SHERIDAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) — State Police say the man injured when his house exploded early Wednesday morning remains in the hospital with significant burns.1409775681000-Newaygo-Meth-House-Explosion---Jon-Mills

The explosion happened on 96th Street near the Newaygo-Muskegon County line, just as police were about to search the home. Officers had information that the man was making meth and were about to execute a search warrant just before the house exploded.

After the explosion the man was found on the ground, surrounded by debris.

Detectives are preparing an incident report to present to the county prosecutor for a decision on criminal charges. Police say making meth is dangerous for both the person manufacturing it and others living nearby.

There is a list of meth making warning signs available on the Michigan State Police website. Indicators include strong chemical odors, discarded cooking paraphernalia, empty aerosol cans of starting fluid, and empty bottles of cold medicine.




MCMINN COUNTY, TN (WRCB) –  The Tennessee Bomb and Arson Squad dealt with some big flames Thursday in McMinn County. 4659302_G

It was a controlled explosion at a landfill in McMinn County.  It’s part of an anti-meth commercial being shot by the State Bomb and Arson Squad and the Bingham Group.

Spectators were allowed to watch,  but were kept a good distance away from the flames. The county had seized the trailer months ago in a meth bust.



OCONEE COUNTY, S.C.Parents of an 8-year-old and a newborn are facing charges after deputies said the children tested positive for methamphetamine, according to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office.

The children’s father, 40-year-old Christopher Warren Vissage, of Pickens Highway, and mother, 35-year-old Eva Karey Hudson, of Marvs Drive, turned themselves in to deputies Thursday morning.

The Department of Social Services notified the Sheriff’s Office on June 26 that the couple’s children had tested positive for methamphetamine.  The case was then turned over to the Sheriff’s Office.

Hudson and Vissage are both charged with unlawful neglect of a child in connection to the 8-year-old.  Hudson faces the same charge in connection to the newborn.

DSS has placed the children in protective custody.

Hudson and Vissage are being held in the Oconee County Detention Center with bond set at $20,000 each.



Sixteen people were arrested Thursday in Escondido and San Marcos in sweeps by the county’s multiagency Methamphetamine Strike Force.

It was the 16th time the task force has conducted “Operation Tip the Scale” since forming in 2009. The operations are intended to reduce drug-related crime and provide treatment options for offenders to get help and stay clean.

Like the two previous operations, this one targeted young adults ages 18 to 24 who often commit crimes to support a drug addiction, task force spokesman Jeff Stinchcomb said.

More than 50 law enforcement officers and drug-treatment professionals took part, including sheriff’s deputies, Escondido police, county probation officers and North County Transit District officers.

Drug counselors were available at the operation’s command post. Four probationers arrested were transported to local treatment programs.

The sweep included compliance checks for offenders on probation or parole, warrant searches and saturation patrols in areas known as hot spots for drug-related crime.

Many of the arrests were for drug-related parole violations, including possession of a controlled substance or being under the influence, Stinchcomb said. Three people were arrested for outstanding warrants.

One person was arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs for sale after being found with baggies of methamphetamine and marijuana, methamphetamine pipes and cash.

In addition, deputies and social workers rescued eight children from residences “too risky to leave them in” because of drug activity or neglect, the spokesman said.

Officials have said methamphetamine use among people arrested in San Diego County is an increasing problem, with deaths related to use of the drug at a record high in the county.

Targeting young adults for intervention is important, Escondido police Chief Craig Carter said in a task force statement.

“We want to touch base with young people before they get in too deep, in terms of drugs and crime,” Carter said. “If we do it right, we might save them a lifetime of trouble.”

County residents can report meth-related crimes or get information about treatment options by calling the meth strike force hotline at (877)-NO-2-METH (877-662-6384) or online at

Life in Iran’s capital Tehran might seem stodgy — think angry ayatollahs, black chadors and mobs exhorting “Death to America.” That’s real, but so is the less visible side of Tehran: the illicit drugs, hipster fashion and outraged bloggers.


That side of the city is on display in City of Lies: Love, Sex, Death and the Search For Truth in Tehran, the latest book from Iranian author Ramita Navai.

Navai introduces us to a handful of unlikely Tehran residents. They’re composite characters, because sharing personal details with a reporter is still a very risky business in Tehran. “The regime does not want outsiders to see Iran in all its glory and all its color,” Navai says.

But they’re all based in fact, she insists. The book starts with the story of a man whom Navai calls Dariush, a man in his 20s who leaves a comfortable life in the US to join the underground opposition in Iran — for love.

He bungles his attempt to assassinate a local police chief, resulting in what Navai describes as “a comedy of errors.” We meet others, including Leyla, a beautiful working-class woman who falls into prostitution and meets her end in a hangman’s noose.

Navai says that flawed individuals leading these sorts of lives — neither good nor evil — are rarely seen in reporting about Iran. “It has social problems and the regime wants to hide some of the social problems,” she says.

But, true to Navai’s theme, even the regime has nuance. “The regime can also be quite liberal about some of its social problems,” she says. “So, for example, the regime has got quite liberal attitudes toward drug rehabilitation. There are crystal meth drug rehab centers, there are needle exchange centers, methadone centers. Condoms are given out to prostitutes.”

The complexities and contradictions of life in Iran forces many Tehran residents to lead double lives. They show public faces to please authorities and live private lives that are far different.

Navai argues that people who live in Tehran need to live a lie to survive. She describes meeting civil servants, for example, who pretended to pray in the office, despite their limited knowledge of the Koran.

But she also sees changes, in part due to Tehran’s growing youth culture. “They are striving to live a life that’s more true to themselves,” she says. “I think you can see this in a real sexual awakening that’s happening in Tehran that spans all social classes. Young people are kind of behaving in a freer way as regards to sex and as regards to relating to each other. And I think this will have a trickle-down effect.”

She admits that she lives the lie, as well: “You lie about going to parties, you lie about alcohol being consumed at parties, you have to lie about certain people you may hang out with.” But she’s hopeful the changing culture will change her need to lie: “I think this will mean — hopefully, maybe I’m being optimistic — but fewer lies.”

In a certain way, though, Navai sees the lies as “a very positive thing because [Iranians] are so obsessed with being true to themselves — you know, it’s really part of our culture, it’s in all our poetry, it’s in our literature — they are intent on living the lives that they want to live, even if that means they have to lie to do so.”




LANCASTER — Police in Lancaster and Chester counties have swept up three dozen alleged area drug dealers and methamphetamine producers and cookers after a yearlong undercover operation dubbed “Fantastic Shakers,” police announced Thursday.


Officers from the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, Chester County Sheriff’s Office, and state drug agents cooperated to “put a huge dent” in the meth production and dealing trade that has plagued the area in recent years, said Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile.

Of the 37 indicted by the state grand jury Thursday as part of the drug ring, 36 have been arrested and jailed, police said.

Most of those indicted are Lancaster County residents while a handful of others reside in Chester, York and Kershaw counties.

The drug making and dealing of what is called “crank” or “meth” crossed county lines as many of those involved in the scheme to dominate the meth market locally would try to buy materials in neighboring counties to avoid law enforcement detection, police said.

Many of the 37 people from area counties were charged with felony trafficking of more than a half kilogram of meth that can carry sentences as long as 30 years in prison. Some of the indictments in the case allege the orchestrated plot has been going on for more than two years.

“I think this is a huge success for Lancaster and Chester counties,” Faile said. “Anytime you can get 30 people selling methamphetamine off the street, it will make a huge impact.”

The operation was dubbed “Fantastic Shakers” because meth is made partly by shaking up over-the-counter chemicals that when combined are sold on the black market as exotic stimulants that can have deadly side effects.

Charges range from possession to trafficking and include men and women ranging in age from early 20s to people in their 50s.

One of the people indicted is Nicole Edwards, 23, of Rock Hill. Edwards was one of five people arrested in May after Lancaster County drug agents found a methamphetamine lab in Lancaster near Starcliff Circle.

Methamphetamine distribution and production has been a growing problem in South Carolina over the past few years, said both Faile and Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood at a news conference Thursday announcing the arrests.

Arrests in drug crimes can lead to reduced numbers of burglaries, larcenies, and other crimes, Faile said.

Defendants from areas near Lancaster County’s borders – including seven from Chester County near the Catawba River – also face multiple felonies.

Underwood, the Chester County sheriff, vowed to “keep drugs off our streets” at the news conference and the partnership will continue among agencies to destroy the meth trade.

Most meth supplies can be bought legally, but the production, possession and use of the combined drug is illegal.

One group of people in the drug plot would buy supplies and others would cook the drugs in home labs, police said.

Some of those arrested would “jump from county to county” to try to keep a low profile from law enforcement, said Capt. Frank O’Neal of the State Law Enforcement Division. A second group would cook at a rotation of houses in Lancaster, Chester and neighboring counties, O’Neal said.

Some of the people charged are accused of crimes related to the improper and illegal disposal of the waste products from the labs.

The result was a potential child endangerment and environmental calamity, O’Neal said, as meth labs leave behind dangerous chemicals and are prone to explosions.

The methamphetamine dump sites left uncovered by the suspects “deplete our water, and the children (can be) exposed to these meth labs,” O’Neal said.

The scheme involved local production and distribution and is not believed to be connected to a larger meth distribution problem in the state with ties to the southwest and Mexico.

More than 1,700 methamphetamine labs have been found across the state since July 2011, including dozens in York County and a growing number in Chester and Lancaster counties, police said.





Over the last year the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office has investigated an increased number of methamphetamine complaints.

The Sheriff’s Office has arrested multiple people and charged them with methamphetamine possession, manufacturing, and unlawful disposal of the methamphetamine waste.

During those investigations it became apparent that many of the involved suspects were working and conspiring together to produce the methamphetamine.

The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office contacted the State Attorney General’s Office about the case and began working with their office, the State Law Enforcement Division, Lancaster City Police Department, and the Chester County Sheriff’s Office to further those investigations.

During this investigation it was determined that the involved individuals did conspire and work together to purchase precursors, possess methamphetamine, manufacture methamphetamine, distribute methamphetamine, traffic methamphetamine, or dispose of methamphetamine waste.

The case was presented to the State Grand Jury.

Thirty people were indicted in Lancaster County and seven people were indicted in Chester County.

The Lancaster County Drug Task Force Team and Agents from the State Law Enforcement Division began serving the indictments on Sept. 3rd, 2014.

Those who have been arrested thus far were transported to the Lancaster County Detention Center and jailed where they are awaiting a bond hearing.


Frightening rates of young gay men are using methamphetamine and undertaking risky sexual behavior, according to a report released on Wednesday by the State Government which included over 50 recommendations on how the State should tackle the so-called ‘ice epidemic’.


The Victorian Methamphetamine Strategy report contained several recommendations with the LGBTI community in mind, including implementation of education and information programs and tailor-made training for frontline workers.

The report explored several studies that looked into the use of methamphetamine, commonly known as ice, in men who have sex with men (MSM).

The report also acknowledged that a lot of drug trade was happening online, and said there needed to be a focus to crack down on such trade.

Hook-up apps, such as Grindr and Scruff, are increasingly being used for the advertisement of methamphetamine use, and in some cases, even the trade of drugs including cannabis and methamphetamine.

The use of smoke emoticons and profile names with ‘pnp’ (‘puff and play’) and ‘w1r3d’ (wired, a colloquial term used when using drugs such as ice) are ways gay men are using the apps to find people to have explorative sex with under the influence.

Grindr is well aware of the problem, and told MCV they treat illegal activity and crime very seriously.

“Grindr is not to be used for any illegal purpose, or in violation of any local, state, national, or international law.

“We have a dedicated team monitoring for users who violate our Terms of Service and we do put them on probation or ban them permanently – depending on the situation.”

The representative from Grindr also told MCV they encourage users to report cases of abuse to ensure the safety of our community.

A main concern arising out of the report was the amount of young gay men using methamphetamine, which studies have found is a vehicle for greater sexual risk taking.

“[We] are seeing exactly that nexus of methamphetamine that has resulted in very, very unsafe sexual practices,” Jenny Kelsall, Executive Officer of Harm Reduction Victoria, told the committee.

Kelsall continued to say that young gay men who use methamphetamine were particularly difficult to target with campaigns, as they don’t identify as drug users.

“I think part of the problem with getting to methamphetamine users with education or anything else, including treatment…is that a lot of ice users do not identify as drug users.

“They do not want to be labelled as a drug user. That is not their identity, and that is the problem within the gay community.

“The people who are using ice and even injecting it do not identify as drug injectors, and so we have to design very nuanced information and education to work with this particular group,” she said.

The Victorian AIDS Council has already started workshops, named Rewired, in regards to methamphetamine use and the MSM community, accommodating long-time users and those who are starting to experiment.

Simon Ruth, CEO of VAC, told MCV that although they have recognised there is a problem and are starting to act on it, they are not adequately equipped to tackle the epidemic within the community.

“We’re not currently funded to do any health promotion around drug use,” he said.

“The VAC and VAADA (Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association) both recommended to the Victorian Government that they need to look at specific health promotion campaigns for gay men around drug use and methamphetamine use in particular.

“We know that gay men use methamphetamine, particularly as they get older, and I think men living with HIV over forty are thirty-five times the rate of the general community [to use ice].

“We also know that drug use is more normalised in the gay and lesbian community, so we need a very different response to the fear campaigns that they are running elsewhere.

Ruth said the community needs campaigns that talk about HIV risk and talk around the club scene.

“We need a very different targeted campaign around drug use in general, but more particularly methamphetamines.”

MP Simon Ramsey, who headed the report, was unable to respond to MCV‘s requests by the time this story went to print, however told Fairfax during the week that: “Our report recognises that we must attack this problem from every angle.”

Shadow Minister for Health, Gavin Jennings, told MCV Labor welcomed the parliamentary report and will use it to help inform their Ice Action Taskforce.

“Labor will involve the community and listen to the experts, including those from the LGBTI community, and we also need to end the youth unemployment crisis and get young people back on track.”



 THE use of methamphetamines — which include the deadly stimulant ice — has jumped more than 55 per cent in just a 12-month period in Adelaide, alarming tests have revealed.

The drug testing of wastewater at Adelaide’s four sewage collection stations also reveals that while heroin and cannabis use has increased, it has not been as steep in the same period.

Professor Jason White, head of the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences at UniSA, said the testing figures were a valuable “very near real time’’ record of the increased level of methamphetamine use in Adelaide.

“It is very much something that is spreading at a rate that does cause alarm, that would be fair to say,’’ he said.

“We did not have any prior hard evidence that methamphetamine use had increased, but there was a general impression from police in particular and health people there were relatively large amounts of methamphetamine around,’’ he said.

“What this does is provide us with the hard evidence and enables us to quantify the changes that are occurring.’’

Studies by both the Australian Crime Commission and the National Drug and Alcohol Resource Centre suggest the use of ice, which began emerging in Australia a decade ago, has increased dramatically in recent years, and that users of less potent amphetamine-based drugs such as “speed” are increasingly switching to it.


This year’s ACC report into illicit drugs indicated the number of Ice seizures was up more than 300 per cent in one year.

Ice get its name from its crystallised form, which can be smoked rather than injected, and which can cause violent rages and dramatic health problems in regular users, as well as death from overdoses.

Surveys of Adelaide club patrons have suggested that as many as one-in-five have used methamphetamines including Ice, which is cheap and seen as a party stimulant, allowing users to go without sleep for extended periods, sometimes days. It is extremely addictive.


The Adelaide sewage testing reveals that between August 2013 and June this year, 857 doses per week per 1000 people were consumed — compared with 547 doses in the corresponding period a year earlier — which equates to a 56.5 per cent increase. Each dose is measured as 30 milligrams of pure methamphetamine.

Professor White said the magnitude of the increase in methamphetamine use had been a surprise because it was thought some of the other monitoring methods may have picked up the rise.

“The magnitude is probably greater than we expected,’’ he said.

“Certainly over one 12-month period to another it is quite a substantial increase.’’

The testing has been conducted every two months since 2011 at Adelaide’s four sewage treatment stations — two at Bolivar, and at Glenelg and Christies Beach.

The two Bolivar plants collect and treat the effluent from over half of Adelaide — the northern, north-eastern and eastern suburbs and the central city.

Professor White said that “any increase in methamphetamine use is of concern’’ considering the drug was responsible for significant medical and social problems.

“It is a drug that causes a number of problems. It can cause health issues for people, they can be short-term ones, there is a risk of cardiac arrest for example, it causes psychiatric problems,’’ he said.

The most recent test results indicated the rise may be levelling out, but it was too early to be definitive.


Professor White said the figures for methamphetamine use at weekends showed an average 20 per cent increase over weekdays, indicating recreational use was higher at weekends.

“It is much less of a weekly pattern that you would get with ecstasy or cocaine, which is predominantly used on weekends,’’ he said.

And while methamphetamine use was constant, cannabis appeared to be seasonal, with an increase recorded every April. Opiate drug use, which includes many painkilling medicines, also increased slightly in winter, most likely because of illnesses.

The cannabis increase was attributed to being when cannabis grown outdoors matured and availability in the marketplace increased.

The figures show 5307 cannabis doses were recorded in the latest period, compared with 4797 in the previous period.

They reveal heroin use increased to 240 doses per week per 1000 people in the latest period, up from 101 in the corresponding previous period. A sharp rise was recorded at Glenelg in December last year, which accounted for most of the increase.

The drug testing figures are provided to both police and the Health Department to enable them to tailor treatment and intervention strategies.

Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Dickson said the wastewater testing figures supported police figures from several sources, including drug-driver testing, general detections and arrests.

The usage figures were also reflected in the number of illegal laboratories police had been discovering. They had increased from 58 in the 2011-12 financial year to 80 last financial year, but a change in reporting methodology also contributed slightly to that increased number.

“There has been an increase locally that has been reflected nationally which has seen the number increase from 353 in 2003-04 to 757 in 2012-13,’’ he said.

“We are fully aware of the increase and have implemented a number of strategies as a result,’’ he said.

Originally published as Sewer tests reveal surge in Adelaide’s meth addiction




AZTEC — A 38-year-old Farmington man was arraigned in district court on Tuesday on allegations that he repeatedly raped his fiancée during a three-day methamphetamine binge.

Courtesy of the San Juan County Detention Center David Ray Davis

David Ray Davis was charged in Aztec Magistrate Court on Aug. 4 with first-degree kidnapping and three counts of second-degree criminal sexual penetration.

Deputies from the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched on Aug. 7 to the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners’ Farmington office to investigate an alleged rape, according to Davis’ arrest warrant affidavit.

A woman told investigators she got into a fight with her fiance and caretaker, Davis, shortly after he was released from jail on Aug. 3. She said the next day she was either knocked unconscious or had a seizure at the couple’s trailer.

She alleges in the affidavit that Davis found her, brought her to his bed and proceeded to rape her over the course of several days using various objects, including a television remote control. She said he tied her up and became more violent after injecting methamphetamine.

The woman told police that she managed to call state authorities on Aug. 7, when Davis took her vehicle and left the trailer, the affidavit states. She was transported to the sexual assault investigation center to speak with examiners, the affidavit states.

Davis was convicted in 2002 of felony possession of a controlled substance and convicted in 2004 of distribution of a controlled substance, according to court records.

Judge Trudy Reed-Chase found probable cause on Aug. 8 that the crimes alleged were committed, and the case was referred to district court.

Court records do not indicate when Davis will next appear in court.



A Sandy landlord is accused of beating, raping, and trying to drown a woman who was renting a room from him — and police say she may not be the man’s only victim.

In charges and jail documents filed Wednesday, police wrote that a woman at about 2 a.m. Monday appeared on the front porch of a home near 10900 South 700 East, crying and asking for help. The resident called police, who arrived to find the woman lying on a concrete step of the porch, crying, with “many injuries” visible on her body.


The woman, 40, told police she had been kidnapped and attacked in a house around the corner. The woman had met a man she knew only as Roger — later identified as Vratislav Roger Bilek — at the Colonial Hotel in Salt Lake City, where he offered her a room to rent at his home, police wrote.

After the victim moved in Sunday, she and Bilek used methamphetamine and began to argue, police wrote. Bilek told his new tenant to leave, but she found the front door locked, police wrote. When she went back up to her room, he punched her in the face and threatened to kill her, police wrote.

In the course of the fight, Bilek choked the victim and shoved her face into a filled bathtub, trying to drown her, police wrote. He allegedly told her he wouldn’t let her out of the bathroom unless she showed her breasts to him; he then grabbed them, police wrote.

As the woman tried to run downstairs, Bilek “jumped on her back and ‘rode her’ down the stairs,” investigators wrote.

Bilek then held the woman at gunpoint and threatened to kill her if she did not have sex with him, jail documents state. The victim tried to crawl away, but Bilek stabbed her in the arm, charges state.

Bilek raped the victim with multiple objects, including the handle of a sledgehammer, while the victim “begged him to stop,” police wrote. She fled to the neighbor’s house as Bilek threatened to kill her, police wrote.

After the victim escaped, police searched Bilek’s home, investigators wrote. The layout of the home was as the victim described, and blood was found throughout the house, police wrote. Officers also found a sledgehammer, methamphetamine, a gun and other items the victim had described.

Bilek was charged with aggravated kidnapping, rape and three counts of object rape, all first-degree felonies; possession of a controlled substance and two counts of aggravated assault, third-degree felonies; and misdemeanor sexual battery.

TYLER, TX (KLTV) – Tyler police, ATF agents and  DEA agents worked together on a drug seizure in a hotel parking lot Tuesday evening.4643993_G

Tyler Police Sergeant Matthew Leigeber tells KLTV 7 that a cleaning crew called police Tuesday afternoon, after finding guns and prescription drugs in a room at the Sleep Inn, located across from Premier Fitness on Donnybrook Avenue.

The room belonged to 27-year-old Robert William Zandstra. He gave police, and agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, permission to search the room, and his car.


In the room, officers and agents found two AR-15 rifles, a Walther P22 handgun, another revolver, several gun suppressors (silencers), and parts to manufacture more suppressors. They also found assorted prescription drugs.

Leigeber tells KLTV 7 that the car was a “mobile meth lab,” containing between one and four grams of meth, and an unknown type of pills. They also found three bottles of volatile chemicals commonly used in making meth.


Robert Zandstra was arrested, and charged with possession of a controlled substance, between one and four grams, in a school zone. That’s a second-degree felony. Leigeber tells KLTV 7 that more charges could be filed by the ATF and DEA.





The Bismarck Police Department responded to a call Tuesday night around 8:30 p.m. in the 900 block of East Main to a report of a chemical smell. Bismarck Police Chief Kyle Colyott said they had been receiving reports of a chemical smell in that area earlier and were finally able to narrow it down to a specific location.


“Upon investigation we got consent to enter a residence at which time we located some paraphernalia that is consistent with the use of methamphetamine,” said Colyott. “We located it in plain view of the living quarters of the residence and then we obtained consent to search the building from the resident owner.”

The search revealed some materials commonly used to manufacture methamphetamine.

“We had good evidence that they were manufacturing methamphetamine,” said Colyott. “During this particular stage of cooking is when it was the most volatile and we called in technicians who are properly trained to handle it. In that particular stage it could have very easily caught fire just from a chemical reaction and resulted in a catastrophic fire.”

The building houses two apartments and the other one was vacant. The apartment itself was not in very good condition, and happened to be the neighboring apartment to where a double overdose occurred in early August – one man died in that incident.

“I want the people in this community to know that we are aware of the existing drug problem that has been in this area for several years,” said Colyott. “We have the resources available now to really combat it and we are going at it full force.”

Names of any and all persons arrested in the incident are not available pending the filing of formal charges. At that point the names and charges will be released.

Making meth involves a brew of ordinary household products like acetone, acids, brake cleaner or iodine, which are all used to cook a mixture also including cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine into the final product … meth.

Real Estate Laws And Meth

As of right now in the state of Missouri there are only two state statutes in effect in regards to properties where Meth has been produced. The first is Missouri Revised Statue Chapter 442 Section 606 which states that the seller of a property is to disclose to the buyer of methamphetamine production and certain criminal convictions. The second is Missouri Revised Statute Chapter 441 Section 236, which states that disclosures are required for the transfer of property where methamphetamine production occurred.

Typically, after a lab is discovered by law enforcement the bulk of any lab-related debris such as chemicals and containers are removed. However, it is possible a small amount of contamination is left on surfaces and in absorbent materials such as carpets, furniture, sinks, drains, and ventilation systems. Though in small amounts, meth lab contaminants may still pose health threats to persons exposed to them.

According to the Department of Health and Senior Services many of the contaminants present during meth’s cooking process can be harmful if someone is exposed to them. These contaminants can cause health problems including respiratory (breathing) problems, skin and eye irritation, headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Acute (short-term) exposures to high concentrations of some of these chemicals, such as those law enforcement officers face when they first enter a lab, can cause severe health problems including lung damage and burns to different parts of the body.

There is little known about the health effects from chronic, or long term – exposure to contaminants left behind after a meth lab is dismantled. Until the contaminants have been identified, their quantities measured, and their health effects known, DHSS advises property owners to exercise caution and use the safest possible cleaning practices in dealing with a former meth lab property and any possible remaining contamination.

According to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, or DNR, research is still being conducted “to investigate if further work needs to be done to establish standard methodologies for sampling former meth labs, and to establish cleanup standards, but have not established a need for them at this time.” They do, on the other hand, offer guidelines on cleaning up a property that housed a former meth lab. To find more details visit

In 2013 there were 837 meth labs reported or discovered statewide. Some 45 of them were in St. Francois County. Neighboring Jefferson County took the highest in the state with 223 reported incidents.



DUBUQUE (KWWL) – A Dubuque house destroyed after a meth-related fire is finally coming down. The fire happened in the early morning of February 20 in the 1000 block of White Street in Dubuque to a five-unit row house.4647906_G

Two Dubuque men have pleaded guilty to a federal methamphetamine charge related to the fire. John Starks Sr., 46, and Casey Duhme, 24, were each convicted of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine near a school.

The two pleaded guilty in federal court in Cedar Rapids on June 25 and 26 as part of a plea agreement.

According to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Iowa, both men admitted they agreed with others to manufacture methamphetamine from Feb. 16 through Feb. 20.

Starks and Duhme both admitted they’d obtained pseudoephedrine during that time. Starks also admitted he purchased lye. Both substances were intended for use in the meth-making process.

The two were making the meth in the Dubuque apartment building where Starks lived, in the 1000 block of White Street, at the intersection of White and East 11th Streets.

The apartment housed multiple families and was located across East 11th Street from Prescott Elementary School.

The attempt to make meth caused a fire to break out in the upstairs bathroom of Starks’ apartment during the early morning hours of Feb. 20. As a result, Starks received significant burns on his hands.

Within a few minutes of the fire starting, Starks, Duhme and a third person fled the apartment. They did not call 911 or alert anybody about the fire.

Several minutes later, a police officer doing routine patrol noticed smoke coming from the apartment building and evacuated the residents. The building’s roof collapsed shortly after the evacuation.

The building is no longer usable.

Jeff Jaeger and his family own the destroyed building Jaeger said crews have begun clearing out the building so it can be torn down in just a couple of months.

“I hate to see it go. It housed five families. They have been with us for some years. It’s just…Everyone loses in this situation,” said Jaeger.

Dubuque Drug Task Force officer, Srg. Gary Pape, said once the Drug Task Force is done investigation a building after a meth-related fire. The building and cleanup is then turned over to the homeowner.

The homeowner is then responsible for making the home inhabitable or demolishing the building. Srg. Gary Pape said he recommends homeowners rip up carpet, wipe down walls, and have major work done to their homes heating and cooling system to make sure any residue is gone.

Jeff Jaeger said the building couldn’t be demolished after the fire because it is of historic value. He said it’s a part of Dubuque’s Downtown Historic District and he needed to have all work ok’d through the Dubuque Historical Society.

He said through discussions the City of Dubuque and Dubuque Historical Society agreed it was best for Jaeger to tear down the building.

“The cost to repair it and the damage caused by the fire, it was just best to bring it down for safety reasons,” said Jaeger.

Jaeger said he expects the building will be demolished in the next couple of months. He said he is not sure if his family will rebuild on the lot.



The parents of the 9-month-old girl official say died in a suspected drug house were back in court Wednesday, this time on charges related to trafficking methamphetamine.


Officials aren’t sure how Hailey Cambron died Monday morning and are awaiting the official autopsy and toxicology reports which could take four to six months.

Meanwhile, her parents, Helen Price, 30, and Stephen Cambron, 40, initially were charged with second-degree child cruelty, trafficking meth, possessing prescription pills and drug-related objects, but Cambron’s prescription pills and drug-related objects charges were dropped when Price claimed possession of the drugs.

During Wednesday’s hearing, police said an anonymous caller urged officers to investigate the shed where Price and Stephen Cambron allegedly were sleeping while their daughter slept inside with another couple that hasn’t been identified. The caller claimed the parents occasionally kept Hailey in that shed.

Cambron is no stranger to Columbus police and has been under surveillance for meth distribution for an unspecified amount of time, police said. Prior to Monday’s arrest, police received an email tip claiming Cambron still was selling meth from area motels, an agent told the court.

“Stephen Cambron was someone that we have gathered some information on in the past,” Special Operations Unit Captain Charles Kennedy said. “I don’t recall her name coming up until we came out on this, so she may have been trying to accept his charges to keep him out of trouble.”

The agent told the court police started searching the shed behind the 5119 Thomason Ave. house Monday morning after a family member asked for EMS services for the 9-month-old girl, who was found unresponsive in a bedroom. Hailey Cambron was pronounced dead at 10:45 a.m., though Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan said she had been dead at least six hours before that.

Inside the shed, agents found two unspecified items commonly associated with production of meth, as well as a small quantity of finished product. After obtaining a search warrant, agents searched the shed and found 1.75 ounces of meth in a Ralph Lauren bag, along with a digital scale and numerous ziplock baggies. The meth was valued at $4,590.

“They did find from some precursors for making meth, but there was not a meth lab found on the premises,” Kennedy said. “So (Cambron) was either making it somewhere else or getting it from someone else.”

The agent told the court law enforcement also found numerous metal spoons in the shed, as well as 15 hydrocodone pills and two smoking devices. In a bedroom inside the house, they found a digital scale and metal spoons.

Price told Judge Michael Cielinski on Wednesday the drug-related objects and meth were hers, saying Cambron never set foot in the shed before that day.

“He fell asleep in a recliner, and he had to come where I was and I was in the shed,” she said. “Everything was mine and nothing was his. Nothing.”

Price also disputed the anonymous caller’s claims during the hearing.

“No, my baby was not kept in the shed,” she said. “Everything was in the shed; that’s why I kept a lock on it. She was never around anything in the shed.”

During Tuesday’s hearing, Williams said the infant was left in the house with another couple, who also admitted to smoking an unknown amount of meth while they babysat the child. Price told police she started smoking meth at 7 p.m., and did not return to the house until the following morning when her friends discovered the child was dead.

Hailey Cambron was still alive when her grandmother checked on her around 1:30 a.m., Bryan said Tuesday. Police found several items in the couple’s bedroom that was tainted with meth.

Cielinski set no bond for the trafficking meth charge for both Price and Stephen Cambron during Wednesday’s hearing. They each were given Tuesday a $25,000 bond for the child cruelty charge.








PENNSVILLE TWP. — Police thwarted a major local delivery of methamphetamine in one of the largest seizures in county history uesday night, authorities said

The approximately six kilos of methamphetamine has an estimated street value of $169,000.


The arrest was announced Wednesday by Salem County Prosecutor John T. Lenahan and Pennsville Police Chief Allen J. Cummings.

Juan Martinez-Figueroa, also known as Rudy A. Figueroa-Alvarado, 33, of Madras, Oregon, was arrested and charged with possession of controlled dangerous substance (methamphetamine) and possession of a controlled dangerous substance in a quantity of greater than five ounces with the intent to distribute.

Authorities said Pennsville police and Salem County Prosecutor’s Office, with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration Camden Resident Office, received information that a large quantity of methamphetamine was to be delivered Tuesday night to a buyer at a spot on North Broadway in Pennsville Township.

Police were conducting surveillance when they saw Martinez-Figueroa driving a 2008 Freightliner tractor trailer at a commercial parking lot on North Broadway.

Authorities moved in, arrested Martinez-Figueroa and seized the methamphetamine, a total of approximately six kilos worth.

During the arrest police also seized Martinez-Figueroa’s truck. Authorities said he was a licensed truck driver, but was not on a delivery at the time of his arrest.

“This investigation by local, county and federal officers is a clear example of the success law enforcement can have when working collectively. It not only has an impact in Salem County but throughout the entire region,” said Lenahan.”

“This was an outstanding investigation by all agencies,” Cummings said. “A large quantity of (drugs) has been removed from the streets.”

Authorities say it was one of the largest seizures ever of methamphetamine in Salem County.

“This investigation resulted in a very significant seizure of narcotics,” said Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division stated. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to keep this poison out of our communities.”

Martinez-Figueroa is being held in the Salem County Correctional Facility, Mannington Township, on $250,000 cash bail.





The Chinese Northeast is flooded with meth from North Korea. But with crackdowns from the authorities, Chinese chemists are now cooking up their own batches. Many of the raw ingredients are produced domestically. Motherboard previously reported on the state of meth in China: just like in the US, there are plenty of open spaces in rural areas that are perfect for setting up makeshift meth labs. In a labor-intensive country where blue-collar workers need to work long hours and consecutive shifts, some see meth as a welcome stimulant that helps them earn overtime pay.

Purer meth is packaged as something a bit more luxurious. Visit a karaoke bar in China and you might be offered an “ice-skating” package. “Ice” is the common name for meth in China, and “ice-skating” is the common expression that means doing meth. Some karaoke bars are fronts for brothels, and since users insist that meth heightens their sexual arousal and strengthens their stamina, it’s no surprise that the drug has made its way into the escort and entertainment industries. Managers make extra cash by charging johns for narcotic voyeurism. Apparently, some men get off by watching young girls do meth.

Even though the meth karaoke girls of China undergo severe health risks to make money, they are not compensated well. Jingjing is from an agricultural village in Jiangsu, a province on the eastern coast of China. Like many young people in China, she had dreams of living in one of the major cities. After she turned seventeen, she made it to Shanghai, where a friend from her hometown helped her land a job at a legitimate massage parlor. But she wasn’t making that much money, and the bills were stacking up, so she moonlighted as a karaoke hostess at night. It wasn’t long until her manager was pimping her out as a meth girl, and once she was hooked, the karaoke lounge was the only place where she knew she could get meth. Every time she “ice-skated” with a client, she was paid ¥350 (less than $60). Falling deeper into addiction, she needed more than what she was getting at work. She located a meth dealer by searching online, and told her boss that she could start sleeping with clients for extra income.

Drug education in China is nearly nonexistent. The Department of Propaganda produces numerous “drugs are bad” banners, but they are summarily ignored as the countryside is blanketed by the same red cloth with screened slogans like “Park in a civilized manner,” or “One child is enough.” Information about narcotics comes in the form of dry statistics, like the number of arrests and quantities seized by the security apparatus, but the actual effects of harmful drugs are not commonly known. Jingjing said she had no idea what meth would do to her body because she never learned about it from her parents or teachers. Questions about drugs were met with responses like, “Don’t ask about bad things.” She didn’t know that once the euphoria wore off, she would be unable to sleep or eat. Her boss kept her groomed but she was losing a lot of weight. She was always tired, and the reason to show up for work was no longer to earn a paycheck, but to keep up with her addiction.

Jingjing said she was eventually fired for “not looking pretty enough.” Even though her boss was the culprit who introduced her to meth, he blamed her for losing weight and not keeping up with her appearance. “What man would want you?” he asked.

Ashamed to return home in her emaciated state, she became a camgirl to make ends meet. She met men online, who paid her to do meth with them via webcam.


In July, a Chinese journalist went undercover (link in Chinese) and managed to snap some photos of karaoke meth girls at work in Xi’an, the city that marks the beginning of the Silk Road.

Chinese authorities have been on a heavy crackdown, seizing stockpiles of meth wherever it’s found. A January raid in a southeastern village involved more than 3,000 police operatives who confiscated over three tons of meth. Last month, China executed two South Korean citizens who smuggled North Korean meth into China with plans to move it into their own country. In fact, China has singled out synthetic narcotics in their war on drugs, much to North Korea’s chagrin.

Jingjing was nabbed too. In my attempts to reestablish contact with her, I discovered that she was arrested by Chinese police in a sting operation. One of Jingjing’s old colleagues from the karaoke bar told me that a police officer posed as a john and enticed her to use meth on camera, then asked her to meet him at a hotel for sexual services. When Jingjing showed up, she was arrested. Responding to my enquiries by phone, a police officer in Shanghai said, “We can’t talk about this, but if she was using ‘ice,’ then she is a criminal. We can’t talk about criminals.” The police officer was unable to confirm whether Jingjing was actually charged with a crime.

There is no doubt that meth destroys lives, but the Chinese attach extreme stigma to drug addiction, so the punishment for users who are caught can be disproportionately severe. On paper, China abolished its “reform through labor” programs last year, but the reality is that the labor camps were converted into forced drug rehab centers where inmates perform unpaid factory work and can be incarcerated for years without trial—an arrangement previously reserved for those arrested for political or religious reasons.

Addicts in China are not offered rehabilitation or therapy. Instead, they are treated as enemies of the state—a fate that Jingjing will suffer until she is released from secretive incarceration.




SHERIDAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Multiple police agencies were preparing to execute a search warrant of a suspected methamphetamine cooking operation at a home in Newaygo County, when an explosion occurred from inside, setting the home on fire.


The investigation centered around a residence near 96th and Dickinson Road in Newaygo County.  As officers were assembling near the home, individuals were seen leaving.  Police questioned them, and they determined that the main suspect of the meth operation was still inside.

Police then attempted to make contact with the suspect, ordering him to exit the home.  While trying to talk him out, there was an explosion inside, causing the home to burst into flames.

No officers were close enough to the house to pose an immediate danger, and no public safety officials were injured.  The suspect, however, was found in the debris field and was transported to the hospital.  The extent of his injuries is unknown at this time.  A medical helicopter was requested to respond, but it was unable to land due to fog in the area.

The area remains blocked off as of 10:00 a.m. due to the nature of the situation.



WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Concern about drug and alcohol abuse by parents is the biggest reason hundreds of Kansas children are removed from their homes and placed in foster care each year, according to reports from the Kansas Department for Children and Families.

Statewide, nearly 750 children were removed from their homes because of substance abuse by parents in fiscal year 2014, which ended June 30, The Wichita Eagle ( ) reported. Of those, 93 were in Sedgwick County.

“It’s safe to say that drugs and alcohol play a significant role,” said Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett.

Substance abuse is a factor in 60 percent to 80 percent of all child-in-need-of-care cases, said Ron Paschal, a Sedgwick County deputy district attorney in charge of the juvenile division.

Last week, Paschal’s staff pulled 10 random cases from August. Of those, eight involved parents with a history of drug or alcohol abuse, one had maternal grandparents with substance abuse issues and only one involved parents with no records of drug or alcohol use.

There are no clear-cut state laws about what to do in parental substance abuse cases, Paschal said.

For example, the agency tried to remove 18-month-old Jayla Haag of El Dorado five months before she died of fatal head injuries in March 2012. A Butler County prosecutor thought the state lacked evidence, according to a timeline for the case from the agency.

Jayla tested positive for meth when she was born and when she died, according to an autopsy and a dismissed lawsuit filed against the state. The autopsy showed she also was suffering from malnutrition and was missing six teeth that had been forcibly detached from her lower gum.

Her mother, Alyssa Haag, is in prison for involuntary manslaughter. Justin Edwards, 31, Alyssa Haag’s boyfriend at the time of Jayla’s death, is facing a first-degree murder charge.

Under state law, medical staff are required to report babies who test positive for drugs at birth. A baby born positive to meth would more than likely result in a request for removal, said Brian Dempsey, the state agency’s director of protection and prevention services.

“The addiction for meth is so strong and hard to break,” he said. “Meth doesn’t stay in your system as long as other drugs, so testing positive (indicates) recent use.”




NORTHERN Tasmania’s 10-fold increase in the amount of amphetamine seized last year tells a story of changing drug habits, a pivot in police priorities and an attempt by criminals to fill a void. Northern CIB’s Detective Inspector Scott Flude and Senior Sergeant Johnathan Higgins

When Northern Criminal Investigation Branch effectively smashed the Launceston Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang in 2011 it set off a chain reaction that saw the bottom fall out of the methamphetamine market.

The deceptively titled Operation Dorothy disrupted a drug ring on a scale that authorities say is rarely seen in Tasmania.

Launceston Rebels boss and former state president Colin David Picard, the so-called apex of the operation, was jailed and the Youngtown club headquarters abandoned.

Seizures of amphetamine-type drugs in the North nosedived from more than four kilograms to less than a quarter of that.

The next year it dropped by a further two thirds.

And then last year came the attempted rebuild.

Filling the void left by the busted bikies was a group of younger criminals with no outlaw motorcycle gang links, but as the shootings throughout Launceston, demonstrated a propensity for violence.

Police seizures of amphetamine-type drugs soared 1000 per cent to nearly four kilograms in the North.

Among the seized drugs was a greater amount of ice, a crystallised form of methamphetamine which is more pure and addictive.

‘‘It’s a growing problem for us and we’re feeling the effects of it here,’’ Detective Flude said.

‘‘It has a significant impact on the community not only criminally but also health wise and with mental illness.’’

Detective Flude said Tasmania was starting to import the problems that regional cities on the mainland have witnessed.

So making large busts is ‘‘satisfying’’ for the CIB which has seen its priorities shift to a greater emphasis on targeting methamphetamine.

‘‘People on speed are more likely to go on a crime rampage … because once you get hooked you need a lot of cash to sustain the habit,’’ he said.

Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council chief executive Jann Smith said the increase in methamphetamine seizures meant a few things.

‘‘Number one, police have made concerted efforts to target producers and distributors,’’ she said.

‘‘I think we need to be careful about talking about it as an epidemic (but) the use of methamphetamine has been a concern across our sector for some time.’’

Ms Smith said new national drug treatment data showed an increase in the number of people seeking help for meth use.

She said the increase also demonstrated an opportunistic drug market.

‘‘Anecdotally … we’ve heard these drugs come in peaks and troughs,’’ she said.

In some regional areas usage might increase where a new drug dealer moves in and it leads to increased availability, she said.

Ms Smith said education about the health risks associated with using methamphetamine, especially intravenously, was critical.

‘‘It’s known that once people begin injecting it, it’s unlikely they go back to using it other ways.’’



A SENIOR member of the Hell’s Angels used a jumper to hide his face as he left court on drug trafficking charges today.


Zoran Nikolic, 48, of Andrews Farm, is yet to plead to one count of trafficking in a controlled drug, two counts of aggravated assault of a police officer and hindering police at Prospect last night.

Nikolic’s Andrews Farm property has been the target of several drive-by shootings, including an attack in 2010 when his dog was wounded from one of 20 shots fired into the home.

Opposing bail in the Adelaide Magistrates Court, prosecutors said Nikolic had about 100 grams of methamphetamine in his Hell’s Angel jacket when police pulled him over about 7.20pm.

They said he pushed an officer who fell to the ground and tried to escape but police were able to arrest him.

Eugene McGee, for Nikolic, said his client had not been in any trouble with the law for more than five years and the assault against the police officer was “fairly minor”.

Magistrate David Whittle granted Nikolic bail provided he post a $2000 surety.

He will also have to report to police weekly.

Nikolic will next appear in court in November.



Amanda Hammons
Police say they noticed kids not wearing seat-belts. Now, a western Kentucky woman is facing meth charges.
According to the Madisonville Police Department, 31 year-old, Amanda Hammons was stopped after officers noticed several children in the car were not buckled in properly.
After pulling her over, investigators say they determined Hammons was under the infuence of narcotics.
They say a search of her purse turned up a large amount of cash, along with several bags of suspected meth and marijuana.
Hammons faces several drug charges, as well as endangering the welfare of a minor.
Police say all of the children were released to a family member.
Hammons is being held in the Hopkins County Detention Center.

Christopher Fulton, 45, was allegedly high on meth and drunk on vodka when he broke into a Paradise Valley, Arizona, home on Thursday night, KSAZ-TV reported.


He was apparently so out of it that he didn’t even steal anything — the homeowner who discovered Fulton said the man was just standing shirtless inside the house, sweating profusely.

Fulton ran after the homeowner called the cops, but police quickly found him and brought him to jail, KSAZ reported.

That’s when things got really weird.

Fulton’s heart was racing, police said, and the combination of drugs and alcohol in his system apparently caused him to overheat, so he turned to a readily available source of water in his holding cell: the toilet bowl.


A police report indicates an explosion Sunday night .

Local emergency responders were called to what was described as an explosion and house fire in the 2300 block of North West 16th Street at about 10:20 p.m. Sunday, said Indiana State Police Trooper Bryan Rumple.

Rumple said the house was knocked off its foundation by the blast. The fire was almost completely out in 45 minutes.

No one was on the scene when firefighters arrived, Rumple said.

Rumple said Monday that Richmond Police Department officers are investigating the explosion as a possible meth-related incident. RPD said no new information would be released Monday.

At about 11 p.m. Monday in the nightly emailed media report of police activity from RPD, a listing said the blast had been determined to be caused by a meth lab.

Anyone with information about any illegal drug use in the Whitewater Valley may call the Indiana State Police’s Pendleton Post at (800) 527-4752 or the Indiana State Police Drug Tip Line at (800) 453-4756.



ap_biondo_lw-20140831231605173511-620x349Michael Short: Sam Biondo, welcome to The Zone and thank you for your time.

Sam Biondo: Thank you.

MS: You are the chief of the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association which we will refer to as VAADA from here on in. You are here to talk about methamphetamine, into which the Victorian Parliament is conducting an inquiry right now. VAADA has had input to that process. Can we start please by explaining to people who might not be aware of what precisely methamphetamine is?

SB: Methamphetamine is essentially a chemical stimulant and can provide a sense of euphoria and excitement. It also keeps people awake for long periods of time. It is an appetite suppressant. Regular use can lead to a whole range of unintended consequences and longer term harms.

Treating methamphetamine dependence can be tricky, as the withdrawal phase is considerably longer than that for many other drugs.

MS: The very fact of the inquiry, Sam, reflects that there is increasing community concern about methamphetamine. There have been quite a lot of reports that it is having a very negative impact, for example, on rural and regional communities. What is the big picture?


SB: If we look at this problem on an international basis, it is a problem in many countries around the world. It is not just Australia. It is not just Victoria. There has been significant police activity and interventions which has highlighted the local manufacture of this substance.

There is a whole range of distribution networks that are able to filter it out into the community. Victoria is not immune from this. In fact, what we’re trying to grapple with in Victoria, and the Victorian government is correctly looking at, is what is the significance of this problem, where is it occurring and what can be done about it.

MS: We will come back to all of those points in a moment, but before we do can we just talk a bit about VAADA? This is to help people understand what VAADA is and what it does. Can you outline that please?


SB: The Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association is the peak body for the Victorian alcohol and drug treatment sector. The sector up until recently had 105 providers – 105 agencies that were funded and they are spread across Victoria. Recently, with the recommissioning of this sector, the number of remaining agencies has been reduced.

VAADA is the peak organisation for the Victorian system. Our member agencies deal with people who have drug and alcohol problems, and provide all sorts of support, from counselling to day programs to residential rehabilitation facilities. We have members who are doctors and specialists, nurses, clinicians, counsellors and youth workers, for example.

MS: Let’s look at some facts and figures, Sam. Can you please go over the size and scope, relative and nominal, of the use of methamphetamine? What research has been done and what do we actually know?

SB: We have been able to observe over the last 10 years that there has been an increase of the impacts of methamphetamine in Victoria. Some of the figures arising from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey Report indicate that, from 1995 to 2013, we have seen a growth in recent use of methamphetamine from 2.2 per cent of Australian adults in 1995 to 4.2 per cent in 2013.

On an Australian basis, there are similar trends. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare recently published reports indicated that the issue is impacting on all Australian states more or less to the same extent. In terms of the impacts on the ground, treatment services in Victoria saw an increase from 2918 treatment episodes in 2003-04 with amphetamines being the principal drug of concern; this has increased to 6778 in 2012-13.

This increase has had to be dealt with by changing systems and the introduction of special programs and activities to cater to the demand. This includes flexible models of detox and treatment, which cater for the particularities specific to methamphetamine. This necessitates, in many cases, extended periods in treatment; unfortunately, many funded agencies are not resourced to provide treatment for the duration necessary to derive optimal results. We’re also extremely concerned that the demand far outweighs the capacity of the system to deal with it. This is a constant issue of debate with government and with departments around the appropriate level of resources to meet community demands and needs.

MS: In that context then let’s look at the inquiry. Do you think that will lead to a good outcome? Will that help increase the resources? Should it?

SB: The inquiry should come up with a range of recommendations which have a positive impact on reducing the harms arising from methamphetamine.

However, if it follows in the footsteps of other similar inquiries on similar substances, such as the Victorian Parliament did with alcohol for example, or benzodiazepines, with many, many recommendations, none of which were adopted, then neither the individuals affected, nor the community or the treatment system will be any better off.

That this inquiry should be fitting into an election frame should indicate that there is some degree of seriousness. But the devil is in the detail and what gets rolled out.

We’re hopeful that we will actually get traction on this significant community issue, but we are concerned that what needs to be done won’t be done, and it simply becomes what is politically feasible that does get done. In terms of what is needed to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment sector in reducing the harms and spread of methamphetamine use, extended periods of withdrawal, reduced waiting times for treatment, flexibility to cater for extended duration of counselling and day and residential rehabilitation are required.

We also need to look at means of reducing the harms associated with consuming methamphetamine. It is a commonsense notion that some individuals will use drugs irrespective of any policing, treatment and prevention initiatives. In line with this, we need to look at means to reduce the harms associated with use, including access to sterile injecting equipment, alternate (less risky) means of administering methamphetamine and information on minimising the risk to physical and mental health. Some populations of methamphetamine users may not be cognizant of harm reduction messaging.

We need to extend the Drug Court to all Magistrate Courts throughout the state, which will divert many individuals with methamphetamine dependency away from the prison system and into treatment. This still punitive measure has the dual benefit of eliciting better health and wellbeing outcomes for the offender, and diverting people from the prison system, which is currently overburdened, ineffective, and a significant cost burden for the state.

MS: Are you confident about politicians’ understanding of the issues surrounding substance use in our community, and are you optimistic about and confident in their ability to facilitate, if not create, harm minimisation change?

SB: You would have to be a very narrow-sighted and ignorant person not to realise the impact that alcohol and drugs are having on our community. The problem as I see it in terms of political solutions and the role of politicians is that they are often risk-averse and fail to grasp what needs to be done in critical areas of social welfare and the health problems arising from these substances.

We know what the solutions are to reduce the harms and address the challenges associated with alcohol and other drugs. But there is an abject failure to address these issues because of political considerations, not because of a lack of evidence. The evidence is there. It is very clear. There are a range of effective measure to reduce harm which have been piloted, evaluated and proven to be effective. Many have been implemented and shown to work not only in other countries but also in other Australian states.

But there is often a failure to address these issues. We can look at examples of prison hepatitis C rates. Approximately 80 per cent of hepatitis C infections are the result of intravenous drug use. It is very significant. In Victoria we have 41 per cent of prisoners, according to the Ombudsman, who are infected with hepatitis C. Yet there are only three prisons out of 14 prisons that actually are delivering any hepatitis C treatment.

We have widespread injecting within these facilities, yet we are unable to introduce a needle and syringe program such as in the rest of the community. There is a concern that this equipment could be used to assault prison staff, however, this has not occurred in any other international jurisdictions which provide this vital, cost effective service. These people are being denied not only their human rights, but the same medical and harm-reduction facilities that exist in the community. We have been unable to stop the introduction of drugs into the prison system.

So we need to get real about some of these issues. If we put these issues on the table and individually went through what will make a difference there are solutions there for every single topic.

Yet there is a failure to try to implement what is required to be done. We could be saving hundreds and hundreds of people’s lives.

MS: At the political level and public policy level the response has been in Australia and elsewhere – although places, as you have indicated, have moved away from this in the face of the evidence, but we’re yet to – the main response has been prohibition.

It clearly does not work. What should the public policy response to the harm caused by substance abuse, abuse of illicit and illicit substances, actually be?

SB: Quite interestingly, Australia was the leader in the area of harm minimisation and harm reduction in the 1980s and 1990s. This has led to thousands upon thousands of people’s lives being saved. The changes which were implemented then, arose out of an abject fear of the impact of HIV and blood-borne disease in our community.

The courageous introduction of such harm-reduction measures has had a lasting benefit, not only for Australia but for many other countries where these programs have been introduced. So we can do it if we have the guts to do it, there are so many areas requiring attention. All it needs is political will and community support.

MS: What sort of programs in particular are you talking about?

SB: Needle and syringe exchange programs are a key feature. It has saved many thousands of lives, as have supervised injecting facilities.

MS: Do you think that illicit substances should be moved from the criminal justice system to the health system and should be decriminalised and regulated? This is not to say in any way that we’re talking about anything else than harm minimisation.


This is not about tacit endorsement of or encouragement of harmful use of substances. Do you think that decriminalisation is something that ought to occur?

SB: I think everything should be on the table. And that includes a discussion around decriminalisation. The United States is having a very interesting conversation at the moment around medical use of marijuana (as is Victoria). Now, people say that is a backdoor way to open up the floodgates for marijuana.

I say it is a recognition of the failure of prohibition over the years and a recognition by governments that it is futile spending so much money on criminal justice and policing resources to control a substance which for many the harm is minimal and for many has no real impact.

So prohibition and the criminal justice system issues go hand-in-hand. In fact, prohibition has led to huge wealthy mobster cartels being developed. It has criminalised otherwise peaceful individuals who create no other harm but to themselves. The whole system actually sticks with this glue of prohibition and the impact of criminal justice on innocent people’s lives.

I think we should put it on the table and have a conversation and say what should we do with these resources. Why not put them into schools? Why not take it out of the prison system and put it into treatment facilities? Why not take it out of prison systems and put it into education and hospital systems? That is the sort of discussion we should be getting into.

MS: Part of the context of that discussion, is it not Sam, is that most people who use substances, licit and illicit, do so in the privacy of their own homes relatively harm-free?

SB: That is correct. Many people use substances and harm no one else. What I am really concerned about is that they may be using these substances in ignorance. They need to understand the potential impact to themselves and in the long-term to others and to the community. Those who use illicit substances need to be informed of the risks and importantly how to minimise these risks.

So I am an adherent to harm-reduction policies which inform people how to use safely, how not to impact on others. Society has no other option but to educate people and inform people what the hazards are and how to reduce the harms.

Otherwise, what do we do? Prohibition? Do we let people die on the streets, as they were at the turn of the century? Do we let people fill up jail cells? Do we put all our policing resources into an unwinnable war on drugs?

MS: Prohibition has created a very, very lucrative business for criminal gangs, has it not?

SB: Ironically, our pursuit of prohibition has distorted many things including what the evidence says. Our laws create perverse incentives, take resources away from schools, hospitals and needy communities and place ever increasing amounts into prisons and unwinnable wars on drugs. More often than not such an approach creates more harm than good. It’s clear that the current way of addressing many of the issues arising from prohibition has led to a range of dysfunctionality in the operation of our justice system.

Prohibition has led to huge money being made by cartels and criminal syndicates that have reinvested that money in other nefarious activity and it is nothing short of a vicious cycle. Let’s just deal with this in a completely different way for the benefit of our community, rather than persistently using a flawed single minded approach.

MS: With your use of the word there, Sam, corruption are you suggesting that some of the proceeds of this supply industry of illicit substances are being used to prevent enlightened policy by going directly into the pockets of lawmakers?

SB: To tell you the truth, I don’t know. I am in no position to be definitive about this and have no reason to believe this would be the case locally. But the money has got to end up somewhere. Occasionally the media report how well established and influential institutions such banks and other financial intermediaries come to be used to launder the proceeds of drug money. Obviously I am not the police. I do not know where the money ends up, but it has got to end up somewhere. Does it end up in building site or in yachts, cars and a range of others assets? Maybe it just ends up in banks that are controlled by very wealthy people which are publicly listed and accountable. I am fairly certain that sooner or later the money ends up back in the system somewhere. That is the sort of corruption I am seeking to raise.

MS: So when you’re talking about corruption you are talking about it corrupting our general system?

SB: Absolutely. If governments were honest they would see the negative impacts the prohibition approach is creating.

MS: OK, so part of the route to change here is transparency, facts, education. What would you say to parents who are concerned about drugs in general and methamphetamine in particular, given the increased potency of the methamphetamine on the street and the addictive nature of it, or the amount of dependency that is occurring?

SB: I think it is very important for parents and carers and loved ones to be aware of the impacts of this very powerful substance, methamphetamine. People need to know, the user needs to know, how the harms arise, what can happen, the signs to look out for, what to do, where to go, who to speak to.

We need to make sure that it is easy for an individual to pick up the phone and say ‘hey, I have been using this in this way what is going to be the impact for me?’.

MS: What are the signs to look for as a loved one or as a user?

SB: It depends on what stage you are at, how much you are using, how you are using it, what the symptoms are. For many people who use it sparingly there is not a great deal of effect at least initially. For people that get trapped into using it more often, then it does create considerable problems.

These include lack of sleep, weight loss, potentially even psychosis. It can become very dangerous for them. This goes for anybody out there in the street who thinks that casual usage is fine. Well, it may be for some people, but for others it can be very problematic, we see people all the time, that thought they had it under control.

It is obviously very difficult for parents that are watching their loved ones undergo a transformation. In the long term it is really important to keep the conversation going, to be there to assist when a person realises that its time to deal with the issues. And that does to a certain extent require courage, both on behalf of the individual user but also for the parent who is watching someone who is dabbling and going in and out of particular substances.

MS: Are you able to give some key indicators that people should be looking for about a problematic use, particularly of meth? You mentioned the potential for psychosis, sleeplessness, lack of appetite. They are clear signs. Is that the top of the indicators?

SB: Repeated and prolonged use is something that someone should be very careful about. I think signs of sleeplessness and delusional thought patterns and cravings are signs that people should be looking for, as well as paranoid behaviour.

MS: As we talked about over lunch Sam, The Zone is a little bit about ideas and a little bit about the people who have them. So let’s move to you. What is your personal story? What motivates you? Why do you do what you do?

SB: I suppose I have a very strong commitment to social justice. Irrespective of where you were born and what your education has been and what you have done in life, your opportunities should be the same as someone else’s. I believe in a system that treats people equally and is inclusive of all.

I have real issues about some of the debates I’m hearing currently that seem very exclusive about those that have and very critical of those that don’t. I think that actually indicates arrogance and a failure to look after the lot of people who’ve not had good life chances and opportunities.

And I would like to think that in the work that I have done and the work I am doing that I have been able to make a little bit of a difference. But it is along with many, many other people out there who make a little bit of a difference as well.

MS: Why do you believe in social justice? Is it something that is intellectual or is it something received from your upbringing or is it a bit of both, or is it just having a bit of a think about the world?

SB: Well, I suppose I used to hear stories of the misery that used to occur during the war years and the suffering that people experienced.

Being born to migrants, or refugees as you would call it, in a pretty small community and experiencing some of the issues of growing up different from everybody else, you get a certain perception of things that should not be impacting on people but are.

As you grow up you recognise some limited life chances you have had compared to others and you think that it would be good if the system was able to be equal in its distribution of opportunity to all.

MS: It is interesting to me that you say that, because so many people who have not been interviewed here in The Zone believe so strongly in equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome, but quality of opportunity.

And I think that it is one of those unimpeachable first principles. I just cannot see any way you can not support that. With that in mind, can you identify some key turning points in your life?


SB: I had an opportunity when I was young to participate in some educational sessions at Melbourne University that were being run for kids. It was in about 1974 or 1973 and it opened my eyes to what existed for others and I thought it was great to have an opportunity there.

Then I started to realise it was kids from disadvantaged school environments and that sort of thing, so it actually heightened my awareness of the gap between where I was and where other people were. But it also created some heightened aspiration that if I worked hard I could get there.

That opened up my eyes to a different world. And it took a while to pursue it, and there were failures along the way, but that was one turning point. Another turning point was actually having the experience to work at a place called the Fitzroy Legal Service.

MS: How did that come about?

SB: That was originally a student placement, and then I was employed there as a social worker and a community development worker. That put me in contact with many, many issues around social justice and the failure of the system. Essentially the legal service was established out of the failures of the formal legal system.

It also, I assume, grew out of the New Left movement of the 1970s, where we were building a system that was fairer and more equitable and that led to a whole range of activities around domestic violence, the environment and welfare rights and numerous other social areas.

MS: The final question, Sam, to everyone in The Zone is what is the hardest thing you had ever had to do?

SB: Having to have a conversation about turning off someone’s life support.

MS: Do you want to talk more about that? Not necessarily about who it was, and I know who it was, but about what that meant for how you live your life?

SB: Well you certainly come to question the authority of people in different professions. And you come to realise that mistakes can be made. Failure to pick up simple things is really easy to do. And those simple failures can have enormous consequences.

MS: Do you think that has made you a more thoughtful and careful person?

SB: I would hope so. I’m generally someone who deals with big issues and big problems but I know the consequences can be different for different people. And as much as I try to be sensitive to all positions, I do take a position in terms of some of the guiding principles.

Now, if one is talking about harm reduction for an individual but someone who is continuing to use, a parent or loved one might not understand that position, because they just want someone to be abstinent.

But if you look at the nature of addiction on a continuum, there are many positions you can be on and the mere fact that you keep someone alive on that continuum is a success. But if you insist on abstinence and that leads to death, it is a failure.

So there is all sorts of shading on this continuum with a whole range of different impacts for different people. It is a very difficult circumstance and hopefully we can have that conversation with people with different positions on this, but hopefully also lead to a better end result for all parties concerned.

MS: Well, let’s hope that our collaboration today might be a small part of that. Sam, thank you so much for your time.

SB: Thank you.