NOGALES – Three Mexican nationals were caught in separate incidents during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday for attempting to smuggle a combined 55-plus pounds of cocaine and methamphetamine into the United States.

Officers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations at the Port of Nogales commercial facility referred a 52-year old Mexican man for further inspection of the tractor-trailer and shipment of watermelons he was hauling Monday. During the inspection, officers found more than 24 pounds of methamphetamine, worth nearly $378,000, inside the vehicle’s air suspension bags.

Earlier Monday, a 57-year old Mexican man was referred for additional inspection of his Honda SUV at the Mariposa Port. After a CBP narcotics detection canine alerted to the presence of drugs between the vehicle’s dashboard and firewall, officers located more than 14 pounds of cocaine and nearly six pounds of methamphetamine. The drugs had a combined value exceeding $215,000.

Sunday, officers at the Dennis DeConcini Port referred a 48-year old Mexican woman for further inspection of her Chevrolet sedan. A narcotics detection canine alerted officers to more than 11 pounds of methamphetamine, worth more than $174,500, behind the front bumper.
The drugs and vehicles were seized. The subjects were turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Individuals arrested may be charged by complaint, the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity, which raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent unless and until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A mental competency hearing is scheduled today for a man who was high on methamphetamine when he ran a red light, crashed into a Poway fire truck and killed a 19-year-old passenger in his car.

Robbie Dean Gillespie, 45, pleaded guilty last September to gross vehicular manslaughter while under the influence of drugs and possession of methamphetamine.

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Before sentencing, criminal proceedings were suspended as doctors evaluated Gillespie’s mental competency.

Gillespie was arrested Aug. 1 at his home in the 12000 block of Alta Carmel Court in Rancho Bernardo for the death on June 20 of Evelyn Courtney, an aspiring fashion model.

Deputy District Attorney Dan Link said Gillespie was arrested June 18 for having 1.8 grams of meth in a Poway hotel room. Two men and two women, 18 and 19 years old, were also in the room. Gillespie bailed out of jail the next morning and admitted using meth and marijuana while free, Link said.

On June 20 about 4 a.m., Gillespie got in a car with Courtney, whom he described as a friend, and was driving under the influence of meth when he ran a red light and collided with the front of a fire truck going about 40 mph.

Courtney died at the scene. Gillespie was freed from the wreckage and hospitalized.

Gillespie was arrested but not charged until a traffic investigation was completed. In interviews with news outlets, Gillespie said he was taking Courtney home when the accident happened.

An open alcoholic beverage container was found in Gillespie’s Honda Accord, sheriff’s deputies said.



Two people are facing drug charges after they were reportedly involved in a collision Monday and police discovered suspected methamphetamine inside their vehicle.

Jesus Cruz-Torres, 28, and Marleni Fuentes-Perez, 22, both from San Mateo, Calif., were arrested and booked into the El Dorado County Jail for hit and run, conspiracy to commit a crime, and transportation/sales of methamphetamine after police contacted them regarding a collision near Lake Tahoe Boulevard and Tata Lane.

At 11:38 a.m., South Lake Tahoe police responded to a report of a vehicle traveling westbound on Lake Tahoe Boulevard that reportedly veered off the roadway just east of Tata Lane and crashed into a fence and street light. Witnesses reported that the vehicle, a Jaguar sedan, left the scene of the collision and stopped on Lake Tahoe Boulevard near the intersection of Julie Lane. The driver and passenger switched spots and the vehicle traveled a short distance north on Julie Lane, where it parked in the parking lot of a church, police said. Officers contacted a male and female inside the vehicle. The man was driving when police contacted them, but the female told police she was driving when the vehicle veered off the roadway. There was no evidence that the female was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the collision, police said.

Further investigation caused officers to become suspicious and K-9 Quattro was brought to the scene to assist with a search of the vehicle. During the search, officers recovered about 12 ounces of suspected methamphetamine from inside the vehicle and arrested the occupants.

KANSAS CITY, KAN. – A man from Mexico was indicted in federal court here Wednesday on charges of possessing 15 pounds of methamphetamine, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.
Guillermo Fernandez-Vera, 38, a citizen of Mexico, is charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
Fernandez-Vera initially was charged in December in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.
An affidavit filed in support of the complaint alleges that the investigation began when the Drug Enforcement Administration received information that a man driving a Toyota Tacoma with Mexican license plates could be found at the Drury Inn in Merriam with approximately 15 pounds of methamphetamine.
When investigators stopped Fernandez-Vera’s car on Dec. 26, 2013, they found the methamphetamine in seven large rectangular packages hidden inside the seat-backs of the rear truck seats of the vehicle.
If convicted, he faces a penalty of not less than 10 years and not more than life in federal prison and a fine up to $10 million. The Drug Enforcement Administration investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jabari Wamble is prosecuting.
He is innocent until proven guilty.

Prosecutors have netted a string of guilty pleas among the suspects in an interstate drug trafficking case that’s highlighted the criminal underside of an oil boom sweeping the Northern Plains.

The latest to admit to federal charges was Robert Farrell Armstrong of Moses Lake, Wash., described by authorities as the supplier for a large methamphetamine ring that operated in the Bakken oil patch and elsewhere in Montana.

52e0878b6d370_preview-620This undated photo provided by Washington State Department of Corrections, shows Robert Farrell Armstrong. Armstrong, also known as “Dr. Bob,” is accused by Montana authorities of obtaining pure methamphetamine in his home state of Washington to distribute through a network of couriers across Montana. He pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute during an appearance before U.S. District Judge Susan Watters in Billings, Mont. on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014


On Wednesday, the 49-year-old Armstrong pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute during an appearance before U.S. District Judge Susan Watters in Billings.

He faces a mandatory minimum of ten years to life in prison and a fine of up to $10 million.

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Armstrong, also known as “Dr. Bob,” was arrested in October in a crackdown by state, federal and local authorities seeking to curb rising crime rates within once-quiet rural communities along the Montana-North Dakota border.

Nine other defendants are awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in related cases, and a tenth is scheduled to enter a guilty plea on Feb. 6. Similar cases are pending in North Dakota.

Yet a prosecutor from the Bakken region suggested the arrests have done little to curb an explosion in meth use over the past year, as cheap, high-quality drugs from Mexico flood the market. Valley County Attorney Nickolas Murnion said the well-paid workers drawn to the region’s oil fields have become a “magnet for meth dealers.”

“With all the publicity about the money to be made in the Bakken, that’s become the focus of their market,” he said. “It’s coming up through Mexico, cartel meth, and it’s a lot purer form than the meth people were making a few years ago.”

More than 20,000 people have poured into eastern Montana and western North Dakota since oil production began its meteoric rise in 2008. Tens of thousands more are expected in the next several years as the boom continues.

Since 2008, the number of arrests for all categories in Montana counties that fall within the Bakken region soared from 1,676 to more than 3,000 in 2012, according to the Montana Board of Crime Control. That’s an increase of almost 80 percent.

Offenses involving drugs, drug paraphernalia and equipment used to make drugs tripled over the same period, from 103 in 2008 to 312 in 2012, according to the crime board.

Similar spikes in crime have been seen in North Dakota, including a July bust that resulted in 22 people being charged in a conspiracy to sell heroin and other drugs on an Indian reservation in the heart of the oil patch.

In Armstrong’s case, authorities alleged he obtained wholesale amounts of methamphetamine from Washington state to be distributed through a network of dealers operating across Montana.

Cities and towns where the drug was sold included Sidney, Fairview, Billings, Big Timber, Columbus, Livingston and Bozeman, according to authorities.

Government prosecutors agreed to dismiss additional drug conspiracy and weapons charges against Armstrong in exchange for his admissions, according to a Jan. 3 plea agreement filed by prosecutors.

The government also agreed not to invoke Armstrong’s prior felony drug convictions in Washington state during sentencing.

Armstrong’s court-appointed attorney, public defender Anthony Gallagher, said such a move would have doubled the mandatory minimum prison sentence faced by his client.

Judge Watters set sentencing in the case for May 28.




NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. — In what could have been pulled directly out of the “Breaking Bad” script archives, four people were arrested near New Smyrna Beach after authorities said they were cooking methamphetamine in a camper.
An anonymous complaint about drug activity in a camper near New Smyrna Beach resulted in the arrest of three men and one woman on suspicion of manufacturing methamphetamine Tuesday night. The defendants — three are New Smyrna Beach residents and one is an Edgewater resident – were booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach.
Volusia County Sheriff’s deputies said they responded to Cavedo Street Tuesday night and found a 25-foot pull-behind camper on the property.
Deputies said they saw Tye Lewandowski, 46, come out of the camper with a duffle bag, but Lewandowski jumped behind a shed when he saw deputies and came out without the bag.
As the deputy explained to the man why he was there, he walked around to where the bag was and found it partially open with bottles, liquids and tubing inside.
The deputy said he knew those items were commonly associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine.
When the deputy knocked on the camper door, he said he heard a lot of commotion inside and could also smell a strong chemical odor.
A couple minutes later, Jeffrey Goodwin, 38, Bobby Sutton, 39, and Kathryn Talbott, 28, emerged from the camper, deputies said.
Deputies obtained consent to search the camper and members of the Clandestine Laboratory Response Team found chemicals and equipment used to manufacture methamphetamine.
There was an active cook going on, authorities said, so the trained agents took control and safely dismantled the equipment.
All four suspects were charged with trafficking in methamphetamine, manufacture of methamphetamine and possession of listed chemicals.

Back when Tom Anderson was in the thick of his meth addiction, he was revered by everyone in his social circle. He said that he would walk into a party, and everyone would gather around him.

“That was part of the allure of it,” Anderson related. “I was the man.”

When he first started doing the drug, he said that it was more pure than what is currently being manufactured and distributed throughout cities and communities just like Graham. He said P2P, or phenylacetone based meth, was the more common form of the drug when he started using it 30 years ago.

In Anderson’s evaluation, P2P created a different high, one less diluted by paranoia. He said that one main difference in the meth being made these days involves its manufacturing process, which includes ingredients such as battery acid and fertilizer, elements that burn a hole in the frontal lobe of the brain.

Anderson’s wife, “Lori,” who also wishes to remain anonymous, was a meth addict off and on from 1989 until 2008. According to her, in was much easier to hold a job and not appear strung out while on the P2P version of meth than with its current manifestations.

“You could still go to work and you could function. You still had thought processes,” Lori said of P2P. “But when I relapsed in 2005 and started doing this “ice,” you can’t do anything. I lost the job I had for the last 10 years. I lost everything.”

She added that however damaging the P2P version of meth is, the new versions are far worse.  Graham Police Chief Tony Widner has seen his share of meth addicts. In his opinion, the meth epidemic is also perpetuated by how easy it currently is to make it.

“I don’t think that you see too many lab technicians involved in the production of methamphetamine,” Widner said. “You’re looking at people that are finding recipes on the internet or other places, and then they’re getting as close as they can with their abilities and the resources they have available.”

Newer versions of meth are easier to make, and there are more people trying it, and that is probably why the Andersons believe that it is worse than past versions, Widner said, adding that both versions cause relatively similar detriment to the human body.

To help explain many of the repeat offenders in the recent burglary epidemic currently happening in our town, crimes perpetuated by those who many believe are addicted to methamphetamine, Anderson said that the drug is deceiving.  He said that once meth addiction takes hold, it is almost impossible to turn away from it.

“People that say you can’t get addicted to it don’t know what they’re talking about,” he said. “You do it once, and you may be able to walk away. But you do it the second time, you’re hooked, and it’s got you. And when it’s got you, you don’t care about anything but getting the next high. You lose all sense of morals.”