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 little noticed round-up of meth dealers in western Nebraska last year spun into a major on-going investigation resulting in dozens of arrests providing law enforcement with an insider’s view of a significant trafficking organization.

In August 2013 federal law enforcement officials reported the arrest of 17 people linked to a single organization importing and selling meth in western Nebraska and northeast Colorado. Most of the accused lived in or around Ogallala and Big Springs, Nebraska. A dozen more people have been charged with having ties to the same group of dealers, according to officials familiar with the investigation.


Investigators dubbed the investigation “Operation Mexican Seafood.” Court documents reviewed by NET News indicate the boss of the local operation lived on a small ranch five miles outside of Big Springs, Nebraska and had meth supplied by large, illegal manufacturers in Mexico.

“It was a huge deal,” Scotts Bluff County Sheriff Mark Overman said. He says it was not only the size of the operation but the unmatched quality of the methamphetamine being imported. In the past two years informants and undercover officers purchased meth which is up to 95 percent pure, according to investigators.

Sheriff Overman says getting such high-quality drugs from street dealers indicates “the folks who are manufacturing it are really good at manufacturing it.” Since it would be almost impossible for small, local meth lab to deliver such pure meth he believes “you are probably looking at a major meth lab, a super-lab.”


meth seized

Meth seized by a Lancaster County Sheriff Deputy. (Courtesy Photo)

The operation targeted in Operation Mexican Seafood shed some light into how the drug travels from labs in Mexico to dealers in rural Nebraska. The investigation had humble beginnings.

“That all started, believe it or not, with a Colorado marijuana buy,” according to Dana Korell, supervisor of the Scottsbluff-based Western Nebraska Intelligence and Narcotics Group (WING).

The investigators soon learned the drug deals stretched eastward, into the territory of the Central Nebraska Cooperative for Drug Enforcement, a second police task force based in North Platte. Both played a role in investigating the operation.



Implicated in Ogallala, Nebraska meth sales: (L-R) Linda Breese, Beth Donner, Bobby Griffin, Kirsten Griffin, Chris Hackbart, Jacklynn Walker. (Photo courtesy of Keith County Jail)

In 2012 an informant working for the drug investigation task forces bought pot from a pair of suspects. Caught in a police sting, the busted dealers told police “they wanted to go to work” and provide information about other dealers in the area. The case continued to expand as additional deals yielded new intelligence.

“That morphed into this giant methamphetamine case,” Korell said. As the investigation unfolded through 2013, officers marveled at the amounts of the illegal drug available from the dealers. “They were moving pounds. Pounds and pounds of methamphetamine,” he said.

At the height of the investigation 13 different local and federal law enforcement agencies tracked down leads and rounded up suspects.

Court records examined by NET News indicate informants and electronic surveillance uncovered a methamphetamine sales network stretching from northeast Colorado almost 200 miles east to North Platte, Nebraska. Police tracked money transfers funneling the money back to Mexico delivered by wire and personal couriers.

“I don’t think anybody had any idea the size and the quantity of the methamphetamine that was going through the Ogallala-Big Springs area,” Korell said.

Some of the drugs were allegedly distributed out of a small ranch five miles east of Big Springs. One informant, a street dealer out of Colorado, told State Patrol investigators he sold $3,000 worth of crystal meth picked up at the house. He identified Andres Barraza as “the boss.” Court documents list Barraza’s alias as “Guacho.” Loosely translated from Spanish it means “The Bastard.”

In June, Barraza pled guilty in U.S. District Court in Omaha to federal charges of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and was sentenced to ten years in prison.

Nine others in the organization have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 12 to 60 years in federal prison. Some sported long criminal records. Others were low-level dealers in Ogallala, linked by high school friendships and jobs at local fast food restaurants.

The busts apparently provided area law enforcement with a map of how incredibly pure meth made its way from the Mexican border to western Nebraska.

“Their distribution network is like, you think of it as tentacles of the octopus spreading out across the United States,” said Deb Gilg, the U.S. Attorney serving the State of Nebraska.  “The influence of the Mexican cartels cannot be underestimated in terms of their sophistication, their network in bringing methamphetamine into Nebraska.”

Investigators are not saying if they have traced where specifically the high-grade methamphetamine originated, or which of the cartels might be the manufacturer, other than saying there is evidence it originated in Mexico.

Reports prepared by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in the Rocky Mountain and Midwest territories link the source of huge amounts of the methamphetamine sold in the region back to Mexico’s northwest coast in the Sinaloa province. Sinaloa had been the home base of the drug cartel operated by Joaquin Guzman Loera, known as “El Chapo.” His arrest in Mazatlán earlier this year created international headlines and was considered a major blow to the drug trade in Mexico.

Five years ago, law enforcement saw a significant drop in the number of people in Nebraska attempting to make inexpensive home-brew meth. Pseudoephedrine, a popular ingredient in cold medicines and available at drugstores, was distilled as an element in meth.   A change in state law placed tight restrictions on the key ingredient used in small operations. Almost immediately south-of-the-border drug gangs began expanding sophisticated labs to make meth.

“What’s happened is the distribution network of the cartels have picked up and filled the void with meth coming in,” Gilg said. “It is frustrating to see the amount of drugs that are coming into Nebraska.”

From 2007-2012 statistics compiled by the Nebraska State Crime Commission reveal a significant increase in the number of drug arrests involving methamphetamine while cases involving heroin and cocaine dropped significantly. In 2013 there were 46 federal indictments filed on meth-related charges in the U.S. District Court of Nebraska. These are generally people accused of being part of an organization selling large quantities. Half of those arrests were made by the regional drug task force based out of North Platte. Some were also weapons charges filed against those involved in the drug trade.

Local law enforcement officials regard meth as the biggest crime problem in the area. In a survey conducted by NET News at the end of 2013, a sizable majority of county attorneys and sheriffs surveyed agreed meth was “the greatest threat.”

“It causes the most problems and by far the most violence,” Sheriff Overman said. “There’s a lot of associated crime. Theft, robbery, burglaries, and that creates the money to buy the methamphetamine.”

More meth dealers and suppliers working out of Nebraska and Colorado could be picked up based on intelligence collected during Operation Mexican Seafood. Law enforcement hopes it could also land bigger fish, including those operating one of the super-labs across the border churning out the high-grade meth flooding the market in the Great Plains.




Three people were arrested on drug and gun charges at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel Wednesday night after police found a revolver, more than $15,000 in cash, 94.3 grams of methamphetamine and an assortment of other drugs in a pair of rooms on the second floor.


Nicholas Longstreet, who turned 36 the day of the arrest, Toni Bedwell, 25, and Megan Avans, 30, were each arrested and are scheduled to appear in Hamilton County General Sessions Court Tuesday.

According to an arrest affidavit, police executed a search warrant at room 203 and found the three inside with $15,766 in cash, the methamphetamine, approximately eight grams of marijuana, miscellaneous drug paraphernalia, ammunition, unknown pills, credit cards, gift cards and a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver.

In room 222 officers found a black safe box with approximately 19 unknown pills, marijuana, scales, syringes, baggies, rolling papers and one small glass jar with a liquid that police believed to be morphine, according to the affidavit.

All three are at the Hamilton County Jail. Avans is being held without bond, Longstreet on a $150,000 bond and Bedwell with a $40,000 bond.



Fort Smith man known to some as “Weenie” and his girlfriend remain jailed on drug charges after they were arrested with about seven pounds of methamphetamine and made an initial appearance in federal court.

William Joseph Alexander, 32, also known by the aliases “Weenie,” Sobee” and “Pitbull,” and his girlfriend, Rosa Sharon, 49, are both charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in U.S. District Court in Fort Smith.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and Fort Smith Police began investigating Alexander after a “confidential source” told them Alexander was a methamphetamine supplier in Fort Smith, according to an arrest warrant affidavit, and Sharon was present during most transactions the source made with Alexander.

The confidential source told authorities he or she purchased 1 to 2 ounces of methamphetamine three or four times a week from Alexander from mid-September 2013 until mid-October 2013, when the source started purchasing 4 to 8 ounces once or twice a week for the next month. The most methamphetamine the confidential source ever saw at once in Alexander and Sharon’s home was 2 pounds.

The confidential source told investigators someone named “Oscar” might be the couple’s source for methamphetamine, according to the affidavit.

Oscar Giovanni Mejia-Veliz of Oklahoma City was indicted in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City on multiple drug charges in April, after DEA agents arrested him with more than 30 pounds of methamphetamine. A cell phone recovered from Mejia-Veliz showed he and Alexander communicated 86 times between March 1 and March 28, according to the affidavit.

Mejia-Veliz pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to possess methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine on June 27, and awaits sentencing, according to the court docket.

In November, a “source of information” told investigators they picked up methamphetamine in Oklahoma for Alexander and heard Sharon speaking on the phone with the couple’s supplier. Another source told investigators they witnessed Sharon counting stacks of money at the couple’s residence, according to the affidavit.

After making a controlled buy from the Alexanders, DEA agents followed the couple from a location in Oklahoma to Fort Smith, where a Fort Smith police officer made a traffic stop and the vehicle was searched, yielding about seven pounds of methamphetamine, according to the affidavit. A subsequent search of the home revealed about 5 grams of methamphetamine, packaging material, scales and firearms.

Alexander admitted selling methamphetamine and receiving multiple pounds of the drug, according to the affidavit.

Sharon’s son, Ray Heredia, 20, was sitting in a vehicle outside the home, where he lived with Alexander and Sharon, when the search warrant was executed and was arrested on suspicion of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Heredia subsequently was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and misdemeanor possession of marijuana in Sebastian County Circuit Court and is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday.




WAYCROSS, Georgia — Federal prosecutors say a former deputy sheriff has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for protecting drug dealers.

Authorities say former Pierce County deputy sheriff Randy Strickland was sentenced to 93 months in prison Wednesday in federal court.

Prosecutors say 55-year-old Strickland agreed to act as a lookout for people he believed were dealing meth. Authorities say this took place while Strickland was armed, in uniform and riding in his sheriff’s department vehicle.

Strickland was caught in a sting involving a confidential informant who was being monitored by federal agents.

Authorities say Strickland asked the informant to pay him $100 for security, and to leave the money in a potato chip bag on the side of the road.









 Glenpool, Okla. — A woman wanted for meth out of Arkansas led officers to a drug home near Glenpool Public Schools on Tuesday.

Police say they tracked down Elizabeth Lee for warrants and she quickly turned on two other people.

Lee told officers she had taken Destiny Samuels and Steven Delcoure to pick up meth the previous day.  She also said both suspects had guns and surveillance equipment inside their home.

Officers obtained a search warrant and went to the house near East 141st and South Elwood.

Once inside, Samuels told officers they weren’t going to find any drugs inside the home.  It turned out, she wasn’t completely lying.


Instead, officers did recover guns, paraphernalia, and surveillance equipment.  No meth was found inside the house.

Both suspects were then taken into custody on paraphernalia counts.

After booking both suspects, officers did find meth.  Samuels was hiding four grams of meth inside her bra.



TAHLEQUAH — Investigators say the two men who led police on two high-speed pursuits and crashed into a truck Monday started making a small methamphetamine lab inside Wal-Mart before one of them allegedly robbed the retailer with stolen knives.

The two men are identified as 25-year-old Jack L. Weems, who was released from state prison last week; and 29-year-old Justin L. Ramsey.

Authorities said Weems was driving a car that fled from Wal-Mart and led Tahlequah police on one short pursuit, before county and state officers spotted the car and initiated a second pursuit.

Weems crashed into a truck and trailer on U.S. Highway 62 south and tried to flee from officers, as did Ramsey, a passenger, police said. Both were apprehended, and Weems was taken to a local hospital to be treated for injuries sustained in the crash before he was booked into the Cherokee County Detention Center.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is investigating the collision, and had not released a report on the incident as of press time Tuesday. Names of those who were in the truck have not been released, though police confirmed one man was taken from the scene by ambulance.

Investigators removed an active meth lab from the trunk of the car Weems was driving Monday.

According to authorities, Weems and Ramsey entered Wal-Mart along with three other people. They took with them a soda bottle, and according to one of the suspects, filled it with Coleman fuel inside the store. A woman in the group bought pseudoephedrine from the pharmacy.

Police said Weems later took knives from Wal-Mart and used them to rob the store of cold packs, which had been placed behind a counter that Weems jumped over. Investigators said cold packs are an ingredient used in the manufacture of meth.

When employees confronted Weems, he allegedly brandished a knife toward a manager before he and Ramsey fled in the car, leaving behind the other three from the group.

As authorities investigated at the scene of the crash Monday afternoon, a woman who had entered Wal-Mart with Weems and Ramsey reported her car stolen.

Weems is being held on accusations of causing an injury collision while attempting to elude, robbery by force and fear, felony eluding, failure to stop at a stop light and stop sign, no driver’s license, driving under the influence, and failure to stop at a felony roadblock.

Ramsey is held on charges of larceny of merchandise from a retailer, public intoxication and endeavoring to manufacture methamphetamine.

Authorities said the two men could face additional charges as three agencies – the Tahlequah Police Department, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, and OHP – continue the investigation.

Bonds had not been set for the men as of Tuesday, booking records show.




BAYOU LA BATRE, Ala. (WALA) – A homeowner told FOX10 News he was doing a man a favor, but ended up having his home destroyed, because the man allegedly had multiple meth labs in his home.

FOX10 News caught up exclusively with the landlord of the home where officers found multiple meth labs.

While 30-year-old David Spain was allegedly cooking meth, he was sitting on his phone and pocket-dialed 911, according to police.

Police said Monday, July 14, they got a 911 call, but no one was speaking on the other line. So, as per protocol, police traced the call and responded to a quiet neighborhood off of Highway 188.

When police got on scene, they said Spain was outside the home, and quickly ran inside. It then took Spain several minutes to answer the door. Police said once Spain opened the door, there was a strong chemical smell coming from inside the house.

Police said they also noticed dark soot covering all of the walls of the house, and that’s what alerted them to something suspicious. That’s when police searched the home and said they found five “shake and bake” meth labs inside.

To protect his identity, we are referring to the homeowner only as Rick. Rick told FOX10 he was appalled to find out what happened.

“Just devastated, shocked, I’d never seen such a mess,” he recalled.

The homeowner knew Spain for some 20 years, and he allowed Spain to live at his home rent-free as a favor.

“I let this young man, come in rent free, he didn’t have (to pay) rent, because he didn’t have a place to stay,” Rick explained, “And if I had any idea that he would have been doing this kind of stuff in here, he wouldn’t have been here.”

The homeowner said he believes Spain accidentally started a fire there, fueled by the dangerous chemicals used to make the meth. Now Rick’s home is covered in soot and fire damage, leaving his sentimental vacation home with costly repairs.

“My dad and I bought it together, and he’s deceased now, but I just keep it for my sister and my kids to come down once a year, but I don’t rent it out to people,” he said, “It’s upsetting you know, trying to help somebody, and this is what you get, you know.”

Police said they do not suspect Spain was dealing meth, but rather cooking it for his personal use.

He’s charged with manufacturing meth, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.




Because several drugstore chains in West Virginia have stopped stocking specific cold medications that fuel methamphetamine labs, meth cooks are now buying related medicines that haven’t been restricted, a Kanawha County drug task force heard Wednesday.

Nearly 75 percent of people recently arrested on meth lab charges purchased cold medicines, such as Claritin-D and Advil-D, that combine a key meth-making ingredient called pseudoephedrine with other allergy-fighting or headache-relief ingredients, according to a preliminary analysis by the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy.

Over the past year, Fruth Pharmacy, Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS have stopped selling cold medicines, such as Sudafed 12 Hour, that contain pseudoephedrine as their only active ingredient. But the pharmacies still sell multi-symptom versions of the cold pills.

“Perhaps what you’re starting to see is the effect of eliminating the single-ingredient product and now those purchasers are having to fall back to a secondary choice, which is not their optimal choice,” said Fruth Pharmacy President Lynn Fruth, who sits on the Kanawha County Commission Substance Abuse Task Force. “If the product is not available, the sales are going to go somewhere.”

Carlos Gutierrez, a lobbyist for drug makers, said taking away single-ingredient pseudoephedrine products wouldn’t stop meth cooks. Instead, Gutierrez suggested the state set up a meth-offender registry that would block people convicted of meth-related crimes from buying pseudoephedrine in all forms.

“The [U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration] has said from the very beginning that if you take away single-ingredient, it can and will and is proven that they’ll use other products whether it’s harder [to make meth] or not,” said Gutierrez, a task force member.

Fruth recommended that the state pharmacy board investigate what pseudoephedrine brands meth cooks were buying before the drugstore chains stopped carrying cold medications that have pseudoephedrine as their sole ingredient.

Overall pseudoephedrine sales in West Virginia have dropped about 30 percent since the pharmacies stopped carrying Sudafed and its store-brand generic equivalents.

Meth lab seizures also have dropped. Police have busted 207 meth labs so far this year in West Virginia. In 2013, officers seized 530 labs, a record number.

re making some headway.”

Dr. Dan Foster, who heads the task force, said meth cooks seek out the cheapest pseudoephedrine products. Single-ingredient brands are typically less expensive.

“Their first choice is the single-ingredient, but they will go with whatever they can make the most meth from at the cheapest price,” he said.

Several task force members said meth labs would disappear in West Virginia and other states if major drug manufacturers sold only “tamper-resistant” pseudoephedrine products that couldn’t be converted to meth.

Drugstores now sell two such medications, Zephrex-D and Nexafed, which have pseudoephedrine as their only active ingredient. Both products are manufactured by small firms with limited advertising budgets.

The major drug makers have balked at selling cold pills that can’t be made into meth.

“If we force the industry to make these products tamper resistant, we won’t have to worry about meth labs,” said Lt. Chad Napier, a Charleston police officer who serves on the task force. “The technology is there, but they’re not going to do it. It’s about greed, money.”

Gutierrez, a lobbyist for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, said the drug companies he represents have “tried for years” to develop pseudoephedrine pills that can’t be converted to meth.

“I can’t speak for each individual company, but I know they have spent millions of dollars trying to do it in the past, and it’s just never worked,” Gutierrez said. “They could be trying to do it as we speak. I just don’t know that.”




A MAN involved in two south-west burglaries that netted more than $180,000 did it to fund his ice addiction, Warrnambool County Court was told.

The court heard that shearer Adam Bradley Forbes, 45, now of the Melbourne Remand Centre, received $2700 and half an ounce of marijuana for handling stolen goods at Casterton and stealing a safe full of jewellery from a Coleraine farmhouse in 2012.

Forbes pleaded guilty to breaking into the farmhouse between June 8-10, 2012 and stealing a 200-kilogram safe containing 120 items of jewellery valued at $160,000.

He committed the Coleraine offences with fellow shearer and Melbourne Remand Centre inmate Tony Joseph Lucas, 44, who also pleaded guilty to the burglary.

Forbes also pleaded guilty to handling goods including tools, chainsaws and motorcycle helmets with a total value of more than $26,000 that were stolen from a Casterton business between May 13-14, 2012.

He also pleaded guilty to failing to answer his bail at the Hamilton Magistrates Court on September 5, 2012. Judge James Parrish heard sentencing submissions for Forbes yesterday but adjourned hearing submissions for Lucas until August 19.

Prosecutor Sally Flynn said Forbes told police he had been asked to collect the stolen goods from a nature strip at Casterton and take them to Mount Gambier and was given $500 and half an ounce of marijuana for transporting the goods. She said both Forbes and Lucas had gone to a farmhouse at Coleraine during the 2012 Queen’s Birthday long weekend because they knew there was a safe there — Lucas having previously sheared at the property.

Matt Senia, for Forbes, said the murder of two of Forbes’ close friends in Casterton in 2011 and his daily addiction to methamphetamine, or ice as it is commonly known, had sent Forbes into a “dark time in his life” and he had lost his sense of reality.

Mr Forbes’ partner and their two young daughters had also left him because of his abuse of alcohol and drugs, Mr Senia said.

Both Forbes and Lucas were remanded in custody and their cases adjourned until August 27 for sentencing.




BONNE TERRE, Mo. (AP) - A former methamphetamine dealer has been executed for killing three people in rural northern Missouri.

Fifty-four-year-old John Middleton was put to death Wednesday in the sixth execution in Missouri this year. Only Florida and Texas, with seven each, have performed more.


Middleton was convicted of killing Randy “Happy” Hamilton, Stacey Hodge and Alfred Pinegar in 1995. Authorities say he killed the three out of fear that they would report his drug activity to police.

His girlfriend is serving life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in all three cases.

Middleton’s attorneys claimed he was innocent, citing a new witness who came forward in February saying that rival meth dealers, not Middleton, were responsible for the killings. They also claimed he was mentally ill.

Attorney General Chris Koster made the following statement about Middleton:

Twenty years ago, John Middleton murdered three people out of fear they would expose him as the drug dealer he was. He received the death penalty for each of his three murders. This evening, Mr. Middleton paid the ultimate price for his choices.

Gov. Jay Nixon issued the following statement:

Tonight has brought a conclusion to a case that illustrates how methamphetamine can have such a monstrous impact on so many lives. Alfred Pinegar, Randy Hamilton and Stacey Hodge were murdered by meth dealer John Middleton to keep them quiet about the selling of this insidious drug in northern Missouri.

Middleton’s calculated killings in June 1995 would take three lives, and cause pain and suffering to those families. The juries acted appropriately in each of these murder trials in deciding that the fitting punishment was the death penalty.

I ask that Missourians remember Alfred Pinegar, Randy Hamilton and Stacey Hodge at this time, and join us in keeping their loved ones in their thoughts and prayers.


Michael Black, uncle of Alfred Pinegar, one of the victims read the following statement at a press briefing after the execution:

Nineteen years seems like a long time to wait for justice. It’s a lifetime for a little girl who had to grow up without her father. Alfred was 29 years old when he was murdered by John Middleton. Our family has waited all this time, never forgetting that our son, grandson, uncle, nephew, father and best friend is not with us. In those 19 years, we, as a family, have had to live with the thoughts of John Middleton being able to enjoy a meal, the smell of spring in the air or any number of simple pleasures. These are things that Alfred, Randy and Stacey cannot enjoy. These simple things we cannot share with Alfred.

So today, justice was served. I can now go to my nephew, my friend’s grave and tell him it’s done now, he has finally been punished for his crimes. We would like to thank George Marts, Ms. Stollings, the Missouri Highway Patrol, the State Attorney General’s Office, the Missouri Department of Corrections and Gov. Nixon, for their dedication to see justice carried out.

The last thing I would like to say is: may God receive John into his arms, forgiving his sins, as I pray God will forgive mine.

Middleton’s final written statement said:

You are killing an innocent man.


A MAN and a woman arrested at Casino last night are due to face Lismore Local Court today for multiple alleged fraud and drug offences.

Police were informed of numerous fraud offences that occurred on Wednesday at Casino and enquiries led officers to a hotel where it was believed the alleged offenders were staying.

At about 6pm yesterday when police gained entry to the hotel room it is alleged the 24-year-old man was caught trying to stuff methamphetamine down his pants.

The man was searched by police who allegedly found 1.8 grams of a substance believed to be methamphetamine in his trouser pocket.

A further search of the room allegedly uncovered 5 grams of methamphetamine in a bum bag and a further .6 grams in a box on the bed.

Police also found and seized a number of electrical items believed to be stolen or unlawfully obtained.

The man and a 24-year-old woman were arrested at the scene and taken to Casino police station where they were both charged and refused bail.

The woman was charged with three counts of fraud, deemed supply prohibited drug and self administer prohibited drug.

The man was charged with breaching bail, larceny, three counts of fraud, deemed supply prohibited drug, self administer prohibited drug and an outstanding warrant.



GREELEY – A jury has convicted a 31-year-old gang member known as the “Joker” in a May 2013 crime spree that began with a drive-by shooting on 10th Street and 23rd Avenue and ended with a high speed chase on Fourth Street in Greeley, where police discovered him with a stolen Dodge Durango full of methamphetamine, plastic bags and digital scales.

Joe Ramirez faces 16 to 120 years in prison for attempted murder, illegal discharge of a weapon, engaging in a riot, possession of methamphetamine and first degree assault, according to the Weld County District Attorney’s Office. His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 18.

Ramirez has also been convicted in a shooting at a local park on May 13, 2013 where a juvenile was shot in the knee.

His trial lasted for seven days.




NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Two people have been arrested in an alleged “meth-by-mail” operation.

Metropolitan Nashville Police Narcotics detectives intercepted a package from California that contained 5.6 pounds of methamphetamine. The package was addressed to the FedEx store on West End.

Detectives then dropped the package, containing less than a pound of the meth, off at the store and set up surveillance.

A man entered the store to pick up the package, and then got into an SUV being driven by a woman. Police allowed the pair to drive a couple of blocks before stopping them.

Police arrested 49-year-old Jeffrey Grammer and 35-year-old Deanna Conners. Inside the SUV, police found a black bag containing a methamphetamine pipe, small bags containing meth residue, and a used coffee filter containing red phosphorous, which is used in the making of meth.

Both were charged with conspiracy to commit felony drug offense, promotion of meth manufacture, and possession with in a drug free school zone. The arrests were made within 1,000 feet of the University School of Nashville.

Police said the pair had planned to take the drugs back to Bells, Tennessee, for distribution.




A woman was arrested and walked into jail Friday after Coweta County sheriff’s investigators found she had methamphetamine in her possession while waiting in the Coweta Jail parking lot.

“That was an easy case,” said Lt. Col. Jimmy Yarbrough with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office.

According to Yarbrough, Raven Russell, 29, was sitting in a vehicle at the Coweta County Jail while one of her friends was inside visiting an inmate. Through the surveillance cameras in the parking lot, jail deputies found Russell was acting oddly in her vehicle, so investigators Sgt. Vic McPhie and Edwin Rivera were called to check on her.

McPhie and Rivera watched Russell for a time and saw she was moving around more than usual in her vehicle – almost bouncing around, Yarbrough said. Investigators then approached her and found she was breathing heavily, so they asked her if they could search the vehicle.

She gave consent and also told them she had methamphetamine in her pocketbook.

“‘Thank you,’” Yarbrough said. “‘You can come inside now.’”

McPhie and Rivera found four separate baggies of methamphetamine in her pocketbook, along with a glass smoking device. Because of this, Russell was charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, and she was transported – a rather short distance – to the Coweta County Jail.

Russell was not charged with crossing a guard line with drugs because she was not legally warned not to do so by a law enforcement officer, Yarbrough said.





After being jailed on methamphetamine charges during a search at their home, two Mount Airy residents were released on bond only to be caught the next day with more than 2 pounds of marijuana, city police say.

The first arrest of William Bowman, 25, and Victoria Lineback, 35, both of 525 Lovill St., occurred Monday after officers with the Mount Airy Police Department executed a search warrant at that address.


A firearm, an unspecified quantity of methamphetamine, cocaine, prescription medication and assorted drug paraphernalia were seized during the search.

Bowman and Lineback were both arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine, a felony. Bowman also was served with an outstanding order for arrest for failing to appear in court on other, unrelated charges.

He was confined in the Surry County Jail under a $10,000 secured bond, and Lineback, a $5,000 secured bond.

“They apparently made bond,” Capt. Alan Freeman said Wednesday, and were released from custody.

But late Tuesday afternoon, the two found themselves behind bars again on felony pot charges, after a traffic stop at the intersection of North Franklin Road and Pipers Gap Road.

Freeman explained that the traffic stop resulted from officers’ knowledge that Bowman, who was operating the vehicle, had no driver’s license.

Along with 2.25 pounds of marijuana, officers located a stolen firearm in the vehicle.

Bowman was re-arrested and charged with driving while license revoked, possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, maintaining a drug vehicle, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and carrying a concealed weapon.

Lineback, his passenger, was charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, maintaining a drug vehicle and carrying a concealed weapon.

After their second arrest, Lineback and Bowman were jailed under a $25,000 secured bond each and remained in custody Wednesday afternoon.

They are scheduled to appear in Surry District Court on Aug. 27 on charges related to their arrests on both days.

More violations are pending against the pair, police say.




An elderly Melbourne man has been arrested at Hong Kong International Airport after customs officers uncovered more than 2.3 kilograms of suspected methamphetamine in a suitcase.


The 78-year-old man has been charged with one count of trafficking and faces life imprisonment and fines of up to $5 million under Hong Kong’s strict drug laws.

A Hong Kong Customs spokeswoman said the seized methamphetamine had a market value of almost $1 million and were concealed in the false compartments of seven handbags inside a check-in suitcase.

The man was about to board a flight to Melbourne on June 24.

The man, who claimed to be unemployed,  appeared before the Tsuen Wan Magistrates Court on June 26 and is believed to have been refused bail.

‘‘Under Hong Kong law, we are unable to release the identity of the person in question until the matter goes to trial,’’ the spokeswoman told Fairfax Media.

‘‘Hong Kong Customs will continue to step up anti-narcotics enforcement against transnational drug-trafficking activities through Hong Kong International Airport,’’ the spokeswoman said.


SALT LAKE CITY — Recently a family member got married and decided to buy a home. He was shopping for something a newly married student could afford, and found out what I have known for some time: There are a lot of meth-contaminated properties out there.

We looked at one home located along the Wasatch Front. It was small but it had potential. Based on what I saw, I suspected meth. When I told him that we should sample for contamination, his new wife nixed the house. I had some reservations about walking away so quickly, but we moved to the next home on his list. At this one, the same signs came up, and a phone call to the realtor revealed that she strongly suggested a meth test. Disappointed, he kept looking. After a good deal of searching, he found another. That one turned out likely to be positive as well.

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We’re all concerned about meth contamination. No one wants to unknowingly walk into a contaminated home. What we don’t know is that in all likelihood, many of us have done just that. If you enter homes professionally, you have probably been in any number of meth-contaminated properties. Even if you don’t, chances are good that you have been in at least one meth contaminated property.

People who go into homes as a part of their job are at greatest risk of exposure. This list might include realtors, home inspectors, plumbers, electricians and carpet installers. Then there are others who may have less exposure like pastors or bishops, door-to-door salesmen and other visitors. As a home inspector and meth-decontamination specialist, I can say from experience that certain categories of homes can be a high likelihood of having a meth history, but that no particular type of house is safe.

Meth contamination definition

Let’s back up a bit. To determine what is safe, one would have to look at state requirements. The state of Utah has defined contamination to be 1.0 microgram per 100 square centimeters. To put this in English, this is the equivalent of about a grain of salt spread over the palm of your hand. If contamination at a property is greater than this, the home is legally contaminated. If less than this, the state of Utah says you’re good. Other states have other levels. For example, West Virginia and Colorado allows a threshold of 0.5. Washington, Vermont and Hawaii require a threshold of 0.1. Some states have no requirements at all relating to meth decontamination.

There are some who argue that the meth-decontamination business is overhyped, overregulated and in cases, fraudulent. This list includes some highly educated individuals and others close to the business.

Lab or use?

It’s also important to distinguish between meth labs and meth use. Meth labs cook the stuff. They use commonly available household chemicals to cook meth and in doing so can cause a variety of problems in the home. Labs can have toxic fumes and chemical residuals, and bad batches can burn, completely destroying the home.

By contrast, use is quite different. Users will contaminate a property with vapors from the drug. Homes with meth use often have very unsanitary conditions and signs of neglect and abuse. As a general rule, meth labs will cause much higher contamination levels than meth use.

What to look for

If you are a potential homebuyer, there are four categories of items you should look for. This list is based on experience only, and is not likely to be found in any official publications. These four items are listed below:

By the numbers…
  • 1.0 microgram per 100 square centimeters qualifies in Utah as contamination.
    • The equivalent of about a grain of salt spread over the palm of your hand.
  • 0.5. per 100 square centimeters is ground for contamination in West Virginia and Colorado.
  • Washington, Vermont and Hawaii require a threshold of 0.1. per 100 square centimeters.

1. Small, old, foreclosed, apartments, rentals and wayward occupants

The first would be the type of home and its previous occupants. As a home inspector, I usually ask about previous occupants. If the home was owned and occupied by only one couple for a number of years, the potential risk drops. If I hear that it was given or rented to a wayward child, or occupied by the buddy who had nowhere to go, the perceived risk factor soars.

2. The home is trashed, or used to be trashed and is now spiffed up

Meth users can be hard on a place. There will be piles of everything everywhere. There will be stains, there may be feces, there will be smells, but we’ll get to that. In short, if the place is trashed, that’s a sign that a potential homebuyer may want to test the property prior to buying the place.

3. Pet urine smell

Meth homes often have a urine smell. While the writer lacks first-hand knowledge with using meth, experience shows that these homes often have that smell. This may be because meth itself can smell like urine. It could also be because people who are high don’t always make it to the bathroom. In any case, this is another telltale sign that the home should be tested.

4. Signs of anger

It’s pretty common in meth contaminated homes: call it signs of anger. This would be damaged doors, damaged door frames, damaged sheet rock, etc. I have seen bedroom doors that have been completely obliterated by angry meth users. I have seen countless door frames that have been destroyed, then patched together using screws, epoxies, or whatever the occupant can get his hands on. Sometimes these trashed homes will be fixed up by a house flipper, by the relatives, etc. This means that new doors and door frames should cause suspicion as well; if the house is old and the doors and frames are new, this may mean something. While they may look better, the contamination nearly always remains.

Of course the only way to know for sure on any home is to test. If you’re not potentially going to buy the home, this may not be an option. If you are considering any home purchase, you should walk in with your eyes wide open.

Protect yourself. If you work in homes, reasonable precautions will likely be adequate. If you’re buying a home, meth contamination does not have to kill a deal. In fact, as a potential homebuyer you may be able to use contamination to your advantage. Surround yourself with knowledge and capable professionals, and you can protect yourself.






(WBIR) A Seattle couple returned to their condo last week to find their home completely trashed.

Clothes were scattered throughout the house, door handles were smeared with lotion, the inner soles of their shoes were missing, all their mail had been opened, and an upside-down can of paint was placed on top of their toilet.

And if that wasn’t creepy enough – when Seattle police went to the condo to investigate, they found no signs of a break in, no fingerprints, plus nothing was missing, according to the police release. The only evidence police found was a purse, containing a random, 27-year-old woman’s ID, on top of the couple’s bed.

Since officers didn’t think the homeowners were in danger, police left the condo baffled.

Shortly after officers left, the couple called police again, saying they heard noises coming from under their bed. Officers went back the condo and arrived just in time to see a random woman emerge from the couple’s bedroom.

As it turns out, the 27-year-old woman was the owner of the purse found inside the home. She told police she had been on a “meth rampage” for several days. Police said that woman also broke into another home around the block earlier that evening.



BEN HILL CO., GA (WALB) – A 911 call about a medical emergency ended with four people jailed on meth charges.

Law enforcement often investigates meth operations for months before making arrests, but in Tuesday’s case, the suspects led officers right to themselves and were caught in the act.


The Ocmulgee River, a longtime destination for fishing, is sometimes a cause of 911 calls.

“We received a call at 911 this morning that one of the people at the river was having a medical emergency so a trooper out of Douglas responded,” said Sheriff Bobby McLemore.

What they found when they got to that woman was quite a surprise.

“They had meth in their vehicles and they had also been smoking and snorting meth last night,” said McLemore. “Matter of fact all 3 of them, all 4 of them were still tweaking this morning. They were high as a kite.

Jacqueline Lee, Erik Hunter, Misty Douglas, and Brooke Collins were all arrested and charged with possession of meth.

Sheriff McLemore said it’s the number one drug in Ben Hill County. The arrests give law enforcement more knowledge on how to stop its sale.

“It gave us a little eye opener on what was going on at the river. As far as meth sales goes and we now located some more names to add to our collection,” said Sheriff McLemore.

Finding the dealers of this drug is a serious issue for Sheriff McLemore because he says meth leads to other crimes like armed robberies, burglaries, and thefts.

Sheriff McLemore says they are looking for one more person who they believe is distributing the drugs.




The execution of a man who killed three people out of fear they would tell police about his methamphetamine dealing has been delayed.

John Middleton was scheduled to die at one minute after midnight for the deaths in rural northern Missouri in 1995.


With less than two hours to go until the execution, US District Judge Catherine Perry granted a stay, deciding there was enough evidence of mental illness that a hearing should take place.

It will not now take place until midday on Wednesday at the earliest.

Courts have previously established that executing the mentally ill is unconstitutional.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster appealed to the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which adjourned for the night without making a ruling.

If the stay is lifted, the state could execute the 54-year-old at any time on Wednesday.

Only Texas and Florida have performed more executions than Missouri this year, with seven each.

The death warrant expires at midnight on Thursday, meaning the Missouri Supreme Court would have to set a new date for Middleton’s execution if there is no decision.

The case could eventually end up at the US Supreme Court.

Middleton was convicted of killing Randy “Happy” Hamilton, Stacey Hodge and Alfred Pinegar because he was concerned they would tell police about his methamphetamine dealing.

His girlfriend, Maggie Hodges, is serving life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in all three cases.

Middleton’s attorneys say the wrong man was arrested, citing new evidence that includes a witness who came forward in February.

Attorney Joseph Perkovich said: “We’re looking at a situation where if (Middleton) had zealous representation at trial he likely would have been acquitted.”

Mr Koster disagreed, writing in a court response: “The time for enforcement of Missouri’s criminal judgment against John Middleton is long overdue.”

Middleton was a meth dealer in sparsely-populated northern Missouri in the 1990s.

After several drug suspects were arrested on June 10, 1995, he allegedly told a friend: “The snitches around here are going to start going down.”

The next day, according to court records, Middleton and Hodges met Mr Hamilton and Ms Hodge on a gravel road.

Prosecutors say Middleton then shot and killed the pair and put their bodies in the boot of Hamilton’s car.

Pinegar, another meth dealer, was shot in the face on June 23, 1995 and his body was found in a field near the city of Bethany.

Middleton, who allegedly told acquaintances about his crimes, was charged with all three killings and convicted in 1997.



HASTINGS, MI — A 23-year-old Hastings man is in custody after police say they found methamphetamine components in a backpack he carried while riding on a stolen bicycle.

The man was arrested shortly after 5 p.m. July 10 after Hastings police were called to State and Railroad streets on a report of a man riding a stolen bicycle.

Officers soon noticed him without the bike, but he was running between houses and through yards. Police ordered the man to stop running, eventually tackling the 23-year-old.

When they sat him up on the ground, officers noticed several pills had fallen out of his clothing.

They recovered a backpack allegedly containing “several components used to produce meth.”

He was taken to jail on three outstanding warrants and charges of possession of stolen property and possession of meth components.





That’s the word Joseph Mazzuca of Meth Lab Cleanup Company uses to describe mobile meth labs.

“They are the latest trend, that is ninety-eight percent of what our company sees east of the Rocky Mountains,” Mazzuca told 13News Now. “The trend right now that we’re seeing is off the charts. I mean, you know, we’re getting calls all day, every day.”

By no means is Hampton Roads escaping the volatile and dangerous trend.

In June, Virginia Beach police came across a suspected mobile meth lab in a truck. Emergency workers cleaned up the materials used to make the highly addictive drug in a parking lot along Holland Road.

In April, a Virginia State trooper pulled over 39-year-old Christie Anne Smith of Friendsville, Maryland on Interstate 64. A VSP spokesman said the trooper found her with a “one-person lab.”

Hazmat crews set up tables on the side of the road, put liquids into containers, then took them away. They also used large, dark bags for other materials.

“There are many hazards in relation to, you know, handling or the disposal process of these hazardous materials,” said Officer Patrick Kane with Virginia Beach Police Department. “One pound of methamphetamines creates six pounds of hazardous waste that needs to be disposed of.

When it comes to mobile meth labs, Kane said, “I don’t think there’s any specific benefit other than trying to transport some of the materials that create an unusual odor that they don’t want other people in the area to be alarmed about, or they’re in the process of trying to get rid of some of the hazardous materials that is created by making methamphetamines.”

“People are being more and more creative about how they can create drugs, how they can buy and sell them, how they can buy them cheaper and make them for more money,” said addiction recovery expert Paul Hardy, who explained the added danger that comes when production is being carried out by a meth addict whose thinking can be erratic.

“They’re mind just goes to all kinds of places. They’re just not able to concentrate on a thought. That person now has to put a certain level of ingredients in a certain order together at a certain time in a very detailed manner or they have an explosive in their hands,” said Hardy.

He, along with Mazzuca, said the Shake ‘n’ Bake Method of production remains one of the most popular. It requires a bottle, a limited amount of materials, and a lot of movement.

“A lot of it, we attribute to the economy, which is bad, and the loss of jobs,” Mazzuca stated. “We’re seeing people doing these small Shake ‘n’ Bake meth labs, ’cause they’re so easy to set up.”

“You’re shaking this for a period of time. If you don’t let the air out at a certain amount, if you don’t let it out at the right time, it will literally burst into flames wherever it is: in your face, in your vehicle, on your backpack, wherever you are.”

Because meth production typically finishes at a home base, police suggest being mindful of a number of things that could indicate a meth lab on or off the road.

“Let’s say they see a vehicle or some type of structure that has, you know, an unusual amount of glass bottles with tubes coming out, buckets, any glass or metal cookware with some type of substance that appears foreign to them or if they, you know, smell some type of unusual odor that they’re not used to, call law enforcement personnel immediately so that we can investigate the matter,” Kane said.




HELENA — While prescription drug crimes have dropped significantly in Lewis & Clark County over the past three years, for meth it’s a different story.

The Montana Board of Crime Control, which funds the Missouri River Drug Task Force, reported a drop in drug-related arrests between 2009 and 2013. There were 277 arrests in 2011 and 176 recorded in 2013.

Sergeant Cory Bailey, a detective with the Helena Police Department, said, “We do see a lot of prescription pill cases but currently the trend is pointing toward meth usage.”

Last year, the task force performed 18 investigations, obtaining 171 illegal units of prescription drugs. In 2012, officials confiscated 623 over-the-counter drugs.

With meth crimes on the rise in Helena, that doesn’t necessarily eliminate the potential for other narcotics to take over.

Bailey said, “Currently, just seven months into the year, we’re seeing more meth cases but that number could go down. It could change to some other product.”

Forty percent of complaints from the public and members of law enforcement have been meth-related this year. A little more than half-way through 2014 and the crime task force has seized 648 grams of the illegal drug.

Crystallized meth goes for about 200 bucks on the street. Bailey said much of the purified meth is coming from Mexico and South American nations.

He noted, “80 percent of the methamphetamine that comes into the state comes from Mexican or from the southern regions that’s due to more crimes being or it’s easier to produce in Mexico.”

Bailey said it’s cheaper and easier to distribute, than it is in Montana. However, this trend isn’t solely limited to the Treasure State.

He said, “It’s seen nationally. Everybody is feeling the effects of drugs and meth.”

The public aid continues to aid law enforcement in convicting illegal drug offenders.

Bailey noted, “If the public wasn’t there to help us or to try to protect their own community, we’d have a much more difficult time having these cases and convicting people on them.”




TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Authorities say a 26-year-old Washington woman has been charged with manslaughter after her toddler died of a meth overdose.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Tuesday the 2-year-old boy had ingested enough methamphetamine to kill an adult when his mother noticed he wasn’t breathing in December 2012.

Paramedics arrived at the Spanaway home and found him without a pulse. They couldn’t insert an airway because his jaw was locked.

Lindquist said witnesses told investigators that the woman, identified as Alyia Iverson, had a history of smoking meth in front of her children.

Iverson was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday. It wasn’t immediately clear if she had a lawyer. In an interview last year, she told The News Tribune she didn’t know there was meth in the house.