COOKEVILLE — What began as a traffic stop for a non-working tag light ended early yesterday morning with five people arrested for manufacturing methamphetamine and several other felonies.

Cookeville Police Officer Joseph Benya said in a report of the incident that he initiated a traffic stop early Monday morning on a 2005 Pontiac passenger car being driven by David Alan Bogan, 27, of St. Claire Shores, Mich., and carrying four passengers: Brittany Anne Cooper, 31, of Columbia Ave.; Jesse Luke Langford, 27, of Buffalo Valley Road; Brandon Phillip Moore, 29, of Hanging Limb Highway, Monterey; and Jeremy Allen Wray, 29, of Paren Road.

After a check for possible warrants, “Officers requested to check the inside of the vehicle and the driver declined,” Officer Benya’s report says.

“A K9 was requested. Deputy Richard Cobble with his K9 responded, and the dog indicated on the vehicle,” the report continues.

The search initially yielded two loaded handgun magazines and a pipe typically used for smoking marijuana.

Other paraphernalia was discovered in a backpack that the officer said Cooper openly stated belonged to her.

In the backseat floor board of the car, the officers discovered a green plastic 2-liter soda bottle with a bilayered liquid that appeared to be what it typically referred to as a “shake and bake” meth lab.

The substance inside the bottle field tested positive for methamphetamine and was sent to the TBI for further analysis, Officer Benya says in his report.

Also inside the car, officers found many items that are typically ingredients in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

All of the five were charged with manufacturing methamphetamine.

Bogan, the driver of the vehicle, was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

“While in booking at the [Putnam County] Jail, a needle was recovered from inside Ms. Cooper’s pants. She was charged with introduction of contraband into a penal facility.

In a supplement to Officer Benya’s report, Officer Michael Herrick says the Tennessee Methamphetamine and Pharmaceutical Task Force was contacted to tranport the items associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine from the scene.

Langford, Moore, and Wray had an initial court appearance in Putnam County General Sessions Court yesterday, and today they are still being held in the Putnam County Jail.

Each is charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, with bonds for each of the three set at $20,000.

Cooper also had an initial court appearance yesterday and is still being held in the Putnam County Jail today.

Bond for her charges of manufacturing methamphetamine and introduction of contraband totals $25,000.

David Alan Bogan, who was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, has been released from jail on a $25,000 bond.

His initial court appearance is set for June 8.

SALINAS, Calif. —Drug agents raided several Salinas houses Tuesday to take down a methamphetamine trafficking organization, arrest 17 suspects, seize 17 guns, and find four pounds of drugs.

Operation Quiet Riot was a six-month long investigation by the Monterey County Specialized Team Intervention Narcotics and Gangs task force.

Traffickers traveled to Mexico to purchase methamphetamine for distribution in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Clara counties, State Attorney General Kamala Harris said.

“Drug traffickers have built cross-border networks that have made California the largest point of entry for methamphetamine in the United States,” Harris said.

“This seizure is an important step forward in our fight against the devastating impact of meth in our communities. I want to thank our California Department of Justice agents and local, state and federal partners for their commitment to the public safety of our state,” Harris said.

The 17 men and women arrested Tuesday face charges including: possession of narcotics for sale, sale of narcotics, narcotics trafficking and distribution, and conspiracy to distribute. They will be prosecuted by the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.

One of the homes raided was on the 1000 block of Del Monte, next door to Miguel Toledo’s apartment.

“I’m pretty sure they do drugs, they are active in the night. You can’t even go to the store right here to go get some bread, because they always right here, just trying to cause problems,” Toledo said. “That’s why we have the cops out here. So we can all be safe.”

Drug trafficking organizations made California the single biggest point of entry for methamphetamine into the United States, with 70 percent entering through the San Diego Port of Entry.

SIOUX FALLS, SD – The numbers are the highest South Dakota has seen in a decade.

Last year, more than 1,500 people in the state were arrested on meth-related charges. It’s one of the most dangerous drugs that has become one of the most common in South Dakota courts.64699

“Now that I’m on the criminal rotation, meth is a presence in the courtroom every single day,” Second Circuit Judge Susan Sabers said.

Sabers has been handling felony cases in Lincoln and Minnehaha counties for the last six months.

Meth alone has a hand in so many of the other crimes we’re seeing as well. It really is pervasive throughout the criminal caseload,” Sabers said.

From robberies to assaults Sabers says meth often leads to other crimes.

“I routinely hear whom I’m dealing with – burglaries and assaults for instance – that meth is involved,” Sabers said.

Meth cases alone are on the rise. In 2014, South Dakota authorities arrested more than 1,500 people on meth charges, busted 38 labs, and seized 22 pounds of the drug; some of the highest numbers in the past decade.

“We have seen an increase in the meth use, meth arrests, and also when we’re speaking with our clients and they’re talking about their family, or their parents, we’re hearing much more talk of meth use in the home with adolescents and with our young adults,” Darcy Jensen with Prairie View Prevention said.

Jensen used to serve on the statewide meth task force in South Dakota.

“We’re really seeing the dramatic change two fold I think because of the lack of awareness and prevention, and because of the change in how people are making the meth,” Jensen said.

Large labs are no longer needed. The dangerous drug can now be made through the so-called ‘one pot’ method in pop bottles.

The other reason for the rise; funding for statewide meth prevention programs has faded.

“Much of the prevention is no longer available. We certainly still as Prairie View go out and do some of those efforts but before with the federal dollars and then the state dollars it was at no cost,” Jensen said.

State and federal funding for programs like the ‘Meth Makes You Ugly’ campaign that launched in South Dakota schools in 2006, are no longer available.

“In 2010, 2011, is really when we stopped doing most of the prevention efforts because of the funding being gone, and the federal COPS grants being gone. That’s when we really started to see the uptick again,” Jensen said.

The state does still fund meth treatment programs and is expanding drug court to help addicts. It’s a place where Judge Sabers is seeing success.

“What we find is the more time and attention we give those folks the more helpful we are in keeping them away from relapses and returning to the substance that put them before us in the first place,” Sabers said.

Sabers hopes those types of programs can help.

“We hear the argument that this is a nice young man, or young woman, and had it not been for the meth they wouldn’t have done what they had done,” Sabers said.Methstats

But the trend isn’t showing signs of slowing down. On a statewide level, authorities have already made more arrests and seized more meth during the first three months of 2015 than they did last year.

A local man is being held on a $200,000 bond for running a meth lab in his home and endangering the lives of two children.jackaleen-rena-justice

Dustin Matthew Hoyle was arrested in Lincoln County on Sunday.

According to Gaston County Police, Hoyle was living with a woman just outside Bessemer City earlier this year.

Investigators were notified of a possible child endangerment situation at 144 Berkley Forest Circle.

The mobile home has a Bessemer City address but is just outside the city limits, according to Sgt. J.R. Rollins with Gaston County Police.dustin-hoyle

Investigators went to the home that Hoyle was sharing with Jackaleen Rena Justice and two children.

According to Rollins, there were precursors to make methamphetamine in the house, and there were poor living conditions.

Justice, 29, now has a Gastonia address. She was charged Jan. 30 with several misdemeanor counts of drug and paraphernalia possession and conspiracy. A child abuse charge was added later, and she has been released on an unsecured bond.

Detectives were not able to locate Hoyle at the time.

Hoyle, 32, has since been charged with child abuse, drug and paraphernalia possession and conspiracy.

He was assigned a $102,000 bond, which was raised Monday when he made a first appearance in court.

Kristene Brooks of West St. Paul has been living at a pace no one can possibly maintain.

According to public documents, the 25-year-old single mom, who was in Adan Margritos Flores-Lagonas’s vehicle last week along with almost 18 pounds of meth, has a history of courthouse woes that outstrip her biological years.kristenebrooks

In addition to being named as the defendant in five housing-related lawsuits, Brooks

has been caught driving with a suspended license, DUI, and using an identity card “issued to another.”

Earlier this year, she was also picked up on a drug charge in Bloomington.

But her biggest crime might be the dubious company she’s keeping.

During a major drug sting operation last Wednesday night involving multiple agencies in various states — including the Rochester Police, the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office, and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension — Brooks was in a car driven by 39-year-old Adan Margritos Flores-Lagonas of Apple Valley.

Authorities had arranged to make a major meth buy. They’d agreed to meet the dealer at a parking lot outside Dick’s Sporting Goods on Rochester’s south side.

As law enforcement closed in, Flores-Lagonas sped off, colliding with an unmarked police vehicle in the process. He drove west as police made chase before finally losing control of his vehicle near Olmsted County Road 8.

Flores-Lagonas then tried to escape on foot, but was soon apprehended. According to police records, he had good reason to flee. Inside the car was a handgun and almost 18 pounds of meth.

According to various news reports, Rochester Police Spokesman Capt. John Sherwin says the drugs have an estimated street value of roughly $1 million.

Flores-Lagonas faces multiple felony counts.

Olmsted County records show he’s already been charged with attempting to evade police and possession of a handgun by an ineligible person, apparently having had a prior firearm conviction.

Federal drug charges are likely forthcoming.

It’s possible that Brooks, riding shotgun to last week’s drug drama, won’t be charged in connection with meth. She reportedly told police she had no knowledge of the drugs.

If she does walk away without criminal entanglement, perhaps the incident will serve as a wake-up call for the young woman, if not for herself, then for her little one.

According to state records, Brooks and Jesus Santos Quintanilla share a child.

MT. PLEASANT, IOWA — A public fight landed a Burlington couple in jail over the weekend.

Amber Meyers, 34, and Jeremy Rourke, 42, are both facing felony charges of Conspiracy to Manufacture Methamphetamine.JeremyRourke_AmberMeyers

On the afternoon of May 16, a citizen flagged down a Henry County Sheriff’s deputy to report a domestic dispute in a parking lot at 1700 East Washington Street in Mt. Pleasant.

The deputy stopped the couple as they attempted to leave the area, and discovered the couple had protective orders against each other.

Rourke also had outstanding warrants.

As the officer continued the investigation, the couple was found in possession of one-pot meth precursors.

Meyers was also observed trying to hide drug paraphernalia under a vehicle during the investigation.

Sheriff’s deputies and Mt. Pleasant police officers then searched a local hotel room registered to the couple.

They discovered additional evidence of a one-pot meth lab.

Both are being held at the Henry County Jail.

From taking diet pills at 15 to an out-of-control ice addiction at 44, Virginia Perkins had a long history of swapping one bad habit for another, like a lot of addicts in denial.

This story, my story, is a very personal account of a lifetime of addiction. It is my one-sided account of how an otherwise regular life, characterized by drinking and recreational drug taking, disintegrated to the point  where my sister threw me an intervention for my 44th birthday and I ended up in Odyssey House.

I grew up in the leafy northern beaches area of Sydney. I had a loving mum and dad and two younger sisters.  We were a happy middle class Australian family. I had a difficult adolescence and spent it pushing my parents’ boundaries.

I got my first job when I was nearly 15 years old and that’s when I started buying recreational drugs. In those days you could buy high doses of pseudoephedrine over-the-counter in diet pills and I used to skip school at least two mornings a week to go to Manly or Dee Why and buy packets of 100 tablets. With a pocketful of disposable income, the pharmacy became my lolly shop for the next 20 years.

When I was nearly 16, in a fit of rebellion and much to the distress of my family, I left home. I met an 18-year-old man with a flat in the city and he taught me about illicit drugs, working hard, playing hard and living on the edge.

Even at that young age, I played the role of middle class, functional “recreational” user. I got work as a junior clerk for a stockbroker in those heady days of the late 1980s where I took my drug habit to a whole new level. I learnt to take cocaine before the market opened and relax with scotch and soda in the trendy bars of Oxford Street at night.

When my relationship ended, it was the wake-up call I needed to get out of the Sydney scene and I move to Canberra, where I was welcomed by my family, got a job in a bank and didn’t touch illicit drugs for another 15 years.

I worked in Europe in the early 1990s, including for a British charity in Romania. While I was there, and despite intense homesickness, I came to know myself in a way that I hadn’t before and realized that I liked working in challenging environments. I returned to Australia and quickly took up work in Pakistan where I worked with women and young people in minority religious communities.

It’s fair to say that during those years I became a confident and assertive woman. I was proud of the work I was doing and the lifestyle I was living.

I still misused drugs and alcohol – binge drinking in Romania and being poured into a horse and cart to be taken home was an amusing dinner party anecdote. And the pharmacies in Lahore and Islamabad didn’t need a prescription – amphetamines, opiates, benzodiazepines –  they provided a cornucopia of delights for the informed 20-something expatriate.

Before I left Australia for Pakistan, I started seeing the man I subsequently married, a successful businessman 16 years my senior. He was also a functional alcoholic.

I was a seasoned user of drugs and alcohol before I met him, but with him, I drowned myself in alcohol. On the surface I was a successful, adventurous, functional, young professional woman. Behind closed doors, I was little more than a barely functional, emotionally crippled, alcoholic and drug addict.

I returned to Australia, got married, established a home and family and built a successful career in the Commonwealth Public Service in Canberra. I worked hard and successfully led national policy and program teams.

Isolated in suburbia

Twelve years slipped by in a blur of chardonnay and over-the-counter pseudoephedrine until I hit my early 30s and despite the beautiful home, established career, busy social and family networks, I had lost myself.

My life had completely evaporated into a shadow known as my husband’s wife or my step-children’s mother, or my job title. I had a deep sense of unfulfillment. I could no longer picture living the rest of my life in comfortable suburbia, drinking a couple of bottles of wine every night and making a daily lunch run to the chemist for cold tablets. I left the marriage.

I was devastated at the reality of a separation. So I did what I always did when life got hard – I drank, passed out, woke up, popped pills, went to work, popped pills, drank, passed out. I was isolated, stopped returning calls from friends, saw my family a bit but lost contact with my extended network.

I eventually realized I couldn’t go on living in Canberra so I did the other thing I’d done all my life, and ran away.

I took a lucrative job opportunity in the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory Emergency Response had just been announced and the government was seconding senior bureaucrats to remote communities to effectively take over their administration.  I had extensive experience in public policy, but I’d never worked in Aboriginal affairs. The response had introduced alcohol bans in those communities, so I respected those arrangements and for the first time in my life, stopped drinking. Instead, I developed a secret over-the-counter codeine habit.

Like a lot of addicts in denial, I have a long history of swapping one habit for another.

It was a difficult and depressing job, listening day in and day out to the experiences of Aboriginal women and young people in remote communities

Running away

Finally, I had had enough. Burnt out, I left the Australian public service and moved to the private sector. In hindsight, I jumped straight out of the frying pan and into the fire.

I got work with the world’s largest gold mining company as the manager of community planning and development at their mine in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. I told myself it was a lifestyle choice. Sixteen days on, 12 days off, flying in and out of Cairns. I sold my house in Canberra and bought one in a tropical paradise hidden in the rainforest between Cairns and Port Douglas.

Drugs are rife in regional Australia and they saturate the mining and resource sectors. I’d become friends with the wife of a man I worked with in the mines and she introduced me to ice [crystal methamphetamine]. She used the drug to maintain her figure. It started harmlessly, a few women sharing recreational drugs a couple of nights a week. No big deal for me, a woman who had used everything and anything all her life without too much of a dent and thought herself a savvy navigator of the world of substance use.

At work I responded on behalf of the company to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International concerns about serious human rights concerns. I established the first women’s centre in the province and engaged with the World Health Organization to deliver HIV treatment to a population where the virus was endemic. I established local teams to develop food security projects and implemented a fresh water strategy.

In my 12 days off, I continued to use ice to relax and socialize with miners’ wives.

In 2013 the bottom fell out of the gold market and the community programs were the first to go.

I was made redundant and for the first time in my life, I was unemployed.

In my tropical paradise, secluded from friends and family, unemployed and lost, I developed a methamphetamine addiction that quickly escalated to costing several thousand dollars a week, saw me mixing with criminals, admitted to hospital with drug-induced psychosis and literally sent me spiritually, emotionally and finally financially bankrupt within a matter of less than 12 months.

I take no comfort in knowing I’m not the only person to have gone through this. There are 75,000 people in Australia who are dependent meth addicts and like many before me my descent into the meth trap was caused by dire ignorance about the drug.

My descent into debilitating addition was the result of a combination of naivety and a lack of insight into my degrading mental condition. I used bit by bit, here and there. I’d feel tired or sad so I’d take a bit more, until my mind got so twisted I lost track of how much I was using and how much my behavior had changed.

The thing that I really didn’t understand about meth addiction is what is meant by “psychologically addictive”. Ice addiction is very much about the gradual grinding down of the border between fantasy and reality. Many users, myself included, then become psychotic or so deluded they lose all self awareness, not realizing they have become hooked on this insidious drug.

Getting help

When I ran out of money and had to come clean with my family and turn to them for help and support my sisters confronted me and with their support and encouragement I contacted Odyssey House to seek treatment and rehabilitation.

I think it’s important to note that by the stage my sisters stepped in, I wasn’t in much of a state to do anything really for myself. I was paralyzed with addiction. Methamphetamines are like that. Affected by ice, you live in a fantasy land, where the drug creates a false reality where nothing matters except staying high and maintaining the sense of happiness and contentment you feel from the effects of the drug.

They gave me the references for a few rehab centers in Sydney and Canberra and I spoke to a couple I found through the Queensland alcohol and drug information lines, however it’s true to say that there were very few long-term residential treatment centers I could have accessed. Fortunately it did sink in to me when the girls told me that the research and people they’d spoken to suggested that I needed long-term treatment and the reality was that there is a direct correlation between the length of time one stays in treatment and the likelihood of relapse.

I’ve come to understand that I am an addict and I will always be at risk of addiction. I will spend my life using the tools and strategies I’ve learnt during my time in intensive rehabilitation at Odyssey House ensuring when I do face disappointment or feel sad or lonely that I put strategies in place to deal with them by making choices that are good for me rather than destructive.

Addiction brought me to my knees and cost me so, so much. I’ve come to terms with that and no longer carry romantic notions of harmless recreational drug use. It nearly destroyed me.

Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to express my most sincere gratitude to my incredible parents, sisters and their families without whose support I could not have made it through this difficult period.

I would also like to express my gratitude and thanks to the remarkable and dedicated professional staff and executive of Odyssey House. My ability to access this service literally saved my life and has enabled me to heal from the depths of serious addiction and be in a position to rebuild a life I destroyed. I could not have done it on my own and I will be forever grateful.

This is an edited extract of a speech given by Virginia Perkins, a recovering addict, to the Odyssey House Business Women’s Lunch on Tuesday.





A domestic disturbance led deputies in one Eastern Carolina county to discover a meth operation.

Duplin County Sheriff Blake Wallace says on Friday they got a call to a home on Ward’s Bridge Road in Warsaw.register-baker

He says when his deputy arrived, Donna Register ran into the woods. The 32-year-old woman had outstanding warrants for failure to appear.

Anthony Baker was handcuffed and arrested on an outstanding warrant for child support, and Wallace says he manage to run into the woods as well while the deputy was trying to secure the scene.

A K9 search of the woods located both Register and Baker, while deputies noticed a trash pile with meth precursor chemicals. After getting permission to search the home, deputies found more meth material inside.

Baker was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of a Schedule II substance, maintaining a residence for a controlled substance, possession of methamphetamine precursor chemicals, and possession of a firearm by a felon. Additionally, he was charged with one count each of misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, larceny, and resisting a public officer. Baker was jailed on a $130,000 secured bond.

Register was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of a Schedule II substance, maintaining a residence for a controlled substance, and possession of methamphetamine precursor chemicals. She was also charged with one count each of misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting a public officer. The woman was jailed on a $126,500 secured bond.\

WilkersonParis Police arrested 23 year old Rodney Dewayne Lester and 26 year old Whitney Brooke Wilkerson in the 1200 block of NE Loop 286 at 11:16 P.M. on Friday, May 15, 2015.

Officers located the two sitting in a vehicle on a parking lot and during the investigation of suspicious circumstances, found that they allegedly possessed a syringe that contained a controlled substance.

Lester reportedly admitted to officers that the syringe contained methamphetamine.Rodney-Lester

Both were charged with possession of a controlled substance and were later transferred to the Lamar County Jail.

Lodging assets and self-storage facilities have been the darlings of the national real estate scene over the past few years, with hotel sales prices rising 33 percent in the past year alone, and self-storage investment showing robust strength and steady increases over the last several years.

As self-storage facilities, motels and extended stay hotels continue to attract the attention of investors, especially REITs, institutional funds and other large-portfolio players, the growing use of these types of assets as temporary laboratories for methamphetamine production is creating a new wave of litigation that investors must be prepared to address during acquisition due diligence.self-storagesafeguard-unit

The growing phenomenon of using these types of rented accommodations as laboratories for producing meth, as well as the recent evolution of a one-step process for production of the drug, are causing enormous headaches for property owners and neighbors, and spawning a new focus on risk assessment and due diligence measures designed to prevent potential future litigation and the stigma of the “meth lab” label being attached to investment assets.

There is no doubt about the impact these illicit drug factories have on the built environment. The labs are toxic environments, as evidenced by the fact that the cooks wear protective respiratory gear and clothing to prevent inhalation and skin ingestion of the chemicals. The vapors are toxic and can contaminate building materials and surfaces, creating a hazardous environment. Unbeknownst to future occupants, they may be moving into a toxic environment that can only be rectified with costly remediation. Insurers are reporting an increase in claims for toxic buildings, and the costs for clean-up can be hefty, at about $10,000 per room/unit.

Complicating matters is that the classification “former meth lab” is a wide umbrella that covers everything from full-blown drug manufacturing facilities to locations where police have arrested users for meth possession. Only a full review by qualified due diligence consultants can determine the extent of the contamination, and what measures have been or need to be taken to remediate the problem.

Investors in motels, extended stay hotels and self-storage facilities, which provide the privacy and easy access to water and other utilities necessary to manufacture the drug, are particularly vulnerable to the “meth lab” label. While one or two such reports may not make much of a difference when investing in a portfolio of these types of assets, single-asset investors looking to repurpose properties for residential or office development could face considerable problems down the road if these instances are not addressed. The consequences of meth lab contamination can be more far reaching in a development where toxicity permeates into adjoining units or buildings, or in jointly used amenities such as HVAC systems.

We are currently witnessing the emergence of a new wave of construction-related litigation where a sick building syndrome more commonly associated with Legionnaires disease may become associated with meth cooking labs.

All across the world, the increasing prevalence of meth labs in shared spaces such as hotels, self-storage facilities and private accommodations poses enormous challenges to public health. It also poses challenges to the built environment and those who operate and work within the assets. This trend also imposes new responsibilities on investors in these assets and their due diligence prior to purchase.

Owners need to disclose the fact that an asset had been used as a meth lab or meth cooking facility, which needless to say will have a very negative effect on price. Failure to engage in such disclosure can be grounds for contract recession in many instances as a non-disclosure of a material fact.

Evidence of former meth lab activity in an asset should be uncovered by a proper Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. However, the true nature of the contamination can only be established through a proper investigation of the extent and type of the activity, and what remediation issues were subsequently taken.

(CNN)—Bandidos, Hells Angels, Mongols. They’re not just motorcycle clubs, but organized criminal enterprises.

Now, after a biker gang shootout left nine people dead in Texas, many are wondering what such gangs really stand for.

Police haven’t identified the five biker gangs involved in Sunday’s deadly melee outside a Twin Peaks restaurant — other than to say they’re notorious.150517170336-waco-shooting-twin-peaks-medium-plus-169

“These are very dangerous, hostile biker gangs we are dealing with,” Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said.

Some men at the scene had the names and patches of motorcycle clubs emblazoned on their vests: Cossacks. Scimitars. Vaqueros.

While it’s not clear who else might be involved, here are some of the gangs federal authorities consider the most dangerous in the country:

Bandidos Motorcycle Club

The Bandidos boast a membership of 2,000 to 2,500 across not just the United States, but also 13 other countries, the Department of Justice says.

“The Bandidos constitute a growing criminal threat to the U.S.,” the agency says. “The Bandidos are involved in transporting and distributing cocaine and marijuana and are involved in the production, transportation and distribution of methamphetamine.”

The group’s website highlights its noncriminal endeavors, such as an Easter party in Germany and a toy drive in France.

Hells Angels Motorcycle Club

With over 230 chapters in the U.S. and 26 other countries, “Hells Angels pose a criminal threat on six continents,” the Department of Justice says.

Officials say the gang is heavily involved in the drug trade — including the production and distribution of methamphetamine and the transportation of cocaine, hashish, heroin, LSD, Ecstasy and PCP.

That’s not all. “The Hells Angels are also involved in other criminal activity including assault, extortion, homicide, money laundering and motorcycle theft,” the DOJ says.

The group, founded in 1948, says its average member rides over 12,000 miles a year.

“Each Charter varies in their requirements, but if you are really interested you should talk to a member in your area,” the Hells Angels website says. “If you have to ask where the nearest Charter is … you are not ready to join our Motorcycle Club,”

As for the name, “we know that there is an apostrophe missing but it is you who miss it. We don’t.”

Mongols Motorcycle Club

The Mongols club is an “extremely violent” outlaw motorcycle gang that poses a serious criminal threat to the Pacific and Southwest regions of the U.S., the Department of Justice says.

In fact, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have called the Mongols the most violent and dangerous motorcycle gang in the country.

“The Mongols are also known to frequently commit violent crime including assault, intimidation and murder in defense of their territory, and to uphold the reputation of the club,” the DOJ said.

The Mongols call themselves the “baddest 1%er Motorcycle Club known worldwide.”

“When we do right nobody remembers,” the group says. “When we do wrong nobody forgets.”

Outlaws Motorcycle Club

Arson, kidnapping, explosives, prostitution, homicide. Those are just some of the crimes the Outlaws have engaged in, the DOJ says.

The Outlaws started in the Chicago area in 1935. Federal authorities say they are now the dominant motorcycle gang in the Great Lakes area.

Their merchandise includes T-shirts with pictures of guns pointed at the viewer.

“Snitches are a dying breed,” one shirt says, with two guns firing.

And there’s a big rivalry between the Outlaws and Hells Angels.

“The Outlaws compete with the Hells Angels for both members and territory,” the DOJ says.

The Department of Justice also lists four other groups whose members “use their motorcycle clubs as conduits for criminal enterprises”: the Black Pistons Motorcycle Club, the Pagans Motorcycle Club, the Sons of Silence and the Vagos Motorcycle Club.

Over the last few years there has been increasing comment about the so-called “ice epidemic”, reaching near hysteria in sections of the media. But all is not what it seems.

Firstly, there has not been an increase in stimulant users. Instead, existing users have switched to a more concentrated new form; ice is around eight times as concentrated as the same amount of old forms of methamphetamine powder.methamphetamine

Surprisingly, there has been no price adjustment in the drug market for this more powerful product. Potent drugs like heroin, cocaine or meth have always been sold in the same units — points (0.1g), half weights (0.5g) or eight-balls (3.5g). Ice is sold in the same units as old meth and generally for the same price. Buyers are getting a bottle of wine when they buy a glass, a 1000cc super-bike instead of a 125cc trail bike.

The national surveys have not actually shown any increase in methamphetamine user numbers — if anything, the number of meth users has actually been falling over recent years. What has happened is the number of presentations with problems from stimulant use has increased: more ambulance call-outs, more hospital presentations and more people with severe psychiatric and medical illness.

The increased visibility of ice has not just fueled a wave of public concern, it has also provoked a political response. What do politicians do when they don’t know what to do? Well, they form a committee. If the problem is to do with drugs, then you give it a military-type name, like a task force. You get to be seen as both doing things and being tough at the same time. But this heavy-handed response may be up against some powerful market forces that are not so concerned with appearances.

The drug market is like any other market, constantly changing as new suppliers compete for consumers. Ice is an innovation for this market, and has changed the game.

Ice is synthetic: you do not need to take over a small country to grow it, like heroin or cocaine. It can be produced just about anywhere, from a personal to industrial scale, using a range of different pathways and readily available precursors, or ingredients. The final process in its production is crystallisation. The ice-like crystals produced always contain an extremely pure form of dextro-methamphetamine, almost regardless of the cook.

Ice is smoked or injected, the two ways of delivering the most rapid dose of a drug to the brain. It provokes a massive response directly to the most significant neurons in the human reward system. The brain’s response makes alcohol, other drugs, sex or even chocolate seem hardly worth the effort.

Users keep taking drugs because they find them rewarding, but even heroin users do not want to overdose. When you overdose on heroin, you stop breathing and die. Overdosing on ice is almost as disastrous.

To describe someone toxic on ice as paranoid is misleading. Ice overdose causes a form of psychosis where the person is irrationally hostile, disorganised and aggressive. With an ice psychosis, the affected user does not typically have complicated delusions about an individual known to them — the user is just threatened by anyone with whom he or she comes into contact. Combine this with severe agitation and boundless energy and you have a serious problem. All of the disastrous medical complications of ice, including strokes, cardiac ischaemia, cardiac arrhythmia and addiction increase rapidly as the dose reaches toxic concentrations.

Maybe we need to help users understand the dosing maths of ice. If it is eight times more concentrated, maybe users need to use one-eighth the amount. If a half weight of ice is the same as an eight-ball of speed, why not use it like it is? Meth users often have great social and psychological disadvantages but surely eight-times tables are not that hard.

We need to start the response to ice by educating existing users. We need to help them understand the much greater risks of overdose and toxicity of this concentrated form of methamphetamine.

Dr Philip Crowley is an addiction medicine specialist who works at two public hospitals in Adelaide and in private practice.

*This article was originally published at InDaily.

A former chemistry professor has been identified by Chinese police as part of a gang which cooked up synthetic drugs for sale nationwide, media reported Tuesday.methcathinone

The 50-year-old former academic surnamed Lu had “a set of recipes for producing methcathinone”, a drug similar to methamphetamine, which he provided to dealers, China Business News (CBN) reported.

Lu “worked as a professor of chemistry at a university” in Xian, the capital of the northern province of Shaanxi, before teaming up with a drug manufacturer surnamed Chen in 2013, CBN cited police as saying.

It was not clear whether Lu had been held but his alleged activities echo those of the fictional former professor Walter White, who sold crystal meth, a form of methamphetamine, in the hit US TV show Breaking Bad.

Police detained Chen and six other people after finding 128kg of methcathinone at a manufacturing facility in Shaanxi, along with 2,000kg of ingredients for the drug last May, the report added.

Chinese state media last week cited the government as saying the country has 14 million drug users, about 1% of the population, and their numbers had increased by an annual average of 36% in recent years.

Use of synthetic drugs, such as crystal meth and methcathinone, which can induce euphoric highs, are reported to be growing in rural areas.

Chinese authorities deployed helicopters, speedboats and paramilitary police to seize three tonnes of methamphetamine last year in a raid on a village in the southern province of Guangdong.

A Chinese police raid on the house of two methcathinone dealers in 2011 uncovered a pile of 80m yuan (about US$13m) in cash, reports said at the time.

A Northern Territory parliamentary committee into meth use has been told young people are using ice to control their weight and enhance sex.

It has also been told a nine-year-old child in the Top End town of Katherine has been found using the drug.

The information comes from the NT Council of Social Service (NTCOSS) submission to the Northern Territory inquiry, obtained exclusively by the ABC.6025226-3x2-340x227

The Government announced the NT Parliamentary Committee To Investigate Ice inquiry in March to investigate how widespread the use of ice – the street name for crystal methamphetamine – is in the Territory.

The inquiry will look at how other jurisdictions are handling the problem, and what the social impacts are in urban, regional and remote areas.

The NTCOSS submission said young people were using ice to heighten sexual experiences and as a way to control their weight.

It also said a nine-year-old child in the Top End town of Katherine had been found using the drug, and that there was a link between ice use and suicide.

Ice the ‘drug of choice’ among young

NTCOSS executive director Wendy Morton said the trends were disturbing.

“Ice is currently the drug of choice for many people in the Northern Territory, and it goes across all ages, working backgrounds, and across the Territory,” she said.

She said there was a lack of services to address substance abuse for young people.

“That is currently a really big gap in the NT, is services for young people who are dealing with alcohol, drugs, and mental health.”

The report also quotes anecdotal evidence that domestic violence and child protection cases were increasing as a result of ice.

It said there had been an increase in women seeking support from domestic violence services, due to their partner’s aggression from using ice and an increase in child protection and family law matters due to parental use of the drug.

“The impact of violence and the type of violence has increased,” Ms Morton said.

Women ‘selling sex for drugs’

A support group for the families of Darwin ice addicts said the findings were in line with what they’ve seen and heard.

The women said they knew of young women selling sex for drugs and said the situation was urgent.

They said in the past two months two young ice users had committed suicide in the Territory.

“I have people knocking on my door at three or four in the morning, who are suicidal, who just want to talk, how can we get off this?” Cynthia said.

The women were shocked there was no specific funding in the NT budget for the spread of the drug.

“I would have thought that the NT Government when handing down their budget they would have put a special announcement to allocate some funds for the ice epidemic here in the Territory,” Ms Hunter said.

Police ‘target cannabis users over ice’

The NTCOSS submission also raises concerns that a supply of ice is reaching remote communities from neighbouring mine sites.

Police say the hotel room was being used to make the drug ice.398320-3x2-340x227

“Several communities in the Top End have raised the increase in the use and availability of methamphetamine,” it said.

“There were reports that the clinic was broken into a few times and insulin needles were taken to administer ice intravenously.

“What locals have suggested is that the mine workers who introduced ice to locals were intravenous users so this was the only form of administration that they were taught [as opposed to smoking].”

The report also said police were targeting cannabis use and not responding to community concerns about ice use.

“What a lot of community members are complaining about is police in remote communities are not responsive to ice use [not believing the communities’ concerns] and focus heavily on cannabis supply,” it said.

“We also had a report from a client who is a cannabis smoker who reported that he went to a local cannabis dealer to purchase cannabis on a community near Darwin and was offered ice and shown how to smoke it.”

‘Stop the kids before they start’

The multi-billion-dollar Inpex gas project, St John Ambulance and the Territory Health Department have also made submissions to the NTCOSS report but they have not been made public.

The NT inquiry will conduct hearings later this year.

“This is about stopping that trajectory and bringing things into line and stomping on this, before we can’t,” said Nathan Barrett, chair of the NT Government’s inquiry.

Ms Hunter said educating children was the key to stopping the spread of the drug.

“What we need to do is get into schools make sure they understand the dangers of starting,” she said.

The national ice taskforce, created under the Prime Minister’s Office, will hold its hearing in Darwin on Wednesday – the second stop on its national tour.

It will speak to community services, and visit Darwin’s rehab centre.

The successful arrests of drug suspects is not necessarily the end of a police investigation, and following the money trail of three seemingly unrelated drug gangs has led police to a surprising outcome — not only are the gangs connected, but all are run by drug lords in Laos.

What police thought were home-grown domestic drug rings instead have turned out to be an international network of drug traffickers generating billions of baht in illicit income for drug bosses abroad.

It began in the first half of this year when police nabbed three major drug syndicates and seized millions of speed pills and crystal methamphetamine.

The officers apprehended suspects in separate operations, but after tracing the money trails, they found the gangs are part of a large network of interrelated sub-rings with links to suspected drug lords living in Laos, who received money transfers totaling some three billion baht from their minions.

“Usually we do not do [financial checks] for ordinary drug cases but these were big busts,” said a high-level policeman at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB). National police chief Somyot Pumpunmuang assigned NSB chief Pol Lt Gen Rewat Klinkeson to continue investigating the cases even though many suspects have already been caught, a source said.c1_564195_150518073646_620x413

Pol Gen Somyot aims for the complete eradication of the gangs so they cannot restart their drug trades in the future, the source said, adding that one way to do so is to investigate the suspects’ financial transactions and seize their assets. The investigation into one of the cases uncovered evidence revealing its link to a transnational drug syndicate masterminded from abroad.

It started with the arrest of three men in Bangkok on Jan 23 – Anuwat Sawisit, 29, Pvt 1st Class Rachan Lita, a 27-year-old former soldier, and Athit Ratinan, 35, when police confiscated 1.7 million methamphetamine pills and 36kg of crystal methamphetamine.

Mr Athit was a drug trafficking suspect wanted by the NSB for his previous alleged involvement in the drug trade.

In 2012, he was nabbed by Nonthaburi police for possession of drugs and fled while on bail, which led to a probe that eventually dismissed the four Nonthaburi Provincial Court judges who had granted him temporary release.

Investigators found Mr Athit continued to traffic drugs from China after his escape. He was finally arrested when he returned this year to a former drugs storehouse in Khlong Chan Villa 2 in Bung Kum district.

Pol Lt Gen Rewat said Mr Athit had “transferred [money] in a very complex way”.

Uncovering the trail exposed its connection to two other drug gangs, with three billion baht overall which was sent to Laos.

In the second case, police found a large cache of 2.9 million speed pills hidden in a six-wheel lorry left unattended at a petrol station in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district on March 24.

Though no suspects were arrested, police identified the truck owner, a Thai national of Hmong descent, in northern Tak province’s Phop Phra district. Drug couriers exploited a flaw in police checkpoints by hiding drugs in piles of farm produce, as officers rarely check produce out of fear of causing damage, said police.

The last case, concerning a large drug gang led by Prachong Phueaknam, involved the arrest of three gang members on April 12 – Mafi Suriwong, 50, Sakkharin Kaeoamphai, 28, Wirat Burot, 31 – while they were allegedly delivering 300,000 speed pills while parked at a car park of the Lotus supermarket at the Liap Ram Intra expressway branch in Bangkok.

Further police work uncovered over two million pills and 14.8kg of crystal methamphetamine. Five more suspects – gang leader Prachong, 53, Phatthana Khemngoen, 39, Thaloengsak Rumchit, 46, and two Myanmar women – were then arrested.

Though the three cases at first appeared to be isolated, the money trail tied them together, the source said. Police are still checking whether the money changed hands again in Laos and has gone to other countries abroad. “From simple homegrown drug gangs we suspect this is an international drug ring,” the source said.

7797901_GIllegal drugs with a street value of more than $65,000 are off the streets, thanks to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office said 25-year-old Johnny Salamanca-Rodriguez of Santa Clara was parked in a red zone near the intersection of Bailard Avenue and Carpinteria, around 3:00 a.m. Sunday.

After an investigation, Salamanca-Rodriguez was arrested on a theft warrant out of Sunnyvale. Deputies said he was in possession of more than 5 pounds of methamphetamines and 1/4 pound of brown powder heroin. 7797904_G

Salamanca-Rodriguez was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail for Possession and Transportation of Heroin for Sales and Possession and Transportation of Methamphetamine for Sales.

His bail was set at $100,000.








The Stephens County Jail housed 186 inmates in April, 56 of which were female.

Stephens County Sheriff Wayne McKinney said the county is seeing an increasing number of women.

“When they originally built the jail, they didn’t anticipate the number of female inmates we’d have,” McKinney said. “More women are committing violent crimes and a lot of females are using methamphetamine.”

McKinney said about 70 percent of the offenders have some sort of mental illness.

“A lot of the illness is self imposed by the use of drugs like methamphetamine,” he said.

He said while offenders may be arrested for other charges as well, a drug charge is often included.

It’s not just Stephens County with a high incarceration rate, particularly of females.

“Historically, Oklahoma has among the highest rates of female incarceration in the country,” Oklahoma Department of Corrections Communications Director Terri Watkins said.

Oklahoma incarcerates 127 women per 100,000 population, compared to the national average of 63, according to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ 2013 annual report.

Stephens County has among the higher rates of female incarceration rates in Oklahoma with 69 women per 100,000 female population, according to the DOC’s 2013 annual report.

In fiscal year 2013, 1,152 the Oklahoma Department of Corrections received 1,152 female offenders, 61 percent of which were determined to have a moderate to high need for substance-abuse treatment, according to the report.

The highest largest amount of receptions in 2013 were from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Comanche, Garfield and Stephens Counties, according to the report. Stephens County represented 31 of the 1,152 women incarcerated in 2013, according to a report.

The most common offense the women were arrested for across the state were drug related.

Over 17 percent of the offenses in 2013 were for possession or obtaining a controlled dangerous substance, 18.9 percent were for distributing a controlled dangerous substance and 13.1 percent were for assault, according to the report.

Additionally, 96 percent were unemployed at the time of arrest, and 78.3 percent of the offenders received in fiscal year 2013 had a history of or were being treated for a medical disorder, according to the report.

Education has also been identified as a need for many female offenders, 74.6 percent of the female offenders were identified with a need for basic education, according to the report.

While the number of incarcerated females in 2013 was high compared to the national average, the 1,152 women received that year was a decrease of 45 from 2012, according to the report.

Watkins said the Department of Corrections and lawmakers are increasingly working to use more substance abuse treatment programs and halfway houses to reduce incarceration.

The Department of Corrections’ Mabel Correctional Center offers a substance abuse treatment program and mental health services, and the Helping Women Recover program, which helps with substance abuse and trauma issues at the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center and the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center, according to the report.

The number of female offenders is on the rise across the country.

The female jail population has been the fastest growing correctional population since 2010, increasing by an average of 3.4 percent annually, according to the Bureau of Justice.

Women made up 14 percent of the jail population in 2013, an increase of about 11 percent since 2000, according to the Bureau of Justice.

When former priest David Rapson was ordained in 1982, he received a white cord known as a cincture, which fastens clerical vestments but also signifies chastity and purity in the Roman Catholic Church.

Not one for symbolism, Rapson used his cincture to restrain 16-year-old Ben Monagle, before he viciously raped the vulnerable student in 1990.1431871085548

Last week, the 61-year-old was jailed for at least nine years over the rape and sexual assault of six students, but did not express any remorse to his victims.

Despite a string of sexual assaults dating back to 1976, Rapson became vice-principal of a Catholic boarding school in Melbourne, where boys were routinely and ruthlessly abused by a group of priests and brothers from 1960 to 1990.

For legal reasons, neither the school nor the Catholic order can be named.

But Mr Monagle, 41, is determined to tell his tragic story of clerical abuse, which triggered more than 20 years of mental illness, drug abuse and crime. He is also considering legal action to sue the Catholic order, which until now has only paid for 14 counseling sessions.

“Someone needs to make them accountable. They keep saying they’re sorry, so why do they keep using lawyers to deny us justice and the chance at a fresh start?” Mr Monagle said.

Sadistic rape, corrective surgery

When summoned to Rapson’s office in July 1990, Mr Monagle knew what to expect.

The agricultural student had already been raped three times since starting at the college as a boarder in Year 10.

Rapson usually plied his victims with grog, cigarettes or spiked Milo, but dispensed with the inducements before his fourth and final attack.

“He pushed me over his desk. He then tied my hands up using a robe cord with tassels on the end. It was what the priests would tie around their waists. He tied my hands in front of me as I was lying on his desk. I was crying at the time. He told me to shut up,” Mr Monagle said in a statement to Victoria Police.

The sadistic rape “seemed to last for an hour” and at one point, Rapson twisted the boy’s testicles.

“I was screaming out in pain. That just seemed to make him go harder. I was in such agony and crying out. He then put a hanky in my mouth. All I could think about was Mum and Dad and how I wanted to go home.”

A month after the attack, Monagle required corrective surgery to his testicles that left him with 15 stitches and 8 staples.

Deeply traumatized, Mr Monagle left the Catholic college after Year 10. Within months, he dropped out of a wool-classing course at Essendon Tafe and fled the state in 1991 without a word of explanation to his family.

By the time Mr Monagle turned 17, he had been involved in a string of armed robberies in NSW and Queensland, and tasted methamphetamine for the first time.

Trapped by a fierce addiction for more than two decades, Monagle snorted, smoked and injected methamphetamines as his life lurched out of control.

When Mr Monagle’s son was born in October last year, he missed the birth. He was in the grip of a five day binge fuelled by ice and Valium, and was supposed to be in charge of his three young daughters when his wife went into labor.

Mr Monagle’s marriage broke down in February, his four children are now in the care of the Victorian Child Protection Service and he is undergoing an extensive rehabilitation program in Geelong.

“I’ve lost my wife and kids over this. I’ve been on the run for 20 years. I always felt he was coming for me and I’d self-destruct,” he said.

‘Sad and devastating case’

Geelong priest, Father Kevin Dillon, has provided unwavering support for Mr Monagle and his family, since they relocated to Victoria in 2013.

An outspoken critic of the Catholic Church’s response to clerical abuse, Fr Dillon says Mr Monagle’s case was the most egregious he had witnessed in 46 years as a priest.

“I have never seen such a sad and devastating case as this. And I do not exaggerate. From what I know, the devastation and total breakdown of both his personal life and that of his family is, in no uncertain terms, due to the abuse by David Rapson, a trusted priest and teacher,” Fr Dillon said.

Mr Monagle’s parents, Raymond and Mary, only learned of their son’s abuse in December 2012 – more than 20 years after he left school.

“Things finally made sense to us in that the path Ben’s life has taken was so different to what we had hoped for him. At least we had a reason why.

“Our family has lost count of the number of times we have reconciled with Ben for a new beginning, over the years, followed by his return to addictions,” Mrs Monagle said.

But she continues to grapple with her faith and the church’s treatment of her son.

“There is a complete lack of humanity. Not one person [from the order] ever contacted Ben to ask if he was okay. They are more connected with the law and protecting themselves. They seem to have forgotten the core values that come from the messages of the gospel,” Mrs Monagle said.

For help or information regarding sexual abuse, call the Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 737 732. Online you can visit

HENDERSON CO., KY (WFIE) – A Henderson County man was arrested on several felony warrants Friday evening.

Deputies say they found 19-year-old Matthew “Blake” Smithhart hiding at a Reed residence in the 7200 section of Reed-Bluff City Road.7791137_G

Investigators tell us Smithhart was involving in multiple crimes, including having sex with a 14-year-old female and supplying her with methamphetamine over a period of time.

Deputies say he was also involved in the thefts of two handguns and receiving stolen property.

Smithhart was arrested on the following charges:

  • Unlawful Transaction with a Minor 1st (Felony)-5 counts
  • Unlawful Transaction with a Minor 1st (Felony)-3 counts
  • Sexual Misconduct (Misdemeanor)-9 counts
  • Theft by Unlawful Taking (Firearm) (Felony)
  • Receiving Stolen Property Under $500 (Misdemeanor)

Smithhart was lodged in the Henderson County Detention Center under a $28,000 full cash bond.

When officers stopped a van Friday afternoon in Jacksonville, the man and woman inside allegedly were cooking methamphetamine in the vehicle, according to a release by Jacksonville Police Department.

Camille Victor Careme Jr., 48, of no known address was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine by chemical synthesis and maintaining a vehicle for a controlled substance.methstop

Cynthia Lowe, 35, also of no known address was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine by chemical synthesis.

At 4:23 p.m. Friday, a Jacksonville patrol officer observed a “traffic violation” and stopped a white Chevy Astro Van in a parking lot on Yopp Road.

After occupants consented for a search of the van, “the officer located what he believed to be an active methamphetamine ‘cook’ in the vehicle,” according to the release.

Detectives from Jacksonville Police Department responded and confirmed the van held an “active meth lab,” according to the release. “Jacksonville Fire and Emergency Services personnel responded to decontaminate the occupants of the vehicle.”

State Bureau of Investigation was contacted and the agency advised officers to secure the van for processing.

Careme’s bond was set at $105,000 secured.

Lowe’s bond also was set at $105,000 secured.

Twenty years ago Sunday, Shawn Nelson stole a tank from a National Guard armory, rumbled across a San Diego neighborhood and into the realm of legend.

A police helicopter and TV news crews captured this 23-minute rampage, from the crushed cars to the shocking conclusion when police lifted the mortally wounded Nelson out of the M-60.tankhijackA012616_t837

Viewers around the world couldn’t believe their eyes. They had just seen — well, what?

This local news story was rapidly transformed into a universal symbol. Nelson’s ill-fated ride became a saga about the middle class under siege; a fable about the emasculation of American men; a warning about what happens when ex-servicemen, lacking foreign enemies and domestic opportunities, bring the war home.

“The most interesting stories in any culture,” said Dean Nelson, director of Point Loma Nazarene University’s journalism program and no relation to Shawn Nelson, “are the ones that also point us to bigger stories.”

Is this a bigger story? And does it have a moral?

Jerry Sanders, who was police chief in 1995, has no opinion on the first question — “I’ll leave that up to the sociologists” — but has considered the second. In his view, the lesson here was meant for the National Guard: “Don’t leave the batteries and keys in the tank.


A neighborhood kid, Shawn grew up in Clairemont and attended Madison High before enlisting in the Army. Trained at Fort Knox, Ky., he served in a tank battalion in West Germany. His two-year hitch included what the military called “multifaceted” disciplinary problems before he was honorably discharged in 1980.

He came home to the American dream.

“We had a pretty good life for six years,” said his former wife, Suzy Hellman. “We owned a home, he was a successful plumber and I was a legal secretary. We had it made.”

Not for long. Nelson’s parents died — his mother, Betty, in 1988; his father, Fred, in 1992. At the same time, Nelson’s behavior became erratic.

“He was spiraling out of control with methamphetamines and alcohol,” Hellman said.

She filed for divorce in 1990. That same year, a motorcycle accident left Nelson with neck and back injuries. While being treated at Sharp Memorial Hospital, Nelson tried to walk out. He later filed a malpractice suit.

By 1995, Nelson’s van and tools had been stolen, his utilities had been turned off, and he had lost his latest girlfriend. He was often drunk or high on methamphetamine. As a bank began foreclosure proceedings, Nelson sank a 17-foot-deep shaft into his backyard, telling friends he had struck gold.

Most just saw a mound of dirt.

On May 17, 1995, Nelson drove through an open gate at the armory on Mesa College Drive and started an M-60. Clanking down neighborhood streets, he left behind a trail of crushed cars, disemboweled RVs, geysering fire hydrants. Heading south on state Route 163, the tank was surrounded by police cruisers who kept pace but could do little else.

Sanders, a SWAT commander during the 1984 McDonald’s massacre in San Ysidro, had never seen anything like this.

“I don’t know that anybody could have predicted that somebody — no matter what his problems — would get in a tank and go rampaging,” he said. “Thank God that Paul Paxton was on duty that day.”tank_rampage_r620x349

A military reservist with tank experience, Officer Paxton was ready when Nelson tried to drive over the highway median. With the M-60 marooned on that barrier, Paxton and others climbed onto the hull. They opened the hatch and called down to Nelson, ordering him out. He looked up, then went back to the tank’s controls.

Officer Rick Piner fired one shot. Paramedics tended Nelson when he was pulled from the tank, but the wound was fatal.

At home and abroad, broadcasters airing this dramatic footage stressed one theme: insanity. (In one segment, a British reporter referred to Nelson as “madman,” “deranged driver,” “enraged outlaw,” “maniac,” “lunatic.”)

Others, though, agreed with Hellman. This was a man undone by addiction.

Amphetamines makes people nuts and aggressive and violent,” said Dr. Mark Kalish, a San Diego psychiatrist. “You could call 100 guys who deal in this field and 99 would tell you — this guy was on amphetamines.”

War at home

Methamphetamine users, Kalish said, are prone to heart attacks, strokes and delusions. Some become convinced that random innocents are evildoers who must die — or that the users themselves must commit suicide.

“Give me a heroin user any time over amphetamines,” the psychiatrist said.

Because addictions have plagued humanity for eons, Kalish has little patience for those who see Nelson’s tragedy as a symbol of late 20th century economic woes.

“What the hell,” Kalish asked, “does this have to do with the demise of the middle class?”

The loss of middle-class jobs — including those at San Diego’s defunct General Dynamics plant — is central to “Cul de Sac: A Suburban War Story.” This 2002 documentary from Coronado native Garrett Scott presented North Clairemont as a neighborhood of deteriorating homes and dashed hopes, whose residents deadened their pain with drugs and alcohol.

“Those were some dark times for San Diego,” said Lambert Devoe, who worked on the film with Scott, who died from a heart attack in 2006. “In one year, 40,000 engineers were laid off from General Dynamics.”

Susan Faludi, the feminist writer, struck a similar chord in “Stiffed.” In this 1999 book, Faludi argued that powerful forces had betrayed the American male — so one American male chose to fight back.

“If a man could not get the infrastructure to work for him,” Faludi wrote, “he could at least tear it down. If a nation would not provide an enemy to fight, he could go to war at home. If there was no brotherhood, he would take his stand alone. Shawn Nelson’s sense of desperation, if not his actions, were shared by many men of his generation.”

“I just find that ridiculous,” said Nelson’s ex-wife. “We had it all, early on. He was an intelligent man who had a great way with customers.

“He just abused drugs. That’s it.”


If the war came home, you can’t prove it by Nelson’s old home. On the street where he lived, some houses are fading, while others — including the one where Nelson lived — have been refurbished.

“It’s completely changed,” said Gary Karns, a computer systems sales manager who bought the house on Willamette Street in 1998. “It’s been upgraded quite a bit.”

Karns and his wife renovated a bathroom, moved and expanded the kitchen, installed a cathedral ceiling, planted roses. The mine shaft has been filled in, the ghosts exorcised.

While local crime rates have dropped, Karns said it’s still a neighborhood concern: “It’s Clairemont, it’s not La Jolla.”

That’s true. In the first three months of 2015, North Clairemont reported fewer rapes, armed robberies, residential burglaries and vehicle thefts than La Jolla. North Clairemont had more assaults and thefts.

Perhaps there’s no larger lesson here. “Sometimes terrible things just happen,” said Point Loma Nazarene University’s Nelson. “Rather than trying to put this into a paradigm that proves a point you were trying to make, sometimes you just need to grieve.”

To those who knew him, Shawn Nelson was neither statistic nor symbol. He was a man whose life was not defined by a single baffling episode, or transformed into an object lesson.

“He was a wonderful person,” Hellman said.

“Everybody liked him — he was funny and he was smart,” said Tim Biers, a friend since childhood. “Shawn had some downers in his life, but Shawn was a lucky guy. His luck just ran out.”

ELKO – A local man and woman were arrested Friday on multiple charges after police found about two ounces of meth and credit cards that were recently stolen from a local business.

Bail for Brandon Sparks and Kami Fobes exceeded $300,000 each.54e53684dc534_preview-620

Police were called to a local hotel on a report of two people staying in a room who were not registered as guests.

Fobes answered the door and when officers searched the room they found Sparks hiding on the floor by the bed.

Police had encountered Sparks in February when he fled a traffic stop on Lamoille Highway. A pistol was later found near the scene.

Officers also found a loaded gun Friday at the hotel, near the bed where Sparks was hiding. The gun was later determined to have been stolen.

The room’s registered guest was not present, so officers got a search warrant.

Besides the stolen credit cards, police found about 12.75 grams of meth in a small pouch, a small amount under the bed, and approximately 2 ounces of meth with packaging materials inside the small refrigerator in the room. They also found a small amount of marijuana, a ballistic armor vest, and other items that were believed to have been stolen.

Sparks was arrested on a felony warrant and charges of trafficking a controlled substance, possession of stolen property, possession of meth for sale, ex-felon in possession of a firearm, and conspiracy to violate the uniform controlled substances act. Bail was set at $337,500.

Fobes, also known as Kami Fonnesbeck, was arrested on similar charges, along with four counts of possession of credit card without the owner’s consent. Her bail was set at $330,000.

Police did not indicate whether the room’s registered guest was under investigation.

OSHTEMO TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Two men were arrested after a child protective services check brought members of the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department to a residence where deputies say meth was being made.

Deputies were assisting Children’s Protective Services with an investigation in the 8000 block of Beechwood Dr. Friday after receiving information of possible meth production in a residence where a child was present.

Two male individuals and a child were located by deputies inside the residence.  Multiple methamphetamine labs were also allegedly found inside- along with what Deputies are calling “components and suspected finished product.”

One of the men located in the home, a 27-year-old from Kalamazoo, was arrested on outstanding warrants that involved meth.  The other man was a 20-year-old from Kalamazoo.

The child was removed by Children’s Protective Services and authorities say that charges will be sought against multiple subjects when the investigation is concluded.

Gulf, N.C. — Five people were arrested Saturday after authorities said they found two methamphetamine labs in Chatham County.

Deputies said one of the labs was located in a shed behind 20 Alton King Road in Gulf, and the second was found in the trunk of a vehicle at the home.1-512x242

Jordan Olivia Newell, of Goldston, Ronald Dustin Kimrey, of Haw River, and Jason Eugene Sloan, Jody Wayne Sloan, and Marian Sloan, of Gulf, were charged with manufacturing meth, felony possession meth, maintaining a dwelling, possession of precursors with intense to manufacture meth.

The group faces a total of 30 felony charges.

All five suspects are scheduled to appear in court June 8.

Seoul prosecutors indicted three alleged methamphetamine traffickers Sunday, in what a prosecutor described as a “groundbreaking” case.south-korea-jpg20150517132431

The South Korean suspects are accused of smuggling the highly addictive drug from North Korea.

“It is the first time North Korean agents were found to have been involved in the production of methamphetamine, although there have been rumors North Korea tried to get foreign currency by selling meth,” the prosecutor was quoted as saying by local news agency Yonhap.

The suspects were allegedly contacted by a North Korean agent in 1996.

They are then suspected of producing 70 kilograms of meth in the North’s Hwanghae Province in 2000 – although there is reportedly no evidence of the drug being sold in the South.

South Koreans are officially barred from travelling to North Korea without permission – the two countries remain technically in a state of conflict, as they never signed a peace treaty after the 1950-53 Korean War.

Despite widespread claims that North Korean meth has made its way into China and the United States, Pyongyang has in the past denied such activities.

“The illegal use, trafficking and production of drugs which reduce human beings into mental cripples do not exist [in North Korea],” the North’s state news agency said in 2013.

Last year, a report published by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea asserted that Pyongyang has been producing illegal drugs since the 1970s as a form of finance.

One of the three suspects also stands accused of working with Pyongyang in a plot to assassinate former North Korean Workers’ Party secretary Hwang Jang-yop.

Hwang defected to South Korea in 1997, but died of natural causes in 2010.–south-koreans-charged-with-smuggling-meth-from-north