Montecito – When it comes to property values, there are few places throughout the nation that exceed those of Santa Barbara County’s celebrity-filled Montecito and the classic ocean view neighborhood of Summerland—with one of the highest per-square-foot residential costs on the California coastline–immediately adjacent to the estates of Oprah Winfrey and her billionaire ilk. But Alejandro Jaimes Lopez found a way to make those exclusive land parcels more valuable.


Alejandro Jaimes Lopez


Lopez, an area landscaper, had been the subject of on ongoing “investigation by the Sheriff’s Department for more than a year” according to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover in her report to the media. That protracted investigation was pursuant to a case in which three pounds of methamphetamine were seized by local law enforcement authorities; as the prime suspect in that case, Lopez had reportedly left the U.S. and fled to Mexico.

But when Lopez returned to the area to continue his work as a landscaper—and perhaps as a meth dealer—SBSD Narcotics Investigators were alerted to his local presence and surveillance of his movements was begun. When Lopez was spotted in Summerland’s Lookout Park—unique in its access to a popular beach—he was contacted by detectives and taken into custody on the warrant for the prior investigation. Immediately thereafter, Lopez’s vehicle was searched and more than two pounds of methamphetamine were quickly discovered. Further investigation led detectives to an exclusive Montecito home where Lopez had worked as a gardener, and additional methamphetamine was found on the premises, with evidence that he had been burying it in his client’s back yard.

Confiscated meth stash


“The homeowners were unaware of the criminal activity,” Hoover said.

Lopez was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of possession and transport of a controlled substance for sale, with his bail set at $250,000.

Photos: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Narcotics United Reporting

Read more:

Santa Barbara Independent: Summerland Meth Arrest

Noozhawk: Deputies Arrest Suspected Meth Dealer




One man has been charged, but not yet arrested after police found an old style meth lab at a Lincolnton home.

The meth lab was found in the home of Charles Montgomery Fitzgerald, 57, of Fitzgerald-Stowe Lane, Lincolnton. He faces numerous drug charges and maintaining a dwelling for a controlled substance.

Meth lab


An anonymous tip led officers to the home on Thursday where they found the meth lab. Police say the old style of cooking meth is more dangerous and takes a lot longer to finish.

The lab was stashed in a backpack so that it could be easily set up at another location.

Officers are searching for Fitzgerald to arrest him.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said this is the 17th meth lab bust this year.




ONAWA, Iowa | Monona County Auditor Brooke Kuhlmann has pleaded not guilty to possession of methamphetamine.

Kuhlmann entered her written plea to one count of possession of a controlled substance — a serious misdemeanor — Thursday in Monona County District Court. A trial date has yet to be set.

 Brooke Kuhlmann
Monona County Auditor Brooke Kuhlmann was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia

She previously pleaded not guilty to a simple misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. That case remains on hold pending the drug possession case.

Kuhlmann was arrested July 29, when, according to police, she bought meth from an undercover state trooper. She was then arrested during a traffic stop in Onawa.

Kuhlmann remains in office. A Democrat, she was elected to the auditor position in 2008 and re-elected in 2012.







ONAWA, Iowa | Monona County Auditor Brooke Kuhlmann was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia on Monday after she allegedly bought methamphetamine from an undercover state trooper.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety said in a release that law enforcement officials watched as Kuhlmann, 27, got the meth after she unknowingly scheduled a purchase and pickup with the trooper, who had seized a dealer’s phone Sunday.

Onawa police then executed a traffic stop and Kuhlmann was taken into custody for questioning, the release said. After her arrest, Kuhlmann was released on a promise to appear.

Kuhlmann did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday. 

County Supervisor Brady Hanson said when reached by phone that he was not aware of the arrest and referred questions to the county attorney.

County Attorney Michael Jensen said he was aware of Kuhlmann’s arrest but could not say how it would affect her position as county auditor.

“It depends on the nature of the charge,” Jensen said. “And it depends on the nature of the disposition.”

Kuhlmann, a Democrat, was elected to the auditor position in 2008 and re-elected in 2012.



AMARILLO – A DPS traffic stop Friday on I-40, yielded over 12 pounds of methamphetamine valued at over $460,000.

 At 7:36 p.m., a DPS trooper pulled over a 2013 Kia Optima for a traffic violation, near Conway in Carson County.

The occupants of the Kia were identified as Alejandro Garcia-Gordillo, 28, of Los Rancho, N.M. and Carlos Vasquez-Mendoza, 25, of Albuquerque, N.M. During the traffic stop, the trooper discovered 12 bundles of methamphetamine in a door structure.

 Both of the occupants were placed under arrest for possession of a controlled substance, a first-degree felony, and booked into the Carson County Jail.

The illegal drugs were allegedly being transported from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City.



Hendersonville Police arrested a man impersonating a police officer while trying to break into a home. Glora Gonzalez says the man tried to get into her house and when she tried to push him out and lock the door he started screaming he was an officer.

Gonzalez called police who showed up and confronted 41-year-old Kenneth Strickland just outside her home. Police say Strickland challenged officers to a fight and was visibly intoxicated or impaired. Officers tazed Strickland when he refused to comply with orders and engaged them in an altercation. Stickland was eventually taken into custody and officers say he admitted to being high on methamphetamine.

Strickland was charged with assaulting a woman, breaking and entering, possession of methamphetamine and impersonating an officer. He remains in the Henderson County Jail under $8,100 bond.




(Stillwater, Okla.) — A Cushing woman — arrested by Cushing Police Chief Tully Folden for stealing a boy’s bicycle from the Cimarron Towers — pleaded guilty Friday to that theft, as well as possessing methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia found on her during the jail booking process.

Ashley Renee Isreal, 23, who has an eighth-grade education and was already on five years’ probation for possessing the same drugs last year, also pleaded guilty Friday to stealing two bottles of whiskey from the L&N Liquor Store in Cushing in June.

Isreal, who had been jailed since her Aug. 5 arrest outside the Cimarron Towers, was released Friday on a personal recognizance bond — with an order to report to the Payne County Drug Court by Wednesday.

Isreal remains free pending her Dec. 13 sentencing by District Judge Phillip Corley, who ordered a background report on her Friday.

Isreal was arrested on Aug. 5 after Cimarron Towers apartment director Kim Collier reported that Isreal was observed on video at 3:30 a.m. that day in the act of stealing a boy’s bicycle and items from the trash room on the first floor, an affidavit said.

After the police chief was told that Isreal was in a second-floor apartment and then that she left through a window, “I observed Ashley standing on the north side of the building,” Folden wrote in an affidavit.

Isreal said that she got into the apartment building with a key given to her by a male resident, the affidavit said.

“I then asked her where the bicycle was she stole. Isreal said that she thought the bicycle was one that belonged to a friend and was going to return it later today.

“When asked where the bicycle was, Isreal said at a friend’s house. I advised Isreal that she was under arrest for the larceny of the bicycle,” the police chief wrote in his affidavit.

“Isreal then immediately stood up and said she was going to talk to her mother. I advised Isreal to sit down, which she refused. I then told Isreal again and she complied.

“Once seated, Isreal jumped up and tried to run towards the door. I then physically restrained Isreal and placed her in handcuffs,” the police chief wrote in his affidavit.

While Isreal was transported to the Cushing police station by Officer Rachel Hentges, the chief and Officer Matt Piatt attempted to locate the stolen bicycle, the affidavit said.

The stolen child’s bike, which was later released to its owner, was found outside the Cushing apartment of Isreal’s friend, Jaden R. Derycke, 24, who said Isreal brought it there earlier in the day, the affidavit alleged.

As the police chief went inside Derycke’s apartment, he smelled a strong odor of burnt marijuana in the living room — where her baby was asleep in his swing, the affidavit alleged. After Derycke was arrested, her baby was left with his father at the apartment, the affidavit said.

During a search of Derycke’s apartment, police found a wooden box containing marijuana and rolling papers, a non-functioning revolver and a smoking pipe with methamphetamine residue, the affidavit alleged.

Derycke was charged with possession of methamphetamine and marijuana in the presence of her child, along with drug paraphernalia. She remains free on $2,500 bond pending an Oct. 7 court appearance.




NESCOPECK — State police at Shickshinny arrested John Seltzer, 32, after his mother allegedly found a bottle of suspected methamphetamine in his dirty laundry Sunday.


Jody Seltzer told police she gathered up dirty clothes in her Nescopeck house and, with her granddaughter, drove to a laundromat. When she emptied her son’s basket of dirty clothes, she allegedly noticed a 2-liter bottle containing a white powder and liquid that had a strong odor of ammonia, according to charges filed.


A state police clandestine response team removed the bottle from the vehicle along with numerous items consistent with the manufacturing of methamphetamine, state police said.


Seltzer, of East Front Street, Berwick, was arraigned Monday by District Judge David Barilla in Swoyersville on three counts of manufacturing a controlled substance and one count each of possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $25,000 bail.


State police said Jody Seltzer called them after finding the suspicious bottle. She said her son’s behavior changed within the last eight months. She said he claimed her diamond ring was bugged and he had unplugged all electronics in their house because he believed the FBI was monitoring him, state police said.


A search of their house late Sunday night revealed numerous items of methamphetamine production in Seltzer’s bedroom and attic, state police said.


A preliminary hearing is scheduled on Oct. 2 before District Judge John Hasay in Shickshinny.





ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KSDK) – A St. Charles day care operator is accused of selling marijuana and smoking methamphetamine in the same house where she cared for her two children and the children of other local families.

Brooke Mitchell, 29, of the 1200 block of Parody Lane in St. Charles was released from jail Monday on $25,000 bail. Mitchell was charged Sept. 4 with intent to distribute a controlled substance, possessing a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.



On July 20, a St. Charles County sheriff’s deputy responded to a disturbance at Mitchell’s home. Mitchell gave the deputy permission to search the home and he discovered meth.

“In the course of that search,” said St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar, “found the methamphetamine as well as the paraphernalia and it was obvious the methamphetamine had just been smoked.”

Authorities delayed filing charges because Mitchell said she’d assist detectives in a narcotics investigation. When she didn’t cooperate, Lohmar says the sheriff’s department went back to the house on Sept. 3. Five pre-school aged children were escorted outside before deputies found more illegal drugs, according to Lohmar.

“They found several individually wrapped baggies of marijuana which apparently were intended for distribution purposes,” he said.

The prosecuting attorney says the Victims Advocate Unit has been in touch with two of the parents whose children attended Mitchell’s daycare.


“These parents have every right to be outraged,” said Lohmar. “You’d certainly never expect that somebody that you’re going to entrust your kids every day while you’re at work is going to be doing these sorts of things while you’re not there. This is a very disturbing situation and I feel very sorry for these parents.”

Meanwhile, authorities are searching for a man named Joshua Pilger of O’Fallon, who has an outstanding warrant for parole violation. When Brooke Mitchell told deputies the marijuana in her home belonged to Pilger, he escaped from a second story window Sept. 3 and has been on the run since.





MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (9/16/13) – In week nine of an ongoing series of informative meth-related articles supplied by Muhlenberg County Sheriff Curtis McGehee, the topic for discussion this week is starting drug prevention by beginning with our children.

Sometimes it becomes difficult to be positive when writing or speaking about methamphetamine. As mentioned in other articles, meth is dangerous and often ends up being the final drug that a user abuses. It is no secret that meth has scourged many rural communities. Deceptive, toxic, dangerous, evil, and a host of other words could be used to describe methamphetamine. The community seems to be somewhat aware of the evils associated with meth, and many citizens have a desire to engage the problem.

adult child talking 300
It has been reported that involvement in community based organizations are essential. I cannot overstate the significance of community wide projects. It is often these efforts that bring people and innovative ideas together that are used successfully at solving area wide problems. For example, Nelson Creek and Mill Port have recently begun Neighborhood Watch programs that are aggressively working to prevent crime, violence, and illegal drug activity in their communities; there are other communities that already had Neighborhood Watch in place. Others are involved in Celebrate Recovery meetings or Champions. While these organizations and others are crucial in the fight against meth; concerned individuals from the community must be innovative and involved in their own personal approach to drug prevention. For example, some concerned persons may not be comfortable in a large community setting, but might find that participation on a personal basis is somewhat easier. Some prevention experts believe that personal involvement is also more effective.

Perhaps you have considered being active in prevention efforts but you just can’t seem to find a place where you fit in. Fighting the drug epidemic, and having a part in building lives, might not be as difficult as one might think. One specific way that we can all be involved is through positive influence. This is not difficult, nor is it costly, however it does take time. It might surprise many of us to find out how much positive influence we have on others by spending time with them. Certainly we can reach out to our own family, but we must not stop there, we should strive to impact others that may not be fortunate enough to have concerned family members.

Vicky Yonts and Gail Johnson serve as Mentoring Coordinators for the Muhlenberg County School system. These ladies know the power of influence and often encourage responsible and caring adults to get involved in the lives of youth in the area. In speaking with Yonts, she explained that mentoring has been proven to make a difference in the lives of children. She also remarked that “often children need a male or female figure in their life, and one hour a week on school premises can make a big difference.” Yonts pointed out that mentoring is not tutoring; it may involve activities such as basketball or other enjoyable events.

Johnson says that, “We can always use more mentors-we are now in the process of recruiting mentors for this year.” She hopes that anyone that feels passionate about this issue will contact her or Yonts for additional information. Both Johnson and Yonts agree, that in addition to being helpful to the children, those who mentor find the experience very rewarding.

Of course there are other avenues of mentoring, but working with the school system seems like an almost perfect situation. Often those who work with our children on a daily basis are able to determine which children are in need of special consideration.

Perhaps your work schedule or other activities may prevent you from working with children during school hours. Consider other options; there are opportunities to get involved in various youth organizations. If you cannot be directly involved, then encourage children and youth to be involved in productive activities and organizations that encourage good decision making. There are many organizations that encourage youth to make good, positive decisions; and many of the people which lead those organizations do so because they want to be a positive mentor. So encourage youth to connect to church, school, and, or community youth groups.

While we may never keep every person from making bad decisions, we can make a difference. It is important for all concerned citizens to be involved in positive influence.

For additional information about mentoring, please contact Vicky Yonts at 270-543-0255 or Gail Johnson at 270-338-2871 Ext. 39.




Jonathan Harty, 31, wore a woman’s blouse, prosthetic breasts and no pants as he pinballed across at Seattle highway at 100 mph. The frantic father’s young daughters, ages 6 and 4, were in the back seat.

He had fake breasts, no pants and a heavy foot.

Jonathan Harty was living a meth-addict’s fever dream when he careened at 100 mph down a Seattle highway with his two daughters in the back seat.


Jonathan Harty appears fully clothed for sentencing in front of a Washington judge, nearly five months after he put on a set of fake breasts and took his young daughters on a meth-crazed thrill ride down a Seattle highway.
Jonathan Harty appears fully clothed for sentencing in front of a Washington judge, nearly five months after he put on a set of fake breasts and took his young daughters on a meth-crazed thrill ride down a Seattle highway



Now he’s headed to jail, preparing to serve the maximum sentence for his third DUI conviction, KOMO News reported.

“I’d like to apologize to my family and my two daughters,” Harty, 31, of Lake Steven, Wash., said Friday in court. “I don’t have any excuse for what I’ve done. There’s no excuse for it. I’ve made a life-altering decision for a lot of people by my selfish actions.”

Harty reportedly told his daughters, ages 6 and 4, they were going to buy toys on Apr. 20 when he put them in the car.

The meth-crazed dad sped off on a terrifying thrill ride, crashing into three cars before the nightmare ended.

Washington state troopers found him dressed in a lady’s blouse and a set of prosthetic breasts. He was naked from the waist down.

A nearly full bottle of urine and a pair of panties sat on the floor of the car.

A passerby rescued the little girls from the backseat.

The girls, who are half-sisters, suffered bruises.

Jonathan Harty hit three cars as he sped along an interstate at 100 mph in Washington state.
Jonathan Harty hit three cars as he sped along an interstate at 100 mph in Washington state



Harty cried in court, but that did little to cool the rage of relatives.

“It makes me sick to my stomach to know Emily and her half-sister were exposed to such inappropriate behavior, and what you put them through,” said Amy Harty, the mother of one of the girls.

Paul Cooper, Harty’s father-in-law, brought the girls home from the hospital.

“She clutched me so tight it seemed like she couldn’t get close enough to me,” Cooper said. “And Emily pressed against me and said, ‘Grandpa, I don’t have to go back to my daddy’s anymore do I?’ Your honor, at that point I broke down and cried.”

Cooper had little sympathy for his son-in-law.

“Jon, your actions that night came not from a father but from a cowardly monster,” Cooper said. “You put drugs above your daughters.”

Judge Ken Schubert sentenced Harty to the maximum of 29 months in jail and revoked his license for seven years.

He said he wished he could take Harty’s license for longer.

“I hope that the fact that your daughters were at-risk and could have been killed in this incident is going to finally be the thing that wakes you up,” Schubert said.

Relatives said the little girls continue to suffer nightmares.


A bicyclist who was stopped by Columbus police because of safety concerns was arrested after an active methamphetamine lab was discovered in his backpack, police said.

Ricky Dean Miller, 23, of 3158 Alan Drive, near Taylorsville, was spotted at about 8:30 p.m. Friday running a stop sign near 10th Street and Cottage Avenue and didn’t have a rear reflector on his bicycle, Columbus Police spokesman Lt. Matt Myers said. Patrolman John Searle intended only to stop Miller and express concern for Miller’s safety and that of a passenger on his handlebars, Myers added.

After Miller and his passenger pulled over next to a building near 12th and Cottage, both provided Searle with verbal identities. However, Searle suspected Miller had given him another person’s name and called for additional officers to come and verify his suspicions, Myers said.




Skiatook, Okla. — A father high on meth drives his daughter to a Dollar General and then is seen freaking out in front of the store.

Skiatook police say Glen Hancock admitted to smoking meth a couple of hours before driving with his little girl late Friday evening. In fact, he had been smoking meth for the previous three days.

Hancock couldn’t stop moving and told officers he was freaking out.


Glen Hancock

His daughter was sitting in the front seat when officers arrived. Police say she wasn’t wearing shoes and her feet were dirty.

Officers attempted to contact her mother, but she didn’t answer. They did reach her grandparents, who now have custody of the child.

Police say DHS was also notified about the situation.

Hancock was arrested and is now at the Tulsa County Jail.



BOYD COUNTY, Ky (WSAZ) — 51 one-step meth labs have been found at a residence in Cannonsburg.

Boyd County Sheriff Deputies say the labs were found at a mobile home on Martin V Drive.

11 of the one-step labs were found after deputies went to the trailer about a domestic violence early Sunday morning.

About 6 p.m, Sunday, deputies went back to the trailer where they found 40 more one-step lab.

According to a press release, the Sheriff’s Office plans to seek indictments for three people they say are connected to the labs. They say the three were found in “close proximity to the trailer park.”


BOYD COUNTY, Ky (WSAZ) — The Boyd Sheriff’s Department is on the scene of a major meth bust in Cannonsburg.

It happened Sunday night in the Martin V Drive area.

Deputies say they were responding to a domestic violence call when they stumbled upon two active meth labs and then discovered about 20 portable meth labs scattered throughout the woods.

They do have three suspects: two men and a woman, but no arrests have been made just yet.

Deputies also believe more people are involved. They say they’ve received many complaints about this area over the past month.



Although methamphetamine lab seizures and arrests declined nationwide in 2012, it’s far too early to consider the problem solved.

Last week, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration provided statistics to The Associated Press that showed 12,694 meth lab incidents were reported around the country last year, down 5.5 percent from the 13,390 reported in 2011. It marked the second straight year that the numbers had declined, as the nation recorded 15,196 meth lab incidents in 2010. 

However, analysts warn that two consecutive years of declining numbers do not necessarily constitute a trend. It’s too early to declare that the meth problem is going away.

Illinois has more reason that most states to maintain its vigilance against this scourge. Our state had the fifth-highest number of meth lab incidents among all states last year with 799.

Adding to Illinois’ problem, our neighboring state of Missouri has been the leader in meth lab incidents every year but one since 2003, and it again topped the list with 1,960 incidents in 2012. One Missouri county alone — Jefferson County, south of St. Louis — had 346 incidents.

Seldom does a week go by without some type of meth incident being reported in our part of the state. Just last week, in fact, police acting on tips discovered two meth labs operating in Carlinville. Three people were arrested.

While it’s true that the number of “traditional” meth labs being uncovered has been in decline around the country, it’s also true that more meth manufacturers are turning to low-tech methods of “cooking” the drug, such as the so-called “one-pot” or “shake and bake” technique that allows them to make meth in a soda bottle. As dangerous as the traditional meth labs are to occupants of the houses where they are located, particularly children, and neighbors, the portable meth labs have the potential to spread contamination and injury almost anywhere a vehicle or person can go.

And while many drugs pose problems in urban areas, meth often rears its ugly head in rural communities. This makes detection and intervention more difficult, because the labs often are spread out over wide areas of Illinois, where they can be concealed more easily.

Just as heroin, cocaine and marijuana often have been portrayed as glamorous or humorous in popular culture, it probably doesn’t help that the meth industry has been portrayed in the popular TV series, “Breaking Bad.” The merits of the show aside, it’s important for parents, educators and law enforcement officials to make clear to impressionable young people that involvement in meth manufacturing often has tragic and lifelong consequences.

It’s also worth noting that the DEA says some states already are reporting increases in meth lab seizures and arrests so far in 2013.

Illinois has tried to crack down on the meth problem by passing laws that make it more difficult for someone to buy pseudoephedrine, one of the main ingredients in its manufacture, but authorities say the meth makers continue to find ways around such laws, often by using fake IDs.

Still, we have little choice but to continue enforcement efforts, as well as programs to treat meth addicts. We need to get meth labs off the streets and out of the small towns, but we won’t be able to incarcerate our way out of this problem. Education, intervention and treatment programs must be improved. The lower numbers of seizures are good news, but it’s far too early to let our guard down.




LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Police say they believe methamphetamine was involved in an early morning accident which left a Lafayette woman dead Sunday.

The Lafayette Police Department responded to a report just after 5:30 a.m. Sunday of a vehicle crash in the area of Valley Street and Mary Hill Road.

Emergency services arrived to find three people injured after a northbound Ford Mustang has traveled off Valley Street to the right, striking a tree.


Roxie Raejean Johnson, 26, of Lafayette, was killed in a car crash Sunday morning



Roxie Raejean Johnson, 26, of Lafayette, was rushed to St. Elizabeth East Hospital Emergency Room, where she was pronounced dead.

Another passenger, Kastin Elliott Slaybaugh, 28, of Lafayette, was released from the hospital after being treated for pain and injuries to her face.

The driver of the Mustang, Jerry A. Ford, 28, of Lafayette, was taken into police custody and transported to Tippecanoe County Jail.

Police said Ford faces felony charges of operating with a control substance (methamphetamine) resulting in death, and operating while suspended causing death.

Toxicology results are pending for Johnson and Slaybaugh.

Police said they believe excessive speed and drug use were contributing factors in the crash.




Kansas saw a reduction in meth lab incidents last year, joining a downward turn in seizures seen nationwide in 2012.

Law enforcement officials reported 143 meth lab incidents statewide – down from 214 reported in 2011, according to statistics from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

The numbers seem positive. But authorities say the statewide decrease in meth-making doesn’t mean there’s a drop in use of the drug.

Meth Lab Seizures

Franklin County (Mo.) Detective Jason Grellner, center, sorts through evidence with Detective Darryl Balleydier, left, and reserve Officer Mark Holguin during a raid of a suspected meth house in Gerald, Mo. According to statistics from the Drug Enforcement Administration and released to The Associated Press on Wednesday, Missouri, the leader in meth lab incidents every year but one since 2003, again led the nation in lab seizures and arrests in 2012


“There’s still a significant demand for (meth),” said KBI special agent in charge Kelly Ralston, who is assigned to the special operations division in Great Bend.

“The numbers have decreased in terms of manufacturing, but we’re still seeing arrests for possession and distribution of methamphetamine in all parts of the state.”

Second year of decline

The Drug Enforcement Administration provided statistics to the Associated Press last week showing 12,694 meth lab incidents in 2012, down 5.5 percent from 13,390 in 2011. It was the second straight year of decline.

In 2010, the nation reported 15,196. Meth lab incidents include chemical- or equipment-only seizures, material dumpsites and lab seizures.

Missouri, the leader in meth lab incidents every year but one since 2003, again topped the list with 1,960 incidents in 2012. Tennessee was second with 1,701 incidents, followed by Indiana (1,697), Kentucky (1,000), Illinois (799) and Oklahoma (761).

Of Kansas’143 meth lab incidents reported last year, about half – 71 – were concentrated in five counties nestled in the southeastern corner of the state. The most – 25 – came out of Crawford County, according to the KBI. Of the other four, Montgomery County reported 17 meth lab incidents, while Cherokee County had 11. Labette and Neosho counties each had nine.

“I think a lot of it has to do with our proximity to Missouri and Oklahoma,” Crawford County Sheriff Dan Peak said when asked why he thought meth lab incidents in the region topped the state list in both 2011 and 2012. He also attributed the numbers to the region’s poverty rate, limited drug treatment resources and rural terrain.

“We are here bordering the Ozarks. … And it does make for a clandestine-type situation for a lot of people,” he said. “They are able to operate out of sight of the neighbors.”

Experts say the nationwide decline could just be a blip and that it’s too early to tell if there’s a trend to explain the drop. Kansas sources attribute the slide, in part, to public education and improvements in both identifying and shutting down manufacturing operations. (Last year’s numbers are around five times less than they were 10 years ago.)

A steady flow of meth trafficked into the state is also a factor.

“A lot more of the meth is being brought in as opposed to made here,” said Cowley County Sheriff Don Read, whose jurisdiction reported 22 meth lab incidents in 2012, the second-highest in the state.

Ralston, of the KBI said Mexican-made meth “continues to be a problem.”

Excluding Reno County, which had 11 incidents, no other county reported more than 5 in 2012.

In 2011, Crawford County also had the highest number of meth lab incidents reported in the state, with 45. Montgomery County was second with 36, followed by Labette County with 35 and Cherokee County with 27.

Cowley County reported 17. No other county had more than seven.

Anti-meth efforts mixed

A variety of meth-fighting efforts have had mixed success. The Combat Meth Act of 2005 requires cold and allergy pills containing pseudoephedrine to be sold from behind the counter. Purchases are limited and tracked; buyers must show identification.

Last year, Kansas pharmacists refused to sell about 25,904 grams of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine (nearly 3 percent of total requested sales), according to the KBI.

And two states – Oregon and Mississippi – as well as more than 70 Missouri towns and counties now require a prescription to get the drug.

Yet meth-users continue to find ways around the law. “Smurfing” – buying allowable amounts of pseudoephedrine, sometimes under false names, then selling it to drug makers – remains a problem.

Experts also say the vast majority of homemade meth in the U.S. is now quickly and easily concocted using legally purchased amounts of pseudoephedrine. “One-pot” or “shake-and-bake” operations typically create just enough meth for the maker and perhaps a friend using ingredients that can fit in a soda bottle.

The method accounted for 40 percent of the meth lab incidents (58) in Kansas in 2012, according to the KBI.

“It’s so mobile now that it takes a two-liter bottle and a few chemicals … to whip something up,” Peak, of Crawford County, said.

He added: “We are still seeing meth usage at it’s highest rate ever in terms of incarceration.”

‘Powerfully addictive’

DEA spokesman Rusty Payne noted 2012’s numbers could change as late-reporting states update their figures. He also said it was too soon to know why the number dropped or whether the decline will continue.

In fact, some states have said they’re seeing a big rise in meth lab incidents reported this year.

Tom Farmer, director of the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force, said Tennessee is on pace for around 2,000 meth lab incidents in 2013. Indiana is on pace for nearly 1,900, said Niki Crawford, commander of Indiana’s meth suppression office.

In Kansas the numbers are much lower: only 44 meth lab incidents were reported statewide between Jan. 1 and the end of July, according to the KBI.

“It’s just such a powerfully addictive, relatively cheap drug,” Read, of Cowley County, said. “I think that those are two of the reasons it’s become the problem that it has been.”

Kansas meth incidents by county, 2012

Law enforcement agencies across the state reported 143 meth lab incidents to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation in 2012. Here they are, broken down by county and type.

County Chemical or equipment only Dumpsite Lab seizure Total
Allen 0 1 1 2
Bourbon 0 0 2 2
Butler 1 0 1 2
Cherokee 1 4 6 11
Clay 1 0 0 1
Cowley 1 14 7 22
Crawford 3 11 11 25
Douglas 0 1 0 1
Finney 1 0 1 2
Ford 1 0 1 2
Geary 0 0 1 1
Gray 1 0 0 1
Jackson 0 0 1 1
Johnson 0 0 2 2
Labette 0 2 7 9
Lyon 0 1 1 2
Marshall 0 1 0 1
Mitchell 0 0 1 1
Montgomery 3 9 5 17
Neosho 1 4 4 9
Osborne 1 2 0 3
Reno 0 4 7 11
Rooks 0 0 1 1
Russell 0 0 1 1
Saline 0 0 1 1
Scott 0 0 1 1
Sedgwick 2 2 1 5
Shawnee 0 0 1 1
Smith 0 0 1 1
Stafford 0 1 0 1
Wilson 0 0 1 1
Wyandotte 1 0 1 2
Total 18 57 68 143

Source: El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) and the KBI


Study finds 318% rise in number of occasions ambulances were called to emergencies related to drug in Melbourne

There has been a “dramatic increase” in harmful incidents involving crystal methamphetamine use in recent years, according to new research, amid concerns that the drug is seeing a boom in popularity in Australia.

A study led by the Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Centre, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, found a 318% increase in the number of times ambulances were called to crystal meth emergencies in Melbourne between June 2010 and June 2012.

The report revealed that while there was an overall rise in all amphetamine-related call-outs, the increase was particularly stark in relation to crystal meth, or “ice”.

In total, callouts rose from 130 to 590 over the two-year period, with the greatest increase observed in people aged 15 to 29.

“We have certainly seen a dramatic increase in harm while the demographic characteristics haven’t changed much over this time,” Cherie Heilbronn, a research fellow and co-author of the report, told Guardian Australia.

Crystal meth

Ice, a crystalline form of methamphetamine, is usually smoked or applied intravenously


“There are certainly a range of physical and mental health issues involving ice, from paranoia and hallucinations to fast heart rate, risk of heart attack and severe aggravation.”

Heilbronn added that use of amphetamines and crystal meth in Australia is high when compared to the US or Britain, with 2.5% of Australians older than 13 reporting using the substances in the past year.

Crystal meth, a crystalline form of methamphetamine, is usually smoked or applied intravenously.

The drug has risen to prominence in recent years, perhaps partly because of the runaway success of US TV show Breaking Bad, which features the travails of Walter White, a chemistry teacher who resorts to “cooking” and selling crystal meth in an effort to raise money for his family after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

Geoff Munro, national policy manager at the Australian Drug Foundation, told Guardian Australia that the show may have had a minor impact on the drug’s renewed popularity.

“We are very concerned about the promotion of all drugs, including tobacco and alcohol, in the media and there are legitimate questions to ask about the role of Breaking Bad,” he said. “But it remains to be seen exactly what effect it has.

“I think there are probably more profound drivers, such as the number of people with no sense of future, lack of employment opportunities or mental health issues.

“It may be that it’s popular because people who are already heavy drug users can smoke it. We have certainly seen a rise in inquiries about crystal meth and it’s fair to say what’s happening in Victoria is a good guide to what’s happening across the country.”

Munro added that he had heard reports of an increasing flow of crystal meth into Australia from international dealers, as well as the creation of crystal meth labs in abandoned houses in Victoria.

Detective senior sergeant Tim Hayward of Victoria police’s clandestine laboratory squad said that incidents of meth labs being set up in the state were increasing “dramatically” prior to the screening of Breaking Bad.

“If people think that drug manufacturing is glamorous, they would be very surprised and probably disgusted if they had any idea what was being used to make amphetamines and the normally filthy locations where they are being produced,” he said. “The drug manufacturers rarely have any formal qualifications or quality control for the drugs they produce. They are generally funding their own drug habits and trying to avoid being caught by the police.

“Victoria police can confirm that there has been an increasing trend Australia wide of clandestine drug laboratories being located. This has been the trend for over a decade.

“Victoria police continue to dedicate resources towards investigating and dealing with the problems caused by amphetamine type substances and clandestine drug laboratories. We will continue to target persons manufacturing and distributing drugs.”

Earlier this month, the Victorian government announced that a parliamentary committee will investigate the supply and use of methamphetamines in the state. It is expected to release its report in August next year.




A West Rome woman remained in the Floyd County Jail on drug charges Saturday night after Rome Police K-9 unit Axle sniffed out what police reported was methamphetamines and marijuana, reports stated.

Debra Lynn Dempsey

Debra Lynn Dempsey

According to Rome police reports:

Police initially stopped Debra Lynn Dempsey, 52, of 713 Oakland Ave., after debris spilled out of her Toyota Tacoma pickup truck at the intersection of Highway 27 and Cave Spring Road.

Police reported during the traffic stop that Dempsey was acting nervous and eventually gave officers consent to search her truck.

Rome Police K-9 unit Axle was used to initially search the truck, which turned up suspicious smells, but Metro Task Force officers eventually turned up 57 grams of methamphetamine, a small amount of marijuana, along with scales and glass pipes.

 Axle, owned by Rome Police officer Joel Stoupe, attentively watches for signals from his handler Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at Ridge Ferry Park. (Daniel Varnado

Axle is owned by Rome Police officer Joel Stoupe


Dempsey allegedly told police after being read her rights that the drugs were hers and “that she had been in ‘the business’ for way too long. She advised that she had recently thought about stop selling meth.”

She was charged with felony possession of methamphetamines with intent to distribute, trafficking in cocaine, illegal drugs, marijuana or methamphetamine, and misdemeanor charges of possession of drug related objects, possession of marijuana, and littering highways.




LONDON, Ohio — As he crouched over a bucket of chemicals confiscated from a backpack meth lab, Dennis Lowe’s head and chest were suddenly engulfed by a fiery blast.

Fortunately, the protective suit that Lowe was wearing saved the Bureau of Criminal Investigation special agent from what would have been serious, if not fatal, burns in the flash explosion.

As frightening as the incident last summer was, it’s part of the job for Lowe and four other agents in BCI’s special clandestine-lab unit that responds to an increasing number of illegal meth labs uncovered in Ohio.

Ohio law-enforcement officials had located 770 meth labs statewide this year as of Aug. 24, 27 percent more than were found in all of 2012 and the largest number since 2005, when Ohio began keeping track of illegal drug operations. The program goes by the federal fiscal year ending Sept. 30, so the total will grow.

The number of lab busts dropped in 2007 and 2008 after changes in state law restricted access to certain cold medicines containing one of the active ingredients needed to cook meth.

But things changed dramatically with the advent of “one-pot, shake-and-bake” operations that rely on commonly available household ingredients cooked in small batches in plastic soda or sports-drink bottles. The number began rising sharply in the past two years.

And with the higher number of busts, the public began stumbling upon more bottles filled with the sludgy waste that remains after the drug is crystallized. The bottles frequently end up in parks, along highways, in trash containers and in landfills. They can explode or catch fire easily.

When a lab is found, Lowe, John Butterworth or one of the other BCI agents hit the road for cleanup. They always wear a $1,800 protective suit equipped with an oxygen tank that protects from flash fires and dangerous chemical fumes.

“We know the inherent risk, but we manage it as best we can,” Lowe said. “I like being able to help local law enforcement protect local citizens. And it’s important to me. My family shops at the same stores as the people who buy and make this stuff.

“It’s really important that the public knows how susceptible they are to these,” Lowe said.

Methamphetamine goes by many names: chalk, crank, crystal, glass, go-fast, stove top and trash. It is a highly addictive, synthetic drug that severely affects the central nervous system and can be snorted like cocaine, smoked like marijuana or shot with a needle like heroin. Health experts consider it more dangerous than many other drugs because of the destruction it causes to the body, including brain and organ damage, strokes and open sores and rotting teeth, as well as psychotic compulsions and violent, anti-social and suicidal behavior.

Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office includes BCI, said he is keenly aware of how his agents “put their lives on the line every time they suit up and help clean up a meth-maker’s mess.”

“Unfortunately, this year’s record number of meth labs will likely continue to climb. We will continue to be a resource for local law enforcement for cleanup and training. And we will continue to educate people about the dangers of getting near one-pot meth labs — whether it’s on the side of a highway or in a park.”

Officials urge people to avoid touching bottles that contain unusual contents such as sludge or thick, oddly colored liquids. Some meth-makers toss bottles with tubes or hoses still attached.



A man who rented a room at Fairfield Inn and Suites in the 3800 block of Broadway/Highway 29 in American Canyon was arrested Saturday after he allegedly vandalized the room, police said.

John Haygood Dean, 51, of Napa allegedly broke a mirror, vandalized a lamp and caused other damage in the room, according to the American Canyon Police Department.

Dean was arrested on suspicion of vandalism, police said. During a search, an officer found him to allegedly be in possession of 1 gram of suspected methamphetamine, police said.

Dean was booked into the Napa County jail at 1:55 p.m. on suspicion of vandalism and methamphetamine possession, police said.





A SURGE in the use of the drug ice has sparked a four-fold increase in ambulance attendances in Melbourne in three years.

The state’s helplines have also been flooded with calls for help, while the number of people seeking face-to-face assistance from support services has risen.

Crystal methamphetamine can lead to psychosis, stroke and heart problems.

Surge in ice use sparks calls for help

Crystal methamphetamine is behind a four-fold increase in ambulance call-outs in Melbourne



Last month, the Herald Sun reported a surge in attacks, including 12 killings, linked to the drug. New data published in the Medical Journal of Australia shows there was a 318 per cent increase in ice-related ambulance attendances between 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Ambulance Victoria data also shows a rise from 3.4 to 14.5 ambulance attendances per 100,000 of population.

During the last ice peak in 2006-2007, there were 5.1 crystal methamphetamine ambulance attendances per 100,000 of population.

The biggest growth in people needing help was in ice ­users aged 15 to 29 years, latest figures show.

Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Centre research shows there were 136 ambulance attendances in metropolitan Melbourne in 2009-10.

This rose to 592 in 2011-12 and contributed to an overall increase in call-outs for amphetamine-related ambulance attendances of 445 to 880 during the same period.

Calls to amphetamine-related helplines increased by 194 per cent between 2010-11 and 2011-12. The number of people seeking help in person also rose by 77 per cent during the same period.

Turning Point research fellow Dr Cherie Heilbronn said: “While the harms around ice are creeping up, when you compare it to some of our legal drugs, such as alcohol, it was very minor.

For all ­amphet­amine-relat­ed attendances, there were just under 900, whereas with alcohol, it was around 9000.”

Victoria Police data from the past financial year shows there were 3218 amphetamine-related assaults and 3990 ­burglaries.





Methamphetamine or crystal meth has been labelled as the new heroin – potent, plentiful and powerfully addictive.

According to Rob McGlashan from the Northern Mallee Community Partnership there’s a good chance you will know someone who has used the drug.

“There’s a 50 per cent hit rate the first time you take it that you’ll be addicted,” Mr McGlashan said.

“We’re seeing people getting hooked up who would normally be very middle class families, or middle class kids.”

Mr McGlashan says there’s been links between the drug and suicide, as well as prostitution.

It’s estimated that there were around 6000 burglaries, 3000 assaults and almost 13,000 thefts committed by those on amphetamines in Victoria last year.

  1. “In the last 12 months, we’re seeing a lot more of the population coming through the prison system where their main drug of choice is methamphetamines,” Mr McGlashan said.

Crystal meth can be eaten, injected or smoked. It’s cheaper than cocaine, making it a popular choice at music festivals and bars.


A recent study in Adelaide found that a staggering one in four female clubbers, and around one in five males have used methamphetamine on a night out.

According to detective senior sergeant Scott Anderson people on methamphetamine become very irrational, unpredictable and extremely violent.

“If we don’t stop the demand, we’re never going to be able to stop the supply,” Mr Anderson said.

Police are pushing the message at forums, where concerned locals can meet with health and community workers to find out more about the drug and how it works.

Warning signs displayed by crystal meth users:

  • Weightloss
  • Skipping meals
  • Changes to appearance
  • Erratic or aggressive behaviour
  • Scratches and sores



LINCOLN, Arkansas — Authorities in Washington County say sheriff’s deputies found a moonshine still, methamphetamine and a shotgun at a residence in Lincoln.

Deputies arrested 52-year-old Rickey Bickford on Friday after serving a search warrant at the property.

Authorities told Fayetteville television station KHOG ( ) that the investigation is continuing and that more arrests are expected. Officials say about $600 worth of suspected methamphetamine was seized at the home. A shotgun was also on the property.

Bickford faces several felony charges including, intent to sell drugs, possession of drugs and firearms and possessing a still. It was unclear whether he had an attorney.

Deputies wouldn’t discuss the scope of the investigation.





A Crown prosecutor who stole $200 of groceries lied to the lawyers’ watchdog over her drug misuse before finally admitting a recent four-day methamphetamine binge.

Emily Toner, 33, was discharged without conviction last year at North Shore District Court after pleading guilty to one charge of shoplifting.

It was revealed that Toner, who was working for Auckland law firm Meredith Connell, paid for $11 of groceries and tried to take a further $200 of items without paying.

She was working on a case at North Shore District Court on November 15 and went to the supermarket during an adjournment.

The incident meant she was called before the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal.

A hearing between the National Standards Committee (NSC) and Toner focused squarely on her steps towards drug and alcohol abuse rehabilitation and risks of possible relapses.

There were questions over whether she might be able to sustain her recovery in the face of practising in such a stressful profession.

The tribunal had heard she had been drug-free since mid-2005.

But after cross-examination, the tribunal panel put some questions to Toner, including how long it had been since she had had a relapse.

She responded that she had been at her lowest ebb in January of this year after “engaging in a four-day methamphetamine binge” with a former associate from Springhill Addiction Centre.

“This was a stunning revelation to counsel for the NSC and to the tribunal,” a new ruling says.

The revelations resulted in the standards committee pushing for her to be struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors.

They considered she had misled them and the tribunal “in a manner which was unacceptable” for a practitioner.

Her lawyer argued that a pattern of complex addictions had meant a “long road” for his client, but that since this February she had “turned the corner”.

After careful and lengthy consideration, the tribunal found itself unable to reach a unanimous view that striking her off was a necessary response.

“In the exercise of weighing up the severity of the practitioner’s conduct we note that no clients were harmed by her actions, which were largely self-destructive,” it concluded.

“However, she did do considerable harm to the reputation of the profession as a whole.”

Taking into account her “lack of candour” in the course of the disciplinary process, the tribunal made a unanimous decision to suspend her for three years.

Toner will be monitored for a further two years if she chooses to re-enter the profession.

“We do, however, urge that there be a full reassessment of the practitioner’s rehabilitation and progress prior to her having a practice certificate issued at the end of what will be the maximum period of suspension imposed by this tribunal.”

She was also ordered to pay $7566 in legal costs.

Meanwhile, Dargaville lawyer Gregory Clarke has been struck off for “disgraceful or dishonourable conduct” which involved lying to a client about submitting forms for a disputes tribunal case, when he had forgotten to do so.

Mr Clarke admitted he had “stuffed up badly” but having had two previous findings of misconduct against him in 2001 and 2007, the tribunal deemed he was unfit to practice again.



The Lakes Area Drugs Investigative Division (LADID) found a homemade smoking bong, methamphetamine and firearms at a rural Brainerd home that led to drug charges for two Brainerd women.

Angela M. Raper, 30, and Angela D. Kinzer, were charged Aug. 14 in Crow Wing District Court for fifth-degree drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. Raper also was charged with felony of storing meth paraphernalia in the presence of a child.

Judge Richard Zimmerman set bond at $20,000 without conditions and $10,000 with conditions for Raper, who has since posted bail. Raper’s next court hearing is Sept. 24.

Zimmerman set bond at $50,000 without conditions for Kinzer and $10,000 with conditions. Kinzer’s next court hearing is Sept. 23.

The fifth-degree drug charges carry a penalty of five years in jail and/or a $10,000 fine.

According to the criminal complaints against the women:

• LADID executed a search warrant at Raper’s home on the 14000 block of Buley Avenue in Brainerd. In searching the north end of the basement, a homemade smoking bong was found in the rafters of the room. Two used glass meth smoking pipes that later tested positive for methamphetamine also were found.

• One of the rooms searched was a child’s bedroom and evidence showed that the child does live or at least spends a considerable amount of time at the residence.

• A partial gun stock wrapped in a blanket was found in a broom closet in the kitchen area. A total of three guns were removed from the closet. The guns were a .22 rifle, a 22.410 combo gun and a 30-30 lever action rifle.

• Kinzer was present at the residence when an investigator arrived. Investigators found a metal spoon containing a white residual substance located in a blue cooler bag that belonged to Kinzer. The spoon tested positive for meth.