ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Albany Dougherty drug agents say they’re losing the battle against methamphetamines. They’ve seized three times as much meth this year as they did last year, and much of it may be coming from Mexico. Drug agents say a purer, cheaper form of meth has made its way to Southwest Georgia. And it could become a major epidemic.

A small packet of crystal meth that has a street value of a few hundred dollars could be the beginning to a new wave of narcotics.   “It’s a trend that we’ve been talking about that would come.  And not so much seeing more meth labs, but what we’re seeing is more meth product,” said Major Bill Berry, Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit.

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Agents say they’ve seen an increase in highly addictive drugs like ice stemming from Mexico. Last October, they seized 492 grams of the purer narcotic, the largest they’ve ever had at one time.

“Southwest Georgia has become a hub.  Meth has become a very big product.  North Georgia’s been eat up with this for several years now,” said Berry.

Berry estimates 75-to-80 percent of other crimes like theft, robberies and prostitution are connected to drugs as addicts look for ways to support their habit. And agents can’t keep up.

“It’s changing.  It’s a simpler process to make.  It’s easier to make.  It’s quicker to make.  And so it draws the attention.  I mean you don’t spend but a few hundred dollars and you make a few thousand.”

While meth is becoming more common on the streets, Berry says another monster could soon move in.

“It’s become a huge problem.  Not just meth, but everything.  There is so many varieties and so many different accesses to get from pills to spice to heroine is gonna become a problem before long.”

He says increasing prices for pills could catapult meth use and a market for cheaper heroine.     “People cannot afford to pay 30 and 40 bucks for a pill and all, when they can pay that much and get enough heroin for a day or so.”

And the public, he says, can help with the war on drugs by cooperating with law enforcement.     Major Berry says agents seized one-Million-dollars of drugs off the streets last year. But he estimates it may only represent a fifth of what’s actually out there.

Officers urge the public to immediately report any unusual activity in their neighborhoods to authority. They say all tips will remain anonymous.




RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Mobile meth lab busts have more than tripled within the last two years, according to data released by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

 Sheriff Leon Lott said statewide the use and manufacturing of methamphetamine is on the rise, specifically labs found in motels.

So far this year, the sheriff’s department has received 23 calls of reported meth labs, 6 of which were at hotels and 3 included deputies being exposed to hazardous chemicals, Lott said.

Fifteen meth labs were reported last year in Richland County and 7 labs were reported in 2011, according to data.

“The proper clean up of these labs and dumps is not occurring and is posing additional risk to the community,” Lott said. “Without proper clean up, there are residual contaminations capable of causing serious injury or death.”

Lott said the department is aggressively working to stop methamphetamine use, sale and manufacturing because of the extreme dangers associated with it.

“Human exposure to the ingredients, used to create this drug, can cause severe illness or death,” Lott said. “Normally, human exposure causes respiratory problems because of the acids, ammonias, lithium and ether that are used in its creation. They also pose a flammable or explosive danger.”

Lott added that sometimes labs are cleaned improperly leaving behind chemicals that are extremely dangerous and due to the danger of improperly handled clean ups, the sheriff’s department is working closely with the Richland County Fire Marshal’s Office and Richland County Emergency Services Division.

“In an effort to raise awareness to these dangers deputies, fire marshals and emergency services personnel will begin labeling locations where clandestine meth labs have been found,” Lott said.

Anyone who may see or smell a possible meth lab is asked to report it to authorities.




House was also site of apparent murder-suicide

A little blue house that used to be on Queen Road is now a pile of debris.

The destruction was a relief to some neighbors.


More than 40 meth labs have been found in St. Johns County since 2011 in cars, apartments, houses and hotel rooms, among other places.

“We’re so happy it’s gone,” said Leslie Doucette, who remembers when the Queen Road property was the site of a fatal shooting and multiple methamphetamine lab investigations.

Meth labs or items used to make meth had been found on the property more than once, and the house was deemed unsafe for human habitation and ruled a hazard to the community, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.

A sheriff’s office detective said one lab test showed the contamination inside the house was 1,800 times the level considered dangerous. Another meth-contaminated residence was torn down on Powell Road in March.

In September 2010, 207 Queen Road was the site of an apparent murder-suicide. According to police reports, Francisco Gutierrez, 47, fired multiple rounds outside the home as Harry Lee Brano, 71, tried to leave in a vehicle. Brano was found dead and slumped over a wheel, and a SWAT team found Gutierrez dead inside the home.

After the murder-suicide, the neighborhood got some unwanted attention, said Dale Pickett. He spoke with about a dozen people afterwards who came around looking for the “murder house.”

A couple of years later, deputies found an active meth lab on the property. Six months later, after serving a search warrant, deputies found an inactive meth lab.

Eventually, the house was boarded up and signs were posted outside warning people to stay out.

Pickett, who has lived in the neighborhood for about 20 years, said after the house was boarded up, people came to the property all the time.

“The cops were always over there chasing people off,” he said.

He hopes another house will be built on the property.

Nancy Hollingsworth has lived in the neighborhood for 31 years.

“It’s sort of a mixed feeling,” she said about the demolition.

She knew the original owners, and said they were nice people. Then the house was sold. Once the meth lab was discovered, the “peaceful neighborhood” wasn’t the same.

“It was unnerving,” she said.

Other than 207 Queen Road, the neighborhood has been quiet, she said.

“It’s strange,” she said as she stood in her driveway near the pile of debris.

“It’s gonna be different when it’s all gone.”

Doucette, who has lived on Queen Road for 20 years, remembers her husband being evacuated as police surrounded 207 Queen Road during the murder-suicide. She also remembers what happened over the next few years before the house was boarded up — people yelling in the front yard and awake at strange hours.

Doucette spoke from her driveway, groceries in hand.

“It’s sad that it had to come to this,” she said.



South Korean prosecutors have indicted a drug ring comprised of four North Korean defectors. They have been charged with smuggling methamphetamine worth about US$1.7 million into the country.

SEOUL: South Korean prosecutors have indicted a drug ring comprised of four North Korean defectors. They have been charged with smuggling methamphetamine worth about US$1.7 million into the country.

The drugs were hidden in the battery compartment of a laptop.

According to prosecutors in the southern city of Ulsan, the drugs were originally from North Korea, and smuggled into Canada before making their way to South Korea.

About 600 grams of the methamphetamine — also known as ice — were seized and are estimated to have a street value about US$1.7 million.

This is the first time all the suspects are defectors from North Korea. The country has for a long time been accused of being a major player in the lucrative narcotics trade — producing and trafficking illicit drugs — as a source of hard currency.

Choi Chang Ho, a prosecutor in South Korea, said: “The distribution of methamphetamine has become common there. And if they get caught, they can get away with it by bribing authorities.”

There are about 25,000 North Koreans who have defected to the South, and prosecutors are now investigating further to see if more drugs have been smuggled in the past.

Of those defectors, many said ice was often used back home as a palliative when there was no prescription medicine.

Despite the watchful eye of the North Korea’s authoritarian regime, the drug is said to be easily available on the black market and smuggled through China before being distributed throughout the world.

It is difficult to know how much the North Korean government generates through illegal activities such as drug sales and arms trades, but reports said they are generating millions of dollars — which is used for the country’s nuclear and missile programs.



A woman was arrested Wednesday during a traffic stop at about 12:30 a.m. near American Canyon on suspicion of being in possession of stolen mail and methamphetamine, according to the American Canyon Police Department.

Delinda Morales 29, of Vallejo, was stopped near Corcoran Avenue and Borges Lane. He had a warrant for her arrest, Chief Tracey Stuart said.

In her backpack, an officer found suspected stolen mail, driver’s licenses, Social Security numbers and a small amount of suspected methamphetamine, Stuart said.

Morales was booked into the Napa County jail on the warrant and on suspicion of drug possession and possession of stolen property, Stuart said



Seven suspects were arrested in connection with five meth labs found throughout Berkeley County on Dec. 9 and 10. All were charged with manufacturing methamphetamine.


The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office Drug Enforcement Unit uncovered the labs, according to a statement released by BCSO. All the Berkeley County labs utilized the “one-pot” method of meth-making.

The busts were part of a regional effort dubbed the “Lowcountry Methamphetamine Blitz” involving the Berkeley, Dorchester, Charleston and Colleton county sheriff’s offices.

On Dec. 9 in Berkeley County three arrests were made in separate incidents at three labs.

Richard Anthony Shultz, 41, was taken into custody following a search of his residence at 2660 Mudville Rd. in Cross. Deputies found several components and material consistent with the “one pot” or “shake and bake” method of manufacturing methamphetamine.

Deputies also found a bag that contained a white powder substance that field tested positive for meth. Shultz was charged with possession with intent to distribute and manufacturing methamphetamine. Schultz’s total bond was set at $60,000.

Agents searched a residence at 504 Broughton Rd. near Moncks Corner and arrested Jennifer Atkinson, 31, after discovering several items used to manufacture meth inside and outside the residence. She was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and exposing a child to methamphetamine.

In the Bonneau area, agents uncovered multiple components consistent with a meth lab along with a bag that contained methamphetamine in a residence at 1056 Long Acre Dr.

William Clifford Casselman, 42, of that address, was arrested and charged with manufacturing, possession of methamphetamine and simple possession of marijuana.

On Dec. 10 deputies searched a residence at 273 Frankie Ln., Summerville, just off Royle Road, and found an inactive meth lab. There were precursors and materials there used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

Joshua Rockwood, 34, and Kari Curtis, 38, residents of that address, were both arrested on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine.

Bond was set at $75,000 for Rockwood.




A 25-year-old Santa Maria woman was arrested yesterday morning for attempting to smuggle drugs into the Santa Barbara County Jail and for child endangerment, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.


Deputies say they intercepted a methamphetamine-laced postcard from Banesa Gutierrez to her boyfriend, 29-year-old Anthony Solis, on Dec. 1.

Solis is an inmate at the jail and a defendant in the Anthony Ibarra murder trial.

An investigation was subsequently launched, the Sheriff’s Department said. An arrest warrant for Gutierrez and a search warrant for her residence were issued.

At about 9 a.m. Tuesday, detectives served the search warrant at Gutierrez’s home in the Tanglewood area of Santa Maria.

During the search, sheriff’s detectives discovered a small amount of marijuana, about two grams of methamphetamine, methamphetamine smoking pipes which contained methamphetamine residue and marijuana smoking pipes which contained marijuana residue in Gutierrez’s bedroom. The bedroom was shared with her two daughters, ages 3 and 5.

Detectives also found children’s coloring books and toys inside the same piece of low-lying furniture that was accessible to children, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

The children were removed from the home by Child Welfare Services and taken to a local hospital to determine whether or not they have sustained narcotics exposure.

Gutierrez was booked into jail on charges of possessing methamphetamine, sales or furnishing methamphetamine, conspiracy to commit a felony, child endangerment, attempting to bring narcotics into a custodial facility and possession of methamphetamine paraphernalia.

Her bail has been set at $100,000.

Solis was re-booked at the Santa Barbara County jail with additional charges of sales and furnishing methamphetamine, attempting to bring narcotics into a custodial facility and conspiracy to commit a felony with a bail of $25,000.

Sheriff’s Gang Investigations detectives will be conducting further investigation to determine if the attempt was committed for the benefit of or in association with a criminal street gang.