RANGOON — Burmese authorities reportedly seized more than $110 million worth of methamphetamine tablets over the weekend in two separate drug busts near the Thai-Burma border and in the commercial capital Rangoon.

The larger of the two hauls came on Sunday in Rangoon’s Mingaladon Township, where authorities became suspicious of a small abandoned shipping truck and searched the vehicle, finding it packed with nearly 27 million methamphetamine tablets worth an estimated 133 billion kyats (US$110 million).drugs-haul

Deputy police chief Khin Maung Thein from the Myanmar Police Force’s anti-narcotics unit confirmed the massive seizure, but declined to say whether any suspects had been detained in connection with the drug bust.

“It is too early to say who has been detained,” he told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday. “If we make information about this available to the public, all those traffickers [still at large] will escape to the border. We will make information about this [available to the] public later.”

In a separate case in Tachileik, Shan State, Khin Maung Thein also confirmed state media reports that three men had been detained and authorities were continuing to hunt for additional accomplices after police there on Saturday seized a stash of 181,000 methamphetamine tablets and equipment used to produce the drug. The Mirror said the pills had an estimated value of 50 million kyats.

The production and use of methamphetamines has risen sharply in eastern Burma over recent years as anti-narcotics efforts targeting the region’s expansive opiate trade have taken hold.

According to a May 2015 report on synthetic drugs in Southeast Asia by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Burma “is perceived to be the main country of origin for methamphetamine tablets seized throughout the Mekong sub-region and to some other parts of East and Southeast Asia.”

Burma’s illicit drug syndicates are believed to involve an amalgam of ethnic armed groups, state-backed Border Guard Force personnel and an unknown degree of government officials’ complicity.


Phoenix police officers shot a man Saturday morning after receiving a domestic-violence call that involved an armed suspect, officials said.

The shooting, which left the 30-year-old male suspect with non-life-threatening injuries, took place just before 7 a.m. at a house in the 1300 block of North 30th Lane after officers responded to a domestic violence call from the man’s wife. According to police, she reported that her husband used methamphetamine and became agitated and violent toward her at about 2 a.m.

The 31-year-old woman told authorities her husband physically assaulted her and that he retrieved a semi-automatic handgun which he threatened to kill her with if she left the house.

Three children, aged 4 to 10 were also in the house and witnessed much of what occurred, police said. The woman managed to escape the house with her children after several hours and went to a neighbor’s house across the street.

Police responded to the call at 6:10 a.m. and contacted the victim, who informed officers that her husband was armed. One officer stayed with the woman, who said she was afraid of her husband. Another went to the family’s house to confront the suspect, who pointed the handgun at the officer upon arrival, police said.

The officer fired five rounds at the suspect in two separate volleys, hitting him twice, police said.

Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump said the man was transported to a nearby hospital with non-life threatening injuries, Crump said. The officer was not injured during the incident.

Police said charges remain pending once the suspect is released from the hospital.


2397338-LPUTNAMVILLE — A pair of women from the Pittsburgh area were arrested in Putnam County Sunday after police found approximately two pounds of crystal methamphetamine in their vehicle.

At 11:32 a.m., Indiana State Police Trooper Yan Dravigne stopped a 2014 Hyundai Accent with Oregon registration for following too close. The stop was made near the Interstate 70 36-mile marker.2397337-L

Based on conversation with the two female occupants, Dravigne suspected possible criminal activity and requested assistance from Putnam County Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Simmons and K-9 Officer Bo.

After arriving on scene, Bo immediately indicated the scent of narcotics on the vehicle.

Officers located approximately two pounds of crystal methamphetamine in two locations inside the vehicle.

Both the driver, Szophia L. Kress, 22, Heidelberg, Pa., and her passenger, Haley LeBlanc, 23, Pittsburgh, were taken into custody and booked into the Putnam County Jail at 2:30 p.m.

Each woman was initially charged with conspiracy to deal methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine, over 28 grams.2397426-L

Upon review by the Putnam County Prosecutor’s Office, each woman faces three felony charges: Two counts of Level 2 Felony dealing in methamphetamine and one count of Level 3 felony possession of methamphetamine.

No court date had been set as of 1 p.m. Monday.

The street value of the methamphetamine is approximately $30,000.

Dravigne told the Banner Graphic the women were apparently en route from Las Vegas to Pittsburgh.


THE daughter of a Western Australian MP has been fined $1200 for stealing money from her mother during a time she was addicted to ice.

BREE Murray’s 15-year struggle with methamphetamine addiction was made pubic last September when she was arrested on drug charges.

She was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, after being found with three clip seal bags containing 28 MDMA tablets, eight empty bags and scales.

Her father Mick Murray, the Labor member for Collie-Preston, was overwhelmed with messages of support from parents and former addicts when his family’s once-private battle was dragged into the media spotlight.

Murray appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court on Monday where she was fined $1200 for stealing $1705 from her mother during the time she struggled with addiction.

The money was found in her purse when police carried out a search warrant in September at her Bunbury home where she lived with her now ex-partner.

The court heard Murray had triumphed over her addiction thanks to a 16-week residential rehab program, which she had signed up to for another 16-weeks, and was keeping on the straight and narrow.

Mr Murray said last year that when the family learned of Bree’s drug problem, they believed it could be easily fixed.

He said they tried to deal with the issue on their own for too long and urged people to work with the medical profession and friends to address addiction.


“ICE” weighing a total of 23 pounds, or 10,617 grams, with an estimated street value of over $4 million, was seized by the CNMI Division of Customs Services following a routine inspection of a newly arrived container from Guangzhou, China on July 17, 2015. It was the CNMI government’s biggest haul of methamphetamine in recent years.

The “ice” was inside an air compressor which was among the items included in the container shipment. Days later, two men were taken into custody by federal and local law enforcement officers after retrieving the air compressor at the Sunleader company warehouse in As Terlaje. The current street value for a gram of “ice” is $400 with purity levels between 95.9 and 99.1 percent.

On late Friday afternoon, Zhenlin Fang and Yuliu Liu, who are both from Fujian province in China, were escorted by U.S. Marshals for their initial appearance before District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona who informed them of a July 24, 2015 criminal complaint against them involving one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

The judge was told that Fang and Liu are out of immigration status, and that they entered the Northern Marianas separately as tourists. They were remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals after the court hearing.

Fang, born in 1991, resides on Navy Hill, while Liu, born in 1979, lives in Chalan Piao. They were separately arrested in the Lower Base area on July 22, 2015.

The judge scheduled for July 31, 2015 the defendants’ preliminary hearing and allowed for detention of the defendants pending trial which was requested by the federal government.

Court-appointed defense attorneys Steve Pixley and Mark Hanson appeared on behalf of the defendants along with a translator.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Garth Backe represented the federal government. Joining him at the defense table was CNMI Division of Customs Services Officer Raymond M. Renguul, a task force officer with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and special agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

According to court records, on July 17, during a routine inspection of a shipping arriving from Guangzhou, a CNMI Customs inspector noticed an air compressor, which was listed to “Han Lu,” and appeared to have been tampered with, specifically it’s post-fabrication welding.

CNMI Division of Customs inspectors used a fiber optic camera to look inside the tank, and saw a package containing a crystal-like substance. A field test kit was used to determine the content and the results returned a presumptive positive for methamphetamine. A drug-detention dog also alerted to the presence of narcotics.

The tank was opened and Customs inspectors recovered a five square-sized plastic packages, weighing approximately 23 pounds, or 10,617 grams.

On July 21, 2015, the air compressor and the tank were resealed and transported along with the rest of the cargo to the Sunleader company warehouse in As Terlaje where special agents from DEA, CNMI Division of Customs, U.S. Homeland Security, the FBI, CNMI Department of Public Safety, and the CNMI Attorney General’s Office Investigation Unit were deployed.

On the same day, Fang arrived and met with a Sunleader company employee inside the warehouse.

Fang left the area after a couple of minutes and, afterward, investigators learned that Fang had asked about the owner of the air compressor and also how to use it.

Federal and local law enforcement officers continued their surveillance. On July 22, at 2 p.m., a Sunleader company staffer received a phone call from an unknown individual who inquired if the air compressor had arrived. The staffer informed the caller that the staffer would check and call back later.

A few minutes later, a woman called the staffer and inquired about the air compressor. The staffer told the female caller that the air compressor was ready to be picked up. The employee received another call from a woman advising the Sunleader company staffer that a man would be coming to pick up the air compressor.

At 4:30 p.m., outside the warehouse, a white Nissan Quest van briefly stopped, and Fang exited from the driver’s door, and walked to a grassy area. The passenger, Liu, then moved into the driver’s seat, and drove the vehicle to the Sunleader company warehouse, where staffers met with Liu. Afterward, they loaded the air compressor along with two additional boxes, into the rear compartment of the van. Liu handed money to a Sunleader company staffer and received paperwork in return.

Liu then drove away from the warehouse but stopped in the grassy area right before As Terlaje Road where Liu was seen exiting the vehicle, walking to and entering the passenger side. At the same time, Fang exited the grassy area and entered the driver’s door of the van then continued driving onto As Terlaje Road.

Law enforcement officers tracking the van observed that the vehicle was moving at inconsistent speeds and proceeded circuitously through numerous residential and business areas which was described by Renguul as driving patterns by drug traffickers as a means of detecting whether they were being followed by law enforcement.

When the van reached an area on Navy Hill, law enforcers observed a burning piece of paper being discarded from the driver’s side window of the van. The piece of paper burnt had markings consistent with a Sunleader company receipt.

“To prevent the additional destruction of evidence, investigators executed a vehicle stop, and Fang and Liu were arrested and taken into custody,” Renguul told the federal court.

Inside the vehicle, a large quantity of clear Ziploc bags of different sizes were discovered in the front passenger’s side glove compartment.

A search of a bag found on Fang’s person revealed a receipt for plastic Ziploc bags which were purchased also on July 22, 2015, at 3:52 p.m.

Renguul told the court that the Ziploc bags were being used to distribute “ice.”

Liu allowed federal and local authorities to search his residence on Chalan Piao where 130 grams of crystalline substance in a Ziploc bag was found along with several pieces of empty Ziploc bags and a digital weighing scale. When tested, the crystalline substance seized from Liu’s residence yielded presumptive positive for methamphetamine.

Federal and local authorities, after securing consent from Fang, discovered another digital weighing scale from Fang’s residence on Navy Hill.

Variety tried but failed to get a comment from Sunleader company.

Acting Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres on early Saturday evening congratulated local and federal law enforcement agencies.

“We do have an [ice] issue on our islands so I would like to congratulate our law enforcement agencies which are in the forefront of this crackdown,” he said, adding that 23 pounds of “ice” have taken “off our streets.”

“This is a strong message to those who are bringing in such illegal drugs — they will not be tolerated by the administration, and we’re doing everything that we can in order to continue the crackdown on ice trafficking.”

Torres said he is asking “everyone in the community to help and participate in addressing this [ice] issue. If you hear or see it, let’s take action as a community against ice.”


A Delphos man who allegedly raped a female convenience store employee in Salina purchased a carton of cigarettes from the store afterward with money she’d paid him not to hurt her, according to an arrest affidavit.

The affidavit written by law enforcement at the time of Jerrid W. Logan’s July 3 arrest said the woman offered Logan money after he threatened to stab her with his pocket knife and locked her in a bathroom with him at about 5 a.m.

When police attempted to interview Logan after his arrest, he said he was under the influence of methamphetamine. He said he injected meth after getting off work shortly after 1 a.m., and he did not remember anything after that, according to the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, Logan took more than $150 from the woman before sexually assaulting her, then allowed her to get dressed and wait on another customer. After the customer left, Logan used $60.15 of the money she’d given him to buy a carton of Marlboro Red cigarettes, the affidavit said.

When he tried to get her into his car, she refused and backed away, writing down his tag number as he left, the affidavit said.

Later that afternoon, when the woman came to the police department to report that she’d been raped, Logan had already been arrested in connection with an incident at Wal-Mart alleged to have occurred about half an hour before he entered the convenience store.

Wal-Mart incident

Police had responded to Wal-Mart at 4:36 a.m. after a man threatened a customer and an employee with a knife. A female customer there said she had been shopping in the electronics section of the store when a man walked up behind her and held a pocket knife to her side.

The man told her not to scream and to “ditch the cart” and come with him, the woman told police in an interview. He began walking her toward the rear of the store.

The woman pulled away from him and screamed, and the man pushed or hit her, causing her to fall to the floor. The man dropped his knife and punched her in the face at least twice as she lay on the floor, according to the affidavit.

A Wal-Mart employee approached, and the man picked up his knife and pointed it at the employee, who allowed him to pass. He told the employee to help the woman because she needed help.

Surveillance video

Police reviewed surveillance video of the incident and saw that the man left the store traveling west on Schilling Road in a white late 1990s Ford Crown Victoria.

An officer paused the video as the man was leaving Wal-Mart and realized the baseball cap he was wearing and his shirt had a restaurant chain’s logo on them. A co-worker shown the footage identified the man as Logan and said he worked as a dishwasher.

An officer found Logan’s car parked along a Salina street. The name of the street was redacted from the affidavit. Officers knocked on several doors in the area of the car. Logan was found in a bedroom of a residence in the vicinity, after a woman allowed police to search.

The affidavit said officers found a new carton of Marlboro Red cigarettes in a dresser drawer, and a receipt time stamped at 6:04 a.m. July 3 for $60.15 was in his property. He had $85 to $90 on his person, as well as a folding knife with a black plastic handle and a 2 1/2  inch blade in his pocket, the affidavit said.


The first time Christina Moore tried meth was also the first time that she could remember not thinking about the physical and sexual abuse she suffered for nine years at the hand of her father.11874128_388609614669827_1150537587_n

Moore said she was 17 and had just recently told police that her father, who had been in and out of prison for sexually assaulting other girls, had been doing the same to her.

“I was in an abusive relationship and couldn’t stop thinking about what my father had done to me. My boyfriend did meth and I decided to try it,” Moore said.

“It became my way to cope. It was an incredible feeling of relief.”

Moore, now 33, lives in Ithaca and is currently facing an August sentencing for meth possession charges. Her husband was sentenced to 18 months to ten years prison sentence for possession in the same incident. His criminal history with the drug is long, and he was on parole when they two were arrested at their home in April.

Moore says she’s never been in criminal trouble for meth until this year. That doesn’t mean she hasn’t had problems stemming from her addiction.

“When I was doing meth, I didn’t have dreams about abuse, from my father or ex-boyfriends or ex-husband. I was busy, my brain was busy,” Moore said. “Really I didn’t care about anything.”

Moore said she went through a string of bad relationships — including a failed marriage — and would often fall on meth use to live through the pain. Meth binges, sometimes lasting months or years, would be broken up by long periods of sobriety, specifically when she was pregnant with her four children.

Each time though, she would go back to meth.

“For an addict, it always starts like, ‘it’s just this one time, it isn’t going to kill me,” Moore said. “It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been clean. There are triggers, there’s always the urge.”

Moore says the years before 2012 were some of her darkest, at times smoking four or five times a day to stay high.

Meth has a way of grabbing a hold of someone,” she said.

She’d fall into using, then find a way to be clean, then back into drug use. In 2006 she tried to kill herself.

“I felt unworthy all the time,” she said. “Everything, addiction, the meth; it can sink you.”

It took a new relationship and new lease on life –– and a sudden move several counties away to Gratiot in 2012 –– for Moore to feel more in control of her addiction.

“I thought, if I can get away. I can get away from the people. Everyone I knew in Jackson County did drugs. So I stopped answering my phone, stopped answering the door. I just picked up and moved,” Moore said.

Her husband, in prison at the time, joined Moore and the children in Ithaca eventually and got a job secure enough for Moore to stay home full-time with their growing family.

Moore said the two were sober for almost three years, the longest stretch she can remember in her adult life.

“I saw the signs, and I felt the triggers,” Moore said. “There’s a taste I get in my mouth, almost like a craving. I saw the signs in my husband.”

And over time, little by little, people from her past brought the drug with them when they visited. Moore said at first she and her husband refused the meth offered to them, but then it became too hard to say no.

In the first four months of this year, the Moores dealt with the anniversaries of the deaths of Christina’s mother, her husband’s young child and her grandmother.

She coped the only way she knew; she smoked meth to stop thinking of the past, to block out the pain.

“If I could do anything, I wish I would have asked for help. But we were afraid of the consequences. My husband was on parole. He was afraid his parole officer would say he was better off back in prison if he admitted to wanting to do drugs,” Moore said.

Moore can’t talk about the day she was arrested without crying. She and her husband were both home with all four of their children when police knocked on the door.

“I think about how ignorant we both were, my kids saw that, they saw the police come into their home,” she said. “I know that’s something they will always remember.”

Moore said that although Child Protective Services investigated, she never lost custody of her children. If she does get a jail sentence, the children will live with her mother-in-law during that time.

The arrest and the affect on her children pushed Moore to approach this stretch of sobriety in a completely different way. She set out to learn coping skills that didn’t involve getting high.

“That was my rock bottom. I will never do this again. I needed to find help,” She said.

Moore said she struggled to find addiction help, and even when she found it, obtaining the help wasn’t simple.

“The state will arrest you, they’ll take your children away. People will judge you, call you a deadbeat and loser and even worse. But no one has a path to help you,” Moore said.

“We need to get rid of the stigma of addiction. We need to use our voices, our compassion.”

Moore found a way to get counseling for herself. For the first time in her life, she said is dealing with her past instead of numbing the pain.

In addition to counseling, Moore writes about her addiction constantly to sort through her thoughts and feelings. She’s just started on her third 180-page spiral notebook since April.

Moore has also founded a drug addiction support group in Ithaca.

“I wanted a place for people to go, here. Gratiot County has a drug problem. There are people who need help, support,” she said.

Moore’s not wrong about the growing drug problem in the county. The Gratiot County Prosecutors Office saw an increase in charges related to meth, cocaine and heroin of nearly 40 percent from 2012 to 2014.

“Addiction is a disease, it’s as common as cancer or diabetes,” Moore said. “We deserve help, an addict can be anybody. It crosses all lines, and no one wakes up one day and thinks, ‘I want to be addicted to meth.”

For Moore, she says she feels counseling and a support system have made all the difference.

“My kids need me. I am worthy. I see that now,” she said.

Moore, who hopes her support group will grow, said anyone interested in attending a meeting or getting more information can reach her at 989-400-0255 or ammndm2011@gmail.com.


A little sleuthing by Winchester City Police that included some dumpster diving has resulted in a Winchester couple being charged with the illegal possession of a narcotic drug.

On July 1, Winchester residents Nathan Fowler, 38, and Misty Fowler, 34, were both charged with possession of a narcotic drug, a Level 6 Felony that carries a term of up to 30 months in jail upon conviction.

Randolph Superior Court Peter Haviza issued a warrant for the couple’s arrest last week after they failed to appear for an initial hearing set for July 16. The couple was arrested on Friday by Winchester City Police and transported to the Randolph County Jail.

An initial hearing on the charges for both Fowlers was held on Monday, where the judge set a Jan. 6 jury trial date. The couple was released from jail after the hearing and ordered to appear for all hearing dates.

According to an Affidavit for Probable Cause filed July 1, Nathan Fowler has prior arrests for possessing cocaine or a narcotic drug, possessing a syringe and maintaining a common nuisance. Misty Fowler, according to the same affidavit, has a prior arrest for possessing marijuana and maintaining a common nuisance.

Police officers with Winchester and the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department began an investigation into the Fowler’s activities in February after law enforcement became aware of multiple purchases of pseudoephedrine by Nathan Fowler. Pseudoephedrine is a primary ingredient in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

The probable cause affidavit states that during the early morning hours of Feb. 27, an Winchester police officer was able to collect trash from a trash tote registered to the North Meridian Street home where the Fowlers lived. The trash tote had been placed along a city street for collection by a garbage truck later that morning. The bags of trash were taken to the basement of the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department for an inspection. Officers reportedly found various items that later were tested positive for residue of methamphetamine and heroin.

Officers again collected trash from the trash tote registered to Fowler’s residence during the early morning hours of March 6 and on April 10, which in both cases had been along a city street for trash collection, according to the Affidavit for Probable Cause. Evidence that tested positive for methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia was found from inspection of the trash collected both times, according to the report filed with the court.

Also found in the trash on April 10 was a credit card belonging to a woman who had reported her purse stolen from a vehicle in September 2014.

Officers reportedly conducted a search of the North Meridian Street home on April 15 after obtaining a search warrant. Although the Fowlers had recently moved out of the home, officers reported that the house still contained furniture, clothing and other personal effects belonging to the Fowlers. During the search, officers reportedly found pieces of aluminum foil with residue, a plastic bag with powder residue and gel tabs. The gel tab later tested positive for heroin by the Indiana State Police Lab.


Methamphetamine is easier to get in Marlborough than cannabis, a former drug-dealer and user says.

The Blenheim man, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the meth market in Blenheim was booming.

And the drug scene in Marlborough was only getting worse, he said.

Despite being clean for almost four years, he knew about 30 people he could buy meth from in Blenheim.

“At the moment a $100 bag of meth is easier to get than a tinnie.”

He started using as a teenager, and soon learnt how to cook it.

“Once you know what you’re doing it’s like making a scone mixture.”

By the time he was 18-years-old he was a regular user, smoking about 0.25 grams a day.

He did not stop until he was 25.

In Marlborough, 1g of the drug sells for between $900 and $1200 on the street, but his manufacturing operation meant a steady supply at little to no cost.

When he first started, he had a constant elevated heart rate when he was using, and a “bucket-load” of motivation.

“I was 100 per cent aware of what I was doing when I was on it,” he said.

“It’s like having 40 cups of coffee at once, but with a huge release of dopamine in your brain.”

He was also an emotional user, and relied on the drug to pick him up after a fight with his partner or a bad day.

If anything went wrong, he turned straight to meth, he said.

After a five month break from the drug – “because I felt I needed to” – he got back on it, and gradually upped his intake, until he was having between 1g and 2g a day.

“As soon as you stop, you’re drained. You’re tongue’s tingling, your blood pressure is so low, all you do is lay on the couch and sleep for four days.”

When he woke up it felt like he had been beaten with a baseball bat, he said.

“All your joints ache, everything hurts, so you recharge and you’re good to go.

“I was one of the worst addicts you can get. I was flat out addicted.”

Without it in his system, he lacked motivation and energy, so to get up and go to work, he had to have more, he said.

Eventually, the drug lost some of its effect.

He would be awake for two weeks straight, but not have the motivation to do anything.

Besides from breakfast, which he ate before he took the drug, food was never a priority.

He looked sick.

“That’s probably one of the worst things about it, your appearance. You see people you haven’t seen in a while and they ask if you’re dying of cancer.

“You know what you’re doing to yourself is terrible. Your face is white, your eyes are black. You just reek of drug addict.”

The shame and judgment he felt around people who did not use meant he mostly hung out with fellow users.

But then he made the decision to stop, and over the next 12 months, he weaned himself off the drug until he woke up one morning and did not take anything.

When that happened, he slept for six weeks, getting up only to eat and use the bathroom.

Giving up was harder than he thought it would be, and not using was harder still, he said.

He could barely function without it and woke up thinking about meth.

Over the next year he put on more than 30 kilograms, and six months after that he felt as though he had fully recovered physically.

Mentally, he still wasn’t “back to normal”, he said.

“The damage you do to your brain is 100 per cent permanent. I don’t feel the same, and I don’t know if I ever will.”

Marlborough area commander Inspector Simon Feltham said police were aware methamphetamine was available in Marlborough.

The majority of methamphetamine was transported to Marlborough from other regions. Often it was moved on before police got the chance to act on information, he said.

It was difficult to know if the drug was more readily available compared to previous years.

“There’s certainly an ongoing supply in Marlborough and police are making significant seizures as a result of operations targeting drug sales and supply.”


Catherine Silver-Martin watched sternly as officers dressed in hazmat suits carried plastic bottles, aluminum foil, and chemicals from her neighbor’s Varney Street home Friday.

“I suspected it,” the Port Huron woman said as she watched Port Huron police and St. Clair County Drug Task Force across the street. “But I didn’t realize the magnitude of what he was doing.B9318191104Z_1_20150725173123_000_GAHBEITPR_1-0

“I’m glad they’re here. I’m glad they’re taking out these meth labs.”

From January through mid-June, the St. Clair County Drug Task Force made 17 raids involving methamphetamine and seized about 165 grams of the drug.

That’s nearly as many meth raids as the task force totals for each of the last three years.

“That is the popular drug right now and it happens to be the most dangerous,” said St. Clair County Sheriff Lt. Kevin Manns, who leads the task force.

Meth is not only dangerous to the user, but the people around them as well.”

Danger is one thing. Time is another.

The increase in methamphetamine labs, busts and fires has been consuming the time and efforts of the St. Clair County Drug Task Force and other law enforcement officers, Manns said.

Heroin and cocaine continue to be a challenge for law enforcement, Manns said. But meth — a highly addictive stimulant — can create fumes and fires during and after production that threaten more than just the user.

The volatile waste requires special training, careful handling and monitoring until it can be disposed of by the Michigan State Police.

“It’s a waste of a lot of resources,” Manns said. “Not only do you have police departments tied up, you also have fire and rescue. Sometimes they’re there a whole day.”

And St. Clair County isn’t the only area encountering problems. The state as a whole has seen a rise in the drug.

Michigan State Police cataloged 645 meth incidents statewide in 2013, 861 in 2014, and 330 so far in 2015.

An increasing burden

In 2012, the St. Clair County Drug Task Force made seven raids involving methamphetamine. In 2013, 13. In 2014, 24.

With 17 meth busts in the first half of the year, 2015 is on track to beat any prior numbers.

Manns said the drug’s homegrown appeal and easily accessible directions online have increased its popularity.

What once took a chemist to make can now be produced in a 2-liter pop bottle with items bought at Meijer or Wal-Mart. It can be made in a car, in a home, in a shed and it typically doesn’t travel far.

“The stuff that they’re making they’re generally making for themselves or for local sale,” Manns said.

That’s different from other drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, which are usually funneled in from outside the area.

The only meth ingredient semi-controlled through pharmacies is pseudoephedrine tablets. But meth producers have found ways to sidestep restrictions by hiring people to buy the tablets in exchange for some of the finished product — a practice referred to as “smurfing.”

St. Clair County Sheriff Tim Donnellon said further restrictions on pseudoephedrine would allow officers to get a handle on the growing problem.

“You have to have more control over the components of it,” Donnellon said.

“There’s no shortage of people who do this. You have to make it harder for them.”

A drain on resources

The production leaves a trail of dump sites with empty camping fluid canisters, batteries with the lithium strip peeled out, pseudoephedrine blister packs and boxes and 2-liter plastic bottles with a powdery residue inside.

The St. Clair County Special Response Team is trained to contain and raid a meth lab, Manns said. The Drug Task Force then is equipped to bring the evidence out and process it.

But to dispose of the meth lab waste — whether it’s found during a raid or at a dump site — a special team form the Michigan State Police is needed for transport.

He said state police have been so busy with disposal that they now only respond during business hours.

If the Drug Task Force raids a meth lab at the end of the day Friday, deputies would have to wait until Monday morning for the state police to respond.

Both the St. Clair County Sheriff Department and the Port Huron Police Department have plans this year to train some officers and deputies in transport and disposal to speed up the process.

“It’s been a real burden for us financially,” Donnellon said. He added that meth raids, processing and disposal pose added risks to law enforcement.

“Stuff gets dumped, covered with snow and then discovered when the snow melts,” Donnellon said. “We had one that sat under snow all winter and ignited when they tried to move it.”

Homes, cars, hotels and garages also are at risk, not only for fires after or during meth lab production, but also for long-term contamination.

Cleaners specially trained in meth decontamination are forced to dispose of most fabrics and items in the home as the lingering fumes from production can be harmful to people living in the home.

Port Huron Public Safety Director Michael Reaves said a few city fires have been attributed to meth activity in the first half of 2015, including house fires on Court and Wall streets, and a car fire at Harker and Stone streets.

“We’ve had multiple fires related to the cooking and processing of methamphetamine,” Reaves said. “It’s a risk that branches out into other areas and it affects the whole neighborhood.”

Reaves said the city recognizes that the issue is more prevalent in Port Huron, but it’s not unique to the area either.

Of the 17 meth raids the Drug Task Force conducted in the first half of 2015, five were in Port Huron.

The rest were spread out among Fort Gratiot, Port Huron Township, Algonac, Kimball Township, Marysville, Clyde Township and St. Clair Township.

There also were several meth raids and busts initiated by Port Huron police, and not included in the Drug Task Force numbers.

“We’ve stopped people walking with it in a backpack. People on bicycles. People in cars,” Reaves said.

“It’s extremely time consuming. It sucks resources that we candidly don’t have.”

The Varney Street raid Friday by the Port Huron police was the second of two suspected meth labs found in fewer than 24 hours.

The raids were part of the grant-funded Operation Neighborhood Take-Back.

Other influences

While the use and production of meth continues to drain law enforcement resources, authorities also continue to address a growing opiate-based prescription pill and heroin addiction.

And problems with cocaine, once the dominant threat in St. Clair County, have never gone away.

The Drug Task Force has seized 105 grams of heroin and 401 grams of cocaine in the first half of the year.

The unit seized a total of 428 doses of Xanax, Hydrocodone, and Oxycodone, and hundreds of tablets of other prescription pills.

Authorities also seized 3,102 grams of marijuana and 187 plants.

The number of overdose deaths involving heroin rose from 15 in 2011 to 34 in 2014, according to the St. Clair County Medical Examiner’s office. Twenty-one of the deaths in 2014 were due to a heroin-fentanyl mixture.

Donnellon said drug-related overdoses, usage and busts have increased dramatically over the past 10 years.

“We didn’t have a fraction of the issues we have now,” Donnellon said. “It’s a crisis.”

The Drug Task Force has arrested 143 people in the first half of 2015, and filed 173 felony charges and 135 misdemeanor charges.

Fifty-three of those arrested claimed Port Huron residency and 32 of the Drug Task Force’s 61 raids occurred in Port Huron.

Nine of those arrested claimed Detroit residency. Donnellon said it’s likely several of the other 134 people arrested are from Wayne County, but claimed St. Clair County residency after living here for a short time period.

The Drug Task Force is a multi-agency unit made up St. Clair County Sheriff deputies, and members of the Port Huron Police Department, St. Clair County Prosecutor’s Office, U.S. Border Patrol, and U.S. Air and Marine.

It is funded through a .2803-mill tax that is up for renewal in 2016.

Effects of Methamphetamine Usage

  • Methamphetamine is a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant.
  • In small doses, meth creates euphoria, paranoia, hyperthermia, decreased appetite and increased physical activity.
  • In larger doses, meth can lead to an increased heart rate, hypertension, convulsions chest pain, stroke, renal failure, tremors and irreversible damage to the blood vessels in the brain.
  • Long-term usage could lead to paranoia, insomnia, hallucinations, severe dental problems, delusions of parasites or insects on the skin, violent tendencies.

Source: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (formerly Michigan Department of Community Health)


WASHINGTON — A growing number of Texans are seeking treatment for methamphetamine addiction, reversing a downward trend in abuse in the state since a 2006 federal law banned over-the-counter sales of medicine containing the synthetic drug pseudoephedrine.

Last year 6,219 Texans sought substance abuse treatment for methamphetamine and amphetamine addiction, up 590 from the previous year, according to the Treatment Episode Survey data from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In 2014, 15.8 percent of people seeking addiction help in Texas listed amphetamines as the primary drug of abuse. Both the number of people in treatment and the percent of people seeking help for the drug were higher last year than in 2006, when the law meant to curb methamphetamine abuse was passed.

“We’re in the middle of a methamphetamine epidemic,” said Jane Maxwell, research director at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Social Work, who released a report last month on methamphetamine use in Texas.

Treatment Episode Survey data for 2013 and 2014 is not yet available for all states, but experts say a national household survey that measures methamphetamine use nationally hasn’t indicated much change in recent years.

“Even though it doesn’t look like a huge problem nationally, it’s a very big problem in some areas,” said Dr. Mary-Lynn Brecht, an adjunct professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studies methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine, chemically similar to amphetamine used in attention deficit disorder medication, is a synthetic, highly addictive drug that acts as a stimulant. The drug’s crystal form can be concocted in a lab, while weaker meth recipes can be made in car trunks and one-liter bottles. Methamphetamine users smoke, snort and inject the drug.

Maxwell said the numbers for the drug’s abuse in Texas are higher than ever before. South Texas, an area that was traditionally heroin country, is reporting more methamphetamine use on the streets, she said.

The increase in Texans seeking substance abuse treatment may in part be because more methamphetamine is being imported from Mexico and what’s coming in is more potent, Maxwell said. When the 2006 federal law went into effect, users got off the drug because there was less available. Now, many who liked methamphetamine before are going back to it, she said.

Methamphetamine is also cheap, said Mason Chambers, an admissions specialist at the Council on Recovery, a drug treatment program in Austin. Chambers said he has noticed an upward trend in people coming in for meth treatment, noting that the drug also seems to be in the spotlight, receiving attention on television and in popular culture.

Jack Feinberg, the Texas vice president of the Phoenix House, a substance abuse treatment program that operates centers for youths in Austin, Dallas and Houston, said more children are coming in for methamphetamine treatment in the last month.

“If the kids are getting it, that means it’s available on the streets and it’s not very expensive,” Feinberg said.

There is some evidence that treatment programs are working.

Tyelur Watkins, 18, sought treatment for methamphetamine and heroin addiction last year at the Phoenix House in Austin. Watkins was introduced to methamphetamine through a friend at age 16, he said in a phone interview.

Watkins, who was regularly smoking marijuana at that time, said he wanted to get high one day but his friend only had methamphetamine. He decided to try it and was hooked. Even without a car, Watkins said he and his older friends didn’t have trouble buying the drug.

“It was kind of easy because everyone was so far into it,” Watkins, who has been sober for eight months, said. “They knew a bunch of people — and I started getting to know those people.”

Recovering addict Brandi Townsend, 34, said she started using methamphetamine at age 13 after being introduced to the drug by a close relative. In Austin, Townsend said, the drug was everywhere.

“For a long time the drug worked for me, it gave me confidence and gave me energy, and it was fun,” Townsend said. “Over the years it just stopped working. It caused paranoia and fear and it was debilitating.”

Now Townsend has been off methamphetamine for over 17 months after going through treatment at the Council on Recovery in Austin.

Maxwell said the recent popularity of methamphetamine in Texas has to do with where the drug is coming from. Much of it used to flow into the state from California. Now it’s being brought into the country from Mexico.

The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act, enacted as part of the U.S. Patriot Act in 2006, aimed to interrupt what experts refer to as the cottage industry of methamphetamine production. Cold medicines like Sudafed that contained ingredients used to make meth were moved behind the counter at pharmacies as a result. When pseudoephedrine, a main ingredient in meth, was readily available, people could easily make the drug at home.

“It’s harder to produce in your house because it’s harder to get ephedrine and pseudoephedrine,” said Dr. Paul Gruenewald, scientific director at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Oakland, California. “But it’s easier to get from the cartels.”

Joseph Moses, a spokesman and special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, said that while there has always been some methamphetamine coming into the country from Mexico, the problem has been growing. Since the pseudoephedrine ban, people could no longer buy out medicine cabinets’ worth of the drug to make it in bulk. But methamphetamine is still around.

“It didn’t end the problem,” Moses said in a phone interview.

Nationally, methamphetamine use hasn’t changed much, according to Dr. Peter Delany, director for the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in Washington. The drug does ebb and flow in different states at times, though, Delany said.

“From a national standpoint methamphetamine remains a drug that is being used at a level that raises public health concerns,” Delany said.

Maxwell said her research in Austin is showing the reach of methamphetamine is growing outside of Texas and moving east of the Mississippi to cities like Atlanta.

Data from the Treatment Episode Survey shows a consistently rising number of people seeking treatment in Georgia for amphetamine and methamphetamine. More than 4,000 Georgians sought treatment for the drug 2014, up 407 from the previous year and 1,143 more than in 2012.


A woman who became stranded and gave birth in a Northern California national forest says she took methamphetamine to get an energy boost after delivering her daughter.

Amber Pangborn, 35,  told the Chico Enterprise-Record that her daughter is healthy, but Butte County Child Protective Services placed the baby in foster care. She says she’s trying to regain custody after both she and her daughter tested positive for meth.879732_800x450

Pangborn said staff at the hospital where she was treated notified social workers because of the nature of the birth. Pangborn delivered in the backseat of her broken-down car in Plumas National Forest in June.

Pangborn said she got lost while travelling back roads between casinos in her native Paradise, a small town about 90 miles north of Sacramento.

She said she fended off insects, hunger and thirst for three days before lighting a brush fire to summon help. The quarter-acre fire worked and she and her baby were rescued.

She told the paper she voluntarily gave up parental rights to three older daughters after her husband killed himself. Butte County Child Protective Services officials declined to discuss Pangborn’s case.

Pangborn said she got the methamphetamine from a man whom she had given a ride the night she got lost. She said she used it to keep up her energy while stranded.

Pangborn said the experience has been devastating and depressing. She said her baby is healthy and thriving and she doesn’t pose a danger to her daughter.

“There’s no risk to my daughter or anything,” Pangborn said.


Linn County sheriff’s deputies, Lebanon area police and agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration on Friday morning announced the arrest of three Lebanon residents on accusations of methamphetamine possession and child endangerment.

Linn County Sheriff Bruce Riley said deputies served a search warrant at 7 a.m. Thursday at a residence in the 30100 block of Horseshoe Loop and seized methamphetamine, packaging material, digital scales, surveillance equipment, drug paraphernalia, a police scanner and $550 in cash.18394053-mmmain

They also seized three firearms and property allegedly stolen from Linn, Lane and Marion counties, including 36 street and road signs, two all-terrain vehicles and a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck.

Gary Dean Nofziger, 57, was arrested on accusations of unlawful delivery of methamphetamine, unlawful possession of methamphetamine, three counts of felon in possession of a firearm, first-degree child neglect and three counts of possession of a stolen vehicle. He is held on $56,000 bail in the Linn County Jail.

According to court documents, Nofziger was convicted of assault and menacing in 1996 and felon in possession of a firearm in 1997. He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Linn County Circuit Court.

Frances Lea Branton, 59, and Penny Sue Decosta, 54, were both arrested on accusations of unlawful possession of methamphetamine and endangering the welfare of a minor. They were both booked into the Linn County Jail and later released.

Branton was convicted of interfering with a probation officer in 2010. Court records show that Decosta was convicted on drug delivery charges in 2000 and first-degree forgery in 1988.

Riley said a 16-year-old girl who lived there was released to the custody of her mother.


LANSING, Kan. — A woman accused of taping drugs inside her girdle and sneaking them into the prison where she works is now set to go to trial.

Jacqueline Doty, 59, faces seven charges for allegedly bringing illegal narcotics into the Lansing Correctional Facility, where she worked as a contractor for a company that educated inmates.prisonsmuggler

According to court documents, last June Doty was strip-searched by a special security team who found three packages tucked into a girdle, wrapped under tape and an ACE bandage. The packages allegedly contained marijuana, methamphetamine, synthetic marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

She also faces charges of trafficking contraband and using a cellular phone as a device to do a drug transaction.

“We take any case seriously, including anything that happens in the correctional facility, where people are there to be punished by law,” said Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson.

FOX 4 attempted to reach Doty’s employer by phone, but the call has not been returned. The Leavenworth County Jail confirms Doty is on release status. Her trial is set for early November.


POLK COUNTY, TX (KTRE) – Deputies with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man and woman on child endangerment charges after searches of two homes on White Cove of allegedly turned up methamphetamine in the rooms where their baby boys slept..8399325_G

Lauren Ashley Boyd, 27, of Trinity, and Clinton Zane Loving, 40, of Spring, are still being held in the Polk County Jail. Each person was charged with state-jail felony child endangerment.

In addition, Loving was charged two additional felony charges – manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance between 4 and 200 grams and possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram. Boyd was also charged with felony possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram.

Collectively Loving’s bail was set at $110,000. Boyd’s collective bail was set at $45,000.8399333_G

According to the arrest affidavits, PCSO detectives responded to homes in the 300 and 400 blocks of White Oak Cove on Wednesday in reference to tips about high traffic and the possible distribution of meth from the residences.

Once they were on the scene, the detectives collected evidence which resulted in them getting a search warrant for the two homes and the adjoining properties.

The detectives found Loving to be in possession of a large quantity of meth and two Oxycotin pills, the affidavit stated. Once the detectives got a warrant to search Loving’s home, they also reportedly found meth in the room where Loving slept alone with his 2-month-old baby boy

At the other home, the detectives found a large amount of meth in the same room where Boyd’s 1-month-old baby boy slept, the affidavit stated. According to the affidavit, Boyd admitted to using meth.


MARSHALL, TX (KSLA) – Marshall police have made 3 arrests in connection with a pair of narcotics search warrants carried out early Friday morning that they say turned up drugs and weapons.

According to Marshall police, a SWAT team, along with the MPD Patrol Bureau and Criminal Investigation Bureau executed the warrants around 5:45 a.m. on two homes known to police as possible drug suppliers.


The first warrant was served at 1700 South St. in Marshall. Police say two people inside the home were arrested after officers found a stolen Sig Sauer pistol, 16 grams of suspected methamphetamine, and nearly 4 grams of suspected crack cocaine.

SWAT teams carried out a second warrant at 1401 South St., almost three blocks away from the first bust. There, officers found 6 grams of crack cocaine, 10 grams of meth and a Hi Point semi-automatic pistol.

Jesse Washington III, 19, of 1700 South Street was arrested charged with 1 count of manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance penalty group 1, greater than 4 grams and less than 200 grams and 1 count of manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance penalty group 1, greater than 1 gram and less than 4 grams and theft of a firearm.

Kevin Scott, 21, also of 1700 South St. was also arrested and charged with theft of a firearm.

From the bust at 1401 South St., Tyrone Shaw, 34, of 1401 South St. was charged with with 2 counts of manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance penalty group 1, greater than 4 grams and less than 200 grams.

“I am proud of the men and women of the Marshall Police Department who participated in this operation,” said Chief Jesus “Eddie” Campa in a statement announcing the arrests. “We continue to send the message that criminals are not welcome in our community.”


ALBION — A total of 17 people have been charged in connection with a seven-month drug investigation, the Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force announced Friday evening.

Task force members executed four search warrants at locations including two methamphetamine labs, and made numerous arrests over the past few weeks.55b304cd2dfbd_image

Crack cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana were seized, along with ingredients for meth manufacturing, police said.

Task force members also allegedly recovered a loaded .45 caliber pistol, along with more than $14,000 in cash, plus scales, packaging and other drug paraphernalia.

Two of the search warrants were executed Thursday at meth labs on 4706 East Shelby Road in Shelby, and 12801 Ridge Road in Gaines, task force members said.

It was determined that a camping trailer on the Shelby property contained an active meth lab, and was occupied by two people at the time.

Task force members said they seized more than five ounces of meth, along with numerous other items used to produce and manufacture the drug, and other items associated with drug sale, distribution and use.

Orleans County sheriff’s deputies and state police SORT team members assisted the meth lab raids. The East Shelby Fire Department also responded as a precaution.

The investigation is continuing and more arrests are pending.

Other agencies assisting over the past seven months included the Greater Rochester Area Narcotics Enforcement Team; Albion, Holley and Medina police; the Genesee County Drug Task Force; Batavia and Lockport city police; and the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

Those charged included:

— Junior Mateo, 36, of 734 Arnette Boulevard in Rochester was charged on a sealed indictment with five counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.

Mateo was also charged in Monroe County with second-degree criminal possession of marijuana and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He’s currently being held at Monroe County Jail in lieu of $15,000 bail. An additional $50,000 bail was set in Orleans County.

— Charles A. Santiago, 27, of 214 North Main St. in Albion was charged on a sealed indictment with three counts of second-degree criminal sale of marijuana; two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon; three counts of first-degree unlawfully dealing with a child; and one count of fourth-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

Santiago was committed to Orleans County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

— Aimee L. Santiago, 28, of 214 North Main St. in Albion was charged with three counts of first-degree unlawfully dealing with a child; and one count each of fourth-degree criminal possession of marijuana and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

She was committed to Orleans County Jail in lieu of $1,000 bail.

— Philip R. Ayala, 30, of 136 Summit St. in Batavia was charged with six counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance; and six counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He was committed to Orleans County Jail in lieu of $200,000 bail.

Ayala is currently awaiting sentencing in Genesee County for a felony drug charge, task force members said. He’s also facing additional charges in Genesee County as a result of a search warrant.

— Brooke M. Wenner, 30, of 136 Summit St. in Batavia was charged with four counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, and two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. She was committed to Orleans County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.

— Delmus R. Tanner, 35, of 6619 Lake Rd. in Bergen was charged with nine counts each of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

He was also charged with three counts each of fourth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Tanner was committed to Orleans County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

— Kuyanna G. Kuyal, 19, of 6619 North Lake Road in Bergen was charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. She was committed to Genesee County Jail in lieu of $1,000 bail.

— Brandon A. Honore, 30, of 247 East Park St. in Albion was charged with two counts each of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He was committed to Orleans County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

— Diane M. Gallagher, 46, of 5079 East Shelby Rd. in Shelby was charged with three counts each of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. She was committed to Orleans County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

— Philip A. Riley, 32, of 110 West Bank St. in Albion was charged with two counts each of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Riley was committed to Orleans County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail. He is also on parole, and a state parole warrant has been filed with the jail.

— Jennifer McCarthy-Conklin, 39, of 1 Thomas St. in Holley was charged with two counts each of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. She was committed to Orleans County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail.

— Joshua Lopez, 36, of 13 Adam St. Apt. B in Lockport was charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He was committed to Orleans County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

— Bennie Coger, 63, of 525 West Ave. Apt. 7 in Medina was charged with two counts each of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Coger was committed to Orleans County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail. He’s also on parole, and a state parole warrant was filed with the jail.

— Xavier Hand, 18, of 329 South Ave. in Medina was charged with fourth-degree criminal sale of marijuana and fifth-degree criminal sale of marijuana. He was committed to Orleans County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail.

— Joshua L. Miller, 35, of 4706 East Shelby Rd. in Medina was charged with five counts each of fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

He was also charged with one count each of second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance; third-degree unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine; and possession of methamphetamine precursors.

— Arika Grosskopf, 34, of 20 State St. in Middleport was charged with second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance; third-degree unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance; and possession of methamphetamine precursors. She was committed to Orleans County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

— Shane M. Maynard, 37, of 12801 Ridge Road in Middleport was charged with three counts each of fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, and fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He was committed to Orleans County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.


Two travelers from Reno, Nev., likely won’t be going home for a while after a Columbia police officer found more than 70 grams of methamphetamine and nearly four pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop Thursday on Interstate 70.55b28b34a69c6_image

Shortly after 1 a.m., Columbia police Officer Phillip Shull stopped a car with an Illinois license plate after he saw it traveling eastbound on the highway without lights on.

When he approached the vehicle, he wrote in a probable cause statement, he smelled marijuana. Shull said his initial search of the car turned up two grams of pot, .95 grams of meth and eight diazepam pills in the purse of the driver, Lusynda J. Hendershaw, 39.

A more thorough search revealed more narcotics, according to the statement: three vacuum-sealed bags containing 554.15 grams, 576.66 grams and 576.43 grams of marijuana and three bags of meth weighing 30.29 grams, 20.6 grams and 21.36 grams. Shull said he also found a .357-caliber Glock handgun.55b28b34baad6_image

Hendershaw and the passenger, Sedrick J. Lawson, 43, were arrested. They told Shull they live together and were traveling cross-country. They have the same listed address in Reno, Nev.

Boone County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Morrell on Thursday charged Hendershaw and Lawson with first-degree drug trafficking, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and possession of a controlled substance.

Both are being held at the Boone County Jail on $75,000 cash-only bonds.

Lawson and Hendershaw have extensive criminal records, the statement said. Hendershaw “admitted to doing drugs and owning an escort service,” Shull wrote, and she has prior convictions for prostitution, soliciting prostitution, resisting arrest, child endangerment, property damage, assault with a deadly weapon, domestic violence and meth possession.

Lawson’s criminal history includes fraud, bribery or intimidation to influence witness testimony, drug possession, felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a stolen vehicle, burglary, kidnapping, coercion with a deadly weapon, theft and forgery, the statement said.


SEATTLE — Allie, 9, and Flynn, 8, started their lives addicted to meth.

They were both treated at the Pediatric Interim Care Center in Kent.

Allie and Flynn were adopted by Andy Wood and Patti Johnson.635733649646474386-MethBabies

“These children go through something very traumatic when they’re very young,” said Wood. “It’s a rough and bumpy start to life.”

When they were babies, Flynn had tremors and Allie couldn’t keep food down.

As they grew up, the physical problems faded and new issues cropped up.

Wood and Johnson say their children have some signs and symptoms of attention and learning problems.

Studies have suggested prenatal meth exposure can cause or contribute to these problems.

“Allie is very spontaneous and impulse drive, which offers for a lot of excitement,” said Johnson.

If the trend keeps up, there will be more kids with these issues. In Kent, they’re seeing a big jump in the number of babies born addicted to meth.

A few years ago, the Pediatric Interim Care Center treated 11 babies. Now it’s 50.


BRANCH COUNTY — It was thought to be a quiet night for Sarah Rockwell as she relaxed into watching television before bed, but a knock at the door startled here.

Being cautious, Rockwell approached the startling sound, and what she saw has irrevocably been ingrained into her memory. Standing before her was a young woman with blood seeping down her wrists due to self-imposed lacerations. The woman was pleading for help, placing Rockwell into a state of responsive anxiety, not knowing whether becoming involved would lead to more trouble than it was worth.

What came from that scene was the tumultuous affair of handling meth-addled neighbors in an enclosed Branch County lake community. A matter that has yet to vanish from the daily life of Rockwell and her daughter to this day.

“After she came over with the serious injuries, I was kind of forced to be put in the middle … what was I supposed to do?” Rockwell said. “I couldn’t just sit over here and not call the police when I could hear clearly he (her boyfriend) was pounding on her.”

Becoming involved was naturally what Rockwell believed to be the best action to take. However, even proper actions come with consequences.

“As a decent human being I can’t stand by and allow that to happen, but it was very obvious who called the police, and they retaliate,” she added. “People shouldn’t have to live in fear of retaliation because they’re doing the right thing, because they really mean well and try to help someone.”

But, fear did come. Day by day, Rockwell dealt with the complications of having not only meth users next door, but dealers as well. From hungry children showing up to her door asking for something to eat to finding out items had been stolen from her yard to the overwhelming uncomfortability of having meth addled individuals wreaking havoc on a family trying to just get through the struggles of everyday life.

“You don’t want to say ‘go home’ when you know there’s no adults awake and nobody to feed (the children) and they’re hungry,” Rockwell shared. “Almost like a sense of entitlement some drug addicts have … in their own minds that ‘who cares, we’ll treat kindness as weakness and at any opportunity we’ll do whatever works for us and forget everybody else’.”

It was a nightmare without relief, escape or any outlet of hope beyond making it through another night without incident.

“We’re trapped … It’s not fair to people that just want to live a regular life. They’re selling out cause they don’t want to live next to them anymore. They don’t take care of their home, so it’s bringing everybody’s value of their home down,” Rockwell said. “One bad family can ruin the whole neighborhood, lack of any empathy or respect for anybody else’s feelings or lives.”

But, why is the meth-induced perspective so controlling that an individual could look beyond rationality and reason for the self-centered focus of getting high? An answer came from Roger Shelton, a former meth addict, because there isn’t any other drug like it.

“The high is too quick, you spiral out of control without you knowing it even happened,” Shelton said. “You can’t come off it, you have been enclosed to the drug’s vision.”

A feature of meth’s unbridled control over human emotions and consciousness, which is what Shelton describes as the possessiveness of a drug that shields the realization of its control.

“I went all out, you just don’t care for anything but running after it … that high … you don’t say ‘no’ to anything,” he said. “It’ll hit you so hard you’ll have to sit down.”

Shelton, no stranger to other drugs, referred to the meth high as incomparable — like a brush with something so foreign you’ll have to go back again for a second-take. But, the first take is all that’s needed for one to become hooked — cemented to the urgency of getting more as the only end in sight.

“Once that needle pulls out it’s like a gust of wind, an ‘opening of the doors’ I was told,” he said.

The bridge between normalcy and addiction was walked in the hallucinogenic stupor of methamphetamine possession.

Meth is absolutely the final step,” Shelton said.

Emotional retrospection is proliferated with the use of meth, Shelton added. He recalled memories so deeply entrenched within his mind from experiencing momentary withdrawals that another dose became a sole option for reprieve.

“It’s the anxiety of bad trip. Different than any other drug in that you don’t feel physically sick but emotionally sick,” Shelton said. “The anxiety of having the weight of the whole world in your room.

“You lose the connection to real life for the high … a time-driven rationale of dependency.”

The pulsating drive to correct the aroused emotions and subsequent feelings associated with the digging up of painful thoughts is what Shelton describes to be the worst of addictive behavior. An infliction upon logic to the most dangerous degree — where the crystal vision takes hold and hyper-anxiety is birthed.

“You’re a slave to the drug, like joining a cult,” he said.

However, being a slave to something fundamentally mind-altering maybe the purpose for trying the drug in the first place.

In a vice-news article, “Seeing Through Ice,” written by Girard Dorney, he exposes why the war on drugs or direct attempts to rid society of these substances ignores why exactly people use drugs in the first place.

“The way ice (meth) is often covered in the media may be paralleled with the war on drugs,” Dorney wrote. “Both are motivated by the belief that illicit drugs are an evil that need to be eradicated from the earth. Drug abuse is a serious problem, but we’re at the point that many people are recognizing that the war on drugs is fundamentally flawed because humans like to take substances that adjust their consciousness. They always have, and they always will.”

But, not discussing such truths in an honest fashion and only dealing with the surface issues of the problem only lead to more inmates in prison and the continuation of drugs on the streets. For where there is a want, a supply will follow.

“It’s a dust, liquid, or crystal that people like to smoke, snort and inject. Our relationship to such things is complex, and sometimes dark. We should accept the complexity, and talk about it honestly,” Dorney concluded.

This insidious complexity is a difficult truth to muster when the real life implications of meth use strike right next door — when locked doors no longer mean security and the only regularity is waiting for what horror will come next.


Former Nigerian leader, Olusegun Obasanjo has handed over a timely warning to the authorities: growing methamphetamine drug production, smuggling and export ‘business’, will destroy the country and its politics.

Obasanjo who now heads the West African Commission on Drugs said the production of meth in the region was raising the threat of drug-fuelled instability and urged leaders not just in Nigeria, but the entire West Africa, to wake up to its dangers.Obasanjo

“It is now affecting our politics because money earned from drugs is going into politics,” he said.

“You have drug barons who are now sponsoring politicians, or who (are) in fact going into politics themselves,” Obasanjo told the Reuters news agency in an interview.

Indeed Obasanjo is not crying wolf.

Nigeria’s National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA has discovered 10 methamphetamine labs since 2010.

“They are not just mom and pop labs, they are big labs,” said Rusty Payne, a spokesman of the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

The Nigerian labs, called Clan Labs, are being set up, with the help of Mexicans,Payne said, adding that the labs must be big to be worth the Mexican’s efforts. Mexican drug gangs likewise play a central role in the meth industry in North America.

Reuters in a major report highlighting the methamphetamine crisis in West Africa cites the growing seizures of the drug in countries such as Senegal.

In one instance in Senegalese town of Koumpentoum, customs officers who impounded a stash of pill discovered in a bus coming from Mali, thought the haul was fake or counterfeit drugs.

Days later, according to two officials involved in the seizure, a top officer from regional headquarters took a closer look at the trove and identified it as the drug methamphetamine. The 81 kg (179 pounds) stash was worth an estimated $12 million or more based on the street price for the drug in Tokyo, where much of it ends up.

The seizure was one of three in Senegal so far this year. It highlights the new and fast-growing role West Africa is playing in the global drug trade, not just as a transit point for drugs but also as a producer of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS).

Smugglers of Moroccan hashish have long crossed West Africa on their way to Europe or Asia. Over the past decade, the region has also become a major transit point for Latin American cocaine headed to Europe. But local and international officials say West African criminal groups are now producing and exporting hundreds of millions of dollars worth of methamphetamine – or meth – every year, most of it shipped to Asia.

Climate dictates where cocaine, heroin or hashish are produced, but there are no such constraints on meth. The synthetic drug is derived from ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, two medicines that are used to treat ailments from nasal decongestion to asthma. As anyone who has seen the television series “Breaking Bad” knows, meth can be manufactured even with basic equipment and a simple understanding of chemistry. The potential profits are huge: One kilo of meth costs around $1,500 to make in West Africa but sells for around $150,000 in Japan.

The powerful stimulant is smoked, swallowed, snorted or injected by hundreds of thousands of users there, in the United States and elsewhere. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says meth is increasingly popular in East and Southeast Asia. Meth gives users an intense rush, heightens attention and curbs appetite. It is highly addictive. Over time, addicts usually suffer anxiety, weight loss and tooth decay.

One reason West Africa is a good production zone, according to law enforcement officials, is the region’s weak controls on imports of meth ingredients. Imported legally for use in products such as cold medicine, they can easily be diverted and transformed into meth by boiling, filtering and then combining them with other chemicals.

Senegalese police prepare to incinerate methamphetamines seized at the Malian border in Tambacounda, Senegal, June 29, 2014.     REUTERS/Pape Demba Sidibe

Senegalese police prepare to incinerate methamphetamines seized at the Malian border in Tambacounda, Senegal, June 29, 2014. REUTERS/Pape Demba Sidibe

Pierre Lapaque, head of UNODC in West and Central Africa, puts production of the drug in West Africa at around 1.5 tons per year. That’s small by world standards – just a little over one percent of the 107 tons that was seized around the globe in 2012. But it is up from zero in the region just five years ago.

“It is pretty alarming,” Lapaque said.

Africa’s place in the synthetic drug market was, until recent years, limited to South Africa, which has a domestic market and feeds the global supply chain.

The surge in production elsewhere on the continent is part of a broader boom in the global amphetamine-type market. UNODC says annual methamphetamine seizures more than doubled between 2010 and 2012.

The first sign that synthetic drugs were being produced in West Africa came in 2009 when chemicals including MDP-2-P, used to make ecstasy, were found at a lab raided in Guinea. UNODC estimates some $100 million of ecstasy could have been produced from the precursors found there.

The same year, a Nigerian expelled from China was arrested with a manual on how to cook meth, said Ahmadu Giade, head of Nigeria’s National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.

“Nigeria at that time wasn’t prepared for that type of drug because we knew nothing about it,” said Giade. He sent a team to South Africa to investigate how police there handled meth labs.

In 2010, Nigerian agents stumbled across a meth lab in a place called Monkey Village. Sunday Drambi Ziramgey, commander of a National Drug Law Enforcement Agency team, was one of the first on the scene. He described a bungalow where each of the four rooms housed a different stage of the cooking process. In the kitchen, they found cooking pots, burners and compressing machines. A web of light bulbs had been strung up to dry the meth.

A 2010 U.S. investigation into cocaine smuggling in Liberia also uncovered plans to produce meth in the country for shipment to the United States and Japan.

A 2011 report by Nigerian law enforcement officials, seen by Reuters, details a step-by-step guide for meth production and distribution which was taken from a Nigerian deported from China. The guide included contacts in Ghana, Iran, Thailand and China who would help find couriers and buyers for meth.

A senior DEA official listed Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana and Guinea-Bissau as possible locations for meth labs.

Mame Seydou Ndour, Senegal’s anti-drug tsar, said making meth across the region had multiple advantages. “The transport cost is reduced. There is less risk in Africa. Labour is cheaper here too – with poverty there are plenty of people who are ready to get involved,” he said.

As with many other industries, Nigeria dominates meth production in West Africa. It’s home to Africa’s biggest population and some of the region’s most established criminal gangs, according to drugs experts.

Those gangs have connections with experienced Latin American “cooks,” such as three Bolivians detained in one lab raid. But Nigerian gangs can now run the trade themselves, and have established global networks to distribute the finished product.

The DEA official said there had been several reported instances in Nigeria this year of 25 to 50 kg of ephedrine being diverted from registered pharmaceutical companies. “This, on top of the smuggled precursors, readily supplies meth production,” the official said.

Giade, Nigeria’s top anti-drug cop, said most of the precursors used in Nigerian meth production came from India. Some of the chemicals are approved for import by Nigeria’s national food and drug regulator, he said, while others are smuggled in illegally, “because we have porous borders.” Giade cited the border to the west with Benin as a major weak point.

In 2014 the Nigerian government told the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB)it needed 9.65 tonnes of ephedrine for legitimate businesses. India alone supplied Nigeria with 9.2 tons last year, according to a Reuters analysis of official ephedrine exports listed on Indian trade website www.zauba.com, which collates data from ports and customs authorities. It is not clear how much ephedrine Nigeria imported from other suppliers.

“India is legally doing business, but African nations should be checking if the amounts ordered are in line with what is needed by the different factories using ephedrine,” said UNODC’s Lapaque.


West African meth production is still far off the levels in Mexico, where officials seized 19 tonnes last year and discovered a string of so-called super labs. But local groups are beginning to make inroads into lucrative markets in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan.

Law enforcement officials say Nigerian criminal groups use extensive networks of human mules. Several officials in West Africa said Nigerians have begun to employ Europeans with clean passports, who are likely to raise less suspicion in Asia. In December 2013, a German man and an Austrian woman were arrested in Jakarta after they were caught having flown in from Dakar with meth hidden in their luggage, local media reported.

Police in London and Paris last year arrested eight Europeans who had left West Africa and were headed to Asia, each carrying 2 to 6 kg of meth, one foreign law enforcement official told Reuters.

In an effort to stop the industry becoming entrenched, Payne said the DEA is helping local officials by detecting and dismantling clandestine labs.

“They basically have a three-headed monster now in Africa,” Payne said. “They have the coke problem from South America, the heroin from Afghanistan, and the home-grown meth that is making its way to South Africa and Asia. We’re trying to address it as we can, but that is tough.”


Two area men face criminal charges after they arranged a sex-for-drugs deal by prostituting a 16-year-old girl, police say.

Brandon P. Price, 24, 1103 Meridian Heights Drive, Eau Claire, and Pheng Vang, 31, N5178 610th St., Dunn County town of Red Cedar, are charged in Eau Claire County Court, each with a felony a count of soliciting a child for prostitution and a misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a child.

Vang also is charged with two felony counts of bail jumping and a misdemeanor count of sexual intercourse with a child.

According to the criminal complaint:

The girl told police Oct. 29 that she and her 16-year-old friend decided to run away from their homes and on Oct. 22 were at a Meridian Heights Drive residence with several people, including Price and Vang.

At one point Price asked the friend if the girl would have sex with Vang. In exchange, Price said, he would receive drugs.

The girl told police she had consensual sex with Vang, and Price received methamphetamine in return.

The girl said Vang offered her meth, but she declined.

The girl said meth, marijuana and alcohol were all available at the party, and she believed Vang provided the drugs.

The friend told police Price and the rest of the group at the party received a small amount of marijuana in exchange for the girl having sex with Vang.

At the time of this incident, Vang had cash bails posted for separate 2014 felony cases in both Eau Claire and Dunn counties.

Price is being prosecuted as a repeat offender. He was convicted of burglary, theft and contributing to the delinquency of a child in June 2011 and battery in December 2011, all in Eau Claire County.

Price was convicted of criminal trespass to a dwelling in September 2010 in Washington County.

If convicted of the felony charges, Vang and Price could be sentenced to up to 21 years and 15 years in prison, respectively.


OAK HILL – Brandy Renee Jones, also known as Brandy Renee Dooley, age 30, is wanted for operating a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory in the Oak Hill area.8369859_G

She is described as a white female, approximately 5’4″, weighing approximately 140 pounds.

Jones was last known to reside in the Johnson Street area of Oak Hill, but her current whereabouts are unknown.

If anyone has any information concerning the possible location of Jones, they are asked to contact the Fayette County 911 Center at (304) 574-3590, the West Virginia State Police at (304) 256-6700 or Crime Stoppers at (304) 255-7867.8369863_G

You may also submit tips through the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, “Fayette County Sheriff’s Department.”

Any information received through Crime Stoppers that results in the location and arrest of Jones will make the caller eligible for a cash reward, and callers may submit information anonymously.


A security guard has resigned and federal drug agents are investigating after what appears to have been a meth lab explosion at a U.S. government building in Maryland, authorities said.

The explosion happened Saturday night on the main campus of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, in Gaithersburg, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C., NIST said. A security guard was treated at a hospital for injuries and resigned Sunday, the agency said.150723-nist_campus-sign_354bc5a8ee20e4ffd34be8d16bb1046e_nbcnews-ux-320-320

NIST, which is part of the Commerce Department, didn’t reveal the circumstances of the explosion, but it confirmed that the Drug Enforcement Administration was investigating.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland U.S. Commerce Department

Montgomery County police Capt. Paul Starks confirmed that police are looking into “the possibility that this was some sort of chemical reaction due to the manufacturing of drugs.”

NBC Washington quoted federal law enforcement sources as saying pseudoephedrine, drain opener and a recipe for making methamphetamine were found in the lab.

The disclosures rattled Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, which oversees NIST, who fired off a letter (PDF) on Tuesday to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker demanding a full report by next Wednesday.

“The fact that this explosion took place at a taxpayer-funded NIST facility, potentially endangering NIST employees, is of great concern,” Smith wrote. “I am troubled by the allegations that such dangerous and illicit activity went undetected at a federal research facility.”

He said he wants to ensure that researchers at federal laboratories are safe.

NIST, formerly the National Bureau of Standards, is the federal agency responsible for setting standards for precise measurement of just about everything, which are cataloged in more than 1,300 Standard Reference Materials publications.


TOPPENISH, Wash. — A 30-year-old Hispanic man was arrested Wednesday night after police say a woman accused him of sexual assault.

Police say a 19-year-old woman came to the Toppenish Police Department Wednesday night and reported Onesimo Galindo-Morales, 30, pointed a gun at her and then sexually assaulted her Tuesday morning.

Court documents say the 19-year-old woman gave Galindo-Morales methamphetamine.

The 19-year-old woman said the two were driving around in Galindo-Morales’ car when the suspect became worried that police were around and he pulled over onto a back road. The woman says Galindo-Morales sexually assaulted her there.

She provided the police with a description of the suspect.

Police later found Galindo-Morales and he was arrested. The man was charged with First Degree Rape, Unlawful Imprisonment, and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm.

The 30-year-old is being held in Yakima county Jail. Police are still investigating.