meth_21396There’s a new twist on an old but deadly drug.  Hundreds of thousands of pounds of methamphetamine are pouring into our neighborhoods — but not in the traditional way.

“We’ve seen a really big trend, and the most common that we’ve been seeing lately, is liquid methamphetamine,” says DEA spokesperson Wendell Campbell.

It could be in a water bottle, soda bottle, even tequila bottles.  Campbell told us the liquid form is typically used for transportation.  A stash on a bus from Houston on Sept. 30 is believed to be the largest seizure of liquid meth in U.S. history.  It was stored in dozens of old soda bottles.

But the problem is much bigger than liters.  Campbell says, “We’ll see a dual tank pick-up truck.  One tank will be full of methamphetamine — the other will be used for fuel going down the freeway.”  That means gallons of combustible chemicals sharing the road with you.  “It is our biggest and number one drug threat coming across the southwest border right now,” Wendell continued.

In Williamson County, Raymond Johnson was recently arrested driving with a couple bottles.  According to the arrest affidavit the deputy did not even realize that the brownish colored liquid inside a Listerine bottle was drugs.  That’s how new this trend is.  The deputy actually let Johnson go with a ticket for not having insurance.  Johnson was later arrested after lab test confirmed the liquid was meth.

Yet, the danger goes beyond transporting it.  A 16 year old died in California earlier this year when he drank liquid meth.  Near Houston last year, six eighth grade girls got high in their middle school when they put paper in their mouths soaked in liquid meth.

In the Austin area, the DEA is particularly worried about what they call conversion labs.  That’s where the liquid is turned to crystal.  The procedure can cause explosions.

“It’s highly concentrated methamphetamine, it’s extremely dangerous,” Campbell says

The DEA says a good gauge of how much meth is coming into our area is the price.  Years ago in the Austin area, meth was $20,000 to $30,000 a kilo.  Today it’s about $8500.



A federal indictment unsealed Thursday implicated 52 members and associates of a San Bernardino street gang in a drug-dealing operation that stretched from a local park to state prisons.

The gang, West Side Verdugo, operated under the direction of the Mexican Mafia, transferring drug profits for lawyer fees and taxing local drug dealers, according to the indictment.

Twenty-one of the men and women indicted were arrested Thursday and pleaded not guilty to the drug conspiracy in U.S. District Court in Riverside, according to Corey Lee, assistant U.S. attorney.

Another 22 were already incarcerated — mostly in state prisons — and their cases will be transferred within the court system, Lee said.

Federal, state and local police were searching for the remaining nine people who were indicted but not arrested.

The federal investigation into West Side Verdugo’s activities lasted at least from Aug. 26, 2010, to Jan. 16, 2012, but the San Bernardino police spokesman, Lt. Rich Lawhead, said local police, who assisted in Thursday’s operation, will continue to put pressure on gangs in the area.

“We are trying desperately to put a dent in the amount of money and everything else that gangs can use to raise their profile,” he said.

By paraphrasing phone and text message conversations, the 90-page indictment — prepared by federal authorities — details an international drug-dealing operation with a hub in San Bernardino.

One of the hub’s directors, as laid out in the indictment, is Jonathan Ray Brockus. He is not a defendant in this case but is listed as a co-conspirator. Lee said Brockus has been indicted in another case.

Lawhead described Brockus as one of the “shot callers” in West Side Verdugo.

According to the indictment, Brockus oversaw heroin and methamphetamine sales in WSV territory, particularly at La Plaza Park, at Seventh Street and Mount Vernon Avenue.

He purchased heroin from a Rialto woman, until she was arrested, and distributed the opiate along with copious meth, authorities said.

Much of the heroin was sold at La Plaza Park, where drug dealers paid a $5-per-day tax to the gang. Other times, authorities said, Brockus mailed small amounts of the drug to inmates in state prison.

On Oct. 13, 2010, guards at Ironwood State Prison in Blythe intercepted 3.6 grams of heroin allegedly shipped by Brockus. Five days later, authorities at Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad found 1.8 grams of heroin in a package Brockus shipped, according to the indictment.

Through a middleman, Brockus told an imprisoned Mexican Mafia member in September 2010 that he would receive a special plate of food from the kitchen for personal use, authorities said.

Other times the drugs were sold in the prison yard. Inmates returned drug profits to Brockus by sending him a blank money order, the indictment said.

The majority of the 502 pieces of evidence listed against the defendants in the indictment center around Brockus.

He controlled most of the heroin and methamphetamine trade in WSV territory, authorities said, by supplying it to or taxing lower level dealers.

However, in early 2011, it appeared a political shake-up within the enterprise began to take form.

On Sept. 11, 2011, defendant Frank Joseph Ramos, “informed Brockus that he no longer had the authority to collect drug taxes from WSV gang members because they were now being collected by” a Mexican Mafia member who is identified in the indictment as “A.R.”




90kgs of Methamphetamine seized in West Perth

Posted: 10th October 2014 by Doc in Uncategorized

Six people have been arrested and approximately 90kgs of Methamphetamine has been seized after a drug bust in West Perth.skynews_img_1200_745

A joint operation between the Australian Federal Police, Western Australia Police, the Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, which had been in progress since July, led to the bust.

The investigation targeted a South-East Asian-based criminal organization suspected of sending members to Australia to facilitate the trafficking of methamphetamine.




HESPERIA — A 30-year-old Barstow woman was arrested on suspicion of methamphetamine possession Thursday morning after she was found passed out in her car at a Hesperia AMPM, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials said.

Authorities said Erin Shelikh, 30, was found by deputies just before 2 a.m. in her vehicle, which had reportedly been parked in front of a fuel pump at an AMPM in the 16800 block of Main Street for over an hour.

Sheriff’s officials said Shelikh was passed out when deputies found her. Later, during an investigation and vehicle search, authorities said deputies found six grams of methamphetamine hidden in the vehicle.

Shelikh was arrested on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine for sale. She was booked into the High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto, and is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail. She is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.




On Tuesday October 7th 2014, Deputies with the Uniformed Patrol Division of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office responded to 1632 Sand Basin Road in Grand Ridge Fl., to investigate a tip from a concerned citizen in reference to possible illegal drug activities. When Deputies arrived they made contact with Lori Hemanes and Sharon Neely. Lori Hemanes lived in the house located at this address and Sharon was living in a camper trailer also on the property. During the investigation a legal search of the property and residences revealed various drug paraphernalia which was consistent with the use of methamphetamine and approximately 316 grams of suspected methamphetamine concealed inside of Lori Hemanes residence. At the conclusion of the investigation, Sharon Neely, who is also currently on State Probation, was placed under arrest and charged with trafficking methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and violation of State Probation. Lori Hemanes was placed under arrest and charged with Trafficking methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

In the State of Florida, the minimum mandatory sentence for trafficking methamphetamine in excess of 200 grams if convicted is 15 years and a fine of $250,000.00.



Lori Hemanes, 36 years old

1632 Sand Basin Road

Grand Ridge Fl. 32442

Charges: Trafficking methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia.


Sharon Neely, 37 years old

1632 Sand Basin Road

Grand Ridge Fl. 32442

Charges: Trafficking methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and violation of state probation



FLORIDA (WKRC) — A mother and her son were allegedly busted for making meth in their home after “butt-dialing” 911.

Police reports said Donna Knope, 55, and her son Jason Knope, 32, were “talking about making and selling methamphetamine” for a half hour as the 911 operator listened to the whole conversation. The operator also heard a bubbling sound in the background, as if something was cooking.

Police went to the house from which the call came and they saw white smoke coming out of a shed. In the shed, they found all the makings of a meth lab.

Donna and Jason were both charged with manufacture and possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell or deliver.

A third person was arrested at the scene. Thomas Stallings, 41, who does not appear to be related to the Knopes was also charged with manufacturing and possessing methamphetamine. He was already on probation.





A Buffalo man and woman were each charged last week in Dallas County Circuit Court with three felony counts — possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine; maintaining a public nuisance; and possession of drug paraphernalia on Sept. 30.

Johnny R. Swigart, 45, and Buffy M. Owens, 42, both of Buffalo, allegedly manufactured and possessed methamphetamine at a residence at 740 E. Madison in Buffalo. They also allegedly did this while a minor child was present in the home.

Swigart’s bond was set at $60,000, and Owens’ bond was set at $50,000.

In his probable cause statement, Buffalo Police Chief Curtis Mayfield reported that on Sept. 30 at approximately 12:15 p.m. he responded to the residence of Buffy Owens at 740 E. Madison to assist the Division of Family Services with a hotline report.

When Mayfield entered the house, Owens was advised by family services that there had been a report made on the residence for unsanitary living conditions as well as a possible meth lab. Owens gave consent to search the residence and said there was no meth lab there, according to the report.

While checking the residence, Chief Mayfield found a juvenile girl sleeping on the living room couch, and Owens said that was her daughter. In the kitchen Chief Mayfield located a male subject who appeared to be asleep on a cot, and he was identified as Johnny Swigart.

Near where Swigart was lying, police located a piece of cellophane which contained a coffee filter, two white saucers containing a white powder substance identified as methamphetamine and a broken knife blade, the report said.

According to the report, Owens said she used the plates to “vamp” the meth from the coffee filter. She allegedly explained that vamping is a term used to describe the process of extracting meth from the filter for use. Also located in the kitchen were three used syringes as well as various pieces of drug paraphernalia, including a plastic funnel, glass bowls with residue, metal spoons with residue, two partially melted plastic bottles and liquid Drano. Chief Mayfield said the residue located on the items field tested positive for the presence of meth.

Believing that they had located items used to manufacture meth, officers asked Dallas County sheriff’s meth-lab technician, Deputy Vic Barber, to respond to the location to assist. Deputy Barber confirmed that the items were in fact a meth lab.

Swigart said that the white powder substance that law enforcement officers had seized was methamphetamine, the report said. He allegedly confirmed that all of the contraband found in the house belonged to him and that he injects meth into his arms and often injects it into Owens’ arms.

He, too, explained the vamping process and said Owens’ juvenile daughter was present when they vamped meth. According to the report, Owens said her daughter was asleep on the living room floor when the vamping took place.



BEMIDJI — A Red Lake woman was apprehended Saturday by Bemidji Police in Bemidji with more than 40 grams of methamphetamine.


Stormie Jasmine Graves, 23, appeared Monday in Beltrami County District Court facing a felony first-degree possession of methamphetamine charge. Graves was arrested at approximately 10 p.m. Saturday outside a residence on the 2300 block of Calihan Ave. NE. Bemidji Police officers were originally in the area responding to a 911 call, according to a criminal complaint.

Officers questioned occupants of a Dodge Caliber parked in the driveway at the residence about the origin of the 911 call. When a passenger rolled down the front window of the car, an odor of marijuana was detected, court documents said. Police officers noticed a plastic micro baggie on the floor, as well as a silver scale in the back between the passengers. Officers searched the interior of the vehicle as well as the four occupants. Graves was in the driver’s seat of the vehicle.

During the search, a plastic baggie containing fresh marijuana and a methamphetamine pipe was seized from the center console, according to the complaint. Approximately 8 grams of methamphetamine was seized from Graves’ purse as well as a methamphetamine pipe, another 5 grams of methamphetamine was found on Graves after she was arrested for meth possession.

Graves was transported to the Beltrami County Jail where correctional officers seized a baggie containing approximately 30 grams of meth which was concealed under Graves’ shirt. All baggies tested positive for methamphetamine, the complaint stated. Officers noted Graves is on probation for a DUI conviction which conditions include abstaining from drugs and alcohol.

A first-degree possession of methamphetamine charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine. Graves is scheduled to appear Monday in Beltrami County District Court. She is being held at the Beltrami County Jail with conditional bail set at $50,000.





Under the influence–Oct. 5, 11:38 p.m. Dallas Drive. A woman was contacted after making paranoid statements during a call to the Campbell Police Department. She was determined to be under the influence of methamphetamine and was on probation. A search of her room revealed a meth pipe.



A suspected meth user’s unique face tattoos helped police quickly identify and arrest him when they responded to a disturbance at a Billings hotel on Sept. 28, according to charging documents.

While police were en route to the hotel, dispatchers described the man’s face tattoos. 54357f2b8be99_preview-620

Officers realized the tattoo descriptions matched those of 40-year-old Michael Ray Hinshaw from having interacted with him before, according to prosecutors.

As police arrived at the hotel on the 5200 block of Midland Road, “they observed him driving away from the hotel at a high rate of speed,” Chief Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Juli M. Pierce said at Hinshaw’s arraignment on Tuesday.

“When he was stopped, BPD finds a syringe with methamphetamine under the seat and empty syringes in the vehicle,” she continued.

The syringe contained 40 units of liquid that tested positive for meth, charging documents say.

At Hinshaw’s arraignment, he pleaded not guilty to felony drug possession and misdemeanor drug paraphernalia possession.

At the arraignment, Pierce asked that bond be set at $20,000 and told District Court Judge Russell C. Fagg that Hinshaw has a “significant” criminal history that includes convictions for burglary, false use of a credit card, forgery, operating a clandestine meth lab, drug distribution and multiple misdemeanor assaults.Hinshaw asked the judge if he could be released from jail without bond.

“I just want to go back to work, that’s all,” he said, adding that he was paroled 10 months ago.

The judge said he couldn’t do that and set bond at $10,000.


When police arrested Hinshaw on Sept. 28, he had a passenger, 26-year-old Amanda Parrish, who was also arrested after she allegedly gave police a false name.

On Tuesday, she pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor obstructing a peace officer and felony drug possession for allegedly having Clonazepam, a sedative, that was not prescribed to her.

Fagg set her bond at $3,000 and ordered her to wear a patch that monitors drug use if she posts bail.

The defendants’ trial dates are yet to be determined.




PUTNAM COUNTY — The driver and the passenger of a tractor trailer were expected to be in court this morning on meth charges after being stopped by the Tennessee Highway Patrol yesterday for speeding.

According to the affidavit, Trooper Michael Robertson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol was stopped a tractor trailer on I-40 for speeding. The driver was identified as Scott Edwin Bunyard of Branson, Mo., and the passenger was identified as Crystal Lynn Williams of Abilene, Texas. Both the driver and the passenger were charged with promotion of methamphetamine manufacture after several items consistent with the manufacture of meth were found.

A syringe containing a brown substance believed to be meth was also found.

The bond for Bunyard and Williams was set at $30,000.




ROCKBRIDGE CO., Va – WDBJ7 got a rare look at just how deadly a popular method of making meth can be. A man in Rockbridge County died this week after deputies say the batch of meth he was making at a rest stop caught fire. Deaths from the making meth don’t happen very often; but it’s an opportunity to show you the danger.

“It is rare,” says sheriff’s office Lieutenant Steve Funkhouser. “It is the first occurrence that I’m aware of here in Rockbridge County.”

Funkhouser was one of the first on the scene at the rest stop. A public location where anyone had the potential to be exposed. It’s the first time deputies in the county saw up close what happens when shake and bake meth making turns deadly.

It was a Powerade bottle an employee at the rest area off the Fairfield I-81 exit chose for his cook. Something went wrong, investigators aren’t sure what, and the bottle blew out from the bottom.

Caustic and flammable liquids like lighter fluid leaked out. A fire started. The man locked himself inside a shed for privacy, but then struggled to open the doors after he was severely burned.

“The danger is grave with the methamphetamine manufacturing,” he says. “The reliability of the shake and bake one pot bottles [and] the danger and the burns that you’ll suffer.”

While it is rare for meth making in plastic bottles to cause major injuries to the cook; it can happen. And the aftermath of charred lawnmower bags and chemicals covering the floor shows what it leaves behind. Also left behind, a mother now without a son.

“It’s probably the most easily accessible [way] to learn how to do it [with] the availability of the products used to manufacture it but the danger is extreme.”

The death investigation is closed. All of the items inside the shed had to be thrown out.



Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents seized more than $92,000 in methamphetamine on Monday.

According to the Yuma Sector Public Affairs Office, Wellton Station agents working at an immigration checkpoint on Interstate 8 referred a Nissan Sentra to secondary inspection following a canine alert.

During an inspection of the vehicle, agents noticed a false compartment within the trunk of the vehicle. When agents opened the compartment they found 28 packages of methamphetamine weighing 30.8 pounds

The vehicle, driver and drugs were taken to the Wellton Station for processing.




AMARILLO, Texas — A state trooper discovered more than 14 pounds of methamphetamine valued at more than $515,000 in a vehicle during a traffic stop in the Texas Panhandle.

The Texas Department of Public Safety says the trooper made the discovery Wednesday after stopping the vehicle traveling eastbound on Interstate 40 for a traffic violation. The stop was made about 30 miles east of Amarillo.

The two occupants of the vehicle, both from Oklahoma City, were arrested for possession of a controlled substance after the trooper discovered the 12 bags of methamphetamine in the vehicle.

DPS says the drugs were allegedly being transported from Phoenix to Oklahoma City.




CRYSTAL RIVER (FOX 13) – Deputies responded to a suspected meth lab in Citrus County, arrested two people, and took two children from the home.

Inside, they say they found meth-making materials and “deplorable” conditions.




The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office released photos showing dozens of plastic bottles. The photos also show the inside of the mobile home in disarray.


Deputies arrested 27-year-old Lindsey Houghwot and 23-year-old Jordan Kennedy. Two minors were taken from the home; the sheriff’s office did not release their ages.

Houghwot and Kennedy each face numerous charges of drug manufacturing and possession.






PEKIN – Pekin Police Department said its meth task force, Operation Copperhead, continues to successfully crack down on drug in the area.

There have been 30 people arrested on meth-related charges since July 1. There have been 70 total meth-related arrests since the beginning of 2014.

Detective Mike Eeten said those numbers are up higher than last year. He said that the number of people involved in the meth-making process and the ease of access to the drug’s ingredients both contribute to the rising number of arrests.

Eeten also said methods of making meth are also changing.

“What we have seen a lot more of is “mobile meth labs,” the detective explained. “We see meth labs set up in people’s cars rolling down the roads which is very dangerous because obviously there’s a lot of volatile chemicals that can explode, causing fire, great bodily injury, even deaths at some point.”

Operation Copperhead started in 2011. It’s a joint effort by the Pekin Police Department and Tazewell County Sheriff.




CLARKSVILLE, TN (WSMV) – With nearly one meth lab bust per week and dwindling funding for officers, Montgomery County Sheriff John Fuson is asking for help in the war on meth. 5055453_G

The growing number of meth labs is not just an explosive danger, it’s quickly becoming a burden on manpower and resources in Montgomery County.

“Tennessee has been bouncing back and forth with Indiana for the top spot in the country for meth labs that are seized,” Fuson said. “Montgomery County’s ranking in the state has been fourth.”

In Montgomery County, there have been 20 meth lab busts since the beginning of the year, and 12 in just the last 90 days. Last month, there were two busts in one morning along Madison Street and Wilma Rudolph Boulevard in Clarksville.

“About 50 man-hours is what it takes,” Fuson said. “You multiply that by three people and you’ve got a big issue there.”

Police don’t want to discourage tips from the public, but the war on meth is getting costly. The drug task force recently lost a $75,000 grant.

“That grant has been paying for one employee plus some operating expenses, some communications, some building rent, gasoline for cars, things like that,” Fuson said.

It can be tough for police to find funding. In many cases, fines are waived. Police can’t confiscate belongings from the home because they’re contaminated with chemicals.

Since so much time is spent on investigating and decontaminating meth labs, other drug seizures are down. Money from assets seized in those busts isn’t there to fund another paycheck.

Monday night, Fuson asked county commissioners for nearly $84,000 to afford at least two salaries.

Even with that money, the drug task force is still down a man.

“We are going to continue to work meth labs like we’ve been working,” Fuson said. “We’re either going to get the resources to keep a leg up on that or we’re not.”

Commissioners should have a decision on the budget for the drug task force on Monday. Meanwhile, Fuson has also reached out to the Clarksville police chief and mayor for help.




A 43-year-old man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to punching his wife, threatening her with an AR-15 rifle and exposing the couple’s children to methamphetamine.53c5da15ae2ba_preview-620q

Dressed in a jail uniform, Adrian Ralph Krell changed his pleas in Yellowstone County District Court before Judge Russell C. Fagg.

Officers arrested Krell on Aug. 15, 2013, after responding to a disturbance at a parking lot off Main Street. Officers found Krell in a vehicle with two young children. He reported he had been in a fight with his common-law wife, according to charging documents.

Officers went with Krell to the couple’s home, where they reported finding loose marijuana on the kitchen floor.

Police also reported finding, in plain view, about 203 glass pipes. Some of the pipes had white crystalline powder in them, while others smelled of burnt marijuana, court records say.

Krell’s wife started crying when an officer said he was there because he was worried she was the victim of violence and wanted to help her, court papers say.

“No, he’ll kill me, he’s right there, I can’t tell you. He’ll kill me,” the woman reportedly told police. Krell was taken outside, and the woman then told police that he had repeatedly punched her in the face and kicked her in the legs, according to charging documents.

The woman also said her husband had pointed a “green rifle” at her and told her she “was dead.”

While searching the home, police found a green AR-15 rifle and methamphetamine-related paraphernalia. Police also searched the vehicle that Krell had been in with his children and found more methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

Fagg scheduled Krell for sentencing on Dec. 23.

Krell will be sentenced for felony counts of assault with a weapon and endangering the welfare of children and misdemeanor partner or family member assault.

His plea agreement recommends a sentence totaling six years to the Department of Corrections, all suspended except for the time he has spent behind bars since his arrest on Aug. 15, 2013, and a minimum of 40 hours counseling.




Two women were arrested on felony drug charges after Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad agents say they found about six ounces of methamphetamine valued at $8,850 inside a Canton residence.

5I7J_Reddin__Darlene BHT4_Zimmerman__Tonya

Darlene Ivy Reddin, 50, of Canton was charged with trafficking in methamphetamine, and Tonya Denise Zimmerman, 40, of Canton was charged with possession of methamphetamine, said CMANS Commander Phil Price.

“Agents observed Ivy arrive at her residence, accompanied by Zimmerman, with about two ounces of methamphetamine in her car,” Price said. “When agents entered the residence, they discovered an additional four ounces of methamphetamine in the house.”

Price said the agents received several tips Reddin might be involved in distribution of methamphetamine in the Holly Springs area, and the investigation began a few weeks ago.

Agents set up surveillance at Reddin’s residence on Rabbit Hill Road in Canton, and on Thursday, they executed a search warrant.

Price said the women were cooperative with the arrest and were taken to the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center.

Both women face felony drug possession charges, Price said.

“Possession of any amount of methamphetamine is a felony, but punishment is enhanced by Georgia law to the offense of trafficking in methamphetamine when the amount exceeds one ounce,” he said.

Heroin is another drug impacting Cherokee County, Price added, but methamphetamine is still the most abused drug in the county.

“While heroin use is on the rise, the crystal methamphetamine imported from Mexico continues to be the No. 1 drug abuse problem in Cherokee County,” he said.

Bond for Zimmerman was set at $11,200 and Reddin is being held without bond, Price said. Both remained in custody at the detention center Tuesday.

The Cherokee Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad is a joint task force investigating drug-related violations in Cherokee County. CMANS is made up of many agencies, including the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office; the Canton Police Department; the Woodstock Police Department; the Holly Springs Police Department; the Ball Ground Police Department; the Cherokee County Marshal’s Office; the District Attorney’s Office for the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit; the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; and the Georgia State Patrol.

Price said residents with information or tips on drug-related violations may call in anonymously to (770) 345-7920, or can talk directly to an agent by calling (678) 493-7625.








Tommy Farmer compares cleaning a methamphetamine lab to finding a handgun on a playground.web1_Meth-Bust4-022714

“If we were to find a gun laying out on a playground, we would render it safe and inoperable, collect all facts and evidence and investigate the crime to bring those involved to justice,” said Farmer, an agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. “With meth labs, that requires some specially-trained law enforcement that are going to have to go through certain procedures with certain equipment.”

Those procedures and that equipment are costly, and law enforcement is struggling to keep up.

Between 2000 and 2010, the federal government provided funding to state and local agencies for cleaning a house where meth was manufactured, Farmer said. He said Tennessee would receive between $2-5 million of funding each year.

“Those dollars were exhausted,” Farmer said Monday. “We stretched existing federal dollars by cutting back on services. The state has kicked in $5 million since 2010. The Drug Enforcement Administration has kicked in. We hoped that budget woes would pass, but right now it doesn’t look good.”

Farmer said without consistent, reoccurring funding, the TBI will have to make major cuts in its methamphetamine program, if not ending the program entirely, on Dec. 31.

“It’s like a three-legged stool,” Farmer said. “It’s very solid until one of the legs break, then it falls down. That’s what we’re facing right now.”

Farmer said cleaning up meth labs involves cooperation at the federal, local and state levels. Ideally, the federal government would provide funding for equipment and supplies to clear the lab, the state provides equipment and training, and local agencies quarantine the house, remove products used in the manufacture of meth and arrest those responsible for its manufacture.

“If the state tried to man every lab, there’s no way we could do it in an efficient way,” Farmer said.

Farmer said the TBI has 15 response trucks around the state specifically for loading and transporting waste from meth labs. He said a single TBI truck may be used by as many as 26 local law enforcement agencies in one day.

“That way they’re sharing equipment and not having to buy their own,” Farmer said. “We also provide training to the local agencies. It doesn’t matter if their in a small town like Mountain City or a metro area like Memphis. They’re all trained and equipped the same way.”

Tennessee implemented the Authorized Central Storage Container Program on July 1, 2011, Farmer said. The program trains law enforcement officers to safely clean up a meth lab, remove and transport the waste to one of 11 locations across the state. The state will hold the lab for no longer than a month before contacting the DEA and surrendering the content of several labs to them at the same time, Farmer said.

He said the state previously had to notify the DEA after each individual lab was emptied, but since the TBI has been able to dispose of waste themselves, they are able to save money by making fewer trips to meet the DEA.

“Prior to 2010, the waste disposal bill for the state of Tennessee was almost $4.6 million,” Farmer said. “That’s just to dispose of the lab itself. Then we started the ACS Container program, and we saved $3.2 million our first year out of the gate. Our waste cost last year was just over $250,000.”

After a law enforcement agency has confiscated equipment used to make meth and quarantined the house that contains it, the responsibility of cleaning the home falls to the property owner, Lt. Bill Doelle, narcotics officer with the Maury County Sheriff’s Department, said Tuesday. 

Most of our meth cookers are renters,” Doelle said. “The people they’re renting from are doing a lot of work to clean these houses.”

To ensure the house is fit for residents again, property owners will call upon a certified industrial hygienist like Barry Westbrook, owner of DocAir in Franklin. Paying a hygienist to clean and inspect the building falls to the property owner, although Westbrook said one of his clients charged a tenant with vandalizing the house he was renting to her so his insurance would pay for the cleaning.

“Certified industrial hygienists were written into the law,” Westbrook said. “The law says that we can go across the quarantine tape and evaluate hazards.”

He said it is the job of building hygienists to clean a surface in the house and test it to see if all contaminants and residue have been removed. The standard of cleanliness, which is set by the State of Tennessee, is so strict that sometimes it is easier to paint or remove a wall rather than give it repeated cleaning, Westbrook said.

But he said the real problem with methamphetamine is the drug itself.

“From a toxicology point of view, I think, how much of a health risk am I going to be exposed to compared to other chemicals in my environment?” Westbrook said. “What I see is, we’re going to an extreme and misinforming the public on the actual chemical dangers of meth. You’ve got one guy injecting it into his bloodstream, and we have to wear protective suits in the house it was made in.”

Westbrook, Farmer and Doelle all agreed that the face of the drug is changing, so the methods for facing it should change as well.

“Years ago, there were all kinds of dangerous chemicals used, like phosphorous and ammonia,” said Doelle, who has been with the sheriff’s department for 33 years. “Now it’s not quite the same thing. Now they make everything in two-liter drink bottles.”

According to the DEA, there were 1,585 meth-lab related incidents in Tennessee in 2012.

Farmer said there are two possible solutions to the problem.

“The solutions are to find some type of reoccurring funding or stop the meth labs,” he said. “In this day and time, drug enforcement has changed forever. We’re always going to have some type of synthetic drug made in a domestic, clandestine setting. We have to have clan lab units, I think. Now the question is, how are we going to pay for them?”




An updated study released on Sept. 23 shows a spike county wide on the growth of methamphetamine use and distribution in Kern County.

The numbers aren’t promising, according to the study released by Kern Stop Meth Now and Kern County Mental Health Department.

The number of meth-related cases have increased since the initial study in 2008, including in Tehachapi, although meth use in the Tehachapi area remains much lower than Bakersfield.

In May, Tehachapi and Stallion Springs police departments participated in the study. Officers for both departments logged what cases that were meth-related in nature.

Of 604 incidents collected from Tehachapi police officers, 84 were confirmed methamphetamine incidents, either alone or combined with alcohol or other drugs.

An additional 45 incidents noted suspected meth use, where officers might suspect an individual was under the influence of meth, but no hard evidence was available.

The total number accounts for 21.3 percent of the incidents logged for the study.

Four meth-related incidents required the removal of children from a home.

In Stallion Springs, the numbers were much lower. Of 211 logged incidents in May, six showed confirmed meth involvement and 22 showed suspected meth-related encounters.

This represented 13.3 percent of all logged encounters in May.

According to the Kern Stop Meth Now report, 50.9 percent of all felonies filed with the District Attorney’s office county-wide are meth-related. This is up from the 37.7 percent in May 2008.

The 2014 study notes that the volume of encounters for May was at 1.3 percent of all the encounters in the county, down from 2.9 percent in May 2014.

However, police officials warned the data does not show the entire picture.

Eight local police departments participated in the study, with documented methamphetamine-related cases ranging from 5.2 percent of encounters to 28.6 percent.

Only a snap shot

While the study shows disturbing trends of meth use, especially for the Tehachapi area, Stallion and Tehachapi police chiefs called it the tip of the iceberg.

“It’s just a snap shot,” said Tehachapi Police Chief Kent Kroeger. He said the data is based only on one month of information and observations collected by participating agencies.

“To say that methamphetamine use is down in Tehachapi is probably inaccurate and a stretch,” Kroeger said. “We’re still seeing a substantial number of methamphetamine-related contacts in the city.”

Kroeger called Tehachapi’s percentage of meth-related encounters disturbing.

He said his department recognizes methamphetamine as a serious issue.

“We are aggressively pursuing all narcotic-related cases, but we’re also taking an educational approach,” Kroeger said. The educational approach is aimed at middle and high school aged children and at parents.

Tehachapi Police Department has also participated in a joint operation with sheriff’s departments from Los Angeles, Riverside County, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency in September. While the department no longer participates in the Kern Narcotics Enforcement Team, it still maintains a relationship.

Stallion Springs Police Chief Mike Grant said the results of the study aren’t completely surprising.

However, he added Stallion doesn’t have nearly as a large of a methamphetamine problem as other communities.

“We don’t have as a big of an issue,” Grant said. Of all the meth-related cases this year, Stallion has not dealt with sales-related cases.

Like Kroeger, Grant called the 2014 meth impact study a snapshot.

“You are only taking a small segment of encounters,” Grant said. “But the report does give you a sense of the bigger picture.”

Indeed, the Kern Stop Meth Now report notes the shortcomings of the May snapshot study. The problems include an inability to determine estimate the prevalence of use, to calculate the impact and costs meth use has on local and county budgets, and variations of the data collected across different agencies.

The report does give a good starting point for tackling meth use in Kern County.

Mental health issues

Stallion’s police department refers people who might need help to Kern County-provided services, including mental health services.

“Meth use and mental health problems kind of co-exist,” Grant said. “People who use meth over a long period typically suffer some mental health issues.”

The 2014 report makes a strong connection between the two. Meth use accounted for 42.6 percent of all Kern County Mental Health substance abuse treatment cases between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014.

Kroeger noted that the Tehachapi area lacks significant mental health resources, but his department continues to try and identify resources it can use.

Community approach

The 2014 Kern Stop Meth Now report places a major emphasis on community outreach and prevention in addition to law enforcement techniques.

With a strain on local and county jailing facilities because of the state’s prison realignment program, education becomes more important, said Dixie King from Kern Stop Meth Now.

King presented the report to the Kern County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 23, and has been involved in a county-wide initiative combat meth use. However, not every method of outreach fits every community.

“We feel very strongly that each community should approach this problem in its own way,” King said by phone on Sept. 23. “Every community’s problem is different and I believe it can only be solved by a community coming together.”

Kroeger said Tehachapi PD is working with LAW Publications on a brochure to educate middle and high school students, and the public at large, on the dangers of drug use.

“It’s critical to get middle and high school kids engaged early and have them understand what the dangers are,” Kroeger said.



GRANGER, Indiana — Indiana State Police are getting a $567,000 federal grant to fight methamphetamine.

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly said this week that Indiana is one of only 10 states receiving the methamphetamine grant from the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

The grant program provides funds to state law enforcement agencies to investigate illicit activities related to the manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine.



LAS VEGAS — A 29-year-old man who sometimes uses the nickname “vampire” has been sentenced to 15 years in prison on drug, gun and immigration charges.

Federal prosecutors say Saul Candelorio Gastellum-Sanchez was a prolific drug trafficker who distributed large amounts of methamphetamine and had returned to the U.S. illegally after being deported in 2008.

He was sentenced Monday, after pleading guilty in May to conspiracy to distribute meth, possession of meth, possessing a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime, unlawfully re-entering the country and conspiring to launder money.

He admitted to trying to sell nearly 500 grams of methamphetamine to an undercover officer.

Authorities who served a search warrant at his Las Vegas home reported finding an AK-47 and two semi-automatic handguns.

Gastellum-Sanchez also calls himself “Vampiro,” Spanish for vampire.



A woman accused of breastfeeding her 2-year-old daughter methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana was in jail Tuesday.

Iuni Moana Malo, 34, pleaded not guilty to a charge of endangerment with a controlled substance.

She was released on her own recognizance last month, pending trial, but she failed to appear for a hearing. She scheduled another hearing and officers booked her back into the Pierce County Jail on Monday.

Court Commissioner Meagan Foley reset her bail at $25,000.

Charging papers and Tacoma police give this account:

Malo had been staying in a motel with a man she’d recently met who offered to let her and the toddler live there for free.

She left the girl alone with the man July 23, and when she came back, she smoked crack with him in the bathroom as her daughter slept. She later woke the toddler to breastfeed.

The next day, she smoked meth and crack, leaving the bathroom door open so she could see the girl, she told investigators. She also opened the front door of the motel room to give the toddler fresh air, she said.

The woman smoked “a blunt” — court documents don’t say containing what — before she left to go to the hospital, breastfeeding the girl again on the bus.

Her main reason for seeking medical attention, she said, was that she thought she had taken some bad drugs and was worried about pain in her stomach and leg after smoking them.

After she told hospital staff members she’d been smoking drugs, they checked the child, who tested positive for meth, cocaine and marijuana. Police put the child into protective custody and arrested Malo.

As part of her request to get a new attorney, she wrote a letter to the court, stating she’s a single parent of eight children, seven of whom are cared for by her mother and other family members.

The 2-year-old she cared for herself, when she could, Malo said.

“I can admit having made poor choices in my addiction regarding my role as a mother,” she wrote. “I tried, your honor, to be the best mother to my two-year-old (daughter). I was homeless for this last year, and God’s grace allowed us to be together on and off.”

She wrote that the experience was a “wake-up call,” and said she wanted to seek treatment for her addiction, pursue education, find a job, pay taxes, take part in church activities and start youth programs.

All of my children’s fathers are absent and refuse to take responsibility for their children,” she wrote. “I’ve been no better through these years, your honor, and a felony will only make things worse.”




NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Two men are busted trafficking pounds of methamphetamine to Nashville.meth3_23933

Metro police conducting a crystal meth trafficking case say they were tipped off yesterday that 31-year-old Michael Dill would be transporting crystal meth into Nashville from Atlanta. They pulled him over at I-24 West and Bell Road late Monday afternoon along with another SUV that detectives noticed followed very close to Dill.

A search of the trail vehicle driven by 25-year-old Zachary Mendenhall led to the discovery of a box containing multiple containers hidden in the floorboard with Michael Dill’s name on it, according to the affidavit. Two Tupperware containers in Mendenhall’s SUV were found to have one pound of meth per container.

Dill allegedly told police that he brought the meth and one vehicle to sell to an individual in Nashville. Mendenhall says he did not know the meth was in the car.

Dill and Mendenhall are booked into the Davidson County Jail on $100,000 bond.