his partner, dried out, and reassessed his life, he said.

Judge Farish said Sullivan had driven off from a police stop, where the officers found he was forbidden to drive, and had sped through Selwyn St and Disraeli St, colliding with one car, and then went at 147kmh on the Southern Motorway, weaving around heavy traffic.

His vehicle struck the side of a police car during the pursuit, injuring a female officer’s arm, before his car slid out of control. Police found the drugs at the scene and again when Sullivan was picked up while on bail a few days later.

The judge imposed special prison release conditions for Sullivan to attend an intervention program, and complete an alcohol and drug assessment and counseling as directed.








ROCKLAND, Maine — Two men accused of selling methamphetamine out of the Brunswick Rooms boarding house have been arrested and charged with drug trafficking.Rein.jpg

Derek Vandoren, 32, was arrested on Nov. 26 by members of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, Maine State Police, Knox County Sheriff’s Office and Rockland Police Department. He was taken to the Knox County Jail, where bail was set at $10,000 cash. Because of Thanksgiving, the courts were closed until Monday. He is scheduled to make his initial appearance in Rockland District Court on Monday afternoon.

His arrest followed the Nov. 10 arrest of 56-year-old Robert Rein of Rockland for aggravated trafficking in meth. Rein’s charge was elevated to aggravated trafficking, which carries a potential higher sentence if convicted, because of a 2005 cocaine trafficking conviction out of Lincoln County.derekvandoren.jpg

According to the MDEA, the investigation has been going on for several months with the help of Rockland police and U.S. Postal Service inspectors. Agents found that the two were having methamphetamine shipped from California to Rockland, according to supervisor James Pease of the MDEA. The methamphetamine was being resold at the Brunswick Rooms.

Pease said the investigation continues and other individuals could face charges.

Agents found that several packages had been received, according to Pease. On Nov. 10, MDEA and U.S. Postal inspectors intercepted a package that contained 35 grams of methamphetamine that was being delivered to Rockland, the MDEA supervisor said.

Rein was arrested on that day and Vandoren on Nov. 26 when he was located by police. Vandoren had moved to Maine from California within the year.

The methamphetamine was being sold for $300 a gram, according to the MDEA.






A U.S. Border Patrol K9 alerted agents to a load of 112 pounds of liquid methamphetamine valued at $3.5 million. The meth was discovered at the Border Patrol’s Falfurrias Checkpoint in Brooks County located about eighty miles from the Texas-Mexico border region on U.S. Highway 281.Meth%20TruckEEF0818AE1E24564986C074F6927CC85

A white Ford F150 pick-up truck approached the Falfurrias Check Point on Highway 281 on Nov. 19. A K9 drug detection dog alerted to a scent and agents had the truck move to the secondary inspection point according to a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol press release obtained by Breitbart Texas. A search of the vehicle at the secondary inspection station revealed a cache of liquid methamphetamine in one of the truck’s fuel tanks.

Out of concern for agent safety, officials contacted a San Antonio hazardous materials team to come to Falfurrias to extract the meth from the fuel tank. “The safety of our Border Patrol agents on the frontlines is our number one priority,” said RGV Sector Chief Patrol Agent Kevin W. Oaks. “Agents are trained to deal with various situations, but also recognize incidents that require the assistance of specially trained personnel.”

The driver of the truck, along with the narcotics and vehicle were turned over to the Corpus Christi office of Homeland Security Investigations.7DD75B9A518546A58D121D0B32139BEB

Breitbart Texas contacted the CBP Public Affairs office to obtain further information. No response has been received at this time.

The Falfurrias Checkpoint has been responsible for over 82,000 pounds of drugs being seized and the capture of over 34,000 undocumented aliens according to the sign posted at the entry to the checkpoint.






State Rep. Mary Mascher stepped up to the microphone and said those intent on abusing methamphetamines always are ahead of laws that state legislators can enact to stop the abuse.

“We’re dealing always with the symptoms instead of the prevention,” Mascher, D-Iowa City, said at a Nov. 20 public forum organized to explore ways to stop a growing cycle of meth abuse in Iowa.

Mascher then asked what the Iowa Legislature can do to get ahead of the curve. Jessica Peckover, jail alternatives coordinator in Johnson County, was quick to respond: “Fund treatment.”

The value of treatment — with funding but also at the hands-on level where medical help, counseling and social work attack the problem — is a common theme among those helping Iowans kick meth addictions. Several of them expressed that view in two forums held this month.

Another theme was prevention programs.

“The younger you can reach somebody, the better,” Glennis Guerrero, a recovering meth addict from Council Bluffs, said at the Des Moines forum.

Scott Nicholson, Jasper County’s first assistant attorney, added that those prevention programs need teeth to be effective with young people. “We need to scare the hell out of them,” he said.

The forums, in Des Moines on Nov. 19 and Iowa City on Nov. 20, were related to a documentary by former reporter Katie Kuntz, “Breaking the Cycle: Meth Addiction In The Heartland,” that explores in depth how much meth use in Iowa is growing this decade.

They were part of an IowaWatch Connection effort to engage Iowans in discussion about issues facing the state.

While the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy reports a drop in meth lab incidents from a peak in 2011 to 2013, drug policy and treatment officials agreed that methamphetamine use in Iowa is increasing.

Equally alarming, the number of children in whom illegal drugs of any kind — including meth — are detected has grown rapidly the past five years, from 633 in 2008 to 1,172 in 2013.

But Iowa’s Department of Education no longer funds a Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Program that had included prevention training programs in schools. Some federal funding exists, but the programming that was in place a few years ago is gone.

Moreover, learned after its Des Moines forum that the Iowa Alliance for Drug Endangered Children program that supported the website has been eliminated. It has been folded into the governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy because federal funding was yanked, said Dale Woolery, associate director of that office and a forum attendee.

Frazier said one step that could lead to dealing better with addiction to remove the stigma attached to it.

Twenty percent of MECCA’s clients name meth as their drug of choice, which draws public attention, but alcohol is by far clients’ No. 1 drug, Frazier said.

“Because it’s legal we don’t talk about it,” she said.

Edens said the Powell Chemical Dependency Center has the same experience when it comes to its clients’ preferred substances.

“A lot of people don’t understand addictions,” Edens said. “It’s a lot more than just, ‘Make better choices.’ “

Addicts suffer a chemical imbalance in their brains and have to change lifestyles to have a chance at licking their problems, he said.

Like Guerrero, Edens is a recovering meth addict who learned lessons the hard way — in prison. He is glad he ended up there because it forced him to change his lifestyle.

Edens said he got out of prison in 1998. He got his big break, he said, when a judge recognized the importance of substance abuse treatment instead of simply punishment.

“I owe the last 14 years to the people of Iowa who supported treatment programs,” said Edens, now a certified drug counselor.

“Treatment helps. It really changed my life,” he said. “I tell people I didn’t get arrested. I got rescued.”







Two men considered major drug traffickers were arrested in Watsonville on Wednesday and federal and local investigators seized more a pound of methamphetamine and $40,000 in cash, a police spokesman said.2014115478e5e225ad9

The arrests of Watsonville residents German Alvarado, 39, and Hector Vaca, 28, followed a month-long investigation by the Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Team’s Narcotics Task Force and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, crime team supervisor Sgt. Peter Hansen said.

Both men are suspected of being high-level narcotics traffickers operating out of Watsonville, Hansen said.

Starting at about 2 p.m. Wednesday, the task force and DEA agents served search warrants at the suspects’ homes, one in the 300 block of Locust Street and the other in the 100 block of Airport Road, according to Hansen.

During the searches, task force members and the DEA confiscated more than a pound of methamphetamine, quantities of additional illegal drugs, evidence of the transportation and sales of narcotics and $40,000 in U.S. currency, Hansen said.

Alvarado and Vaca were arrested on suspicion of possessing methamphetamine for sale, conspiracy to sell the drug, transportation of methamphetamine and possession of a controlled substance, according to Hansen.

Personnel from the Santa Cruz County Auto Theft Reduction Task Force, the California Highway Patrol, the sheriff’s office and the Santa Cruz Police Department assisted in the searches and arrests, Hansen said.

From an investigation, law enforcement officials learned that Vaca was on probation stemming from an April 2013 case in Southern California involving the transportation of two kilos of cocaine, he said.







CORVALLIS, Ore. – A woman loaded a shopping cart with $1,500 worth of electronics and clothes and walked out of a store amidst a crowd of Black Friday shoppers Friday morning, the Corvallis Police Department said.141128UNDERWOOD-MUG660

Police said Jacqueline Day Underwood, 35, loaded a shopping cart at the Fred Meyer at 777 NW Kings Blvd. with televisions, Blu-ray players, PlayStation 3 games, and clothes.

Underwood then walked out of the store amidst the crowd of Black Friday shoppers, police said.

Police detained Underwood. During the investigation, officers discovered methamphetamine in Underwood’s possession.

Officers arrested Underwood for Theft in the First Degree and Possession of Methamphetamine.

She was booked at the Benton County Jail with a bail of $25,000.






A Galesburg woman who allegedly missed a court date on felony methamphetamine-related charges, has been arrested again for allegedly making meth.kellogg-st-fire-1-150x150

Galesburg Police reports indicate officers arrested 46-year-old Michelle Esp Tuesday on felony charges of Unlawful Manufacture of Methamphetamine, Possession of Meth-Manufacturing Materials, and Possession of Meth.  Police went to the eight-hundred block of South Kellogg Street and found Esp — that’s the home that was destroyed in July after an alleged meth lab was found inside the home.  Officers say this time, it was the garage of the home where they found alleged meth-making materials.

Esp missed a court date Monday on other felony meth charges, so a warrant had been issued.

Esp is now in the Knox County Jail on $100,000 bond, and attorney Jim Harrell has been assigned to represent her. She’ll be back in court on December 15th.

Another Galesburg man charged in the July meth case — 27-year-old Richard Garza — also is jailed awaiting future court appearances.







Six men have been charged after police seized almost 3 tons of narcotics worth more than $1.5 billion in Australia’s second largest drug bust.

Approximately 2.8 tons of illicit drugs were seized, including 1,917 kilograms of MDMA and 849 kilograms of methamphetamine, with a street value of more than $1.5 billion.5928158-3x2-340x227

Police will allege the consignment originated in Europe before arriving in Australia earlier this month.

Customs chief executive Roman Quaedvlieg said officers acting on an ongoing intelligence operation found the drugs while searching a sea cargo container from Hamburg in Germany last Friday.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Andrew Colvin said the narcotics were concealed with furniture.

Commissioner Colvin said it was the largest Australian seizure of methamphetamine and the second largest of MDMA.

“By any measure this is an enormous seizure of illicit narcotics that have been removed from distribution on our streets,” he said.

Commissioner Colvin said the MDMA was in various forms, but mostly powder.

“We have to presume at some point it would be pressed into pills. I understand there are also some pills in that,” he said.

Search warrants were executed across New South Wales and Commissioner Colvin said the AFP was hopeful of further arrests.

Three of the men charged appeared in court via video link and have been remanded in custody to appear again next week. The other three will face court on Sunday.

The Commissioner said it was a sophisticated, controlled operation involving AFP, NSW Police and Australian Customs officers.

He added that police managed the delivery of the narcotics to try to identify as many of the people involved as possible.

Police are also working closely with the German federal police and Interpol.

Multiple organized crime groups probably involved in importation

Commissioner Colvin said the investigation would probably determine a number of organized crime groups involved in the delivery.

“Those we’ve arrested today will allege they’re part of the importation. Where they sit in the scale of importation is yet to be determined,” he said.

“This obviously has linkages overseas that will take us, I’m sure, into Europe and parts of Asia.

“There will be a number of people involved, probably a number of organized crime groups.”

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the seizure would have a significant impact on organized crime.

“When we talk about 2 tons of MDMA, we’re talking upwards of 10 million individual doses, tablets,” he said.

“The notion of stopping the importation is one thing, but the message that needs to go to those that are in the business of importing these drugs is just as important.

“My advice is go somewhere else, go to another country. Don’t bring your evil poison here to Australia.”

Mr Quaedvlieg said the bust would bring this year’s total detection of illicit drugs at the Australian border to far higher levels than last year.

“As a comparative statistic, last year across the major drug type – heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, precursors – Customs and Border Protection seized about 5 tons at the border,” he said.

“This year has been tracking around the same rate of detections until last week when in a single seizure we’ve seized 3 tons.

“So you can imagine in a comparative sense where we are going to end up this year in terms of seizures.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Justice Minister Michael Keenan commended the efforts of the agencies involved in the drug bust.

“The joint operation between Commonwealth and NSW law enforcement and border agencies has put a major dent in the operations of organized crime in Australia,” they said in a statement.

“These agencies have worked tirelessly to ensure these drugs did not reach our streets.

“Potentially thousands of lives have been saved today as a result of the excellent work of our police and law enforcement agencies.”


By the numbers:

  • 2.8 tons of narcotics were seized, including 1,917 kilograms of MDMA and 849 kilograms of methamphetamine
  • Total street value of the consignment was $1.5 billion
  • Each kilogram of methamphetamine alone represents 10,000 street deals of methamphetamine
  • Second largest drug bust in Australia’s history
  • Largest Australian seizure of methamphetamine and the second largest of MDMA
  • Previous record for methamphetamine seizure was 580 kilograms


PRESCOTT, Arizona — Authorities say three people are in custody after the seizure of nearly five pounds of methamphetamine in north-central Arizona.

Yavapai County Sheriff’s officials say deputies saw a car travelling more than 80 mph in a 65-mph speed zone on Interstate 17 in Camp Verde.

Deputies stopped the vehicle and talked to the 31-year-old driver, Marie Bonnesen of Peoria.

They say 24-year-old Xavier Alaniz of Goodyear and 20-year-old Harley Partch of Avondale were passengers.

A drug-sniffing dog was called in and alerted authorities to possible drugs in the car’s trunk.

Deputies say they found nearly five pounds of packaged methamphetamine, a loaded 9mm handgun, prescription medications and various drug paraphernalia.

Bonnesen, Alaniz and Partch are jailed on $60,000 bond apiece on various drug charges. It’s unclear if they have lawyers yet.







Rebecca* broke down and wept last month as her son, Chris*, gave a rousing best man’s speech at her wedding.1417251881451

As witty and moving as his words were, it was his mere presence that afternoon that triggered her tears.

Just months earlier, Chris was 17, hopelessly addicted to ice, living rough and committing crime daily to feed a sickening habit his mother feared had “killed him.” 14172518814512

“I have never been so proud”: The bride and best man on her wedding day, November 1.

A year ago, she tracked down her homeless son on Sydney’s streets and asked him to pose for a photo with her because she thought it might be their last.

But Chris’ remarkable story will turn full circle next week when his “leaving ceremony” takes place at a Sydney-based drug rehabilitation program, where he has resided for the past three months.

“I’m clean but I know I still have a long way to go,” he said, adding: “I’m lucky just to be here.”

At his worst, 12 months ago: “I remember asking to take this photo … in case I never saw him again.”14172518814513

Having survived the journey herself, Rebecca is now calling on the Baird government to fix a regulatory framework that is “not equipped” to deal with the  ice crisis.

“There are hundreds of kids and parents who have been, or are currently being, dealt a card nobody in this life deserves,” she said.

“Our leaders must realize that instead of helping those kids get better, the current system sets them up to continuously fail.”

Rebecca says Chris was the “perfect son”. However, two years ago, aged 15, he smoked ice at a mate’s house. He  was “hooked straight away”.

“I started doing it once a week, then it became every few days. That led to me needing it every day.”

Rebecca witnessed an “almost overnight” change. “Ice desensitized him. There was a sudden detachment from family. It became his family. It was as though he had never known us.”

Chris recalled: “I stopped going home. I just bummed at friend’s houses or slept rough. I couldn’t see past the next hit – which was $50 for a point,” he said, adding, “I robbed, I broke into people’s houses, I stole cars … anything to get money. If I had a grand, I would blow it on ice … and I would use it all in two days.”

As Chris drowned in the depths of his addiction, he dragged his family down with him.

“His two doting siblings witnessed him at his worst – which was horrific,” Rebecca said.

“My Dad and I had to take it turns to pick him up from the police station,” she said. “He would turn up to my workplace, smashed, asking for money. My boss insisted I get rid of him. Hygiene had long gone out of the window. There was nothing left to him but skin and bone. He was, by definition, feral. But he was still my son, I couldn’t get rid of him and chose him over my job … a very common decision parents of drug addicts sadly have to make.”

Chris recalls of that time: “I knew in my head I had completely changed. I no longer ate. I had become scattered, I was aware of the pain I was causing … but I didn’t care.”

Chris was a regular fixture in court because of his crimes, but he was repeatedly delivered back onto the streets, to “run with the wolves”.

“It’s all very well for a court to impose home curfew as part of bail conditions but ask any parent living this hell and they will tell you, this is not a realistic scenario. It just creates a vicious circle.”

Latest  figures from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre reveal that amphetamine-related hospital admissions are at a record high among 10-  to 19-year-olds. Twice last year, Chris ended up in Sydney’s Prince of Wales.

Rebecca said her lowest point, as a mother, came when Chris was found homeless, curled up, sobbing in a stairwell. “He had taken ice, hadn’t slept for several days. I knew he had become tired of this awful routine and that the next step was him either dying or deciding, for himself, that he wanted to try and change.”

And then one day, not long after, he said the following words: “Mum, help me, I’ll do anything.” “At that point, I knew there was a chance,” she said.

Chris entered a three-month residential therapy program  to relearn the basic life skills and values  ice  had stripped away. “He had to learn to shower and brush his teeth again, he had to be retaught the value of honesty. It was all gone.”

Rebecca says “more needs to be done” to ensure  ice-addicted youngsters go to rehab when ordered to  by the justice system. “Withdrawal is a terrifying proposition and kids with addictions cannot make clean decisions. So as adults, and as a society, we have to start doing that for them.”

She also advises policymakers that more programs and support need to be introduced, not just for  the youngsters, but  for their families too. “Life can become very lonely if there is not the right support. I know parents who gave up. They couldn’t handle it any longer and moved interstate to escape their own kids. But with appropriate help, that might not have happened.”

On Friday, Premier Mike Baird said: “Like anyone, I am horrified to hear of the terrible impact ice has, and we are determined to do more.

“The time for talk is over, it is time for action and we are currently considering a range of options. It is an important issue and one that we have to get right.”

Rebecca  is reveling in having her son back. “Chris, to me, is a walking miracle. Seeing his personality start to shine through has been priceless. To others experiencing this torment, I would simply say, as agonizing and emotionally exhausting as it is, never lose hope. The fight is worth every bit of pain.”


* not their real names.







MASON CITY | Two Mason City residents are facing felony charges related to methamphetamine after a traffic stop Wednesday.52c75d1fa96cf_preview-620

William A. Odell II, 43, has been charged with methamphetamine possession with intent to deliver, a Class B felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia and providing false information to law enforcement, both simple misdemeanors.

Theresa S. Pennington, 24, has been charged with methamphetamine possession and possessing and conveying contraband into a correctional facility, both Class D felonies, and driving under suspension and no insurance, both simple misdemeanors.

A Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s deputy made a traffic stop of a 1996 Ford Explorer driven by Pennington at 3:17 a.m. Wednesday at the intersection of 19th Street Southwest and South Benjamin Avenue.

Pennington was arrested at the scene for no insurance and driving under suspension.

Odell, a passenger in the vehicle, has a valid arrest warrant out of Marshall County for a probation violation, according to a press release from the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Office. He was arrested on that warrant.5477b56559ac2_image

During the investigation at the scene the deputy located suspected marijuana and drug paraphernalia, according to the press release.

The vehicle was impounded and both Pennington and Odell were taken to the Cerro Gordo County Jail, where a corrections officer found Pennington had suspected marijuana hidden on her person, the press release stated.

Odell was still being held Thursday afternoon on $25,000 bond for the drug charges and on $2,000 bond for the Marshall County warrant. Pennington was being held on $10,000 bond.





Two Chilliwack residents are in trouble south of the border after crossing into the U.S. Sunday with meth-making chemicals and equipment in their 1994 Pontiac Grand Am.

Calum James Buchanan, 41, and Lola Crystal McKay, 24, apparently got lost while trying to drop off the vehicle to someone in B.C. and ended up at the Aldergrove border crossing shortly after 7 p.m. Nov. 23.border2

Buchanan and McKay were sent for a secondary examination where U.S. Customs agents discovered a plastic tub sealed with plastic wrap containing an unknown liquid and other suspicious materials in the rear seat area of the vehicle.

A news release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection said one of its agents got sick from breathing the fumes from the materials and “was transported and successfully treated at Saint Joseph Medical Center, Bellingham.”

 “Out of an abundance of caution for public safety, northbound and southbound traffic was diverted away from the Lynden port of entry,” it said.

Border agents called in other agencies, including explosives experts given “the unknown nature of the materials.”

It was determined the chemicals were used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Buchanan and McKay were taken into custody and turned over to U.S. Homeland Security Investigation special agents.

They appeared in Whatcom County Superior Court Monday on a charge of possession with intent to manufacture.

“The interdiction of these hazardous chemicals prevents a considerable amount of methamphetamine from reaching the streets of our Nation,” said acting Blaine Area Port Director Kenneth Williams.  “This seizure demonstrates the vigilance of our frontline officers in securing our borders, keeping our communities safe and in protecting our way of life.”

McKay has no criminal history in B.C., according to the online court database.

But Buchanan has a series of charges and convictions over the last 11 years for break and enter, theft under $5,000, possession of a controlled substance and repeated breaches of court-ordered conditions. He also has a 2010 conviction for willing resisting a police officer.

In fact, he’s due in Surrey Provincial Court on Dec. 19 over allegations of breaching a conditional sentence for an impersonation conviction.




ILION – Six people face charges following a meth lab bust, village police said.

At 5:17 a.m. Wednesday, authorities raided the front, upstairs apartment at 177 E. Clark St. and charged the following with felony unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance:

  • James Cook, 44, of Lower Lawrence Street, Rome. Sent to Herkimer County jail on $20,000 bail.
  • Hillary Sanford, 22, of Texas. Bail set at $15,000.
  • Jennifer Sanderson, 40, of the residence where the raid took place. Released on $2,000 bail.
  • Karissa Cote, 19, of West Winfield. Bail set at $2,000.
  • An 18-year-old suspect was granted youthful offender status. Released on $2,000 bail.
  • Kyle VanDresar, 23, who said he was homeless, also charged with felony unlawful disposal of methamphetamine laboratory materials. Bail set at $20,000.

Police said there may be additional arrests.

The defendants are scheduled to be back in village court 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11.

Other agencies involved in the case were the state police Special Operations Response Team, state police Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team, Ilion Fire Department, Ilion Ambulance, Herkimer County District Attorney’s Office and the Herkimer County Sheriff’s Office.









CHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — – A Dodge County man is lucky to be alive after deputies said he ate a large amount of methamphetamine.

Capt. Scott Behrns of the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office said Elijah Beckman, 27, was arrested near Chester this week on a warrant out of Dodge County. While he was being taken to jail by Olmsted County deputies, Beckman said he wasn’t feeling well. 5272462_G

Behrns said Beckman admitted to eating 1.75 grams of methamphetamine. He was taken to Mayo Clinic Hospital, Saint Marys Campus, where he was put in a medically induced coma and treated.

Beckman is expected to be OK, and faces drug charges.





Just call him North Korea’s Walter White: a struggling professor who turned to making methamphetamine, or crystal meth, to supplement his modest income – and who is likely to have found ready conspirators in gangs from across the border in China.

Defectors and North Koreans working illicitly abroad say a large-scale drug trade has flooded north-east China with cheap narcotics, to the anger of Beijing.

North Korea describes such accusations as political smears: “The illegal use, trafficking and production of drugs which reduce human beings into mental cripples do not exist in the DPRK,” the state news agency, KCNA, said last year.

But experts argue that the state itself has actively produced and trafficked illegal drugs for decades, and has since either tolerated or failed to control manufacturers such as the professor, who was mentioned in a report by North Korea expert Andrei Lankov (paywall) this year.6utyhrt

The academic, from a pharmaceutical college, was arrested for running a large methamphetamine laboratory, according to a North Korean interior ministry document cited by South Korean media.

The director of China’s narcotics control bureau warned last week that the country was facing “a grim task in curbing synthetic drugs”, particularly methamphetamines.

China has recently arrested 24,000 people suspected of drug offences and investigated more than 100,000 users in a 50-day crackdown. Another senior official blamed south-east Asian suppliers. In fact, China has repeatedly addressed drug problems in its north-east too, but rarely spells out why there is so much methamphetamine in the region, or where it comes from, thanks to the sensitivity of relations with North Korea.

South Korea news site Dong-a Ilbo claimed that Chinese police had seized $60m worth of North Korean-produced drugs in 2010.

China’s attempts to tackle the problem have included speedboat anti-drug patrols along the Yalu river border, but it has been unable to halt the flow: last year, police in Linjiang, Jilin, seized 4.5lb of methamphetamines with an estimated street value of 2m yuan (about £200,000), while colleagues in Liaoning province seized 23.3kg in a “cross-border” smuggling case.

In a 2010 essay, Cui Junyong, a law professor at Yanbian University, noted: “In the past three to five years, a very large percentage of drugs consumed in [this prefecture] were not from domestic sources but from our neighboring country – the DPRK. The cross-border drug smuggling cases of North Korean citizen are evidently on the rise …

“The number of people using drugs and drug addicts has been rapidly increasing, and we can’t say that the surges have nothing to do with the criminals who illegally smuggle drugs across the border.”

From poppy crops to meth labs

The story of the North Korean drug trade appears to have begun around 1976, when one of its diplomats was expelled from Denmark after being caught with 147kg of hashish. Others were asked to leave Malaysia and Egypt for similar reasons that year and Sheena Chestnut Greitens, an expert on China and North Korea, has documented 77 cases of North Korean-linked trafficking between then and 2004. Pyongyang said it had punished officials for their individual misbehaviour. But defectors and North Koreans working abroad have said that farmers were ordered to plant poppy crops, and that official factories produced high-quality drugs.

From around 1994, methamphetamine appeared to take over and production seems to have stepped up markedly – probably due to the dire straits of the North’s economy.ryjyujdrry

Crystal meth was viewed as a catch-all drug: you didn’t have to eat so much, because it deadens hunger pains; and it was good for keeping soldiers alert while on duty. Then they realized this could be shipped off and used to make money,” said Justin Hastings, of the University of Sydney.

But in the middle of the last decade, government production halted or at least dramatically reduced, scholars agree.

“The model has shifted from centralized, state-sponsored production to decentralized production that is either private or a hybrid arrangement in which private entrepreneurs run the activity with toleration or support from officials, who then benefit by receiving a cut of the profits, probably in the form of licenses, bribes, loyalty offerings to the regime,” said Greitens, of the University of Missouri.

“The average seizure or shipment is much smaller, the packaging is more diverse, and the quality is more variable, suggesting that there is more small-scale production.”

Lankov said that police controls in effect collapsed at the same time that the economy underwent de facto privatization. “Some technicians and scientists who used to work in two factories where crystal meth had been produced officially decided to ‘break bad’, using their skills and maybe some stuff they stole from government factories,” he said.

China has been unable to halt the flow

Why the government stepped back is unclear, but Hastings argued that it had still benefited from a share of the proceeds flowing back to it, without attracting such opprobrium or having to worry about production and drug busts.

The North has attacked all claims of drug production as a politically motivated smear.hseheyqa

When the Washington Post reported claims, greeted skeptically by analysts, that diplomats were being used as dealers, KCNA attacked the newspaper as a “shock brigade” of US hostility, adding: “It is illogical for the US, a country plagued with serious social problems like drug misuses, smuggling and illegal production, to talk about the non-existent ‘drug trafficking’ in the DPRK.”

But reports of crackdowns and anti-drug propaganda suggest the North has grown concerned about internal consumption. The country saw a dramatic surge in drug abuse as the trade went private, according to a report by Lankov and Seok-hyang Kim.

Their interviews with defectors suggested it was originally a habit for the privileged and affluent, people such as state officials or black-market operators, who said it improved their ability to work long hours. It had a cachet: at some restaurants, you could ask for methamphetamine instead of a digestif, informants said.

“People meet to savour drugs pretty much like they would meet to drink liquor in the past,” one added.


Gradually, use spread through society and by 2010, it had become established among high school and college students. A construction worker suggested up to 70% of colleagues in their 20s used it.

Most of the interviewees came from one border province, and it is unclear how widespread use is: North Koreans interviewed by the Guardian in China this year said methamphetamine was too expensive to be taken regularly or used to sate hunger pangs, though some used it as medicine because it was cheaper than imported drugs.

There have been a handful of big busts internationally. Last year, the US extradited five men from Thailand, accusing them of seeking to traffic 100kg of North Korean-produced methamphetamine to New York. But overall, said Greitens, “The centre of gravity of the North Korean drug trade has shifted.

“Prior to 1994, it was global, in places where North Korea had diplomatic or trade relations. From 1994-2005, it was largely regional, defined by maritime smuggling routes and the reach of the organized criminal groups with whom North Korea partnered. Since 2005 or so, the trade has been centered on the Korean peninsula and the areas that directly border it.”

Hastings, who has written on drug trafficking networks, noted that the turn to China might be a practical one, since the state was no longer coordinating transport. North Koreans are largely responsible for taking drugs across the border, with Chinese dealers selling them on inside China or to South Korean and occasionally Japanese clients. The North Koreans receive a smaller share of the profits, but do not have to deal with distribution.

Meanwhile, the Chinese gangs are willing to supply ingredients because it is hard to produce the drugs domestically, said Lankov. “They have a much better police force, significantly less corrupt and more efficient. Laboratories are very smelly. In North Korea, a bribe ensures the local policeman looks the other way, and there are abundant large, unused, industrial facilities. They can basically produce drugs with a measure of impunity,” he said.

Additionally, he said, while North Korea was known for punishing offenders harshly, it seemed more lenient towards drug producers and dealers than China.

How much more China can do to curb the trade is unclear, though it has reportedly pressed the North for action. While it is the country’s only major ally, relations have long been fraught with suspicion and are at a particularly unhappy point at the moment. The North is highly reliant on Chinese oil and food – but the last thing Beijing wants is the regime’s collapse, and drugs are likely to rank far lower on its list of concerns than Pyongyang’s nuclear programme and general stability.

The Walter Whites of the North may be safe for now.








CHIANG MAI – The Pha Muang Task Force and Police in the northern Chiang Mai  have arrested two brothers after discovering hundreds of thousands of methamphetamine pills hidden in their vehicle.

Commander of the Pha Muang Task Force and the deputy commander of the Chiang Mai Provincial Police together held a press conference to announce the arrest of two hill tribe brothers, aged 25 and 28, for possession and trafficking of narcotic substances. The suspects were reportedly pulled over at a checkpoint while driving on Highway 107 towards the central district of Chiang Mai.715464

Authorities searched their pickup truck and discovering more than 500,000 tablets of methamphetamine hidden under the box of the vehicle . The truck had been modified specifically for the purpose.

After interrogation, the police revealed that the culprits had been hired to deliver the drug, which had been smuggled in through the border, to dealers in Phitsanulok province in order for the lot to be sent to its final destination in Bangkok. The police will now join forces with military and administrative officials in tracing other members of the network.