Comments Off on Joshua Thompson, 38, of Storm Lake, threatened to kill woman, burn down house Tuesday; Also charged with Methamphetamine possession

STORM LAKE, Iowa | A Storm Lake man who threatened to kill a woman and burn her house down faces charges of harassment and felony drug possession.

Joshua Thompson, 38, was charged with felony possession of methamphetamine, first-degree harassment and second-degree domestic assault, both aggravated misdemeanors and several misdemeanors in relation to a disturbance at a residence Tuesday evening.

According to a press release issued by the Storm Lake Police Department, Thompson was at his ex-girlfriend’s residence in the 700 block of Elmwood Drive and refused to leave. She told authorities that Thompson threatened to kill her and burn her house down.

He then reportedly damaged the walls and other property in her home. The incident occurred at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The victim reported the incident to police Wednesday morning and took Thompson into custody. Police found methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in the home that were believed to belong to Thompson.

No one was injured as a result.

Thompson was transported to Buena Vista County Jail and is being held without bond.

 

 

 

 

http://siouxcityjournal.com/news/local/briefs/police-storm-lake-man-threatened-to-kill-victim-burn-down/article_e78141ba-e5b6-5bf2-a1ca-44320f8509ff.html

 

Comments Off on Andrew Eugene Tucker-Moreno, 30, of Moville, arrested while taking Methamphetamine to grandma’s house

MOVILLE, Iowa | The Drug Enforcement Administration served a warrant Monday on a man accused of dealing meth.56f2c97878fdf_image

Resident Agent Stephen Thomas with the DEA said Andrew Eugene Tucker-Moreno, of Moville, was arrested during a traffic stop in Moville after he admitted to investigators there was meth in his truck.

Authorities found more than a pound of crystal methamphetamine inside Tucker-Moreno’s truck, court documents state. Nine individual baggies containing 1 ounce quantities of crystal meth were also found, along with a firearm.

Court documents state Tucker-Moreno, 30, told authorities he was transporting the meth to his grandma’s residence in Bronson, Iowa.

Thomas said a search warrant of the grandparents’ property was also served, but only turned up paraphernalia.

“We had information from a Sioux City Police Department cultivated source that the suspect would hide at his grandparents’ when things would get too hot at his place,” Thomas said. “He has a criminal history in Nebraska, as well.”

Tucker-Moreno has been charged with possession with intent to deliver meth, felon in possession of a firearm and other infractions. He was booked into the Woodbury County Jail on $20,000 bond.

The DEA was assisted by the Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office, the Moville Police Department, Sioux City Police Department, Iowa State Patrol and Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office.

 

 

 

 

http://siouxcityjournal.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/man-arrested-while-taking-meth-to-grandma-s-house/article_c9489d67-1ec7-5166-b8c4-573db7d76a0e.html

 

Comments Off on Methamphetamine explosion catches Ashtabula County barn on fire

ROCK CREEK — The Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a Monday evening barn fire they suspect was caused by a methamphetamine lab explosion.

Detective Bryan Rose, one of the department’s certified clandestine lab officers, said the fire started about 6 p.m. Monday in a horse barn in the 4600 block of Windsor-Mechanicsville Road.

Hartsgrove Township fire crews that were called to the scene found chemicals and glassware related to meth production and called in sheriff’s deputies.

“It looked like a one-pot (meth lab) had caught fire and exploded in there,” Rose said Wednesday.

Those involved had fled the scene before fire authorities arrived, he said.

Rose said the department had suspected meth-making activity was occurring in the region, as the property owner has called deputies at least twice to remove meth-making materials he found on his property.

Rose said investigators suspect the culprits were trespassing at night and cooking meth in the barn, which is open so the horses housed inside could come and go. He said the barn was “easy access” — only 20 feet from the road and far enough away from the owner’s home that he likely wouldn’t have noticed it burning.

But on Monday night, something went wrong — someone likely mishandled the volatile chemical compounds, which include Coleman fuel, lithium, ammonium nitrate and more, during the meth-making process, he said.

“In actuality, inside the Coleman fuel, the lithium catches fire,” he said. “You have to open the bottle (to release gas). If you let too much air in — boom.”

Deputies recovered several chemicals and other materials during remediation of the scene Monday, and more on Tuesday, when the fire rekindled itself.

The barn is charred, but not a complete loss, Rose said. No injuries, significant property damage or loss of animals were reported.

The department will continue to hunt for leads, but since meth-makers often wear nitrile gloves when handling the chemicals, fingerprint evidence is hard to find, Rose said.

“Probably, no one’s going to be charged unless we can prove they were there,” he said.

 

 

 

 

http://www.starbeacon.com/news/local_news/meth-explosion-catches-barn-on-fire/article_ea6f9a87-a3d1-5843-8a93-3bb92c3587d0.html

 

Comments Off on Crystal methamphetamine from out of state is surging into southwest Virginia – Roanoke Valley law enforcement say crystal meth from drug cartels is increasingly available

ROANOKE, Va. – As heroin and opiate addiction continues to kill in southwest Virginia, another illegal drug has re-surged. Federal methamphetamine cases are rising dramatically and in many places it’s crystal meth, the more pure kind trafficked in from out of state by Mexican drug cartels.wrgbwgWGA

“It is a pure substance of methamphetamine,” says Assistant U.S Attorney Ashley Neese. “It’s coming from Mexico, making its way into the country and coming to the east coast.”

“We’ve seen in our case, traps in cars, cars that are on trailers that are being transported across the country from various locations that will bring pounds of methamphetamine into our jurisdiction,” she adds.

Neese is nearing the end of prosecuting an extensive meth distribution ring with about 40 defendants. Many have received hundreds of months of federal prison time.

“My case is specifically out of Wythe County, Pulaski County, Grayson County, Carroll County, and the Galax area,” she says. “And it links over to Surry County and Yadkin County, North Carolina.”

The product, two pounds, was found buried under a tree in Surry County. Eventually Neese says the total amount trafficked in by the ring was much more.

Neese and fellow prosecutor Don Wolthuis say the demand is growing as the method to make what’s commonly known as shake and bake or one-pot meth is getting harder to do. Derived from decongestants by making a chemical reaction in plastic bottles may be falling out of favor.

“It is unfortunately, readily available,” says Wolthuis. “So people don’t have a whole lot of incentive of trying to buy all the blister packs of cold medicine when you can go out on the street and buy the crystal meth.”

From 2014 to 2015, the quantity of meth seized by investigators has skyrocketed. The Roanoke Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, or HITDA, brought in less than a pound of meth in 2014. Last year, they got more than 13 pounds. In 2015, Roanoke City Police reported 81 “incidents” involving meth, up from 53 the year before, according to police department spokesperson Scott Leamon. Heroin “incidents” were slightly down last year from 2014, he said.

Paradoxically, immediately farther north in Alleghany County, the crude shake and bake method is still as strong as ever. More than 100 mobile labs found last year. And the bottles with caustic chemicals still inside are left for deputies to safely pick up.

“We’ve found them in public right of ways, we’ve found them in people’s garbage,” says Alleghany Sheriff’s Office Lt. Colonel Matt Bowser. “We find them in fields from land owners, [in] National Forests. We find them just about everywhere.”

To help, the Alleghany Foundation donated 50 thousand dollars for a new mobile pop-up trailer for meth clean-up. It costs hundreds of dollars for each plastic bottle to be removed.

But region wide, US Attorney John Fishwick says the refined cartel meth has made a comeback.

“It’s our understanding there has been an uptick in the sales and we want to do what we can to combat that,” he says.

And one senior law enforcement investigator told WDBJ7 something strange but true. He is seeing addicts attempt to make the switch from heroin to meth, despite their wildly different effects. The reasons are unclear but availability of meth and perceived risk of use of heroin could be factors.

 

 

 

 

http://www.wdbj7.com/news/local/crystal-methamphetamine-from-out-of-state-is-surging-into-southwest-virginia/38665982

 

Comments Off on Erika Oppeau, 33, Christopher B. Bove, 29, and William A. Hope, 42, inject 16-year-old girl with Methamphetamine in Lincoln County, force her into oral sex acts with Oppeau, sex with Bove

LINCOLN COUNTY • Two men and a woman face felony charges in Lincoln County after police there say they injected a 16-year-old girl with methamphetamine and forced her to engage in sex acts with them.

According to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, the victim was from Florida and staying with a family acquaintance for a weekend. On March 20, the victim’s mother picked her up from the 100 block of Old River Road in the Elsberry area and she told her what had happened.56f1d9031f2d7_image

The victim said that Christopher B. Bove, 29, who lived at the home, used a syringe to inject meth into her and forced her to have sex with him, Erika Oppeau, 33, of the 1400 block of Tree Top Court in Wentzville, and William A. Hope, 42, of the first block of Loveland Drive in Florissant, police said.

Police said Oppeau also repeatedly injected meth into the girl and performed unwanted oral sex on her and encouraged her to have sex with the men, police said. Hope also injected the girl with meth and molested her, police said.

The incidents happened over several days and the victim wasn’t able to leave the home because she was so overcome by the drugs. The suspects are all friends and meth addicts, police said.

“These are disgusting people,” said Lt. Andy Binder with the sheriff’s office. “They do disgusting acts on children and they need to be held accountable. That’s our job.”

He said that out of 160 cases investigated by their department in 2014, half were sex crimes. He said he didn’t know why, and noted that reporting is high at the beginning of the school year, when minors confide in trusted adults.

Bove is charged with three counts of second degree statutory sodomy, statutory rape, and endangering the welfare of a child involving drugs. He was being held in the Lincoln County Jail in lieu of a $100,000 cash-only bail.

Oppeau is charged with felony statutory sodomy and endangering the welfare of a child involving drugs. She was being held in lieu of a $50,000 cash-only bail.

Hope is charged with child molestation and endangering the welfare of a child involving drugs. He was being held in lieu of a $25,000 cash-only bail.

They are not allowed to have contact with one another, with the victim, or the victim’s family.

In 2014, Oppeau was accused twice in six weeks of trying to get out of an arrest by offering a police officer a bribe.

She was accused of driving drunk with two children inside her vehicle, and, during another drunk driving incident, resisted arrest, threatened to kill an officer and his family, and then offered the same deputy sex in exchange for discretion on her arrest charges, police said.

 

 

 

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/three-in-lincoln-county-inject-teen-girl-with-meth-force/article_f86144bf-f93b-56ba-a64e-778337b6de28.html

A Texas mother has been jailed after she allegedly got high on methamphetamine and put her 2-year-old daughter in a hot oven.ovenv

Tasha Hatcher, 35, showed up completely naked at her neighbor’s house last week, carrying her daughter who had fresh burn marks all over her body, The New York Daily News reported.

The neighbor called 911, and the girl was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital where she is recovering from second- and third-degree burns covering 14 percent of her body, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Court documents detail Hatcher’s irregular behavior when authorities arrived on the scene. She reportedly made several sexual passes at the Somervell County deputy who arrived at her home, and was “singing to God and giving praise to him,” the documents state.oven

She also reportedly told police that she had shot a cat and put it in the oven before putting her daughter in it. She did not ask about her daughter’s well-being.

Court documents also show that she tested positive for marijuana and alcohol. When an official with the Department of Family Protective Services visited her in jail, she would not say if she remembered putting the girl in the oven, but told the official “ask me questions and I will lie to you.” She then asked the official to pray with her, and said her daughter was “healed.”

Hatcher was charged with injury to a child with serious bodily injury. She reportedly has a 19999364-mmmainhistory of trouble with children’s protective services, including previously leaving her son at a 24-hour daycare for more than 31 hours, and showing up drunk to pick him up.

She has a criminal record including convictions for possession of a controlled substance and marijuana and drunk driving charges.

Hatcher’s daughter will reportedly be turned over to a foster home after she recovers. A GoFundMe for the girl’s medical expenses asks contributors to “help this little girl have a better life [than] she has had to date.”

 

http://www.syracuse.com/us-news/index.ssf/2016/03/naked_texas_woman_high_on_meth_put_daughter_in_oven_to_heal_her.html

 

A Texas mother who admitted to burning her 2-year-old in the oven was nude and high on meth at the time of the heinous crime, court documents show.ovenf

While Tasha Hatcher’s toddler is recovering from severe burns covering 14 percent of her little body, court records reveal that the 35-year-old mother was under the influence of methamphetamine and has a long history with children’s protective services.

A neighbor in their Glen Rose, Tex., neighborhood called 911 late Wednesday to report that Hatcher had shown up completely naked with her daughter, who was also nude and had fresh burn marks all over her body, the Dallas Morning News reported.

When cops responded to the house, Hatcher made sexual passes at the Somervell County deputy and was “singing to God and giving praise to him,” according to the affidavit.

The strung-out Texas mom made sexual passes at cops responding to a 911 call about her behavior.

The tweaked-out mom also told police that she shot a cat and placed it in the oven before putting her daughter in the oven.

Hatcher didn’t ask about the well-being of her daughter as she continued to hit on hospital staff and act inappropriately, according to the Dallas Morning News.

She also tested positive for marijuana and alcohol at the hospital.

Hatcher’s daughter will be turned over to foster care once she is released from the hospital, where she is being treated for severe burns.

Hatcher’s daughter will be turned over to foster care once she is released from the hospital, where she is being treated for severe burns.

When an official with the Department of Family Protective Services visited her in jail and asked the strung-out woman whether she remembered putting the girl in the oven, she responded with “curiosity killed the cat” and “ask me questions and I will lie to you.”

She also asked the official to pray with her and said her daughter was “healed.”

Hatcher’s history of parental failure includes leaving her son at a 24-hour daycare for more than 31 hours — and showing up drunk to pick him up.

Her criminal record includes convictions for possession of a controlled substance and marijuana, as well as drunk driving charges.

The 2-year-old will be turned over to foster care after she recovers from her injuries.

 

 

 

 

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/texas-mother-put-daughter-oven-high-meth-article-1.2573348

 

 

Comments Off on Joel Hostetter, 37, of Palmyra, admits sexual activity, Methamphetamine use with 13-year-old girl

Joel Hostetter was arrested after his wife became suspicious that he was having sex with an under-age girl and went to the police

A 37-year-old Palmyra man pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges that he had sex with a 13-year-old girl and gave her drugs over a period of more than a year and a half.

Joel Hostetter, of 961 E. Oak St., entered an open guilty plea to charges of statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, aggravated 635942696005068029-Mugindecent assault, child pornography possession, corruption of a minor, endangering the welfare of a child, indecent exposure, possession of methamphetamine, possession of a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession.

An open plea means that the judge will set the terms of Hostetter’s sentence. Judge Charles T. Jones Jr. set Hostetter’s sentencing for April 27. The maximum sentence for statutory sexual assault is 20 years.

Police arrested Hostetter on Sept. 17 last year after an investigation that began after his wife went to police with suspicions that he was having sex with an under-aged girl. Intimate photos and texts between the two were found on his cellphone. Police also talked to a man who told them that Hostetter confided in him that he was having sex with someone young. The man previously saw the girl coming and going from Hostetter’s home during overnight hours on several occasions, according to a criminal complaint.

Police obtained a warrant and went to Hostetter’s home on Sept. 17 where they found him with the teen girl in his car. Police had actually discovered Hostetter and the girl together in the car the previous week. An officer stopped the car in the 900 block of East Oak Street shortly before 2:30 a.m. after noticing the car’s rear window was fogged. Hostetter was shirtless and sweaty but he and girl denied any wrongdoing, according to a police affidavit.

When the pair were discovered on Sept. 17, they were told to get out of the car and were searched. Police found two glass pipes and a plastic bag containing what was later determined to be methamphetamine. Also found in the car was a bag of marijuana.

Police also confiscated Hostetter’s cellphone and found more than 100 photos and videos of him engaging in sex acts with the girl.

When interviewed, the girl, who is now 14, said she began having sex with Hostetter the summer of 2015 when she was still 13. She said the pair engaged in intercourse and oral sex more than 100 times, usually in Hostetter’s car, which he parked on back roads in the area, according to the criminal complaint.

When questioned by police, Hostetter admitted to having sex with the girl, but told them it began about a year ago. He also told police that he was addicted to methamphetamine and either snorts or smokes it about four times a day. He admitted giving methamphetamine and marijuana to the girl approximately five times each.

 

 

 

 

http://www.ldnews.com/story/news/2016/03/22/palmyra-man-admits-sex-teen-girl/82070228/

 

Comments Off on 38 women and men arrested in northeast Wisconsin Methamphetamine investigation

MADISON, Wis. – Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have arrested 38 people in connection with a methamphetamine investigation in northeast Wisconsin.

According to a news release sent Tuesday, the seven-month investigation has focused on methamphetamine distribution spanning several counties and has involved the Brown County Drug Task Force, the state Division of Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

More than 100 officers from multiple departments served 20 search warrants, most in Green Bay.

Most of the 38 people arrested are expected to appear in court on Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

http://www.channel3000.com/news/38-arrested-in-methamphetamine-investigation/38639606

 

Comments Off on McAllen man, 42, arrested after attempting to smuggle nearly 100 pounds of Methamphetamine into US

Officers arrested a 42-year-old McAllen man at the Anzalduas International Bridge on Sunday after discovering nearly 100 pounds of meth hidden his truck.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers encountered the man Sunday when he attempted to enter into the country, according to an agency news release.d9862516-02b8-4cc1-85d8-ac5ea0ad4689-large16x9_ANZMeth4286kgs03202016courtesyCBPHidalgo

During a secondary inspection, officers discovered 41 packages of methamphetamine hidden within the blue 2007 Honda Ridgeline truck. The packages totaled about 95 pounds.

Officers seized the drugs and truck and arrested the motorist. The 42-year-old man was later turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation.

 

 

 

 

http://valleycentral.com/news/local/mcallen-man-arrested-after-attempting-to-smuggle-nearly-100-pounds-of-meth-into-us

 

Comments Off on How Methamphetamine gets to Great Falls — and the battle to stop it

Law enforcement agents knocked on the door of a hotel room belonging to the “kingpin” of one of the largest methamphetamine trafficking operations in local history, and the suspect let them in. He didn’t even look surprised, according to one of the agents.B9321381946Z_1_20160322162259_000_G0ODRBPQC_1-0

The group found 5 pounds of meth in the room and arrested the man, Joshua Alberto “Pariente” Rodriguez, according to the criminal complaint filed in federal court.

Seemingly endless hours of planning, surveillance, interviews and undercover work by the Russell Country Drug Task Force, and more than a dozen partnering law enforcement agencies, culminated on Sept. 26, 2014, with one goal shared by more than 20 agents: take the drug dealers down.

“This is the climax. It’s what you worked a year and a half for,” one of the task force detectives explained. His name is being kept confidential for his safety.

Thanks to state legislation restricting the purchase of ingredients needed to manufacture or “cook” meth, labs are nearly nonexistent in Montana. That’s according to Bryan Lockerby, an administrator with the Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, or DCI.

Lockerby says the Mexican drug cartel used that opening to push its product — very pure meth produced efficiently and sold at great profit — into Montana.

Operations like this one, which was given the name, “Operation Highline Crystal Highway” because the drugs were distributed in Butte, Great Falls, Havre and elsewhere, are the new way meth gets into Montana.

Agents were watching members of the trafficking operation as they traveled from California to Montana through assisting law enforcement officers and GPS tracking. Rodriguez, of California, and Eduardo Ocegueda-Ruiz, a Mexican citizen using the name Miguel Cuenca-Sepulveda, were driving a Buick Enclave rented by Rodriguez.

On Sept. 25 at about 4 a.m., they were stopped by California Highway Patrol troopers who cited Rodriguez for speeding and seized what was later determined to be 3 pounds of meth.

The suspects arrived in Butte in the early morning hours of Sept. 26. They met with two other members of the trafficking group at a hotel, where Ocegueda-Ruiz acted as an interpreter. An exchange of meth and firearms took place between Rodriguez and several men from Montana involved in the organization including Martin Leland of Belt and Lawrence Griner of Butte.

The group left Butte in separate vehicles later that morning for Great Falls. Rodriguez rented a hotel room. Ocegueda-Ruiz went to the hotel and then to a nearby restaurant.

Leland and another suspect named, Jeffery June, met Ocegueda-Ruiz in the parking lot where agents had reason to believe a firearm was exchanged as payment for meth.

The arrests began after that transaction.

“We really were a well-oiled machine,” the detective noted.

The fact that no one was hurt spoke to the level of training the involved officers received, especially given the number of weapons seized in the case.

Ocegueda-Ruiz was arrested in the restaurant parking lot with two pistols concealed on his person, along with more than 70 rounds of ammunition.

Agents arrested Leland and June a few blocks away in Leland’s vehicle. They found a handgun and 4 ounces of meth. Rodriguez was arrested in his hotel room. Griner was arrested in Butte. He was in possession of about $17,000 and 6 ounces of meth.

According to the detective, most of the suspects cooperated with law enforcement after their arrest. Ocegueda-Ruiz was the only defendant to go to trial. The others took plea deals.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged and convicted 20 defendants and law enforcement seized more than 13 pounds of meth brought in from California while also recovering 25 firearms.

Court testimony revealed that Ocegueda-Ruiz was likely in Great Falls as an “enforcer” to intimidate others within the organization.

Less than two weeks before the arrests, Ocegueda-Ruiz was quoted saying he wanted to come to Great Falls to “kick in doors with guns blazing.”

Testimony indicated co-defendants Cody Lampert and Sarah Jane Young were the suspected targets of potential violence during the Sept. 26 trip because they had reportedly “ripped off” Rodriguez. The criminal complaint says Leland and June discussed obtaining a handgun specifically to retaliate against others who ripped them off.

According to court testimony, the meth was worth $17,000 to $20,000 per pound in Great Falls at that time, and Rodriguez paid approximately $3,000 per pound for it in California. Before that final trip in September, it was brought to Montana and given to local dealers for distribution.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Betley called the motivation of the operation “pure greed.”

“That’s what dope is,” the detective added, “the lure of easy money and addiction.”

“We live in the ‘Last Best Place,’” said Cascade County Sheriff Bob Edwards. “I think people here are good people, but the drugs are coming in.”

Edwards’ office has one detective on the task force, which is part of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA. The others are detectives from the Great Falls Police Department, Pondera County Sheriff’s Office and federal agencies.

The task force detective stepped into the “Crystal Highway” case after a suspect arrested on drug charges in early 2014 mentioned “three brothers from Mexico” bringing meth to the area. Several others told the same story during subsequent law enforcement interviews.

The operation was not new, but now the task force had enough information to start building a case.

A case must meet certain criteria to qualify as a HIDTA operation, according to GFPD Lt. Mike Grubb, the task force commander. HIDTA’s mission is to reduce the availability of illicit drugs by dismantling and disrupting drug trafficking operations. Documentation of historical data for a case to reach this level is required, and compiling that information takes time.

“It’s completely exhausting,” the detective said of the investigation process, which involves consistent overtime to complete hours upon hours of surveillance work and report-writing, “but completely worth it.”

According to the task force detective, he and his fellow agents assembled the case to the point to qualify for a wiretap so they could listen in on phone calls made by suspects within the organization.

The task force also monitored text messages being sent and received among suspects within the organization. They obtained a search warrant to monitor the GPS data recording the movement of Rodriguez’s phone.

They used this information, along with information from confidential informants and undercover officers purchasing drugs from members of the organization, to determine the hierarchy and methods of the operation. According to court documents and testimony, Rodriguez made about 13 trips to Montana in 2014. During those trips he distributed meth to Leland, Griner and June, who then re-distributed it throughout the state.

The detective says they had enough from the wire and heard the suspects were bringing a large quantity into Montana.

“We knew it was time to make arrests,” he said

After the arrests the U.S. Attorney’s Office took control of the case. The plea deals were signed and sentencing hearings held at a steady pace.

Ocegueda-Ruiz was convicted at trial of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, felon in possession of a firearm and illegal alien in possession of a firearm. He received a life sentence plus five years to be served in federal prison.

Leland was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy involving a firearm and drug trafficking crime.

Rodriguez was the last defendant to be sentenced. He received more than 22 years in federal prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of the commission of a drug trafficking crime and conspiracy to commit money laundering at a hearing last June.

“I hope this wiped out a significant source,” United States District Court Judge Brian Morris said at the hearing. “I hope this provides more than temporary reprieve.”

But meth is still here.

“Someone always steps in to take the place of those arrested because there is money to be made,” the detective explained.

“The biggest drug we’re dealing with in Montana is meth. It’s almost omnipresent,” noted Montana State Crime Lab Forensic Toxicologist Scott Schlueter. “It’s not slowing down.”

Meth is still being driven to and even mailed to Montana, according to Grubb.

The men and women investigating drug trafficking operations continue to search for the sources of meth coming to Montana.

The detective says the operations are not as big as “Crystal Highway,” but meth is coming in by pounds, concealed in secret compartments of vehicles.

“We have a lot of smart people in jail,” Edwards said of the methods suspects use to traffic narcotics. “If only they’d use that business sense and be a productive citizen.”

Three California men were arrested last November and charged in Montana’s 8th Judicial District (Cascade County) with trafficking meth into Great Falls from California.

According to court documents, Cesar Christian Sanchez-Lopez, Robert Jaramillo and Victor Castro were arrested during a traffic stop initiated by the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office after tips were shared with the task force.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for the vehicle and found 1.86 pounds of meth hidden in a compartment near the electronic wiring area that was accessible from the glove compartment. Reports indicate the drugs were located with the assistance of a GFPD K-9, despite being heat-sealed in plastic and packed with yellow mustard, a method used to mask the scent of narcotics.

“Our officers statewide are doing a great job,” Lockerby explained. “They don’t give up. They may get frustrated, but they’ve stopped a lot of dope coming in.”

And they’ll continue to do so.

“Would we do another one? Yeah,” the detective said of another large-scale operation. “It was worth it for our community.”

While Lockerby commends the officers working narcotics cases, he says drug arrests alone will not solve Montana’s meth problem.

“There has to be more than the enforcement side,” he said.

Morris echoed the notion that the demand for narcotics must be addressed at Rodriguez’s sentencing hearing, calling it a “vacuum sucking meth into our community.”

 

 

 

 

http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/local/2016/03/22/meth-gets-great-falls-battle-stop/82124324/

 

Comments Off on Brother and sister, Brenda Lee Short, 40, and Kory Short, 38, face charges in Ravalli County Methamphetamine case

A brother and sister have been charged in a felony drug case after sheriff’s officers seized about 26 grams of methamphetamine and other illegal drugs.

Brenda Lee Short, 40, and Kory Short, 38, appeared this week before Ravalli County Justice Jennifer Ray on felony criminal possession of dangerous drug charges.

According to an affidavit, the two were arrested after a concerned citizen called authorities on March 19 to report the siblings were on their way to Spokane, Washington to purchase methamphetamine. The citizen said they would be returning that day driving a Chevrolet Trailblazer and included the license plate number.

At about 7:20 a.m., two sheriff’s officers spotted the vehicle pulling into a grocery store’s parking lot in Stevensville.

When the officers contacted the Shorts, both brother and sister refused to consent for a search.

The two were released after their vehicle was seized pending a search warrant.

With that warrant in hand, officers found 26.5 grams of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in the vehicle, the affidavit said. In a jacket belonging to Kory Short, they found 10 Acetaminophen/Oxycodone tablets, 15 Alprazolam tablets and a small quantity of marijuana.

The methamphetamine had a street value of between $2,650 and $3,710.

Ray set bail at $5,000 for both the siblings.

In other justice court news

Ronnie Michelle Cahoon, 23, of Hamilton was charged with possessing methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

According to an affidavit, Cahoon was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over for erratic driving. During the traffic stop, officers spotted a straw with white residue near Cahoon. The residue allegedly tested positive for methamphetamine.

The affidavit said Cahoon’s eyes were dilated and she had sores on her face consistent with someone who used methamphetamine.

Ray set bail at $2,500.

 

 

 

http://ravallirepublic.com/news/local/article_115fd640-f096-11e5-a648-f3180b3ed405.html

 

Comments Off on Picture captures mother, Ashley Lewis, of Richmond, allegedly smoking Methamphetamine next to her baby

LEXINGTON, Mo. – A Lexington, Missouri, mother is behind bars after a picture of her allegedly smoking methamphetamine next to her infant was posted to Facebook.

Richmond police arrested Ashley Lewis and charged her with first-degree endangering the welfare of a child.Mom_Allegedly_Smoking_Meth_1458600622074_34519569_ver1_0_400_300

The picture shows Lewis, who police identified, holding a glass pipe with a lighter underneath. A child is lying on the couch right next to her.

According to the probable cause statement, Lexington police were forwarded the picture. The caption underneath read:

“Please help my friend Ashley Lewis and I stop using meth. We can’t even stop if there is a baby around. We really need help! SHARE THIS POST IF YOU WANT THIS BABY GIRL TO LIVE A BETTER LIFE NOT ASSOCIATED WITH METH”

Police officers interviewed witnesses who confirmed Lewis was smoking meth at her apartment in front of her baby. Officers also matched her apartment interior to the interior shown in photographs.

Suzanne Rutter is a family services counselor at First Call and said she was not surprised but called the action “extremely dangerous.”

If a parent is “using in front of the children, the children are automatically assuming that it’s normal to be using substances and they don’t learn appropriately about coping,” Rutter said. “They are watching their parents and their loved ones use substance to cope with their problems.”

When dealing with addiction, counselors and police officers say the most important thing is to get that individual help immediately.

“So many people are going to look at this picture of this woman and automatically assume she is a horrible person, this criminal who should have her child taken away,” said Rutter. “But the reality is, it is a disease. She is suffering from a very, very serious disease that a lot of people suffer from. She is not making a conscious choice to use that drug in front of her child. She has been completely taken over by addiction.”

 

 

 

 

http://www.kshb.com/news/region-missouri/picture-captures-mother-allegedly-smoking-methamphetamine-next-to-baby

 

Comments Off on Former Jose Rios Middle School teacher, Vincent John Quitugua, indicted on Methamphetamine drug charges

A former teacher at Jose Rios Middle School was indicted on drug and other criminal charges in the District Court of Guam.

Vincent John Quitugua, a former English as a Second Language and math teacher at Jose Rios, was indicted March 16 on several charges including manufacturing marijuana, possession of 635941933712229806-VincentJohnQuituguacontrolled substances including marijuana and methamphetamine with intent to distribute, drug user in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and maintaining a drug-involved premises.

Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez confirmed that Quitugua no longer works for the agency.

Court documents state that U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents, through a source, found that Quitugua was in possession of marijuana and methamphetamine on Feb. 28.

A search warrant was issued by the federal court on March 3 to search two residences in Piti.

Investigators with the DEA and Homeland Security Investigation executed two federal search warrants on two homes on Edward Lane in Piti.

Cultivation found

Investigators found 121 marijuana plants throughout one residence with a majority being in the bedrooms of the house, documents state. The bedrooms had several electronic light sources, a ventilation system and an irrigation system which appeared to be used to cultivate the marijuana plants.

The marijuana plants were in different stages of growth from seedlings to mature plants, documents state.

Investigators found 75 gross grams of a crushed glass-like substance which tested presumptive positive for methamphetamine. They also seized several improvised glass pipes with suspected methamphetamine residue, several digital scales and several zip-lock baggies, including ones with suspected marijuana seeds. Two 12-gauge, pump-action shotguns were found in the living room as well.635942024767517490-Drug-houses-composite

At the other residence, investigators found three pounds of suspected marijuana and a large sum of U.S currency. They also seized two rifles as well as ammunition, documents state.

According to documents, Quitugua, who waived his Miranda Rights, explained that he was growing marijuana in anticipation of being licensed as a legal grower of medicinal marijuana.

He also admitted to possessing and consuming meth for the past 15 years. He admitted to selling marijuana, but not meth, documents states.

He also admitted that he smoked five joints a day over the past year since he began cultivating and that the money in the homes were from drug proceeds, court documents state.

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.guampdn.com/story/news/2016/03/21/former-middle-school-teacher-indicted-drug-charges/82101408/

 

Comments Off on Melissa Lagunas-Fitz, 19, of La Habra, suspected of burglarizing car, intending to sell Methamphetamine in Brea

BREA – A 19-year-old was found burglarizing a car early Monday morning with a large amount of methamphetamine that police suspect she intended to sell, officials said.

A Brea patrol officer found Melissa Lagunas-Fitz, of La Habra, around 3:30 a.m. inside a stranger’s car parked in the 600 block North Desert Canyon Road.

Melissa Lagunas-Fitz

Melissa Lagunas-Fitz

“The patrol officer was checking the residential area, because we have had recent vehicle burglaries in that neighborhood,” police Lt. Darrin Devereux said.

Lagunas-Fitz, who drove to the area in a white 2007 Jeep Compass, was found in possession of a wallet that was stolen one street over on Sunday, as well as stolen credit cards and a large amount of methamphetamine.

She was arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property, vehicle burglary and possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell “because of the amount and how (the drug) was packaged,” Devereux said.

Police said vehicle burglaries are one of the most popular crimes in the city, among other property crimes.

“People think that it’s not going to happen to them here, because Brea is a safe neighborhood,” Devereux said. “But valuables should not be left in the car, or if they are, they should be hidden.”

 

 

 

 

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/car-709038-stolen-police.html

 

Comments Off on Crystal Renee Long, 31, and Jason Christopher Threet, 30, both of Algood, passed out in vehicle at Cookeville gas station, receive Methamphetamine charges

COOKEVILLE — A welfare check on two people who appeared to be passed out in a vehicle in front of a Cookeville gas station on Sunday resulted in their arrest on drug charges.

Jason Christopher Threet, 30, and Crystal Renee Long, 31, both of Algood, were charged with possession of methamphetamine for sale and delivery in connection with the incident.

According to a report by Officer Colby Fox, he was dispatched to the location.

“Upon arrival, [I] found two people unconscious in the front of a silver Dodge Neon,” he said.

He was able to wake the two, and he identified the driver as Threet and the passenger as Long.

“A computerized check revealed that [Threet] had two [outstanding warrants],” the officer reports.

Officer Fox said he asked the two if they had anything illegal on them or in the vehicle, and he said Threet admitted to having syringes in his pocket.

“A search revealed a lockbox in the driver’s side floorboard that contained a few hundred baggies, digital scales and [several] grams of a white, crystalline substance that appeared to be methamphetamine,” Officer Fox reports.

An item of drug paraphernalia with residue from use was also found in the vehicle search.

In addition, a bag of the crystalline substance believed to be meth was discovered in Threet’s wallet, Officer Fox said.

And a small amount of a leafy, green substance believed to be marijuana was in Long’s purse.

In addition to the methamphetamine charges, Threet was also charged with unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

Both Threet and Long were transported to the Putnam County Jail.

Threet was booked on a total bond of $9,500, while Long was booked on a total bond of $8,000.

Threet’s initial appearance in Putnam County General Sessions Court was expected today.

According to her arrest warrant, Long’s initial appearance in Putnam County General Sessions Court is set for April 18.

 

 

 

 

http://herald-citizen.com/stories/two-passed-out-in-vehicle-at-gas-station-receive-meth-charges,14161

 

Comments Off on Jonathan Brian Winicki, 30, of Huntington, high on Methamphetamine trashes Motel 6 hotel room looking for ‘spying devices’

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Officers with the Lufkin Police Department arrested a 30-year-old man on a felony criminal mischief charge Sunday after he allegedly went on a drug-induced rampage and trashed his hotel room, doing an estimated $5,000 worth of damage.

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Jonathan Brian Winicki, of Huntington, is still being held in the Angelina County Jail on a state-jail felony criminal mischief between $1,500 and $20,000 and a misdemeanor failure to maintain financial responsibility charge. His bail amount has been set at $500 for the FMFR charge.

According to the Lufkin Police Department’s daily activity report, officers were called out to the Motel 6 located at 1100 S. Timberland Drive after Winicki refused to leave his room at the checkout time.

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When the officers arrived on the scene, they found Winicki trying to leave with a full trash bag, the report stated. At first the LPD officers thought the bag contained stolen items. However, when they looked in it, they found broken light fixtures and electrical wiring.

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Upon entering the hotel room, the officers found that Winicki caused more than $5,000 worth of damage by ripping out almost all the electrical wires and light fixtures, dismantled the $3,000 air conditioning unit, took plumbing fixtures from the bathroom, broke a television valued at $300, and drew on several pieces of furniture, the report stated.

Winicki was taken to the county jail after he was checked out by paramedics who were called to the scene because he said he didn’t feel well.

Later, Winicki allegedly admitted to trashing the room in a fit of paranoia after he took methamphetamine. He told police that he though there were spying devices in the room.

 

 

 

 

http://www.newschannel10.com/story/31527304/lufkin-pd-man-trashes-hotel-room-does-5k-worth-of-damage

 

Comments Off on Alarming increase: Methamphetamine cases spiking in Tazewell County

The recent increase in methamphetamine cases in Tazewell County is reason for concern. While the drug has been in the county for some time now, the use and manufacturing of meth is escalating, according to Commonwealth Attorney Mike Dennis.

During the March term of the county’s grand jury, eight people were indicted on methamphetamine-related charges while several others were indicted on other drug-related charges. Thanks to the popularity of the television show “Breaking Bad,” many are familiar with the concept of cooking meth. But what that television show failed to illustrate was the great danger associated with this criminal process, which is highly explosive.

“We have had explosions and fires in other jurisdictions,” Dennis said. “Fortunately, we have not seen that here. But we do have a concern with this type of manufacturing.”

When a methamphetamine manufacturing site is found, a hazmat team wearing protective gear has to go in and clear the scene. This is a costly and time-consuming process. But meth removal teams are available locally, Dennis said.

Law enforcement officials in our region have long feared an increase in methamphetamine production, and if the most recent grand jury session in Tazewell County is any indication, those fears may be coming to fruition.

This unwanted development is the latest woe associated with the regional prescription drug-abuse epidemic. The drug problem has impacted young and old alike. It has permeated virtually every aspect of our society, and it only continues to worsen.

Tylox, Dilaudid, hydrocodone, cocaine, crack, oxycodone, Fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine. We’ve seen just about every narcotic possible abused over the years.

The scourge of drug abuse continues to exact a punishing toll on the mountains of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia. Many burglarize and steal in order to get cash for a quick fix. Local prisons and jails are more than often packed to capacity with drug users and abusers.

While there has been some positive developments on the federal and state level in recent weeks as it relates to the drug war, the region still has a long fight ahead in terms of stemming the tide of this deadly epidemic. That’s why all efforts to combat the drug-abuse problem must continue on the local, state and federal level.

 

 

 

 

http://www.bdtonline.com/opinion/alarming-increase-methamphetamine-cases-spiking/article_4170192a-efa2-11e5-8dec-7bb871f7d330.html

 

Comments Off on Lisa Buffington, 42, and Mary Shoemake, 36, charged after authorities say Methamphetamine worth $12,800 was found in car in Hall County

Authorities say they found $12,800 worth of methamphetamine when they stopped a car Friday morning near Johnson High School, and two women were arrested in connection with the incident.

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“This arrest comes after numerous complaints of drug sales taking place in the area of Atlanta Highway and Bolding Road,” the Hall County Sheriff’s Office reported in a news release.

Deputies stopped the car “for a blown tail light” on Atlanta Highway near Robert Wood Johnson Road, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies say they located 8.2 ounces of meth, less than an ounce of marijuana and digital scales.

Lisa Buffington, 42, and Mary Shoemake, 36, were charged with trafficking methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana and possession of drug-related objects. They remain at the Hall County Jail without bond, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

 

 

 

 

http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/section/6/article/115817/

 

Comments Off on Kelley Kuester and Dalton Keeler, 18, from Sioux City, charged after search warrant turns up Methamphetamine and stolen guns

Sioux City, Iowa – Two Sioux City teens are in custody after a search warrant turned up evidence of drug distribution and stolen firearms.

Kelley Kuester and Dalton Keeler, both 18 and from Sioux City, are facing multiple felony charges.

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According to court documents, authorities were investigating a burglary that occurred on March 14th in Sioux City where two hand guns and several other items were stolen. Police were able to obtain search warrants for Kuester and Keeler’s homes. Both suspects were at Keeler’s home on the 1300 block of Linn Street when police arrived to serve the search warrant. Authorities say that Kuester attempted to run from the scene, but was stopped by police and taken into custody at gunpoint.

When police searched the home on Linn Street, they were able to locate a loaded .40 caliber pistol that had been taken from the March 14th robbery. Police also located a 12 gauge shotgun that had the barrel cut down to a little over 12 inches, making it an illegal sawed off shotgun.

Authorities also located around 11 grams of methamphetamine and materials consistent with drug distribution. Police also located around 3.6 grams of marijuana along with a scale, syringe and several pipes used for smoking marijuana and methamphetamine.

Keeler is currently being charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver Methamphetamine, 2nd Degree Burglary, 2nd Degree Theft, and Possession of an Offensive Weapon. He’s currently being held in the Woodbury County Jail on a $50,000 bond. His next court date is scheduled for March 29th at 9:00 A.M.

At the time of his arrest, Kuester was out on bond in connection to several car burglaries stemming back to December of 2015. That bond has now been revoked and he’s facing additional charges of Possession with Intent to Deliver Methamphetamine, 2nd Degree Burglary, 2nd Degree Theft, and Possession of an Offensive Weapon. He’s currently being held on a $60,000 bond and he’s due back in court on March 29th at 9:00 A.M.

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.siouxlandmatters.com/news/local-news/sioux-city-teens-charged-after-search-warrant-turns-up-drugs-and-stolen-guns

 

Comments Off on Kyla A. Powell, 33,pleads guilty after Methamphetamine found in her vagina at Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail

A Glouster woman has pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony charge of illegal conveyance after being found with methamphetamine in her person” after being booked into the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail.56eecc44b99b4_image

A press release from the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office last week did not specify where in her person the drugs were found.

Kyla A. Powell, 33, was sentenced to four years in prison by Athens County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Lang last Wednesday.

Prior to sentencing, Powell had changed her pleas to guilty of one third-degree felony count of illegal conveyance of drugs of abuse onto grounds of a specified governmental facility, and one fifth-degree felony count of permitting drug abuse.

In a press release, Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said that Powell allowed two others, including her father Ronald, to manufacture methamphetamine in her home while her young son was living with her.

“Upon her arrest, Powell was found to have drugs in her person upon being booked into the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail,” Blackburn said.

In addition to her four-year prison sentence, the release said, Lang ordered three years of post-release control for Powell. Ronald Powell, meanwhile, is scheduled for pre-trial on April 6, while the other person accused of manufacturing methamphetamine in Kyla Powell’s home, Timothy Pastol, is scheduled for pre-trial on April 26. Both have pleaded not guilty.

 

 

 

 

http://www.athensnews.com/news/local/woman-pleads-guilty-after-drugs-found-in-her-person-at/article_8404c62e-eeb6-11e5-aba3-c7f673322437.html

 

Comments Off on Linsey Weems accused of hiding Methamphetamine in her underwear during arrest in Tulsa
  • Police arrested Linsey Weems around 2 Sunday morning.
  • Weems is accused of attempting to sell methamphetamine, among other things.
  • Police said she tried to hide methamphetamine in her underwear when she was taken to jail.

A stop for an expired tag turned into a bust involving drugs, scales and a stolen gun, according to Tulsa police.Weems,%20Linsey_1458490032622_3294817_ver1_0_640_360

Police arrested Linsey Weems near Admiral and Harvard early Sunday morning.

Officers said they pulled over Weems for an expired tag when they found she had outstanding warrants.

When they searched the vehicle, they reportedly found baggies of methamphetamine, digital scales and two guns.

At the jail, police found more methamphetamine hidden in Weems’ underwear.

They also discovered that one of the guns was reported stolen.

Weems faces charges for possession with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm following a felony conviction and possession of stolen property.

Two other passengers were arrested for warrants.

 

 

 

 

http://www.fox23.com/news/woman-accused-of-hiding-meth-in-her-underwear-during-arrest/170895253

 

Comments Off on Methamphetamine Found Among Children’s Toys in Interstate 29 Stop; Jessika Leach, 29, and Jerry Easley, 45, Both of Braddyville, Arrested

SIDNEY – Fremont County sheriff’s deputies arrested an Iowa couple Saturday after a traffic stop that yielded 67 grams of methamphetamine.

A deputy stopped a Ford Explorer on Interstate 29 and discovered the driver, Jessika Leach, 29, of Braddyville had a suspended license.braddyville-couple-meth

During a search of the Explorer that included the county’s K9 unit, deputies say they found the methamphetamine hidden in a bag with children’s toys and clothing.

A passenger in the Explorer, Jerry Easley, 45, also of Braddyville, was arrested. Both are charged with intent to deliver and child endangerment. Two children in the SUV, ages 6 and 7, were released to family members at the direction of the Iowa Department of Human Services.

Both Leach and Easley were held at Fremont County Jail on a $109,000 bond.

 

 

 

 

http://kwbe.com/local-news/meth-found-among-childrens-toys-in-interstate-29-stop/

 

Comments Off on Anna Sizemore and Dana Howard caught making Methamphetamine in Whitesburg Food City parking lot

LETCHER COUNTY, Ky (WYMT) – Two people were arrested in Whitesburg, Ky Saturday evening after reportedly making methamphetamine in the Food City parking lot.meth3

Anna Sizemore was arrested for public intoxication by a controlled substance and manufacturing methamphetamine charges.

Dana Howard was arrested on charges of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs and manufacturing methamphetamine.

Sizemore and Howard were both were taken to the Letcher County Jail.

 

 

 

 

http://www.local8now.com/content/news/Couple-caught-making-meth-in-Food-City-parking-lot-372865951.html

 

Comments Off on Putting lives on the line in the fight against Methamphetamine

Each time an officer puts on his or her uniform the person is putting their life on the line in order to protect the lives of others.

That statement is increasingly true for the detectives and officers assigned and trained as “meth techs” as the very job description includes a high possibility of danger every time.56cb7a97dde2b_image

The Messenger recently sat down with former methamphetamine technician/detective Jim Heater to discuss the meth epidemic and the dangers it poses to society. Methamphetamine labs are becoming more prevalent in Athens County, with 17 labs already having been located in 2016.

Heater estimated that he had neutralized around 200 vessels or more in his career. With the inherent danger surrounding the chemical process of making meth, it’s fortunate Heater is still around to recount those dangers.

Each lab poses a threat on multiple fronts, vapors from the vessel and the flammable nature of the meth making materials. The vapors from the ammonia gas produced can cause an instant reaction, while the long-term exposure risk is not known.

In one instance, while neutralizing a lab, Heater’s oxygen tank ran out of air and rather than standing up and walking away, he pulled his mask up and became exposed to the fumes. He said it felt like his chest was on fire and he suffered from severe headaches following the exposure. There is nothing the hospital can do or test for with regard to the exposure, he recalled, it is waiting to see if it effects your health down the road.

For the most part the techs are blocked from exposure to the fumes with the HAZMAT-like suits and oxygen systems that are worn when working on a methamphetamine lab. With the suits, the technician is well protected from the chemicals and the vapors as the suit is fire-retardant and has a chemical liner. The suits, while expensive, last for a few years when properly maintained and cleaned after use. But they are not invulnerable.

Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith recalled that when he came into office the threads on the suits had become worn from the chemicals, making it necessary to purchase new suits — which can go for thousands of dollars.

Prior to having their own certified techs, agencies such as the sheriff’s office were forced to rely on the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and its staff to process the labs whenever necessary.

As the labs became more prevalent, BCI could not keep up and shifted to helping train and equip local agencies with the skills and items necessary to process the labs themselves. The Athens Major Crimes Unit and sheriff’s office have been the beneficiaries of equipment donated from BCI, including a meth trailer for equipment, as well as oxygen tanks and equipment donated from a local fire department.

While processing and trying to neutralize a meth lab, at any point the flammable nature of the chemical process can lead to disaster.

Lithium used in the manufacturing process can spark when coming in contact with water. Additionally, there is a danger of explosion from the buildup of gas in the vessel. No outside source of flame is necessary for major damage to occur. That risk decreases somewhat when the lid is removed from the vessel.

Mobile labs pose a different level of threat, as when the vessel is moving around it can be easier for the lithium and water to come into contact.

In the 200 or more vessels processed, Heater said that he had not had one explode, although there were occasions for concern.

He recalled a particular incident in a camper in the Chauncey area where the one-pot lab was in glass jars, meaning if it were to explode shards of glass would have been sent flying. The suits would not protect against something like that. The lab could prove fatal if it were to explode on either the meth cook or technician, or anyone in close proximity at the time.

The bottles and containers used in the manufacturing process are not designed for the manufacture of methamphetamine, causing the bottles to be damaged or worn, particularly if the bottles are used multiple times. In some cases, when the bottle is picked up the bottom of it can fall apart.

“It is a game of excitement and calculated risk,” said Heater.

“Anybody that is part of the major crimes or a narcotics officer is just a special breed. They actually live and breathe that,” said Smith of the officers who work in the MCU.

“For a long time I was pretty Gung Ho about it but then I started to get tired of it,” Heater recalled.

Asked how meth labs compare to some of the other drug cases handled, the former detected spoke of the rush associated with it.

“It’s more of a rush. There’s lots of unknowns to them. You know what they can do so you walk in there knowing and it depends,” he recalled.

A methamphetamine technician must maintain focus on the task at hand and not become distracted by the numerous other things going on at the time. This is helped by the team of officers who are now on the scene at the labs, with the tasks divided between each of the officers.

One of the other dangers with the processing and neutralizing of the labs is the danger of heat exhaustion from the suits that are used to protect the technician from the other dangers.

On one of Heater’s final labs, the crew was sent to Factory Road in Albany and was then sent on a call in another part of the county immediately after. He said that the other officers noticed that he was a little off and that one of them pulled him to the side. Heater said he was aware that he was tired, but had not realized that his speech pattern was different.

“Honestly with all the safety gear, if you pay attention to what you are doing, the heat exhaustion is the one thing you press through and it kind of affects you by doing it,” he said.

The officers involved in the methamphetamine labs must undergo yearly medical testing to monitor for any possible effects of the exposure to the labs and chemicals. The technicians must also complete training and re-certification yearly.

Meth labs require careful handling and a precise process to neutralize and make safe for disposal. One lab can take 30 minutes to neutralize, not including time to suit-up and then clean-up.

In order to neutralize a lab, the fluid must be removed from the vessel, being careful not to extract any of the lithium with the liquid as there can be no lithium submitted to the lab for testing — due to its volatile nature. Sometimes the process can be difficult, with lithium in such small pieces that it is difficult to separate. In those cases, the tech may have to utilize the coffee filter method of separating the liquid and the lithium that can be used by the meth cooks, which is a lengthy process.

A mineral oil base is then used to coat the lithium in order to keep it away from water and specialized beads are placed in the bottle before it is capped and placed in a hazardous waste bucket and labeled for disposal.

Along the way, the vessel and its contents must also be tested and photographed for evidence purposes as part of a possible criminal case.

The methamphetamine making process can be completed in a few different ways, with the most common in this area being the “one-pot” method. That method became popular in the manufacture of the illegal drug as early as 2009-10 in the Athens County area, although the prevalence has grown in recent years. The one-pot method cut out some steps that had been used in previous methods although it does not produce as much methamphetamine.

The manufacture of methamphetamine involves the conversion of Sudafed into meth which is then smoked, snorted or used in other methods. Three grams of Sudafed will manufacture approximately 2.7 grams of meth using the one-pot method.

The meth tech stated that it is not the size of the vessel itself, which is commonly a Gatorade or PowerAde bottle but can be as large as a five-gallon bucket, but the amount of ingredients that determine the amount of the drug produced as the end result.

He said that there are typically multiple people involved in the methamphetamine-making process, with the cook typically not the person purchasing the ingredients needed. Some will exchange the Sudafed for meth. It can become a family or community effort to manufacture and use the dangerous drug.

While some of the items are purchased, some are often shoplifted.

The individuals are clever, he recalled, working in teams to acquire the necessary materials.

Unlike heroin and other drugs, methamphetamine is being made locally. It is also not being sold like the other drugs are. Many of the cooks manufacture the methamphetamine for personal use and/or the use by others who help to acquire the items.

The timing of investigations and the execution of search warrants can be key to the charges ultimately filed as a result. Illegal manufacture of drugs (methamphetamine) is at the least a second-degree felony, with the charge increased if children are present — which is not an uncommon occurrence.

The methamphetamine problem is not localized to a single area, as it is found in nearly every area of the county.

As prevalent as the meth problem has become in the county, it only takes one unfortunate set of circumstances for the problem to become tragedy. No one is more aware of this than a meth technician but they keep doing their jobs day after day, time and again, with the everlasting hope that each one will be the last one to need neutralizing.

 

 

 

 

http://www.athensmessenger.com/news/putting-lives-on-the-line-in-the-fight-against-meth/article_7b1e5007-5a4e-5e1f-811a-73c500e26100.html

 

Comments Off on Methamphetamine surge prompts reassembly of drug team in Klamath County

KLAMATH FALLS — Klamath County officials in southern Oregon are re-forming a drug investigation team because of the rise of methamphetamine, heroin and other drugs.19984554-mmmain

Lt. Jason Westfall of the Oregon State Police says drug traffickers are using U.S. 97 as a corridor, and it’s critical that Klamath County have a drug team.

Officials tell the Herald and News that the drug team will be up and running in early April.

A previous drug team officials say had an impact on drug trafficking disbanded in 2008 because of budget cutbacks.

Officials say organized crime took over meth distribution in the area after the collapse of the home-grown meth industry when Oregon placed restrictions on chemicals needed to make the drug.

 

 

 

 

http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2016/03/meth_surge_prompts_reassembly.html