It’s no secret. Methamphetamine is a major problem in the Central and Western Upper Peninsula.

Last year, over 60 people were prosecuted for meth-related charges in Marquette County. Three years ago, less than ten people were punished because of the drug. On Monday, U.P. law enforcement from the city, county, state, tribal and federal levels gathered in Marquette for the Specialized Methamphetamine Investigative Workshop. It involved over 80 people from 30 different agencies. It was funded by the Federal Bureau of Justice Assistance, part of the Department of Justice.

Authorities want you, the general public, to keep a watchful eye out for meth dumpsites as they get outside this spring. The general public plays a major role in tipping officials about meth operations. Kevin Glazer, a retired sergeant from Missouri who was presenting at the workshop on Monday, said many people have a misconception about what they would expect to see at a meth lab dumpsite.

“Maybe it’s something that they relate to a high school lab or a pharmaceutical facility,” said Glazer. “It’s nothing like that. You’re using very crude, easy to obtain products like mason jars and plastic tubing and funnels and kitchen utensils.”

Detective Sergeant Ronald Koski, the team leader of the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team (UPSET), explained more about the products people use to manufacture meth.

“Some people like Gatorade bottles, some like Mountain Dew bottles. Coleman fuel is usually the solvent of choice, you have to have a solvent, and then if you start seeing cut batteries, usually lithium, that’s a big sign that…normal people don’t cut their batteries in half,” said Koski.

On Monday, police learned how to safely handle these items. If the general public sees them, they should call 911 immediately.

“A lot of the items don’t look that dangerous because it’s stuff that everybody has in their garage, but once these meth cooks start mixing it together, it creates ammonia gas, hydrochloric gas, and the lithium that gets exposed to the elements outside also causes fire,” Koski added.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Maarten Vermaat explained a reason for the increase in demand for locally-produced meth.

“There have been some steps taken to cut off the supply from Mexico, and I think people have figured out, via the Internet and other means, how to make meth that’s pretty potent locally and how to use the supplies that are found in the drug store, in the hardware store, starting with the Sudafed,” said Vermaat.

The U.S. Attorney’s office is working together with county prosecutors to identify the worst-case targets and bring them to prosecution. Marquette County Prosecutor Matt Wiese said that his office is seeking the toughest penalties including meth, for people that manufacture and/or distribute meth. Wiese added that there have already been 17 felony-level cases involving meth in Marquette County courts in the first four months of 2013.



Back in Yuma Justice Court Monday afternoon, Rachel Spry learned she is being charged with murder in the death of her 3-year-old grandson.

According to the Yuma Police Department, the boy, Darrien Nez, was fatally shot Monday morning with Spry’s loaded 9mm handgun, which she had allegedly placed inside a backpack. Records do not specify how the boy got the gun.

Justice of the Peace Greg Stewart informed the 35-year-old grandmother that she faces five felony counts: second-degree murder involving domestic violence; misconduct involving a deadly weapon, specifically a gun; possession of dangerous drugs (methamphetamine); possession of drug paraphernalia (packaging); and reckless endangerment of a minor involving domestic violence.

Rachel Spry made her initial appearance in Yuma Justice Court Thursday in front of Judge Gregory Stewart. Spry is being held on a bond of $500,000 and is facing four felony counts, including reckless manslaughter per domestic violence, in the death of her 3-year-old grandson, who died of a gunshot wound



Stewart said the manslaughter charge was upgraded to murder due to the “extreme indifference to human life” that caused the child’s death.

The charge of reckless endangerment of a minor involved the purchase of methamphetamine, he explained.

The judge asked Spry if she could afford a private attorney or if she needed a public defender. “Yes, please. I have no money,” she replied, presumably asking for a public defender.

Stewart asked if any victims were present and if they wished to speak. A representative from Amberly’s Place noted that victims were present but declined to speak.

However, through the representative, they asked that Spry be allowed to attend the child’s funeral services Tuesday evening.

Noting that prosecution “strongly opposed” her release, Stewart denied the request. “Given the information I received and the charges that are pending … at this time I will deny the request.”

Spry asked if she could be held under house arrest so she could care for her children. “What about my kids? I’m the only one they have. I didn’t do this. I didn’t do this.”

She also asked if the judge could make the bond “more affordable.” However, Stewart said he would continue the $500,000 bond with the same standard conditions for release, including being prohibited from possessing a dangerous weapon and having contact with the alleged victims.

The next hearing had been set for Friday, but the prosecution asked for more time. When the judge asked for a reason, the prosecutor approached the judge. After the private conversation, the judge rescheduled the preliminary hearing for May 15.

Then Spry again asked for help with her kids.

“I would be surprised if CPS (Child Protective Services) is not already involved,” Stewart said.

According to police, officers were dispatched at about 7:40 a.m. May 1 to a residence in the 1200 block of 11th Avenue in response to a report of a child having been shot.

The 3-year-old boy was transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center and later pronounced dead.

Court records indicate that Spry had been staying at the residence to help her daughter pack for a move. Spry said she was packing the bathroom and placed the backpack on top of a clothes dryer. Spry reportedly said she saw her grandson go into the room but continued with her packing.

According to court records, Spry said she heard the gun go off about five minutes later and she found her grandson lying on the floor, bleeding from the nose.

Spry also reportedly admitted to using methamphetamine the night before and placing the pipe she used to smoke it in the same backpack as the gun.


About 131.2 pounds of the drugs were found at a Lawrenceville, Ga. home according to the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office.

On May 1st, local law enforcement agencies responded to a home at 858 James Road in unincorporated Lawrenceville, Ga. after receiving a tip that drugs were being stored there.

Jesus Eduardo Cansino-Gonzalez of Lawrenceville, Ga. (L) and ahum Enoe Rodriguez of Norcross (R) were arrested following a bust at a Lawrenceville home. More than $2 million of methamphetamine was found at the home

Jesus Eduardo Cansino-Gonzalez of Lawrenceville, Ga. was arrested and charged with trafficking in methamphetamine after more than 130 pounds of the drug was found at his James Road home
Nahum Enoe Rodriguez of Norcross was charged with conspiracy to commit a crime
Approximately 131.2 pounds of methamphetamine was found during a bust of a home at 858 James Road in Lawrenceville, Ga. The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office estimates the street value of the drugs at just over $2 million
Approximately 131.2 pounds of methamphetamine was found during a bust of a home at 858 James Road in Lawrenceville, Ga. The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office estimates the street value of the drugs at just over $2 million
Officers and deputies also found liquid meth during a bust at 858 James Road in Lawrenceville

When Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Homeland Security Investigations agents arrived, they found two containers filled with what they believed to be methamphetamine. The Gwinnett Metro Task Force also found the drug in liquid form at the home.

Officers from the Lilburn, Lawrenceville, Snellville, Duluth and Suwanee Police Departments along with the GCSO make up the Gwinnett Metro Task Force.

In all, approximately 131.2 pounds of methamphetamine was seized from the home. The drugs have an estimated street value of $2,099,200.

Snellville Police is credited with arresting Jesus Eduardo Cansino-Gonzalez who is listed as living at the Lawrenceville house. He was arrested on the scene and charged with trafficking in methamphetamine and is being held for immigration. The other suspect, Nahum Enoe Rodriguez of Norcross, was arrested the next day. Rodriguez was charged with conspiracy to commit a crime.


Lawrenceville Patch has confirmed the identities of the suspects and the address of the home. The suspects are Jesus Eduardo Cansino-Gonzalez who is listed as living at the house at 858 James Road in Lawrenceville. He was charged with trafficking in methamphetamine and is being held for immigration. The other suspect is Nahum Enoe Rodriguez of Norcross. Rodriguez was charged with conspiracy to commit a crime. We also received photos from the bust.

On May 1st, local law enforcement agencies responded to a home on James Road after receiving a tip that drugs were being stored there.

When Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Homeland Security Investigations agents arrived, they found two containers filled with what they believed to be methamphetamine. The Gwinnett Metro Task Force also the drug in liquid form at the home.

Approximately 131.2 pounds of methamphetamine was found during a bust of a home at 858 James Road in Lawrenceville, Ga. The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office estimates the street value of the drugs at just over $2 million


In all, approximately 131.2 pounds of methamphetamine was seized from the home. The drugs have an estimated street value of $2,099,200.

One suspected was arrested on the scene and another arrested the next day. The investigation is still ongoing.

Officers from the Lilburn, Lawrenceville, Snellville, Duluth and Suwanee Police Departments along with the GCSO make up the Gwinnett Metro Task Force.



Law enforcement officials in Gwinnett County arrested two people and seized more than $2 million in methamphetamine last week.

Federal Homeland Security agents and Gwinnett County Sheriff’s deputies were tipped off about drugs at a house on James Road near Lawrenceville, sheriff’s spokeswoman Deputy Shannon Volkodav said.

On May 1, investigators from the Gwinnett Metro Task Force went to the house, where two containers filled with what appeared to be meth were discovered.

After obtaining a search warrant, police found additional meth in liquid form, authorities said.

The home was evacuated, and DEA agents who deal with meth labs came to the home to safely store the potentially volatile chemicals used to make meth, Volkodav said.

Overall, about 131.2 pounds of the highly addictive drug was found at the house, with a street value of $2.1 million, authorities said.



The execution of a search warrant resulted in the arrest of two Enterprise residents last week.

During the execution of the search warrant at 407 East Hickory Bend, narcotics investigators from the Enterprise Police Department recovered a quantity of methamphetamine, several guns, video surveillance equipment and paraphernalia for the use and/or sell of illicit drugs.

Materials recovered included approximately 32 grams of finished methamphetamine, a small amount of marijuana, an assault rifle, a pump-action shotgun, a 9mm Glock handgun, a .22 rifle, digital scale and four infrared-capable cameras with a monitor and recorder.

Arrested during the service of the search warrant were Scott William Teeter, a 31 year-old white male and Jason Barnes, a 26 year-old white male.



MACOMB, ILL. — A McDonough County man charged with having sex with a minor now faces new charges of possessing materials to make methamphetamine, the McDonough County Sheriff’s Office said.


McDonough Co. Sheriff says man charged with having sex with a minor now faces new charges of possessing materials to make methamphetamine


Dennis M. Thomas Jr., 25, of New Philadelphia originally was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on April 30 and charged with five counts of criminal sexual abuse, solicitation to meet a child and prohibited sales and possession of alcohol, according to the McDonough County Sheriff’s Office.

An ongoing investigation revealed Thomas was involved in buying pseudoephedrine tablets used to make methamphetamine, the sheriff’s office said.

The sheriff’s office served him with charges of two counts of unlawful procurement of methamphetamine pre-cursors, according to the sheriff’s office.

Thomas remains in the McDonough County Jail pending a court appearance.



When you teach your child their ABCs you start with A, not Z. We need the same approach to school violence that now feeds a frenzy for more gun control. Instead of going to the causes of the problem (or A) we seem to want to start at the result of the problem (or Z).

The first step on the Yellow Brick Road toward what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School where 20 beautiful little children and six protective adults were slaughtered in December is prenatal drug abuse which creates children born addicted and emotionally-mentally deformed at birth, often with no hope of a future.

Some of those behind the trigger go through all eight steps, others may skip a step or two – but the destination is too frighteningly the same.

That prenatal abuse step is itself part of a vicious circle that starts with the physical, sexual and emotional abuse of young girls who early on start taking multiple drugs then become pregnant, starting a new generational cycle of yet more addiction and despair.

Physical and sexual abuse of children with parents addicted to either alcohol or opiates is as high as 22% in one study of 200 families. If neglect was included, the incidence rose to 40%.

Parents who must devote a major portion of their energy and financial resources to their habit have less left over for the child. Violence, disorganization and criminality in the family are more common.

In a state that wrestles with Missouri to lead the nation in methamphetamine busts according to the DEA, Hickman County’s socio-economic status is a ticking red-flagged time bomb of the sort that leads to crime, poverty and joblessness, not to mention more chance of mass slaughter in schools, the workplace or anywhere.

While local statistics seem to be as hidden as Ft. Knox gold, I did gain some insight into the typical addicted mother.

She is young, in her mid to late 20s with low self-esteem, little or no family support, likely the victim of early sexual or child abuse, limited education, unemployed with few or no job skills, a long history of violent or unhealthy relationships, problems keeping a roof over her head, poor parenting skills (babies don’t come with a how-to manual), health problems, little prenatal care, multiple drug abuse, and mental health problems, according to a 1986 study by Emanuel Hospital in Portland, Ore, and [published as part of the Department of Social Services Child Welfare Manual of Missouri (which ranks #1 in meth busts when Tennessee doesn’t).

Does this young lady with a basketful of troubles sound like anyone you know in Hickman County? It could describe a great many, far too many! I’ve seen them myself at the Hickman County Jail looking like frightened deer caught in a spotlight.

Decades ago the term “crack baby” was bandied about in the press, then vanished only to be replaced by the new reality of meth babies. Meth is one of Hickman County’s worst crime problems. Not a week goes by without a meth arrest reported in this newspaper, despite the best efforts of law enforcement and alert caring citizens and despite Orwellian laws to restrict the purchase of over-the-counter ingredients that go into the “shake and bake” practice of creating meth in a large soft drink bottle.

And this is Step A that occurs long before a troubled teen or young person picks up a gun and goes seeking revenge or twisted thrills. So wouldn’t that seem a logical place to start learning our ABCs?

It’s expedient to take the “conservative” approach and say with a judgmental tone “lock ‘em up and throw away the key.” Or we could follow the more “liberal” (God forbid) example of Jesus’ Good Samaritan parable and stop, get down to our knees and help.

Either we pay the price now or we pay a higher price later in misery, welfare and medical costs, jail and school costs and part of another generation that sinks in the quicksand of despair, reaching out, eyes pleading for help.



A Rome man was charged late Saturday night after police allegedly found suspected methamphetamine in his sock near the Economy Inn on Martha Berry Boulevard, according to a Floyd County Jail report.

According to the report:

Jordy Lamar Robertson, 28, of 114 Amelia Lane, was charged with felony possession of methamphetamine at 8:48 p.m. on Saturday.

Jordy Lamar Robertson

Jordy Lamar Robertson

He remained in jail Sunday night, May 5, without bond.


Of the smorgasbord of illegal drugs floating around Montana, “methamphetamine is the worst,” said Billings Clinic neurologist Dr. Mary Gaddy.

There are others not far behind in their destructive powers, but methamphetamine is the easiest drug to get addicted to and the hardest to shake.

“Don’t ever try it,” said Gaddy, who has seen the consequences. “It’s like the Garden of Eden. Don’t eat the apple.”

Meth’s allure is just as tragically powerful as that forbidden fruit, patients have told her over the years.

“It’s the most pleasurable thing anybody ever felt that first time,” she said. “People who use methamphetamine chronically tell me they never achieve it again.”

Chasing that elusive high leads meth’s victims ever deeper into the drug’s grasp.

Meth messes with brain chemistry, especially the release of dopamine from nerves, Gaddy said. Dopamine plays a role in cognition, movement and mood, among other things. It is responsible for feelings of pleasure.

Dopamine is released to receptors in appropriate amounts most of the time. But when meth is on board, much more dopamine bombards its receptors. The brain responds by down-regulating, she said. A byproduct of the chemical response is hydrogen peroxide, which is toxic to the brain.

The neurologist said it’s not clear whether the damage is permanent, “but I suspect that it is.”

In extreme cases, meth use can lead to Parkinson-like symptoms.

“I have seen in my practice Parkinsonism from meth use, and those people are never going to get better,” she said.

The brain’s response makes meth as difficult to kick as heroin or nicotine, Gaddy said. Withdrawal can last a year or more and comes with “terrible, terrible” depression and sometimes flashbacks, she said.

Dr. Rick Pullen, a psychiatrist at Rimrock Foundation and an addiction specialist, said meth eventually damages the brain’s ability to produce dopamine.

When a user quits, dopamine is in a deficit state, and it takes a long time to recover, he said.

“It’s a terrible, rotten state, which makes people more prone to relapse,” he said. “The relapse rate can be very high. Time is not on our side.”

Heavy users can become paranoid and delusional, Pullen said, and research shows that for a certain percentage, those symptoms persist even when the person stops using.

While adults are the primary users, children are often innocent victims. A fetus exposed to meth’s dopamine surges can suffer withdrawal symptoms at birth, Gaddy said, including agitation and rapid breathing. In rare cases, it can result in the infant’s death.

Consequences to the child can be lifelong. Meth babies can have developmental and cognitive deficits, Pullen said. Their brains are smaller.

People who start using meth in adolescence present special problems, Pullen said. Their brains are developing rapidly, he explained, and drugs become imprinted on them.

By the time brain development is complete, around age 24, Pullen said, the brain is saying, “I have to have this.”


The saddest thing Yellowstone County drug prosecutor Victoria Callender has noticed about a recent upsurge in methamphetamine arrests is that “there are always children.”

“That’s the most horrific part about it,” she said.

Cases that get as far as criminal prosecution involve people who are daily and heavy users. They are usually filthy, and their homes are just as dirty, she said.

“And there are always children there,” Callender repeated.


Judge Susan Watters interviews a man in Family Drug Treatment Court on Thursday. In the court, drug offenders, most often methamphetamine abusers, are encouraged to take steps that will allow their children to be returned to their home


Someone has to deal with the innocent casualties of one of the most insidious drugs on the market, and it’s usually the Montana Child and Family Services Division.

A child protection worker can respond in minutes, said Jason Larson, CFSD regional administrator in Billings. When these displaced children next turn down a bed — if a relative can’t step in — it is usually in an emergency foster home.

But most children removed from their families aren’t wrenched from parents in the middle of the night by drug agents and child protection workers. In many cases, CFSD has received a confidential call to its hotline (866-820-5437) from a neighbor, a relative or an acquaintance reporting child neglect or abuse. Others, by law, are required to report suspected neglect or abuse — teachers, doctors, clergy and child care providers, for instance.

Each hotline report is assigned a priority for investigation based on the information received. A response has to be made to a Priority 1 call within 24 hours — immediately if necessary, said Hilary Harriet, child protection specialist supervisor in the Billings CFSD office. Priority 2 calls get a response within 72 hours, and those assigned Priority 3 will have a response within 10 days.

Most of what Jennifer Winkley, who works for CFSD in Miles City, sees is neglect. Often meth-abusing parents are in denial that their habit affects their children.

“But they’re not parenting when they are off in a back room doing drugs,” she said.

With little parental interaction, children fall behind socially, Winkley said. Sometimes small children are left to care for even smaller children.

Harriet remembers going into a home to find the child alone with a stranger sleeping on the couch. The parents couldn’t identify the man. The child’s diaper was soiled and its bed soaked. There were moldy bottles in the bed.

“We’re trying to get to it before it gets to that point,” she said.

On initial contact with a family, things can look pretty good, Larson noted.

“The person who answers the door hasn’t been sleeping it off for a day and a half and hasn’t just shot up,” Harriet said.

But there are signs when meth-related neglect is present — children in ragged or too-small clothes, dirty diapers, rotting food or no food in the refrigerator, malnourished and hungry kids, kids and parents in need of a shower and clean clothes.

If a child protection worker believes children aren’t safe in their home, state law gives the worker the authority to remove them.

“The big question we have to answer is ‘Are the children safe?’ ” Harriet said. “It might not be an ideal situation in other eyes, but are they safe?”

It’s a carefully considered process that weighs heavily on protection workers and their supervisors, Larson said.

“Critical decisions are made daily that will affect a child’s life forever,” he said.

No one enjoys taking a child from his or her parents, and reunification is the first goal. One of the most successful ways of doing that is through Family Drug Treatment Court, Larson said. The judge monitors the parents’ drug treatment and sets goals that can include parenting classes, finding a job or, if the family is homeless, finding a place to live.

A report from the Montana Department of Justice said parents involved in drug courts can reunite their families in about one-third the time of those who are not.

But children cannot be returned to parents as long as the issue of safety remains.

Federal law gives the state 24 months to permanently establish children in a safe home, said Susan Corbally, administrator of Montana’s Child and Family Services Division. The idea is to prevent kids from spending their lives in foster care.

That can be a problem in meth families because treatment can take longer than for other addictions, she said.

“We may not always meet federal requirements,” she said.

In recent years, CFSD has changed how it handles cases where children can’t be returned. Under the theory that children will be better off if they remain in their extended family, CFSD looks first for a relative willing to adopt, Larson said.

Child protection workers now start much earlier in the process identifying family members willing to provide kids a new home. Sometimes they get lucky and find a previously absent parent who wants to make a home for the children.



About one in four sex attacks in Southland are not being reported, new figures suggest, while authorities say more of the region’s sex offenders are high on synthetic cannabis or methamphetamine.

The revelation comes ahead of Rape Awareness Week, which begins today.

Invercargill Rape and Abuse Support Centre education facilitator Natalie Bennie said the centre had recently noticed an increase in the number of sexual violence victims saying they were attacked by people under the influence of either alcohol or other substances, especially K2 or methamphetamine.

The centre’s figures indicate that just one in four people in Southland who say they have been sexually abused report the offence to police.

The police have 98 recorded sexual attacks from January 2011 to April 30, 2013, but Ms Bennie said the centre received about 15 new clients each month.

They were either victims of sexual offending or the parents of young children who had been victims, she said.

Ms Bennie said the organisation encouraged victims to go to police.

There were several reasons they did not report the crimes, including not wanting to go through the court process, a fear there may not be enough evidence and a fear of being re-traumatised, she said.

All victims the centre had seen in the past four years said their attacker had been known to them, Ms Bennie said, adding that more victims were saying the offenders were high on legal and illegal substances, especially K2, methamphetamine and alcohol.

The substances distorted rationality and made people aggressive, and alcohol was also a contributing factor, Ms Bennie said.

Acting detective senior sergeant Mark McCloy, relieving officer in charge of the Invercargill CIB, said the rape victim and/or the offender were often under the influence of alcohol or other substances.

Ms Bennie said Rape Awareness Week, with the theme “coercion is not consent”, was aimed at highlighting the different aspects of consent and the difference between it and coercion.

The age of consent in New Zealand is 16 and it was illegal to have sex with anyone under that age.

Two people under the age of 16 who were consenting were still breaking the law and could be prosecuted, Ms Bennie said.

The week-long nationwide campaign aimed to raise funds, highlight the issue of consent and help victims of rape to realise they were not alone, she said.


2011 – 33 sexual attacks, two were rape.

2012 – 31 sexual attacks, seven were rape. 2013 – (from January 1 until April 30) 15 sexual attacks, three were rape.

Total: 98 from January 1, 2011, to April 30, 2013. 61 of the 98 sexual attacks have been resolved. Six of the 12 rapes have been resolved. The National Collective of Rape Crisis and Related Groups Aotearoa today launches a free call number for survivors of sexual abuse to ring when they want support – 0800 88 33 00. Source: Invercargill police 



UPDATE: Police: More meth ingredients found after traffic stop uncovers mobile lab

WEXFORD COUNTY, MI — A 43-year-old Mesick man ran out of luck early Saturday when police stopped his vehicle for an equipment violation and discovered he had methamphetamine components in the back.

A Michigan State Police trooper made the stop at about 2:50 a.m. Saturday, May 4, on M-115 near 19 Road in Antioch Township, northwest of Cadillac.

The initial investigation showed it appeared the driver was operating under the influence of drugs. After the man’s arrest, troopers conducted a probable cause search of the vehicle. They reportedly found numerous chemicals and manufacturing components commonly used to make meth.

Detectives from the Grand Traverse Narcotics Team were called to assist with the cleanup and dismantling of the components and seized the “one-pot methamphetamine lab,” State Police authorities said in a news statement.

An investigation into the possibility of other people associated with the alleged illegal activity remains open, police said.



Laws passed in 2005 limited local production, but purer Mexican strain has taken its place


Methamphetamine is making a comeback — purer than ever and at the peak of its brain-altering, teeth-rotting, crime-riddled menace.

Not that the powerfully addictive stimulant ever disappeared from Billings, which seems to have a special affinity for what some law enforcement officers call “the devil’s drug.”

But use had taken a noticeable dive after 2005 and 2006, when new laws tracking precursor ingredients such as a popular antihistamine made it difficult to buy in quantity.

Local manufacture slowed almost to a halt, law enforcement sources say. Many can’t remember the last time a meth lab was taken down in Billings.

While homemade supplies dried up, sources from further afield moved in, bringing a noticeable resurgence in the past year.

“Sometimes it seems that almost everybody who gets pulled over has drugs on board,” said Victoria Callender, Yellowstone County drug prosecutor. “More often than not, it’s meth. I can’t get ahead of it — the cases are coming so fast.”

According to figures from the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office, in the first three months of the year, 106 felony drug cases have been filed. That compares with 325 in all of 2012 and 242 in 2011.

Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito said he could not break meth cases out from those numbers, but “the vast majority of the felony drug possession cases received by this office over the last year has been methamphetamine.”

Billings Police Chief Rich St. John said he has noticed the uptick at least for the past six months, and that much of it appears to be moving in from Mexico.

“The intelligence we’re getting is that the Bakken (oil fields in Eastern Montana and western North Dakota) is a target-rich environment,” he said.

Billings, with its interstate highway connections, is an ideal hub for bringing in meth and ferrying it to the Bakken.

“These people are making a tremendous amount of money,” Callender noted. “They work hard and play hard, and they have nothing to do with the money they earn.”

Booming oil production can’t take all the credit, St. John said.

“It has a local flavor to it,” he said.

Billings has had a proven appetite for meth since the 1990s, when gun-toting thugs mired in the meth trade engaged in a fatal shootout here.

Sgt. Brian Korell, a Yellowstone County deputy who works with other agencies in the federal Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, said much of the meth activity in the past four or five months can be attributed to a group that has recently moved in.

What agents have been seeing, Korell said, is meth seizures in larger quantities — sometimes multiple pounds. And it’s much purer than what Billings streets are used to.

“The purity levels are very high,” he said. “We used to see it at 30 to 50 percent. Now it’s well into the 90s.”

Meth is an expensive habit to maintain, even more expensive than cocaine, Korell said. Cocaine sells at about $80 per gram, but methamphetamine can cost from $100 to $120 a gram.

Since most meth users come from lower economic strata, some resort to other crimes to feed their habit.

“I believe it fuels all economic crimes — burglary, theft, robbery,” Callender said.

The drug also fuels aggressive, paranoid behavior that can end in violence.

Both violent and property crimes were up in Billings in 2012.


A Kalispell man arrested after a fire led to the discovery of a methamphetamine lab pleaded not guilty Thursday to a felony charge.

Kyle Puckett, 27, was charged in Flathead District Court with operation of an unlawful clandestine laboratory, a crime that carries a possible penalty of up to 50 years in prison because it is alleged to have been committed within 500 feet of a residence, business, church or school.

 According to a court document, a Flathead County Sheriff’s deputy responded to the April 14 fire and spoke with Puckett, who was trying to put out the fire with a garden hose. He told the deputy that he was renting a room in the home and did not know how the fire had started.

During a walk-through of the home by a fire team, a team member reportedly saw a tin plate in a bathroom attached to a bedroom. There was a razor blade and lines of white powder on the tin.

Based on those observations, a later search was conducted by law enforcement. That search uncovered a meth lab in the room attached to the bathroom where the tin plate was seen. There also were supplies for manufacturing the drug.

A backpack in the room contained further precursors and a bottle of capsules of a non-prescription medication commonly used to cut meth to stretch the supply. The document alleges the backpack previously was found in Puckett’s possession during an unrelated traffic stop conducted by Northwest Drug Task Force agents.

During an interview with a task force agent, the owner of the home in which the lab was found allegedly said Puckett had many visitors while he was living there. He also said he had witnessed transactions involving money between Puckett and several other people.

After his arrest, Puckett allegedly admitted he had been staying in the room where the lab was found, that the backpack was his, that he had been passing off other substances as drugs and that he had been bartering drugs with people.

His next hearing is set for July 17. He is currently incarcerated in the Flathead County Detention Center, where his bond is set at $75,000.



Detectives arrested six suspects, shut down an alleged drug house and seized hundreds of baggies of suspected cocaine and methamphetamine after a three-month investigation in San Rafael.

The bust was conducted in one location by San Rafael police and another by the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force.

The confiscated haul included nearly half a pound of suspected cocaine and two ounces of suspected meth, including more than 250 individual baggies, investigators said.

“They were definitely busy,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Pierre Ahuncain of the task force. “They were definitely consistently selling every day.”

Investigators also seized alleged stolen property, including a laptop computer and car stereos with cut wires. San Rafael police Sgt. Scott Eberle said some of the suspects could be responsible for a rash of burglaries and thefts in the Canal area.

The investigation began when investigators received information that a suspect, Francisco Rodas, was selling cocaine in the area of Bellam Boulevard and Andersen Drive. Ahuncain said undercover investigators bought cocaine from him on five occasions.

Meanwhile, San Rafael police identified the potential source for the alleged drugs, a residence on Bahia Place in the Canal area. Police had received numerous reports of suspected drug activity in that area, Eberle said.

Investigators obtained search warrants and moved to make the arrests on Thursday afternoon.

Rodas, 35, of San Rafael was arrested in a car parked on Francisco Boulevard West. Authorities found $1,300 and about a quarter pound of cocaine with him, Ahuncain said. Rodas was booked on allegations of drug dealing and other crimes.

Federico Hernandez, 30, of San Rafael was found in a car nearby, and investigators suspect he was acting as the lookout for Rodas. He was booked on suspicion of conspiracy and driving without a license, as well as two outstanding warrants.

The other four men, all listed as San Rafael residents, were arrested after San Rafael police went to the alleged headquarters on Bahia Place.

Shuber Gaston Caamel Uex, 37, and Roberto Casia Gonzalez, 24, were booked on suspicion of drug sales and maintaining a drug house. Gonzalez was also booked on suspicion of possessing stolen property.

Edgar Alexander Aguilar, 23, was booked on suspicion of drug violations, resisting arrest and violating probation.

Jose Antonio Soriano Rodas, 25, was booked on suspicion of possessing drug paraphernalia and violating probation.

All six suspects remained in custody Friday at the county jail pending further review by the district attorney’s office.


State narcotics agents have found a San Diego woman they say helped to bring methamphetamine to the Lehigh Valley as part of a multi-million dollar drug ring. 

Maria Carmen Wahlfeld, 49, was arraigned Saturday in Allentown on multiple felony drug charges. She was taken to Lehigh County Prison after bail was denied.

Authorities had been searching for Wahlfeld since announcing last month that they had broken up the drug ring they say brought $7 million worth of methamphetamine to the area.

Wahlfeld signed a waiver of extradition April 22 in California, court records show.

Wahlfeld is charged with three counts of possession with the intent to manufacture or deliver, two counts of corrupt organizations, one count of criminal use of a communication facility, and one count of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities.

Authorities said the meth made its journey to the Lehigh Valley through Wahlfeld, who would get the drugs from a connection in Mexico. She would take the drugs to Las Vegas, where they would be shipped by a FedEx truck to a hotel in Lower Macungie Township, authorities said.

Officials with the attorney general’s office announced last month that they dismantled the 23-person drug ring, which they say brought at least four pounds of methamphetamine per month into the Valley.

The investigation also uncovered that the drug ring was dealing marijuana, getting it from a South Whitehall Township couple who grew 200 marijuana plants in their home, authorities said.

During the 15-month investigation, state narcotics agents recovered 103 handguns and rifles, $49,000, six cars, four motorcycles, a four-wheeler and drug paraphernalia.

A grand jury in Montgomery County recommended charges.



A truck driver from Washington State has pleaded not guilty to federal drug charges after the Nevada Highway Patrol says he hid heroin and methamphetamine in his tractor trailer hauling watermelons.

RENO, Nev. — A truck driver from Washington State has pleaded not guilty to federal drug charges after the Nevada Highway Patrol says he hid heroin and methamphetamine in his tractor trailer hauling watermelons.A federal grand jury in Reno indicted 38-year-old Victor Orozco of Grandview, Wash., this week on charges of possession with intent to distribute both drugs.

A patrolman says he found 26 pounds of meth and six pounds of heroin when he pulled Orozco over for a commercial vehicle inspection last month on U.S. Highway 6 in White Pine County. He says he found the drugs wrapped in plastic in a duffel back in the sleeping compartment after Orozco consented to a search.

If convicted he faces 10 years to life in prison and up to a $10 million fine.


Four people were arrested Thursday after Jackson County, Ala., deputies were tipped about drug activity at a house on Alabama Highway 35 in Scottsboro, authorities said in a news release.

Arriving deputies found four people in a vehicle in front of the house, and they spotted marijuana and drug paraphernalia, according to the release. The officers searched the vehicle and seized approximately 30 grams of synthetic cannabinoid — commonly referred to as “Spice” or “legal weed” — along with methamphetamine and hydrocodone pills.




 Michael Brown





 Hanna Dawson

A search of the house turned up a Spice wrapper, the release stated. Those arrested were:

Michael Ross Brown, 22, of Scottsboro. He is charged with possession of controlled substances (Spice, hydrocodone 7.5 mg, marijuana and methamphetamine) and drug paraphernalia, and obstructing governmental operations. He remains in custody on an $19,000 bond.

Keri Brooke Winkle, 24, of Woodville, Ala. She is charged with possession of controlled substances (Spice, hydrocodone, marijuana and methamphetamine) and drug paraphernalia. She is in custody on a $16,500 bond.

Joshua Caleb Miller, 29, of Scottsboro. He is charged with possession of controlled substances (Spice, hydrocodone 7.5 mg, marijuana and methamphetamine) and drug paraphernalia. His bond is $13,00o but he is being held for violating parole.

Hanna Dawson, 23, of Estil Fork, Ala. She is charged with possession of controlled substances (Spice, hydrocodone, marijuana and methamphetamine) and drug paraphernalia. She is in custody on a $16,500 bond.



RIVERDALE — Clayton County police arrested an elderly woman Thursday and charged her and two others with trafficking methamphetamine after reportedly finding about a pound of the drug in her house.

Officer Eddie Soto said Lourece Mercer, 76, of Palmetto Way was also charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

Her son, Mark Andrew Mercer, 45, was also charged with two counts of Violation of Georgia’s Controlled Substances Act and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime. His girlfriend, Stacey Lynn Bishop, 36, of Marietta, was also charged with felony possession of marijuana and Violation of Georgia’s Controlled Substances Act.

Soto said officers with the department’s Narcotics Unit raided the house after complaints from neighbors about suspicious activity. During a search, they reportedly found a total of 15 ounces of methamphetamine and several ounces of marijuana throughout the house. Soto said they found less than an ounce of marijuana in Lourece Mercer’s bedroom.

Mark Mercer and Bishop have extensive drug histories. He was most recently released from state prison in June 2005 after serving more than three years for possession of cocaine, LSD and opiates in Henry and Fayette counties. According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, other convictions involve drug possessions that sent him to prison in 1990 and 1995.

Bishop is on parole until 2015 for a 2010 conviction for trafficking methamphetamine, according to state corrections records. She also served more than four years for trafficking or possession methamphetamine, cocaine and cocaine in Douglas, Butts and Clayton counties.



NORRISTOWN — Two young lives have forever been changed by a “horrible, palpable” tragedy.

“And the lives of others can be affected forever because of one choice,” Montgomery County Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy stressed Friday as she sentenced 22-year-old Arrison Renee Bunner to 14-to-59 months in jail after Bunner admitted to driving under the influence of “speed” when she crashed her car into a telephone pole in Limerick in July 2012, seriously injuring her passenger, Brian Blackwell, 26, of Lilac Lane, Exeter.

Arrison Bunner leaves District Judge Walter F. Gadzicki’s court following her arraignment in this 2012 file photo



“The tragedy in this case is complete and palpable on both sides of this picture,” Demchick-Alloy told a packed courtroom of emotional spectators. 

Bunner, formerly of Washington Street, Birdsboro, will carry the blemish of being a convicted felon for the rest of her life, the judge said, while Blackwell cannot walk and remains in a rehabilitation hospital, confined to a wheelchair, undergoing speech, physical and occupational therapy after suffering a traumatic brain injury.

“His injuries are catastrophic. The damage to him the rest of his life is immeasurable. All that’s because of you,” Demchick-Alloy sternly addressed Bunner. “How horrible is this? Why? Because you wanted to get high. Because you got behind the wheel of a car.”

The judge, who accepted the recommendation of probation officials and allowed Bunner to serve the state sentence in the county jail, also ordered her to complete five years’ probation after she’s paroled, meaning she will be under the judge’s supervision for nearly 10 years. The judge denied a defense request for work release.

“You’ll be on my watch and you can’t afford to make a single mistake,” Demchick-Alloy warned Bunner, threatening to place her in state prison if she violates the sentence.



Four people, ranging in ages from 18 to 65, have been arrested and charged in connection with a scheme to manufacture methamphetamine in Grainger County, Sheriff Scott Layel said Friday.

Those arrested were identified as Carroll Mayes, 65, Dylan Lusk, 18, and Marty Gratz, 47, all of Rutledge, and Christy Nicole Harris, 37, of Bean Station.

Each was charged with violating a state law that prohibits “initiation of a process intended to result in the manufacture of methamphetamine.”

According to affidavit by Lt. Brandon Smith, items seized from a Thurman Watson Road address included ether, lithium batteries, ammonia nitrate, drain cleaner and dry ice

Also seized was a glass jar containing crushed or ground pseudoephedrine

Each item is “believed to have been used for the process intended to manufacture methamphetamine,” Smith stated in the affidavit.

The four suspects were taken to the Grainger County Jail. Bond for each was set at $50,000 each.

Five people are in Escambia County jail for allegedly running a meth lab in a Pensacola home with several children present.

Melissa Rae Anderson, 37; Richard Melcolm Anderson, 53; Hershel Keith Cranford, 31; Shelly Cranford, 27; and Camron Lechelle Hummel, 34, all of Pensacola, were arrested Wednesday night on drug-related charges.

Escambia County sheriff’s deputies responded to the Andersons’ home in the 8500 block of Acapulco Camino after receiving information of an active meth lab with children in the home, according to a release from the Sheriff’s Office.

When they arrived, they discovered multiple materials commonly used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine, the release states.

Investigators also learned that four children were residing in the home — a 1-year-old, a 9-year-old, an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old.

The children were turned over to the care of other relatives, according to deputies, and a hazardous materials team was called to clean up the scene due to the reported presence of dangerous chemicals.

All five suspects have been charged with manufacturing methamphetamine with children present, producing methamphetamine, possession of drug equipment and possession of a chemical with the intent to manufacture.

They are each being held on a $86,000 bond.



MARION  — Police take out a pair of meth labs in 72-hours. The first, on Jefferson Street in Marion and on Thursday, an apartment on North Prospect Street.

Rick Cook, 40, was arrested and charged with the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine and possession of chemicals for the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

“These labs are very toxic and very dangerous,” Major Bill Collins of Marion Police said. “I encourage anyone with information about other suspected labs to contact law enforcement immediately.”

Police were tipped-off about the lab on Prospect Street following a related bust found in Richwood, Ohio.

Police ask to report any tips about other suspected labs in Marion due to the highly toxic and explosive chemicals involved in the manufacturing of the illegal substance.


FORT MILL —  A Fort Mill man who authorities say mixed chemicals in soda bottles and stashed tin foil and syringes in his house in an attempt to create a methamphetamine lab was arrested on Wednesday.

The arrest comes as York County officials report finding a growing number of meth labs. So far this year, seven labs have been discovered in the county, officials said. Ten were discovered in 2011 and 10 in 2012.

At 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, agents used a warrant to search Terry Wayne Kimbrell Jr.’s Garys Circle home after agents made several undercover meth purchases at the house, said Marvin Brown, commander of the York County Multijurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit.

While searching the home, agents found tin foil, syringes and full Gatorade and Mountain Dew bottles that tested positive for chemicals, Brown said. Some of the bottles also had a “crusty, white residue” on them, and one bottle contained what looked like a lump of baking soda.

A hazardous materials team removed the chemicals from the scene, while Kimbrell, 38, was charged with distribution of methamphetamine, distribution of methamphetamine within proximity of a school/park, and attempting to manufacture methamphetamine.

An active meth lab wasn’t found in the house, Brown said.

Last Friday, agents accused four people after searching a Mount Holly Road home in Rock Hill and recovering chemicals, pills and tools that can be used to make the drug.

Drug residue, Brown said, “was everywhere.”

Agents also found 75 pills of pseudoephedrine in the house, along with wet paper, plastic bags, different cold medications, digital scales, a large can of salt, Sudafed pills and 17 instant cold packs, he said.

Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant found in cold medicines that doubles as a key ingredient in meth.

According to a police report, agents also seized a laptop, Lithium batteries, more than 13 grams of pseudoephedrine and .8 grams of meth.

Police charged Smitty Ray Montgomery, 62, and Misty Nichole Brooks, 22, with possession of meth. On Tuesday, police found a third person who was at the house, Michael Brandon Ross Rash, 23, at a nearby home and charged him with possession of meth.

The fourth person, Kerry Lynn Riley, 42, was accused after authorities made undercover buys. She was charged with attempting to manufacture methamphetamine after agents say she was trafficking 98 doses of pseudoephedrine and had meth she intended to sell, the report states.

“She’s dodging us,” Brown said, adding that family members and friends have called her trying to convince her to turn herself in. “She knows we’ve got warrants on her.”

Riley had been arrested and charged previously with manufacturing methamphetamine and shoplifting. She was released on a more than $50,000 bond, according to court records.

Meth lab increase

Brown said the local increase in meth lab busts mirrors a statewide trend. Complaints have also increased, he said, although not every meth lab that officials check turns out to be active.

During a conference sponsored by the county’s All On Board coalition in March, Lt. Max Dorsey of the State Law Enforcement Division said agents seized 267 small meth labs in 2011.

A year later, officials shut down almost 540 meth labs throughout the state, and by March, they had seized at least 100 labs in 2013.

One-pot meth labs, which take shape in Gatorade bottles, 2-liter soda bottles or any other “small vessel,” are condensed meth labs that are more mobile than their predecessors, Dorsey said.

Users fill the bottles with chemicals that react on their own and produce the meth in its liquid form, he said. The manufacturers then use another vessel with salt and acid to solidify the drug into a compound they drain through a filter to produce the finished product.

“They’re manufacturing it as a ticking time bomb,” he said. “In the pots, you have a bomb, potentially.”

Once meth, a highly addictive street drug, “gets a hold of you, you can’t shake it,” Brown said.

Unlike heroin and cocaine, which users have to buy, meth can be cooked at home, he said.

“Almost every cook has an addiction,” Brown said

He said he has learned from interviews with suspects that it’s not uncommon for addicts to cook meth every day or every other day.

SALTON CITY – U.S. Border Patrol found packages of methamphetamine wrapped on a 16-year-old’s body Tuesday, according to a press release.

Around 3 p.m., a 53-year-old male taxi driver with a 16-year-old female passenger approached the checkpoint located between Westmorland and Salton City.


As agents placed her under arrest, they noticed a large bulge near her lower back and found seven packages of methamphetamine plastic-wrapped to her body.

The methamphetamine had a combined weight of 2.8 pounds and is estimated to be worth more than $66,000. The teenager and drugs were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration while the taxi driver was released.,0,5393334.story

Police say she was a major supplier of meth in the Parkersburg area.

A Parkersburg woman is arrested.

Stephanie McIntyre-Eldred was arrested at her home on Pike Street in Parkersburg around 5 yesterday evening.

She was arrested on a felony warrant for delivery of Methamphetamine, stemming from a controlled purchase made by Parkersburg Narcotics Task Force Agents.

While in the home, agents saw items commonly used in the manufacturing of meth.

They got a search warrant and found even more items, including reaction vessels, Pseudoephedrine boxes, tubing and needles.

She was then charged with operating or attempting to operate a clandestine drug lab – a felony.

She was unable to post her $150,000 bond.

She is in the Wood County Holding Facility.

Police say she was a major supplier and manufacturer of meth in the Parkersburg area.



PARKERSBURG – A Parkersburg woman described as a major supplier was charged Thursday afternoon by agents of the Parkersburg Narcotics Task Force.

Stephanie McIntyre-Eldred, 1211 Pike St., was arrested at 5 p.m. at her residence, first charged with delivery of methamphetamine, a felony, stemming from a controlled purchase made by the agency, and then with operating a meth lab, the task force said.

While in the house, agents saw components in plain view that are known to be used to manufacture methamphetamine, the task force said. The residence was secured and a search warrant for the home was obtained, the task force said.

Stephanie McIntyre-Eldred, 1211 Pike St., was arrested at 5 p.m. at her residence, first charged with delivery of methamphetamine, a felony, stemming from a controlled purchase made by the agency, and then with operating a meth lab, the task force said.


A search of the residence found a substantial amount of additional components, including four trash bags containing 10 reaction vessels, numerous pseudoephedrine boxes, tubing and needles, the task force said.

McIntyre-Eldred was then charged with operating or attempting to operate a clandestine lab, a felony, the task frorce said.

The investigation by the agency indicates McIntyre-Eldred was a major supplier and manufacturer of methamphetamine in the Parkersburg area, the task force said.

Bond was set at $150,000, which McIntyre-Eldred was unable to post, and she was remanded to the Wood County Holding Facility, the task force said.

The task force is comprised of officers from the West Virginia State Police, Wood County Sheriff’s Office and the Parkersburg and Vienna police departments.