Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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

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

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

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

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

Meth labs soaring

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

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

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

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

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

Drug of choice

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

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

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

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

This year, though, was an eye-opener.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Chasing our tail’

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

So, what to do about the problem?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Investigators learned that there were five children at the residence.

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

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

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

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



TWIN FALLS • A Twin Falls woman found a mobile meth lab inside a backpack tossed in her yard, police say.

The woman, who lives in the 300 block of Heyburn Avenue West, found the backpack and called police Jan. 19.

After an investigation, Andrew Kellum, 21, of Twin Falls, was arrested and charged with manufacturing methamphetamine.

A police report gives this account of the investigation:

An officer went to the woman’s house and took the backpack to the Twin Falls Police Department. It contained a 2-liter bottle with white crystals in the bottom and filled with a solvent solution; two 20-ounce bottles, modified to be used in the lab; a cold compress containing ammonium nitrate; along with Drano, denatured alcohol, lithium strips from batteries, measuring cups, paint thinner, cold tablets and a handwritten recipe for methamphetamine.

The ingredients are used to make “shake and bake” meth, police say.

The recipe in the backpack was copied off the Internet and says, in part: “Combining these chemicals can result in fire, explosion, injury, death or arrest…I take no responsibility for anyone who misuses this information and blow themselves up, burns down a structure or gets arrested. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. DO NOT DO THIS INDOORS.”

Officers tracked down the buyer of some of the cold medication, as it was a store brand. Through surveillance, police identified several possible suspects.

Kellum had asked a couple if he could use their backyard shed for 12 hours to manufacture meth, using the “shake and bake” method. He described the backpack and chemicals used. The two told Kellum to leave, and he walked away.

Kellum was arrested Jan. 28 on charges of possessing a stolen vehicle and providing false information to police. He was arraigned Thursday in Twin Falls County Magistrate Court on the meth manufacturing charge, and his bail was set at $150,000.

A preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 10.



A Waseca woman was charged Jan. 16 for methamphetamine possession in a school-zone apartment.

Jessica Rachael Maas, 28, was charged with four counts of felony drug possession when police executed a search warrant on the apartment she shares with Seth Grant Huntington — located in a school zone and public housing zone — back in Nov. 2013 and found bags that field-tested positive for meth residue along with a digital scale that also field-tested positive for the drug, said a complaint filed in Waseca County court.

Police also reported finding straws and pipes under Maas’ couch.

Huntington, who was charged and arrested Jan. 16 on two counts of felony drug possession, was reportedly not present during the search.

The maximum sentence for felony meth possession in a public housing or school zone is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentences are dependent on several factors, including a defendant’s criminal history and a pre-trial report.



Tamaqua police arrested a woman Friday morning in connection with a methamphetamine investigation.

Police said tips from citizens prompted the raid around 9 a.m. at an apartment in the first block of East Elm Street. Police said they found drugs and cash inside.

Police said Jacqueline Slavin, 38, who lives in the apartment, is charged with possession with intent to deliver meth, manufacturing meth, possession of heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia and endangering the welfare of a child.

Police said other arrests may be announced.

Tamaqua police were assisted by officers from Rush Township and the state police clandestine lab response team.



MASON CITY, Iowa  -  When you buy a new home, you want to know a little something about what’s happened there.

That’s why realtors ask owners to fill out a disclosure form.

Right now in Iowa, lawmakers in the Senate are talking about a bill that would create stricter penalties for those who leave information out about past meth labs on the property or in the home.

While it may sound like a far fetched idea, it happens, and state leaders want to make sure the buyer, is protected.


Ryan Allen, Operations Manager for ServiceMaster Clean in Mason City, has been in the cleaning service for seven years now.

He’s seen just about everything.

“We’re dealing with people that are kind of down on their luck. Something happened to them, they’ve never had something happen to them that’s been this bad in their life,” said Allen.

And that includes cleaning up houses where a meth lab has been.

Allen says its hard work making sure the house is completely cleaned up and ready for potential new home owners.

“You don’t know what you’re dealing with, you don’t know what could have been left behind, what chemicals were used when they decided they were going to do whatever they were going to do in the home and stuff if left on the walls for years,” said Allen.

That’s where a new bill comes in.

It’s in a Senate committee right now at the Iowa statehouse, but those in support of the idea say it’s important.

The legislation would require homeowners to disclose any kind of meth lab in their house, or on their property, to potential buyers

But not everyone is in support.

Iowa Association of Realtors Lobbyist, Jennifer Kingland, says the board is opposed to the bill.

“We want people to move into a safe, healthy neighborhood and home. However, the seller’s disclosure form when you disclosing something like that you aren’t really ruminating the problem, all you’re doing is stigmatizing that property for the future and basically condemning,” said Kingland.

Kingland says it would only hurt business, and believes there are already certain disclosure requirements that would deal with a meth issue.

“We technically feel that there are already questions in line on the seller’s disclosure form that would cover it,” said Kingland.

But even so, Allen says a clear question on the form would provide good information to buyers.

“If you’ve got information on a home, if I myself as a buyer and had children went and bought a home I’d want to know,” said Allen.

The bill is only being talked about right now in Des Moines it has not advanced to the Senate or House.

Senator Liz Mathis from Cedar Rapids is on the subcommittee and says next week they will hear from four experts who deal with this issue.




ORANGE CITY, Fla. — A couple is in custody after firefighters in Volusia County responded to a garage fire and made two startling discoveries.

Fire crews were called to Wisconsin Avenue in Orange City just before 4 p.m. Friday where they discovered a meth lab and a young child alone inside the house.

“That’s scary, that’s scary, it’s a pretty decent neighborhood here,” said neighbor Ray Brasells.

When crews arrived at the scene a neighbor said he didn’t think anyone was home.


Crews said moments later a 9-year-old girl walked out of the home and said she was alone.

Firefighters then extinguished the small fire that was burning in the garage and found what appeared to be a methamphetamine lab as the source.

“When we arrived on scene, we found smoke coming from the garage area,” said Bill Snyder with Volusia County Fire Rescue.

Crews in hazmat suits collected all of the meth-making equipment inside the home and brought it outside.

While they were putting out the fire, they said 35-year-old Melissa Berry and 35-year-old Jonathan Coburn arrived home.

Berry said that she and her live-in boyfriend, Coburn, lived there and leased the house together.

Berry said she was at work when the fire started and Coburn said he had gone to the store.

They told officers that while both adults were gone, the girl was at the house alone after school.

Investigators said Coburn and Berry denied knowing anything about the drug-making materials and marijuana plants that were found in the home.

The child meanwhile was brought to the hospital as a precaution, but didn’t sustain any injuries. She is now staying with relatives.

Once the fire was out, they realized just how dangerous this could have been.

“They noticed, all indications that there was a meth lab inside the house at that point,” Snyder said.

The firefighters had to be sprayed down to make sure they weren’t contaminated by the fumes from the meth-making materials.

Officials said the meth lab wasn’t very big, but it was still dangerous.

Berry and Coburn were arrested and charged with manufacture of methamphetamine, arson of an occupied dwelling, and cultivation of cannabis.



LOS ANGELES — A man high on meth and suspected of stealing an SUV was arrested in South Los Angeles today after a vehicle pursuit followed by a 200-yard foot chase by six Los Angeles police officers on the Century (105) Freeway, authorities said.

A quarter-mile stretch of the freeway’s westbound lanes was closed just west of South Figueroa Street after the suspect, a 25-year-old man, left the stolen green Suburban and two passengers in lanes and took flight around 12:50 a.m., LAPD Sgt. Scott Stevens said.

Stevens, who was one of the pursuers, said the suspect had been on a meth binge and appeared to have decided he had no choice but to try to escape on the freeway.

Stevens, who is based at the LAPD’s Southeast Station, said the suspect was caught when he “ran out of juice and collapsed on the hood of a car.” But the suspect continued to resist, Stevens said, and an officer suffered a possible dislocated finger after the suspect rolled onto his hand as he was being cuffed.

LAPD Sgt. Angela McGee said the pursuit began after officers tried to intercept the vehicle around 12:45 a.m., some 20 minutes after it was reported stolen.

The Suburban was pursued on surface streets east of the Harbor (110) Freeway near the 105 before it was driven onto the westbound lanes of the freeway, where it stopped.

The Los Angeles Police Department stopped cars on the westbound freeway lanes just west of South Figueroa Street around 12:50 a.m., said California Highway Patrol Officer Francisco Villalobos.

Two passengers in the stolen vehicle — a woman in her early 30s and a man in his mid-20s — were questioned and released, Scott said.

The suspect was hospitalized and immediately booked, Scott said.



The following report is the second half of an article on the science of meth addiction. It is part of an ongoing series about the damage done by meth addiction.

According to most informational outlets available currently, the general consensus states that there are up to seven stages of a meth high, depending on a user’s length and severity of habit.

Each stage is sometimes referred to by different names depending on the source, but they are described in relatively the same way. For the purposes of this article, they are: The rush, the high, the binge, tweaking, the crash, the hangover and the withdrawal.

During the rush, a user experiences an increased heart rate and blood pressure, and can last for up to 30 minutes. This time frame is longer than drugs such as crack or cocaine, which typically lasts only minutes.

The rush is followed by the high. At this stage, it is common for a user to experience feelings of intellectual superiority. The high is also commonly signified by intense focus on something specific, and can last anywhere from four to 16 hours.

“The way it’s been explained to me, the initial high, the first time to ever use it, is so intense that you’re always chasing that first high,” said Turning Point Board Member Joe Siskar. “And meth is one of those strange drugs. It starts to change the chemical makeup of a person’s brain.”

The binge refers to the stage in which a user will continue using meth in order to maintain his or her initial high, and it can last for days or even weeks. This stage continues until the user is no longer able to experience a rush from new doses.

The tweaking stage occurs at the end of the binge. This is the stage in which a user can no longer navigate a functional sense of reality. It is often marked by intense hallucinations that can lead to a user becoming dangerous to him or herself or others. This is most often when a user becomes convinced that bugs are crawling under the skin, for example, and days of sleeplessness often accompany it.

“Meth actually starts to destroy the neurons in the brain that transmit the endorphins and the dopamine and all that,” Siskar said. “And that’s why there’s such a big personality change. The pseudo-reality becomes so strong with meth addicts that they forget what a normal reality is.”



DRUG use patterns might change but country people  aren’t immune to the their subsequent effects.

Wagga police say  methamphetamine use is becoming more prevalent, a claim backed by a  representative of Wagga’s Community Drug Action Team (CDAT).

And, despite  acknowledging changing patterns over time, Wagga police acting crime manager,  Inspector Stephen Radford, said reports of people using ice are on the  rise.

Parents have been warned to be on the lookout for the drug which, as  its name suggests, looks like crushed ice in a bag.

Common street names  include ice, meth and glass – because of its appearance – and it is sold in  points, or one-tenth of a gram.

Inspector Radford said the average deal on  the street for a point is about $50.

“(Ice) is relatively cheap and lasts a  long time,” Inspector Radford said.

“The problem with ice is the affect it  has on people, it’s a stimulant which gives them strength and endurance

But,  on the flip side, its hallucinogenic properties means speaking with those under  the influence can be difficult.

“We have the resources to deal with it,” he  said.

“(Users) are out there and obviously drug use can be a driver of  property crime.

“Young people get addicted fairly quickly and they’ve got to  support a habit.”

CDAT chairwoman, Jenny Atkinson, said people living in  regional areas were often lulled into a false sense of security about drugs and  violence.

“We think we’re protected by being in the country,” she  said.

“Wagga people have still got a country mentality, by which we think  we’re safe – we’re not.”

Ms Atkinson said alcohol – a “gateway drug” – was  the number one problem.

“Alcohol has given them the susceptibility to be open  to other drugs,” she said.

“The way in which people use a drug is often the  defining thing.”

People also aren’t scared to combine substances and had  little regard for their health.

“You mix drugs and you get an absolute  concoction as a result of it,” Ms Atkinson said.

“People are more  experimental and don’t see the long-term consequences.

“I think there’s  certainly an increased usage of (methamphetamine) in the community … from a  treatment point of view .

“We don’t necessarily see the violence we see the  changes to lifestyle … we hear the implications of the violence.”

The real ‘Breaking Bad’

Posted: February 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

Methamphetamine is cheap, addictive and mobile, and you don’t need to be a chemistry teacher to make it. Last year in poverty-stricken, meth-addicted West Virginia, police raided 533 home labs, scenes that couldn’t be more different from the TV series.

The skip is filling with household items, furniture and toys. They have been removed from a mobile home in a trailer park in West Virginia, the latest illegal methamphetamine lab to be raided by police in the second-poorest state in the US, and are being discarded because they are contaminated.

Fans of the US television series Breaking Bad know this highly addictive drug as crystal meth. The most common method of cooking meth in West Virginia is nothing like what goes on in the high-tech lab run by Walter White, the fictional chemistry teacher turned drug manufacturer.

“It is not anywhere comparable to the size or the money they are making on the show. They are small, small labs here in West Virginia,” says Mike Goff, a former state police officer and now administrator of West Virginia Board of Pharmacy’s controlled-substance monitoring program.

Jennifer Rhyne, owner of Affordable Cleanup, a meth-lab remediation company, and two staff are working on the mobile home in the town of Scott Depot, 30km west of Charleston, the state capital, beyond chimney stacks and chemical plants that billow smoke skywards.

The “shake-and-bake” meth-making method that is popular in West Virginia involves a plastic drink bottle, salt, lithium from a battery, basic household chemicals and a key ingredient, pseudoephedrine, from over-the-counter cold medicines. It takes an hour to make meth this way. “All we have ever seen is the shake-and-bake method. Landlords say this isn’t a lab. Shake and bake is a lab. It’s a lab in a bottle,” says Rhyne.

Dressed in full-body hazardous-materials – or hazmat – suits and respiratory masks, Rhyne’s staff work through the mobile home, which is still scattered with personal belongings and toys, now toxic from the meth chemicals that can cause major respiratory problems.

One of the cleaners, Heath Barnett, shows two syringes he found in the bathroom lab. Addicts snort or smoke meth, or burn it on a spoon and inject it. The mobile home had been occupied by a mother of two whose father had bought her a place to live in.

A woman and her dog emerge from a mobile home next to the former Scott Depot meth lab that Rhyne’s staff are cleaning up. It is bitterly cold. “I had a feeling there was something going on,” says the woman, who doesn’t want to be named. “There was too much traffic, and they had the back door open all the time, with the fans going.

Trailers to $250,000 houses Affordable Cleanup has been in business for a year, in which time it has remediated 17 properties, from trailers to $250,000 houses, in which meth labs were discovered. As president of a landlords’ association, she saw the money to be made from cleaning the increasing number of labs being found in Kanawha County, West Virginia’s most populous county, and surrounding areas.

Five hundred and thirty-three meth labs were raided in the state last year, up 85 per cent on the 2012 figure. Seven meth clean-up companies operated in the area a year ago, says Rhyne. Now 17 do. A clean-up costs €7,500 a property, and the loss to the landlord averages about €12,500, according to Rhyne.

Cleaners encounter heartbreaking scenes. One woman in her 80s discovered that her grandson had been cooking meth in her home without her knowledge, resulting in a lifetime’s worth of belongings being destroyed. Barnett says they have found children living in 90 per cent of home labs the company has cleaned. In 90 per cent of those cases the cleaners have discovered breathing treatments such as salbutamol inhalers: the cooks are so addicted that they simply seek treatment for their children’s breathing problems, then carry on cooking.

In one clean-up a young girl’s bedroom tested over the limit for contaminants; her parents’ room tested negative. They had been cooking right outside her room. “Unfortunately, it is the children involved who take the biggest hit,” says Cpl Jason Crane, the clandestine-response and training coordinator for West Virginia State Police. “When they are cooking in the same mobile home, apartment or house they are exposing these children to the hazardous atmosphere within the dwelling.”



An Austin doctor who police say wrote more than 400 prescriptions for narcotic pain medications in exchange for methamphetamine and cash is one of at least a dozen people charged in connection with an illegal drug distribution organization.

Richard Edward Sofinowski, 47, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Jan. 21 on one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and other controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Texas. He was also indicted on two substantive drug distribution counts, the office said.


Sofinowski surrendered to federal authorities Monday and was released on a personal recognizance bond that day, the attorney’s office said.

Arza Demi, who authorities say helped Sofinowski give the prescriptions in exchange for meth and money, was indicted on the same charges, according to the attorney’s office. The 42-year-old remained in federal custody as of earlier this week.

“Prescription drug abuse has become increasingly prevalent in the community, and it is especially serious when a licensed medical professional violates his professional duties as well as federal law in illegally dispensing controlled substances,” U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman said in a statement. “If Dr. Sofinowski is found guilty of writing prescriptions for narcotics by the grand jury, he will face serious consequences for enabling others’ dependence on drugs.”

Police said Sofinowski was a “key member of a narcotics distribution organization” and wrote prescriptions to 24 people on a rotating basis. Those people would then fill prescriptions for painkillers, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication at pharmacies across the city and then return the medication to the organization in exchange for keeping some of the drugs.

Sofinowski admitted to police that none of the people were his patients and that he distributed the prescriptions through leaders in the organization, according to an arrest affidavit.

Police issued warrants on a charge of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud for Wayne Johnson, 39, Bonita Hawthorne, 50, Woodrow Matthews, 32, Amanda Isbell, 34, Richard Graham, 36, Ruth Thompson, 35, Jessica Falscroft, 39, Kimberly Holmes, 36, Erin Feltmeyer, 31, and Michael Sullivan, 34, court records show.

Hawthorne, Graham, Sullivan, Falscroft and Holmes had been arrested by Thursday.

As of Friday evening, none of the other suspects was in custody in Travis County, according to jail records.

Sofinowski was earlier arrested and charged with possession on Nov. 13 after authorities searched his home and discovered 11.5 grams of methamphetamine and several hundred tablets of controlled substances. He was booked at the Williamson County Jail and released the next day after posting bail, which was set at $20,000.

According to the Texas Medical Board, Sofinowski has been licensed as a doctor in Texas since 1992, with a primary practice of psychiatry.

Sofinowski has not been investigated by the board before, according to the organization’s website, nor has he been disciplined or had his licensed restricted.

In 2002, he received an employee excellence award from the Austin Travis County Integral Care, according to the board’s website, which lists him as having been a supervisor of the Austin State Hospital residency program since 2001.



A Ridgecrest man was arrested in the early morning of Jan. 30 after Kern County Sheriff’s deputies found he was in possession of $2,500 worth of methamphetamine.

Deputies with the KCSO made contact with 27-year-old Michael Pate around 1:28 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30 at Love’s Travel Stop on 2000 E. Tehachapi Blvd.
According a news release, Pate quickly fled from the scene and initiated a vehicle pursuit with the Sheriff’s deputies. During the pursuit, Pate threw a half pound of methamphetamine from his vehicle.
The pursuit quickly ended at Highway 58 and East Tehachapi Boulevard and deputies recovered the meth, the release states.

Pate was arrested on charges including possession of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine for sale, transportation of methamphetamine, attempting to destroy evidence, evading a peace officer, and resisting a peace officer.
His bail was set at $60,000, according to the release.



At about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, officers from the Fort Stockton Police Department stopped a silver Ford F-250 on South Highway. 385 in Fort Stockton.

The driver of this truck fled on foot during the search of his vehicle.

Upon doing inventory of this vehicle, officers found approximately seven pounds of crystal methamphetamine concealed in seven sport drink bottles.

fs2 fs1The Fort Stockton Police Department recovered seven sport drink bottles Saturday evening ,each filled with approximately one pound of crystal methamphetamine, during a drug seizure after stopping a late model silver, Ford F-250 pickup truck. The driver fled on foot, and law enforcement agencies in the area are searching for him

The street value of this illegal and dangerous drug was approximately $317,000.

Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) from Alpine is assisting the Fort Stockton Police Department with this investigation.

The Fort Stockton Police Department is a member of the Big Bend Border Enforcement Task Force. Drugs and vehicle were turned over to HSI for further investigation.




ATLANTIC BEACH — Police here confirm Thursday a meth lab operation in a room at the Sea Shore Motel at 120 East Fort Macon Road.

They got a call about 9:40 a.m., according to a press release from Police Chief Allen Smith. The State Bureau of Investigation has been notified.

Chief Smith said officers were dispatched to the motel concerning possible hazardous materials in a room. When officers arrived, they met with motel management who informed officers of materials they had discovered.

Chief Smith said officers confirmed what appeared to be a possible meth lab and items consistent with the manufacture of methamphetamines.

At the time officers arrived, the room was vacant. They secured the room, contacted the SBI for assistance with investigation and cleanup.



A woman was arrested Thursday after officers found meth labs in her home, police said.

Officers were serving a civil warrant at 618 Walnut St. at 10:48 a.m. when they found a one-pot meth lab in the home.

Lisa Noreen Kisinger, 49, who lives at the home, was arrested on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine and maintaining a common nuisance.

Upstairs neighbors were evacuated because the residence is a duplex.

A total of six meth labs and drug paraphernalia were found, police said.

Two people were arrested and a police officer was treated at a hospital for meth-fume exposure when a traffic stop turned into a mobile-methamphetamine-lab bust early today in east Volusia County.

Driver Alex T. Safford, 18, and passenger Brad C. MacClemmy, 38, were pulled over at 2:16 a.m. at 9th Street and S. Dixie Freeway in New Smyrna Beach for a traffic infraction that happened within Edgewater’s city limits.


A police officer, whose name wasn’t released, searched the vehicle and found a mobile methamphetamine lab, a report from police said.

The lab was dismantled. The officer was treated and released from Bert Fish Hospital in New Smyrna Beach after being exposed to meth fumes, police said.

Safford was arrested and charged with trafficking in methamphetamine.

“He was additionally charged with burglary and grand theft from an unrelated incident,” police said in a report without elaborating.

MacClemmy was arrested and charged with trafficking in methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and culpable negligence.




BEDFORD Ky. — Two Trimble County residents were arrested Wednesday night after officers with the Kentucky State Police found a meth lab in their home.

Police said they were dispatched the  home belonging to David Wentworth, 32, and Rebecca Wentworth, 39, on a reported assault.

When officers arrived, they smelled the odor of methamphetamine being produced, they said.


Officers obtained a search warrant and later found an active meth lab with several ingredients used in the production of meth.  A small amount of meth was also found, according to police.

David Wentworth was charged with Manufacturing Methamphetamine, Possession of Methamphetamine, and Unlawful Possession of a Meth Precursor.  He was also served with a warrant for Burglary 2nd and Terroristic Threatening.

Rebecca Wentworth was charged with Manufacturing Methamphetamine, Possession of Methamphetamine, Unlawful Possession of a Meth Precursor, Possession of a Synthetic Cannabinoid, Promoting Contraband, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.



A 22-year-old Mayo man denied killing his mother because she had destroyed his drugs, but said he did it because he was delusional.

A Central Criminal Court jury was hearing details of garda interviews conducted with Celyn Eadon the day after his mother was found dead almost three years ago.

Mr Eadon (aged 22) of Derrycrieve, Islandeady, Castlebar admits the manslaughter of his mother, Noreen Kelly.

However, he has pleaded not guilty to her murder at that address on March 9, 2011. The 46-year-old died of multiple stab wounds.

Detective Garda Róisín Loftus testified today that she interviewed the accused the day after the killing.

He had already told gardaí that someone had taken his ‘speed’ from his bedroom in the hours before his mother was stabbed.

He was shown packaging taken from a fireplace in the family home. The court heard that forensic scientists found methamphetamine in the charred remains inside the packaging.

“That’s where it went so. I didn’t know that,” he said.

He was asked who he thought had put it in the fire.

“Maybe my mother. I didn’t know that,” he replied.

It was later put to him that he had stabbed his mother because she had found and destroyed his drugs.

“I didn’t know that,” he replied. “I killed my mother because I was delusional.”

In an earlier interview, he had been asked what drugs he had taken in the day leading to his mother’s killing. He said he had taken prescription medication and a few lines of speed.

“I think someone took my prescription and replaced it with bad stuff, poison,” he said.

The trial previously heard that Mr Eadon was taken to hospital following his arrest on March 9.

His urine tested positive for amphetamine, methamphetamine and marijuana, and that a diagnosis was given of acute psychotic episode secondary to polysubstance abuse.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Paul Carney and a jury of seven men and five women.




In the dark days following the brutal New Year’s morning slaying of St. Bernard’s Pastor Eric Freed, in Eureka, rumor circulated that the alleged murderer might have been meth-crazed. And membership in a new Facebook group, the Humboldt Meth Abuse Awareness Project, exploded.

The night shift emergency room nurse who started the project, Beth Weissbart, said she started the open group at the urging of friends. They’d been reading posts for more than a year on her personal Facebook page about meth-related horrors she’d seen on the job — violent and paranoid behavior, heart failure and more. She invited folks to the open page, and it spread by word of mouth. Then some of them wrote letters to the media, inviting people to join the group and attend a Jan. 23 meeting. One letter writer, hospice and palliative medicine doctor Michael Fratkin, wrote, “The death of Father Eric Freed, and the countless acts of violence that occur every day, should be enough to get the public inspired to take action.”


By the day of the meeting, the 3-week-old group had more than 1,500 members. And they were not just concerned medical professionals, grieving parishioners, friends and neighbors. They were social workers, politicians, parents, cops and recovering addicts. Amid this growing online community emerged the semi-disjointed but sweet, frank voice of one Jack (“Jacky”) Lee Brown, a self-described four-years-clean former addict who sometimes signs off with “later never goodbye.”

Brown’s pre-meeting posts revealed he’s rooting for the Broncos in the Super Bowl; that he’s still doing pee tests, but “no worry”; that he can get a little lonely and depressed — isn’t sure why his brain won’t be happy — but, even so, glad for another “awesome day”; that he’d had cancer; that he keeps fish and cats and has a hungry horde of “strays … afraid of the day” until he feeds them in the early mornings; and that he was looking forward to the meeting on the 23rd. One day he posted a photo of himself at 31 — looking like an overgrown kid, with shiny-blond hair and a tentative, goofy smile — next to a photo of himself today — looking much older than 51, gaunt-faced with close-cropped gray hair and beard, but a direct gaze. He wondered, in a Jan. 19 post, “are we conected (sic) with life after meth???”

Nearly 300 people packed into the Redwood Turf Club at Redwood Acres Fairground on the afternoon of Jan. 23. They split into 10 working groups — community-alliance building, perinatal mother-infant, prevention, teen outreach, treatment, legislation, enforcement/policing, parenting support, housing and public awareness.

Some groups — like the one on housing, which Brown joined — had a handful of participants seated quietly at a table.

Other groups bulged — in particular the one on law enforcement. A crowd clustered around Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills, Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman and other law types, and swapped ideas, frustrations and questions. What do we do about known meth houses? What do we know about the distribution networks of meth? How do we gather the data to assess the magnitude of the situation — data spread scattershot throughout the community in hospital admission records, social workers’ notes, arrest records, private company’s pee-test records and so on? How can we deal with addicts? Can’t we keep people in jail at least until sunrise? (Freed’s alleged murderer had been let out of jail in the middle of the night.) Can we get tougher on the dealers?

When the working groups massed together again, their energy was palpable. Each group’s leader rattled off wish- and to-do lists. The crowd cheered when Chad Kemp, with the Raven Project, said the county has “a complete absence of mental health support services” for youth with unresolved trauma and mental health issues. And it cheered again when Arcata House Director Karen “Fox” Olson said there’d be no progress “until this community identifies marijuana as a huge driving force” behind meth abuse in Humboldt.

In the lobby, with the spillover-crowd craning to hear the speakers, Brown stood back a ways talking to a reporter. Though he has a home now and works as a prep cook at St. Vincent de Paul’s free meal program, he’s been homeless. He said he joined the group to show other addicts that recovery is possible, and to share with the other members what it’s like to be a meth addict.

“Meth addicts are not in a sound mental state,” he said. The first day of a fresh hit, “you’re awake — you know, busy, busy, busy. You’re cleaning everything, you’re taking care of your house. You feel alive. Then comes sleep deprivation. You stay up three or four days, you start hallucinating. … At one point I thought God was telling me to take care of the evil people.”

A side effect, he said, was the sensation of bugs under his skin.

“I literally made a special pair of tweezers to grab hold of the bugs,” he said. “You end up with a pile of skin on the table, and you keep pushing the pile together because you think the bugs are getting away.”

Brown, who grew up in Oroville, said he started smoking weed with his dad when he was 6 years old. At 9 he was into speed, at 11 it was cocaine, and much later he got into meth. He said he has chronic pain from an accident in which he broke his neck. “I got off meth by going on heroin,” he said. “Then I got off heroin by going on Suboxone.”

He fished a bottle of the prescription out of a pocket and held it up. “It’s been a miracle,” he said. As the meeting broke up, a man walked up to Brown and said he really hopes he stays involved in the group. “We need you,” he said.

While police and public officials warn of other drug problems locally — noting the high rates of heroin overdoses — Fratkin says none concern him more than meth.

“It is so unique in its devastating consequences, in its effects on people’s judgment and, frankly, in the corrosion of their souls,” he said. “Methamphetamine is a perfect hack of the mesolimbic dopamine system in the brain. In other words, you get a huge release of dopamine immediately — which translates into an experience of energy, pleasure, grandiosity and altered judgment. And once you start using the drug regularly, that system down-regulates its response. It becomes numb to normal pleasurable experiences that give a person a sense of well-being, confidence, pleasure. It alters the brain’s chemistry. Even after they stop, it is years before recovery of normal response.”

Since the meeting, the group’s Facebook membership has grown past 1,600. Weissbart said some of the energy probably will dissipate, but she’s sure that the “strong-willed leaders” who’ve come forward will carry the momentum.

It won’t be an easy task, says Humboldt’s chief probation officer, Bill Damiano.

“We’ve had these [kinds of] meetings several times over the years, since the mid-’90s,” he said. Public outreach follows, there’s excitement. But then the realization hits that there’s “too much data to collect and too many barriers to sharing it.”

Still, there’s always room for better coordination, he said. “And every time we go out and educate people, it does help,” he said.

Meanwhile, the new community group remains vigorous. The working groups’ members are swapping info and forming offshoot online sites. Professionals near and far, even out of state, are offering their research expertise. There’s talk of turning the main group into a nonprofit. Member Stephen Smith created a website for the main group, And Brown, the former addict four-years clean now, continues to connect. Some days, he’s afraid. Others, chatty. The day right after the big meeting, he posted on the site, in all caps, “BY THE WAY MY NEW MOTTO IS I AM (SLINGING HOPE NOT DOPE.)”




Six people were arrested Wednesday in a Hollister motor-home traffic stop that revealed drugs and various probation violations, the Hollister Police Department said.

At 3:45 a.m., an officer noticed a motor-home driven in the area of Park Street in Hollister and stopped it. He said he found six people hiding inside the vehicle, several of whom were on probation.

Victoria Ann Aiello;opezmartinez  gemetee2 gemette mark anthony

While searching the vehicle, the officer said he turned up methamphetamine, heroin and prescription drugs.

Mark Anthony Cockfield, 51; Victoria Ann Aiello, 20; Michelle Alyssa Lopez, 25; Joshua Rene Martinez, 28; Donald Gemette Jr., 50; and Donald Gemette III, 20; were all arrested on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance, possessing methamphetamine and possessing drug paraphernalia.

Aiello was also booked on an open arrest warrant for marijuana possession and Gemette III was arrested on suspicion of violating his probation.

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




To Napa Police Lt. Gary Pitkin, methamphetamine abuse in Napa County has a direct link to a litany of other crimes that impact residents — theft, burglary, fraud, illegal firearm possession, and armed robbery.

Pitkin told the Napa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that 41 percent of all crimes countywide in 2013 were related to methamphetamine abuse.

Pitkin leads the Napa Special Investigations Bureau, which devotes three-quarters of its resources and time to investigating methamphetamine traffickers in Napa County.

Accordingly, in 2013 Pitkin said the bureau’s arrests were 68 percent meth-related. He said 70 percent of those arrested had histories involving other crimes such as burglary, theft, fraud, and robbery, among others.

“There is an absolute tangible nexus between meth and crime,” Pitkin told the supervisors. “Meth use and abuse is not a victimless crime.”

Even worse, methamphetamine abuse has impacts stretching beyond criminal activity. Abusers are prone to greater rates of homelessness, or abandoning their families. Meth-use is connected to half of the county’s child protective services cases.

Chief Probation Officer Mary Butler said the drug is also becoming more prevalent in juvenile criminal cases, as Juvenile Hall has seen an increase in teenagers booked under the influence of methamphetamine.

“Alcohol is still number one for the youth, but meth is catching up,” Butler said. “We’re definitely seeing that impact at the juvenile level.”

Supervisor Keith Caldwell requested the informational presentation after noticing an uptick in news coverage of meth-related crimes recently, but said he wanted more data on whether there was a discernible trend in meth usage in the county.

He said he wanted more than a year’s worth of crime data to determine if a trend existed. Meth is a highly addictive drug, and addicts are reticent to seek treatment, he said.

“Are we seeing a trend toward methamphetamine becoming more and more the reason we have the crime,” Caldwell asked. “There’s a cost to the community. Unless you hit rock bottom you are not going to seek treatment.”

Chief Corrections Officer Lenard Vare noted that the Napa County jail sees methamphetamine abuse in its inmates, many of whom are booked in repeatedly for various crimes. But the jail can’t offer treatment, and the inmates are frequently released before any kind of outreach can happen.

“They get released before we can do much,” Vare said. “It’s a triage center. Usually jails are the last place where you try and deal with these kinds of things.”

Combating the drug’s impact requires detox and in-patient and out-patient treatment programs, Butler said. The county has these programs, including the Wolfe Center for teenagers, but more resources could be spent in fighting the problem, she said.

Butler, Caldwell and other panelists advocated for doing more to educate parents on the signs their child could be abusing methamphetamine, allowing for early intervention, and other prevention techniques.

“I don’t think we do a good enough job of educating parents on what to look for,” Butler said. “Any prevention has to include that parent component.”

Caldwell said he was open to using county funding and resources to improve the prevention efforts. The county is building a new jail, but it could be filled with inmates addicted to methamphetamine, he said. He supported that effort along with improving treatment options and law enforcement agencies’ abilities to deter the drug’s availability in Napa County.

“Are we doing all that we can at the prevention level — at the juvenile level,” Caldwell asked. “We can fill that jail. There’s no question. I am open to county resources.”




FORT WAYNE – Three people were arrested and four children were removed from a home on Fort Wayne’s near-northwest side after a drug raid Thursday morning, police said.

Fort Wayne vice and narcotics detectives along with members of the Emergency Services Team searched the home at 1116 Osage St. about 9 a.m.

Osage-Meth-House+(1) Osage-Meth-House

They found Natalie Y. Long, 32, along with all the ingredients to make methamphetamine. Long was charged with felony counts of manufacturing methamphetamine, illegal dumping of controlled waste and maintaining a common nuisance.

Investigators found four boys, ages 10 months, 2 years, 3 years and 4 years. They were removed from the home by the Indiana Department of Child Services.

While police were at the home, the boys’ mother, 23-year-old Daniell M. Brown, arrived. She was arrested on charges of child neglect, maintaining a common nuisance and possession of paraphernalia, according to police.

Police also said they learned Christopher W. Burgess, 36, had previously been there making methamphetamine and dumping waste.

Officers found him at a different location and arrested him on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine and illegal dumping of controlled waste as well as an outstanding warrant.

The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health condemned the home, which was boarded up by Neighborhood Code Enforcement.



Meth Lab Shut Down, Scantly Dressed Children In Home

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) — Fort Wayne police shut down a suspected meth lab in the 1100 block of Osage St.

While searching the residence, Natalie Long, 32, and four children, ages ranging from 10 months to 4 years old, were found in the home. Daniell Brown, 23, returned to the home during the search and was arrested for child neglect, maintaining a common nuisance and possession of paraphernalia.

Long was arrested for manufacturing meth, illegal dumping of controlled waste, maintaining a common nuisance and possession of paraphernalia.

Brown’s four children were removed from the home and placed in protective custody by Department of Child Services.  They were also taken to the hospital to be checked for possible meth exposure. Initial reports indicated that the children were scantly dressed.

While still at the scene of the raid, detectives received information regarding a person who had an active warrant for his arrest that was also involved with this investigation. Christopher W. Burgess, 36, was found at a different location and was arrested for manufacturing methamphetamine, illegal dumping of controlled waste and an outstanding warrant.



PHOENIX — Police busted an unusual methamphetamine operation in a West Valley neighborhood Thursday, netting $100,000 worth of the drug and two arrests.

Phoenix police were conducting a routine traffic stop in the area of 75th Avenue and Indian School Road when they discovered a large-scale “wash lab.”


1-30-14-WASH-LAB-3 1-30-14-WASH-LAB-4 1-30-14-WASH-LAB-1 1-30-14-WASH-LAB-2 1-30-14-WASH-LAB-6 1-30-14-WASH-LAB-5 1-30-14-WASH-LAB-7 1-30-14-WASH-LAB-8

Police say crystal meth is not made at a wash lab; it is taken there to be converted into a different kind of meth with a higher street value.

The meth recovered from the home was in a more pure form known as “ice” or “glass.”

Police say cartels smuggle crystal meth across the Arizona-Mexico border and into seemingly normal neighborhoods where “washers” dissolve the drug into household chemicals like acetone. The mixture then evaporates and forms ice.

Wash labs are as dangerous and explosive as meth labs but are much harder to detect, police say.

Phoenix police Sgt. Don Sherrard said meth labs usually leave a trail of supplies needed to make the drug, such as pseudoephedrine, a decongestant.

“In this case, they’ve already got the finished meth,” he said. “All they’ve got to do is get a 5-gallon can of acetone or alcohol, which is easy to do at a home improvement store without drawing a whole bunch of attention.”

Police seized about $100,000 worth of meth from the home and say the wash lab was turning out at least that amount of the drug every week.

Two rooms appeared to be completely dedicated to the washing process.

Two people had been arrested in connection with the wash lab Thursday night.

While neighbors did notice some unusual traffic in the area, police say best way to detect a wash lab is the smell of acetone.

“There are a lot more out there than we’re aware of or that we’re busting, but we’re doing everything we can to follow up on the leads and get them shut down,” Sherrard said.