Methamphetamine labs are being found more in Somerset County than in previous years, said Cpl. Dennis Ulery, a supervisor on the Pennsylvania State Police Clandestine Lab Response Team.

“Last year we had a 40 percent increase statewide and we are on pace with that this year, or possibly ahead of that,” he said in a telephone interview.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports that 96 methamphetamine labs were found in Pennsylvania and 11,210 were found nationally in 2012. Southeastern states have had the most labs discovered.

Meth products

Items seized in a meth lab bust



Ulery will present a program on how meth is “cooked” and the dangers associated with it at 6:30 p.m. May 29 in the Meyersdale Area High School auditorium. Somerset County Drug-Free Communities is coordinating the event because of recent meth lab busts in Meyersdale and Somerset. Other sponsors are the Somerset Single County Authority for Drug and Alcohol, the Twin Lakes Center for Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation and the Pennsylvania State Police. The event is open to the public.

“Methamphetamine is extremely addictive,” Ulery said. “The chemicals are easily accessible and it is easy to process — and highly dangerous. The likelihood of a fire or explosion sometime in the person’s career of cooking meth is very high. They will burn themselves or burn something down.”

One step of the process involves manufacturing a crude hydrogen chloride gas generator. In the final stage of the process, deadly hydrogen chloride gas is present and poses a severe health risk to the person making the methamphetamine and those who live in the same residence or nearby.

At the community meeting, Ulery will explain the warning signs of a nearby meth lab and how people can tell if others are using the synthetic drug.

Erin Howsare, director of the Somerset Single County Authority for Drug and Alcohol, said she is encouraging people to attend the meeting to learn to identify the signs that a meth lab is being operated so they can call the police to take appropriate action.

“We also hope that parents and teachers will be aware of the signs that children may be living in a home where meth is being cooked,” she said.

Methamphetamine, known as speed or meth, can cause psychotic behavior, hallucinations and strokes when used over a long period of time. Howsare said that meth users often don’t sleep, which can lead to psychosis, and people using or making meth may have open sores on their bodies from chemical burns. Meth use, like other drug use, can lead to additional crimes as the drug user needs money for more drugs. Pennsylvania State Police Sgt. Greg Keefer said in an earlier interview that at least 90 percent of crimes committed are linked to drug use.

Ronna Yablonski, prevention coordinator at the Twin Lakes Center, said that there are many problems that communities across Somerset County have to face — drug use and abuse, unfortunately, has to be one of them.

“We cannot ignore the problems that drug use causes to our communities, families, children, schools and businesses,” she said. “As concerned citizens of the county, please come and learn all you can about methamphetamine — a very dangerous drug that is having an increasing presence in our county. The more educated the public becomes, the more the problems can be addressed and curtailed.”



JONESVILLE — A Pennington Gap man is facing multiple drug charges for allegedly selling and cooking methamphetamine after local, state and federal authorities executed a search warrant on his residence earlier this month.

According to Lee County General District Court records, Jeffery Lynn Fleenor, 56, 237 Hiltons Drive, Pennington Gap, was charged May 8 by Virginia State Police with three drug-related felonies. The charges include distribution of between 28 and 226 grams of methamphetamine, conspiracy to distribute between 28 and 226 grams of methamphetamine and manufacturing a controlled substance.

Lee County man facing drug charges

Jeffery Lynn Fleenor


Authorities with knowledge of the investigation said the charges were filed against Fleenor after members of the Drug Enforcement Agency executed a search warrant on his residence, which is located in the Woodway community near Pennington Gap.

The VSP and Lee County Sheriff’s Office assisted with Fleenor’s arrest.

A spokesman with the DEA declined to provide additional details.

Fleenor was arraigned May 8 in Lee County General District Court and is being held at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail.



A La Crosse man hit his brother in the head with a crowbar multiple times while high on methamphetamine and prescription drugs early Sunday, according to police reports.

Jerry Smith, 26, faces charges of second-degree recklessly endangering safety, battery and disorderly conduct, all with use of a dangerous weapon, and criminal damage to property in La Crosse County Circuit Court.

Smith was dropped off at his brother’s 10th Street apartment while having a bad experience on drugs. He first threatened brother Raymond Smith, then hit him three to four times with the crowbar, reports stated.

Raymond Smith pushed his brother out of the house. Jerry Smith then threw rocks and bricks through the apartment’s windows and a car before police found him in an alley about 4:30 a.m.

Police took him to a hospital and later to the La Crosse County Jail. His brother also was treated at a hospital for injuries to his head.

Smith returns to court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing. He remains jailed on a $10,000 cash bond.



Two Effingham County men with a history of drug arrests are back in jail on methamphetamine charges.
Robert Stanley Davis, 30, and James Grover, 44, both of Guyton, were arrested Thursday after the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office Drug Suppression Unit got a tip that the two men were in possession of drugs.
Investigators stopped the car Davis and Grover were riding in near the Effingham County Courthouse.

Repeat offenders back behind bars
Robert Stanley Davis
Repeat offenders back behind bars
James Grover

“Deputies located methamphetamine and roxycodone inside of the vehicle, as well as inside an orifice of Mr. Davis,” said ECSO spokesman Detective David Ehsanipoor.
After further investigation, deputies discovered a methamphetamine lab at Grover’s home in the 200 block of Southern Charm Way. He was charged with possession of methamphetamine, unlawful possession of pseudoephedrine, and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.
Davis was charged with criminal attempt to manufacture methamphetamine, unlawful sale and possession of pseudoephedrine, and possession of methamphetamine.
Both men have been arrested on methamphetamine charges before, including two arrests for Davis last year. Davis was arrested on several meth-related charges including trafficking methamphetamine in April 2012, and on charges including manufacturing methamphetamine in October 2012.
Davis was out on bond at the time of his most recent arrest, which, according to Ehsanipoor, is all-too-common when the ECSO makes a meth arrest. He said the majority of the cases involve people who have had prior arrests, are on probation or are out on bond related to methamphetamine.
“It seems to be an ongoing cycle,” Ehsanipoor said. “It’s a very addictive drug. It’s a very dangerous drug. There are some instances of people getting off meth, but it seems that the majority of people who do it keep doing it.”
With that in mind, Ehsanipoor said, “Our main targets in this county are the people manufacturing meth.”
Both Grover and Davis are being held in the Effingham County Jail.



Soldiers of the Pha Muang force early Tuesday morning seized 1.66 million methamphetamine pills and 43 kilogrammes of crystal meth, or “ice”, with a total estimated street worth of one billion baht.

After receiving a tip that there would be an attempt to smuggle a large amount of illegal drugs into Thailand through the nearby border, Pha Muang force commander Maj Gen Somsak Nilbanjerdkul sent a special task force to patrol the Mae Sai-Koh Chang road in tambon Mae Sai of Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district.

The patrol was on the rural road at Ban Wiang Hom when they spotted seven men carrying big fertilizer sacks on their shoulders. They signaled them to stop but the men instead dropped the sacks and fled back over the border to Myanmar.

They opened the abandoned sacks and found 1.66 million methamphetamine pills and 43 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine.

The soldiers believed the smugglers were members of the gang run by the self-styled Lt Col Yise, which brings drugs across the border and then hands them over to other gangs for delivery throughout Thailand.



A MASSIVE jump in emergency calls due to crystal meth abuse across Melbourne has prompted warnings for authorities to act now before another epidemic occurs.

The latest Ambulance Victoria figures reveal a doubling of call-outs for crystal methamphetamine, known as ice, within a 12-month period.

Paramedics were called to deal with 592 crystal meth cases across the city in 2011-2012, compared with 282 a year earlier and 136 in 2009-2010.

An image of the base form of methamphetamines

Ambulance call-outs for crystal meth have doubled in Melbourne within 12 months, a new report says.



Dr Belinda Lloyd, from the Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Centre, says the huge magnitude of the meth increase has pushed it to levels of harm not seen in 15 years.

“It used to be something that was relatively uncommon, and that ongoing increase is an issue,” she said.

All levels of government needed to come up with “innovative responses” to stop the meth increase, she said, including campaigns to boost the public’s understanding of the drug’s many harms.


Meth is highly addictive and has been linked to stroke, heart failure, and violent episodes of psychosis and paranoia.

The federal government’s chief drug adviser, the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD), has warned that the supply of the drug is continuing to increase nationwide.

“People don’t realise what they’re getting into,” ANCD executive director Gino Vumbaca said.

“It has the potential to cause a lot of harm to people in the short and long term.”

He said governments needed to take a balanced approach to the problem, with preventative programs, treatment centres and police crackdowns all to be considered.

“If you don’t act, and act early … then it’s likely to increase,” he said of the crystal meth problem.

Use of the drug tends to spike during the weekends, especially in Melbourne’s CBD, and puts pressure on paramedics and emergency wards.

Fran Chandler, an emergency department care coordinator at Angliss Hospital, said nursing staff could face unpredictable and agitated patients.

The community needed to know more about available drug abuse support services, she said.

“It’s just a matter of educating people about the problems and educating them about the resources that are available.”

The annual Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre report, which compiles Ambulance Victoria data, also showed a 27 per cent jump in alcohol call-outs in the city.

In rural Victoria, the rate of call-outs for cannabis and prescription drug abuse was higher than in the city.

Turning Point director Dan Lubman said the data showed an out-of-control drinking culture and a growing methamphetamine problem.



Combine methamphetamine chemicals and a car filled with gasoline and you have the makings of a volatile situation, said a police officer who specializes in drug cases.

Early Saturday those elements came together on Boardman-Canfield Road as officers pulled over a car that eluded them two weeks ago. They found what they think is a rolling methamphetamine lab.

Arrested and being held in the Mahoning County jail until their arraignments today in Mahoning County Court are Donny Thompson, 22, of Fenton Street in Niles; Joshua Curry, 20, of Briggs Road in Leavittsburg; Anthony Smith, 25, of Gillmer Road in Leavittsburg; and Phylicia Chalker, 22, of Robert Street in Vienna.

All face a single count of possession of chemicals used in the manufacturing of a Schedule 1 drug. Thompson, who was the driver, faces an additional count of driving under suspension.

Trumbull County Sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Orr, who heads the Trumbull-Ashtabula Law Enforcement Group Task Force, which specializes in drug investigations, said he knows of all four people but was not sure of any open investigations in which they may be involved.

Orr said Trumbull County has seen a rise in methamphetamine labs within the last six months, including the rolling kind where chemicals are stored in a vehicle to make the drug. He said the mobile trend has picked up since dealers figured out how to make the drug in a plastic two-liter bottle, which makes it easier to make on the run but also creates a dangerous situation because of the chemicals that are mixed to make it.

“They are way more dangerous,” Orr said of the mobile labs.

Compounding the problem, Orr said, is that often meth dealers also use the drug and sometimes it makes them hard to deal with in a tense situation. “They’re usually very paranoid people.”

Boardman police Sgt. Mike Hughes, who heads the department’s narcotics investigations, said Saturday’s arrest was the first mobile lab he has seen. He said it is not uncommon for meth makers to travel all over to buy the pseudoephedrine in cold medicines for the drug because pharmacies have a limit on the amount of Sudafed-type products a person can buy.

“They try to beat the system,” Hughes said.

Hughes said an average person seeing the assortment of chemicals and pills probably would have no idea what they were being used for.

Reports state officers spotted a car driven by Thompson about 2 a.m. Saturday on Boardman-Canfield Road near Hitchcock Road that was weaving and had no rear license plate light. An officer tried to pull a similar car over last month near the Walgreens on Boardman-Poland Road, but it turned down a side street and got away, reports state. At the time, officers went into the Walgreens and were told that a man had tried to buy a large amount of cold medicine but was not allowed because the computer system had detected repeated purchases of the same items.

After the car was stopped, police found out none of the four inside had a valid driver’s license and they began to check the car. They found a pink liquid known to be used in methamphetamine, a box of cold pills, a pill grinder, brake fluid and starter fluid, reports state. These are ingredients commonly used to make meth, authorities said.

Members of the Canfield post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol also assisted Boardman officers, reports state.

Court records from Trumbull County Common Pleas Court show that Curry, Smith and Thompson all face pending criminal charges. Curry was indicted by a grand jury in April on charges of misuse of credit cards and theft. Smith and Thompson were both indicted in March on charges of breaking and entering into unsecured homes.

Hughes said methamphetamine use is not as prevalent in Mahoning County as it is in some of the surrounding counties, including Summit and Trumbull, but said he has no idea why that is.

In Trumbull County, TAG agents serving a warrant found a meth lab in Leavittsburg on April 26, and portions of a meth lab were found April 23 in a yard on Douglas Street Northwest in Warren. Also, on March 31 in Newton Falls, a family on a walk reported seeing pieces of a meth lab in a wooded area.



STANTON — A 44-year-old homeless man was arrested near a playground in Woodland Park following a complaint that a suspicious person was watching children in the area.

Johnnie Janzen, who is a registered sex offender, was arrested after being contacted by a sheriff’s deputy and found in possession of methamphetamine, said Stanton County Sheriff Mike Unger.

Janzen, who lists himself as a transient, was taken into custody and was being held in the Pierce County jail on felony drug charges and driving under the influence of drugs, Unger said.

A state trooper arrested two California men Monday on drug charges after the officer searched a motor home in Carson County and found 100 pounds of methamphetamine valued at more than $3.6 million, the Department of Public Safety said.

Shortly before 7 a.m. Monday, DPS said a trooper patrolling Interstate 40 pulled over a 1992 Winnebago motor home on a traffic violation. During the stop, the trooper searched the vehicle and found several bundles of methamphetamine hidden inside false compartments in the motor home, DPS said.

The driver, Felix Lopez Vasquez, 58, of Perris, Calif., and his passenger, Victor Hugo Gutierrez, 43, of Orange, Calif., were arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance, a first-degree felony, DPS said, and the men were booked into the Carson County Jail.

The DPS said the drugs were being transported from California to Tulsa, Okla.



The Rodent King will remain caged for a bit longer.

Robert Hollywood, 55 – the man who made headlines in 2004 following his arrest for keeping hundreds of rats and mice, dozens of them dead, in his Menlo Park home – was sentenced Friday to 16 months in County Jail after pleading no contest to felony possession of methamphetamine. As part of his sentence, he received 181 days credit for time served, according to prosecutors.


On Feb. 9, police patrolling the Rolison Road area of Redwood City asked Hollywood if he was on probation, and he said yes even though he wasn’t. The officers found a small amount of methamphetamine on him and arrested him.

In 2004, Hollywood was convicted of felony animal cruelty after more than 200 domesticated mice, 68 rats, two boa constrictors and a cat were reportedly found in his Colby Avenue home in Menlo Park. About 70 of the rodents were found dead and either stuffed in a freezer or in the garbage disposal.



Following a three-week investigation into suspicious activity on 1100 East Mason Street, Santa Barbara residents Gabriel Alvarez, 20; Manuel Carlos Cabrera, 20; Lisa Ybarra, 43; and a 17-year-old female juvenile are in custody on felony methamphetamine charges, according to Sgt. Riley Harwood of the Santa Barbara Police Department.

The investigation, headed by the SBPD’s Narcotics Unit, was sparked by a citizen complaint about suspected drug sales at a Mason Street home — about 178 feet away from Franklin Elementary School. Detectives eventually obtained a search warrant to be served at the residence of Alvarez and his 17-year-old girlfriend.

Gabriel Alvarez

Gabriel Alvarez
Manuel Cabrera


Manuel Cabrera

Lisa Ybarra


Lisa Ybarra


Around 1:45 p.m. on May 8, detectives spotted Alvarez driving away from his house and decided to serve the warrant. Officers pulled him over and found him to be in possession of “hashish oil, ” said Harwood. Alvarez was arrested and brought back to his home where officers commenced a search.

Alvarez’s girlfriend was taken into custody after she was seen trying to flee the residence. Detectives then made entry, found and detained Cabrera and Ybarra, and continued their search. Both Cabrera and Ybarra were in possession of methamphetamine.

The search of the residence turned up 5.5 ounces of meth, 4.5 ounces of heroin, a small quantity of cocaine, an apparatus in the process of extracting hashish oil from marijuana, a digital scale with narcotics residue on it, and $3,075 in cash, said Harwood.

Alvarez was booked into County Jail for possession of meth and heroin for sale and possession of cocaine, among other felony charges. Cabrera and Ybarra were also booked for various felony charges, including possession of meth, Harwood said. The 17-year-old was booked into Juvenile Hall for felony possession of methamphetamine and heroin for sale.



SAN LUIS, Ariz. — A 47-year-old man was arrested Thursday for attempting to smuggle more than 22 pounds of methamphetamine into the United States.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers referred Rodolfo Huerta-Ramos, of San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, Mexico, for an inspection of his Chevrolet sedan when he attempted to enter the country.

San Luis meth

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers assigned to the Port of San Luis locate more than 22 pounds of methamphetamine inside hidden compartments within smuggling vehicle

A narcotics detection canine alerted to the presence of drugs inside the vehicle and a routine X-ray inspection confirmed the cargo.

Officers located 22 packages of crystal meth inside false compartments in the rear quarter panels, according to officials.

The drugs, valued at $344,000, and vehicle were seized.

Huerta was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.



LANCASTER — The Lancaster Police Department found a methamphetamine lab Sunday along the 200 block of Perry Street, police said.

LPD officers responded to an apartment shortly after noon Sunday after evidence stemming from a pseudoephedrine investigation, according to a Lancaster police report.

Officers entered the home and found several pieces of equipment used in the production of methamphetamine, according to the report.

A man in the apartment admitted to making methamphetamine, according to the report.

The Fairfield-Hocking Major Crimes Unit was called to the scene. A man and a woman were arrested.

On Monday, Joyce Rigby, 48, of Lancaster, was arraigned on two counts of illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs, first- and second-degree felonies. Michael P. Smith, 38, of Lancaster, was arraigned on illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs, a second-degree felony, and illegal manufacture of drugs, a first-degree felony.

Both Rigby and Smith remain in the Fairfield County Jail on $150,000 bonds.



A woman told Oklahoma City police she was robbed and her car was stolen by three people, including one who once sold her meth.

Elizabeth Pauline Romero, 31, Crystal Dawn Truitt, 28, and Juan Rodriguez, 27, were arrested after police were called about 7:10 a.m. Sunday to a robbery at SW 24 and S Miller Avenue, according to a police report.


Elizabeth Pauline Romero, 31 <strong>PROVIDED</strong>

Elizabeth Pauline Romero, 31
Crystal Dawn Truitt, 28 <strong>PROVIDED</strong>

Crystal Dawn Truitt, 28
Juan Rodriguez, 27 <strong>PROVIDED</strong>

Juan Rodriguez, 27

Lauren Georgeann Lee, 19, told police she was at the Newcastle Gaming Center and ran into Romero, Truitt and Rodriguez. Lee said she knew Romero because she sold meth to her once, according to the report.

Lee said Truitt got into her car and when Lee was trying to leave, she realized her iPhone and car charger were missing. She followed the suspects’ car to SW 24 and S Miller Avenue, where the three got out of their car, according to the report.

Lee said Truitt pulled a gun on her and Romero took the gun from Truitt and pointed it at her. Rodriguez got into Lee’s car and put a knife up against her throat, kicked her out of her car and drove away, according to the report.

Police found Romero, Truitt and Rodriguez at a southwest Oklahoma City motel and Lee’s vehicle nearby, according to the report.

Romero, who also known as Martinez, was arrested on complaints of possession of methamphetamine, armed robbery and receiving stolen property. Truitt and Rodriguez were arrested on complaints of armed robbery, receiving stolen property and city warrants.

All three were taken to the Oklahoma County jail. A jail official found a small plastic baggie containing methamphetamine in Romero’s purse and Truitt told police she swallowed seven to 10 grams of methamphetamine, according to the report. Truitt was treated at a hospital and taken back to jail.

Bail was set at $25,000 for Romero and at $22,000 each for Truitt and Rodriguez, jail officials said.



New Zealand has been riveted lately by the tale of a drug kingpin who built a methamphetamine empire on precursor drugs smuggled from Thailand, only to be brought down by his adultery with several wrong women.

Gary John Read, 45, pleaded guilty to 74 charges of illegal importing and sale of drugs at the High Court in Rotorua, the New Zealand media reported.

The local press in New Zealand has been giving extensive play to the trial of the drug smuggler Gary Read, who made a fortune importing methamphetamine precursors from Thailand.

“The party-pill king smuggled drugs from Thailand, where he owns a $1.5 million mansion,” said a report in the New Zealand Herald online. NZ$1.5 million is about 36.7 million baht.

Read is the director of NZ Party Pills Ltd and Internet Sales Ltd, a company which specialised in online sales of herbal supplements to boost sex drive and weight loss, as well as legal highs such as Tripping Weed and Bong It, said the newspaper.

Read set up a smuggling system to get pseudoephedrine into New Zealand. It is a necessary precursor to making methamphetamine-type drugs.

According to testimony and papers in the High Court, Read arranged the purchase of pseudoephedrine pills in Africa, and then smuggled them into Thailand.

There, he headed an operation that crushed the pills into paste and hid them inside cosmetics jars.

Packages of “cosmetics” were then posted to family and friends in at least four New Zealand cities, who acted as “catchers” for the precursors.

He admitted in his guilty plea to organising for 77 packages of pseudoephedrine to be smuggled into New Zealand between June 2009 and September 2011, a total of 32kg. Police arrested him while he was opening a 1.8kg package.

Police estimate between 16kg and 24kg of methamphetamine tablets could be manufactured from the 32kg total, worth about $17 million at street level – 416 million baht.

Read’s downfall was at least as colourful as his drug-trafficking.

A New Zealand Herald report said Read had been sleeping with a number of different women and the husband of one had found out. He was already under observation by police, who suspected him of drug offences, and they were listening in as the husband rang Read from his wife’s cellphone. “It was not a friendly conversation”, according to a police summary of the case. Then another call came, the angry boyfriend of a second girl.

Read by now had obtained a handgun and was recorded by police as ready to use it on his sexual partners’ men if necessary.

When he went to pick up one of the women for a tryst, he was confronted by what he thought were two drunken men – but in fact they were the woman’s boyfriend and an accomplice, who tried to rob Read of drugs and cash.

Read pulled out his pistol and fired shots as they fled.

Last week on the eve of his trial Read pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a pistol, importing pseudoephedrine and methamphetamine-related charges.



A Lakefield woman is in jail, charged with three felony counts of possession of a controlled substance following a May 9 arrest.
Melinda Royark, 40, remains in custody at the Jackson County Jail after bail was set at $35,000.
Royark was arrested by a deputy sheriff following a traffic stop. Upon searching the vehicle, methamphetamine was found, along with paraphernalia to smoke methamphetamine.
A passenger in the vehicle with Royark, Clint Fetzer, 40, of Spirit Lake, Iowa, was also arrested for felony warrants out of the state of South Dakota and for providing a false name to a police officer. Fetzer is still in custody at the Jackson County Jail awaiting extradition to South Dakota.




The owner of Stroudsburg, Pa.-based Christian Waste Services, a hauler that touted itself for “putting quality and faith first,” has been convicted as a meth dealer.

On May 10, a jury in Monroe County, Pa., convicted company owner James Michael Bidwell on charges of possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine, conspiracy and related charges, according to a news release from the county’s district attorney’s office.

James Michael Bidwell


Bidwell, who has what the DA describes as a “lengthy criminal record including several prior drug convictions,” now awaits sentencing, which is scheduled for July 11.

During a traffic stop on Nov. 18, 2010, Tobyhanna, Pa., police searched Bidwell’s tractor-trailer and discovered about 3.5 grams of methamphetamine. Bidwell and one of his workers were in the truck at the time. Both were charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and conspiracy, according to the district attorney.

At a trial last week, the worker, along with two other former Christian Waste employees, testified that Bidwell made “regular deliveries of methamphetamine.”

On the company’s website, which is no longer active, Christian Waste Services described itself as “a green company, focused on honesty, integrity, and providing the best possible service for your many waste management needs. … We keep our scales honest, and we are dedicated to holding steadfast in our responsibilities, because Christian Waste answers to the highest authority.”



A meth lab recently found in Henry County is a sign of a growing problem, according to the Henry County Sheriff’s Office.

 “We’ve seen more imported meth from Mexico coming here, and recently, we’ve been seeing an increase in the production” of meth, said sheriff’s Capt. Eric Winn.

 He noted that recently, U.S. Marshals found what is believed to be a meth lab in a home in Henry County. No charges have been filed in connection with the incident, Winn said.

 “We have to send everything to the lab and have it analyzed,” he said. “Basically, it’s just like testing any drug, and sometimes, it takes a month or two to get the results back, depending on how busy the lab is.”

 Methamphetamine — commonly called meth — is made by mixing common chemicals, but the “cooking” process is dangerous, and the mixture is hazardous, Winn said.

Click to Enlarge
Authorities dressed in protective gear and breathing apparatus clean up a meth lab in Patrick County in what Sheriff Dan Smith said is a “very costly operation” that uses “many resources” because of the hazardous chemicals mixed to manufacture the drug


 A specially trained team with the Virginia State Police was called in to dismantle the Henry County lab, and Winn said the team “probably spent a couple hours working on it.” Team members must wear protective suits and either airpacks or respirators (basically masks with filters for breathing), he said.

 A private company then came in to clean up and dispose of the hazardous chemical mixture, Winn said.

 Although “I have heard of other explosions that occurred because of the chemicals used,” Winn said, “I don’t think neighbors were at risk.”

 Patrick County authorities have battled meth for decades.

 “For many, many years, we have had meth issues here. It’s been in our county at least 20 years and has continuously gotten worse,” Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith said. “It still is the predominate drug of choice, along with oxycontin and other pharmaceutical drug abuse.”

 Smith said he has seen basically “two types of meth dealers. First, the vast majority of meth supplied in this region has origins with the Mexican Drug Cartel. It comes up and into the country through Texas and throughout the Southeast. It is distributed likewise.”

 Generally, the drug comes through Surry and other adjacent counties in North Carolina, and “particularly, it comes up the I-77 corridor,” he said.

 From there, the drug is distributed by larger drug dealers to smaller ones, through “either direct or indirect contact with Mexican drug organizations that also are known as drug trafficking organizations (DTOs),” Smith said. He added that type of drug is “known as commercial meth.”

 The other type is “homemade meth that is made in clandestine meth labs,” Smith said. Many people think most of the meth in Patrick and other areas is made in those “homegrown meth labs, but that is a misconception. Most of it comes from large drug labs that filter up through the Southeast,” he added.

 Patrick County Sheriff’s Sgt. of Special Investigations Eric O’Connell, who also is a member of the ATF Task Force in Roanoke, said meth “is such an impacting drug in so many ways that drugs that are in a similar league,” such as cocaine, don’t come close to creating the same effect. “Meth just takes it 10 steps higher than” something like crack cocaine.

 Users have told O’Connell that “when they try meth, it’s the greatest thing ever” and provides a “jolt of energy. Many have reported being up for days,” he said. It also is highly addictive, he said.

 “In Patrick County, meth is still the biggest problem because what it does for users that is so out of context” with the effects of other drugs, O’Connell said. “It’s like overcharging the battery” until the battery acid comes out.

 When people become addicted, there is an uptick in personal property crimes such as breaking and entering to help pay for the habit, O’Connell said. Other crimes also increase, and “that just seems to go along with use.”

 Authorities hope that educating the public about the associated risks of meth may help stem its growth, and they suggested that anyone who is using or contemplating using methamphetamine learn about the drug’s impact.

 One website,, shows before and after photographs of users, and many are dramatically different, Winn said.

 That is because meth use takes a toll on the entire body, according to authorities and

 Use of the drug “almost has a direct negative impact on physical appearance,” Smith said. “It seems like overnight, a meth user’s physical appearance changes, and it’s important also to emphasize that.”

 Acne appears or worsens, and because users obsessively pick at their skin because they feel bugs crawling beneath it, their faces tend to be covered in small sores and scarring, according to the website and Winn. A stimulant, meth suppresses appetite. Over time, that produces a gaunt and hollowed-out appearance.

 But the toll doesn’t end there, according to Smith and Winn. The term “meth mouth” was coined to describe a condition created when the harsh chemicals in meth dissolve tooth enamel, shrink blood vessels in teeth and gums, prompt decay and decrease the production of saliva, according to authorities and the website.

 The combination of those and other factors lead to an appearance of exaggerated aging, and “I think most people understand that it poses a huge threat,” Winn said. “Unfortunately, some continue to use and/or make it anyway. I don’t know why they continue to use it.”

“What I do know is that Patrick County has been battling it for years,” Winn said. “Unfortunately, it has migrated here, and we are battling it now.”



WAYNESVILLE, Ind. — The row of one-story homes nestled off this side of Indiana farmland at first resembles most neighborhoods.

Kids swing and play soccer in backyards. Families exchange Mother’s Day gifts. A man mows the lawn.

But other signs illustrate a darker side: The three dogs chain-linked to a fence outdoors, barking furiously at anyone passing by. The “No Trespassing” warnings that cover many windows. And the yellow sign reading “Disaster Area” on the back of a home, where a four-door sedan sits oddly parked in the lawn amid piles of trash.

It’s at this home south of Columbus, about 50 miles south of Indianapolis, where authorities made a grisly discovery Saturday night: a quadruple homicide.

Authorities said Sunday that the four people found shot to death in this southern Indiana home were a couple who lived there and two of their male friends.

Daniel Burton, the 27-year-old son of the woman who was killed, arrived home from work Saturday night and found two of the victims dead in the living room of his Waynesville, Ind., home, Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett said. He said Burton called police, who found the other two victims, including Burton’s 53-year-old mother, Katheryn Burton.

Three men were found shot to death in the living room of the home. A fourth victim lay fatally shot in a separate room, in bed.

It’s the most gruesome crime to hit rural Bartholomew County, Ind., since another quadruple homicide shocked residents there nearly 15 years ago. By Sunday evening, the killer or killers remained on the loose, as visibly exhausted sheriff’s officials remained tight-lipped about the progress of their investigation.

“We’ve been working around the clock,” said Gorbett said in a brief statement Sunday afternoon. He would not take questions. “We will continue to do so until we can bring those responsible to justice.”


The victims in Waynesville were Katheryn Burton, 53, and Thomas W. Smith, 39, who lived in the home; Aaron Cross, 41; and Shawn Burton, 41. Cross and Shawn Burton were from Columbus, Ind. Shawn and Katheryn Burton are not related.

“We are following up on all leads at this point and we have no one in custody at this time,” Gorbett said.

A motive remains unclear, but some neighbors suspect drugs may have been involved. Those rumors add to the mystery of this small neighborhood, where residents proudly speak of how close they are but also quietly mention rumors of strange incidents occurring.

“This neighborhood’s always had a little bit of that,” said Jane Rayburn, 59, who’s lived there for about 12 years.

She owns a gun and said she typically feels safe. But in the past week, she saw something that frightened her — something that made her very “uncomfortable,” she said, and caused her to go inside and lock the doors.

She would not elaborate.

Other neighbors reported smelling strange scents and seeing random cars occasionally drive through the streets.

Stevie Furkin, the half brother of victim Shawn Burton, lives next-door to where the homicide occurred and suspects that drugs played a role.

Furkin, 55, claims he had smelled anhydrousammonia coming from next door in the past. It’s one of the main ingredients used to make methamphetamine. Furkin said his half brother had struggled with addiction to the illegal stimulant and was known as “the little cook” for cooking meth.

“If I broke down, anybody in the neighborhood would give me a ride to town,” said Stevie Furkin, who is the half brother of victim Shawn Burton and lives next door to where the slayings occurred.

But, he said, “there’s some bad apples and bad crowds.”

In March 2007, Shawn Burton was arrested on several charges, including illegal possession of anhydrous ammonia. But it’s unclear whether that was used to make meth.

On Sunday afternoon, a police officer carefully placed a flashlight from Furkin’s porch into a brown bag. Authorities would not say whether it was evidence, but Furkin said he believed they were trying to find fingerprints. He also said police searched his home overnight.

Speculating on the nature of the homicide, Furkin said, “It might have been planned, might not have. I wouldn’t have no idea.” But he said he doesn’t worry that there will be more victims: “They’re all dead.”

Other neighbors told The Indianapolis Star that they occasionally waved at or spoke with the victims who lived in the home but never suspected anything suspicious. Many said they could barely sleep after knowing that such a horrific crime occurred so close.

“It’s almost unthinkable,” said Kathy Carroll, 57, who’s lived in the neighborhood for six years. “You hear it on the news. But when it touches near home, it gives a different atmosphere to it.”

Mark Fugate, whose sister-in-law lives in the neighborhood, echoed those feelings.

“It’s such a small place, you know?” said Fugate, 60, Columbus. “Nothing ever goes on here. But it did last night.”

The weekend’s killings brought back bad memories for some of another case of quadruple slayings in the area nearly 15 years ago.

In September 1998, a young mother, her two children and a 12-year-old family friend were found slain and buried in shallow graves beside the East Fork of the White River. Robert J. Bassett Jr. was convicted in July 2001 of the killings and was sentenced to life in prison.

Fugate was still struggling Sunday to come to terms with the latest slayings.

“What gets me is why in the h— would anybody want to kill all four of them?” Fugate said. “That’s something I can’t understand.”




JENNINGS COUNTY, IN (WAVE) – A meth lab explosion early Sunday is to blame for the death of a southern Indiana man.

According to the Jennings County Sheriff’s Office, Lacy Smith, 28, and Brian Short, 39, were operating a methamphetamine lab in their home in North Vernon. At 4:45 p.m. Sunday, the ingredients caught fire and exploded in the kitchen.

Lacy Smith (Source: Jennings Co. Jail)
Lacy Smith

Police discovered Short’s body in a vehicle outside of Smith’s mother’s home. Smith allegedly put Short in a vehicle and drove him to the home.

Smith has been charged with murder as a result of Short’s death and will also be charged with felony production of methamphetamine. Other charges are pending as officers complete their investigation.




VERNON, Indiana — A prosecutor has dropped murder charges in the death of a southern Indiana man following an explosion authorities say happened when he and another man were making methamphetamine.

The Jennings County prosecutor dropped the most-serious charge against 28-year-old Lacy Smith of Butlerville but he still faces a felony charge of manufacturing meth in connection with the explosion early Sunday at Smith’s home.

Police say 39-year-old Brian Short of North Vernon was fatally injured in the blast and was found dead at his mother’s home after Smith drove him there. Police arrested Smith on the preliminary murder charges Sunday.

The Tribune of Seymour reports ( ) a judge on Monday set Smith’s bail at $100,000. A jail officer said records didn’t indicate whether he had an attorney.–Meth-Explosion-Death


FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A Colorado man who pleaded guilty to shipping almost $350,000 worth of methamphetamine to Fairbanks has been sentenced to 15 1/2 years in federal prison.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports 40-year-old Mario Gutierrez sent meth from the Denver area to a co-conspirator in Fairbanks during 2009 and 2010. The money was deposited in a bank account Gutierrez maintained in Alaska.

Gutierrez was sentenced Friday. He previously pleaded guilty to one count of drug conspiracy and one count of money laundering.



A recent tip from a Yuba County resident resulted in the arrest of suspected drug dealer from Olivehurst and the seizure of heroin, methamphetamine, concentrated cannabis, marijuana and stolen property, authorities said.

Robert Joe Gibbs Jr., 48, was arrested Friday at this home in the 1500 block of 11th Avenue, the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.

Deputies said Gibbs concealed an ounce of crystal methamphetamine “in a body cavity” which investigators seized prior to booking him into the Yuba County Jail on numerous drug allegations.

From Gibbs’ home, deputies seized 326 grams of marijuana, 206 grams of concentrated cannabis, 24 grams of crystal methamphetamine, two grams of heroin and various items of stolen property, the Sheriff’s Department said.

The street value of the narcotics was not available Saturday.

Gibbs and other relatives admitted selling methamphetamine and marijuana from a trailer parked in the driveway of Gibbs’ home, the Sheriff’s Department said.

“Gibbs also admitted to trading drugs for stolen property,” Sheriff Steve Durfor said in the press release.

Gibbs was booked into jail on multiple felony charges and a misdemeanor allegation of possession of controlled substance paraphernalia. Bail was set at $50,000.

Gibbs was arrested April 17 on Arboga Road on suspicion of vehicle theft, forgery, grand theft and receiving stolen property, according to Appeal-Democrat archives. That case is pending in Yuba County Superior Court.


Former meth addict Shanna White has become a Facebook sensation after she shared side-by-side, before and after photographs showing herself during her addiction and after recovery.

White, who is from Abilene, Texas, said that the before picture shows her after being on meth for eight years and the after pictures shows her clean and sober just six years later.

“I keep that picture to remind myself where it took me, where I was. I felt defeated,” White told KRBC. “I look at the other picture and I think, ‘Wow, I did it.'”

meth, addiction

Life after meth: Shanna White, before and after recovery (Photo : Facebook)

White’s inspiring picture comes with a note that explains how much she values the love and support of everyone around her.

“Today I celebrate my life! 6yrs clean from the grips of meth addiction!” she writes.

“If you are still in the midst of this ugly nightmare please know there is hope. You too can beat this and have a beautiful life. It is NEVER too late. Forgive yourself and know that you are worthy!” White adds. “I am blessed to have the love and forgiveness of all that love me! I love my life and I love all my friends and family that have always supported me.”

So far her pictures have received more than 160,000 likes and over 12,000 shares on Facebook,

“I had hoped it would reach some people, more people,” she said. “I had no idea it would reach this many people.”

“It’s just endless. On my phone, it would go to 99+ and I’d click on it,” she explained. “Then it would restart over. It did that about five times? I don’t know, I lost count.”

White hopes that sharing her experience will help other addicts quit and get better.

“All the pictures of meth and the faces of meth pictures that I see, show a person starting from where they are and it shows them deteriorating, but you never see them coming back up,” she said.

White says that she has received countless messages from complete strangers asking her help and advice. And with her picture going viral on the internet, White knows she’s not alone in her fight against drugs.

“I didn’t go viral,” she said. “All the shares, all the likes and all the love from the people that care about this disease, went viral. We went viral.”



MARSHALL — An undercover drug investigation in Madison County netted 26 offenders, including five students at Madison High School.

The arrests were made Friday following a seven-month investigation targeting the distribution of illegal drugs in the county, Sheriff Buddy Harwood said.

Part of the effort included an investigation into drug activity at Madison High, he said. The students arrested were taken into custody at the school after the campus was placed on lockdown to allow officers to search for drugs.

One student’s mother also was charged Friday at the school. Harwood said a deputy spotted Tammy Hunter remove a bag of drugs from her son’s car after she realized a drug bust was under way. Her son, True Hunter, 18, also was charged.

In the overall operation, marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and prescription pills were among the drugs seized.

Officers with the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the sting.

The following is a list of those charged in the operation. The Citizen-Times is not including the names of five teen boys between 16 and 17 who were charged because of their ages.

• True Douglas Hunter, 18, two counts of felony conspiracy, felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver marijuana, and felony maintaining a dwelling or vehicle for a controlled substance. $3,000 bond.

• Raenen Sage Flynn-Smith, 18, four counts of felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver marijuana and felony maintaining a dwelling or vehicle for a controlled substance. $6,500 bond.

• Shawn Lee Johnson, 41, felony possession of methamphetamine, felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver methamphetamine, felony sell methamphetamine. $10,000 bond.

• Milton Ray Metcalf, 29, felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver methamphetamine, felony possession of methamphetamine, felony maintaining a dwelling or vehicle for a controlled substance. $10,000 bond.

• Clarence David Norton, 68, felony trafficking in opium or heroin. $40,000 bond.

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• Tammy Pike Hunter, 46, felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver a controlled substance, and felony manufacture, sell and deliver a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school. $50,000 bond.

• Christopher Scott Turner, 23, felony possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, and felony maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance.

• Jacob Daniel Diemer, 23, felony possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, and felony maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. $500 bond.

• David Andrew Chandler, 22, felony possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, and felony maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. $1,000 bond.

• Scotty Earl Robinson, 32, felony possession with intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine, and felony maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. $5,000 bond.

• Solie Justin Griffey, 21, felony possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, and felony maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. Custody release.

• Jesse Colin Cheek, 19, felony conspiracy. $1,000 bond.

• Deborah Mcintosh Fender, 57, true bill of indictment. $3,000 bond.

• Scotty Lee Rice, 37, simple assault. Written promise.

• Jason Michael Gregory, 35, felony possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. $3,000 bond.

• Michael Paul Treadway, 23, felony possession with intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine, and maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. Custody release.

• Dylan Adam Ramsey, 19, felony possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, and maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. Custody release.

• Wesley James Presnell, 42, felony possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia. $3,000 bond.

• Lloyd Shannon Young, 32, two counts of felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver methamphetamine, maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. $10,000 bond.

• Bryan Matthew Ponder, 36, tattooing, harassing phone calls, and three counts of communicating threats. $3,000 bond.

• Alexander Malcom Slaughter, 19, four counts of felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver a controlled substance, maintaining a dwelling for a controlled substance. Custody release.

  Tammy Pike Hunter, 46, felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver a controlled substance, and felony manufacture, sell and deliver a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school. $50,000 bond.• Christopher Scott Turner, 23, felony possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, and felony maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance.

• Jacob Daniel Diemer, 23, felony possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, and felony maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. $500 bond.

• David Andrew Chandler, 22, felony possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, and felony maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. $1,000 bond.

• Scotty Earl Robinson, 32, felony possession with intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine, and felony maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. $5,000 bond.

• Solie Justin Griffey, 21, felony possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, and felony maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. Custody release.

• Jesse Colin Cheek, 19, felony conspiracy. $1,000 bond.

• Deborah Mcintosh Fender, 57, true bill of indictment. $3,000 bond.

• Scotty Lee Rice, 37, simple assault. Written promise.

• Jason Michael Gregory, 35, felony possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. $3,000 bond.

• Michael Paul Treadway, 23, felony possession with intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine, and maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. Custody release.

• Dylan Adam Ramsey, 19, felony possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, and maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. Custody release.

• Wesley James Presnell, 42, felony possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia. $3,000 bond.

• Lloyd Shannon Young, 32, two counts of felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver methamphetamine, maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance. $10,000 bond.

• Bryan Matthew Ponder, 36, tattooing, harassing phone calls, and three counts of communicating threats. $3,000 bond.

• Alexander Malcom Slaughter, 19, four counts of felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver a controlled substance, maintaining a dwelling for a controlled substance. Custody release.


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia law enforcement officials are seizing methamphetamine labs at a record pace in 2013.

They have seized 200 meth labs to date, nearly approaching the 288 they shuttered in all of last year.

The Charleston Gazette ( says law enforcement is on a pace to seize about 570 labs this year, despite a new law intended to slow the proliferation of meth labs.

“It’s a true public health emergency and the problem now appears to be more widespread across the state,” said Dan Fosterr, a former state senator who sponsored legislation designed to crack down on the clandestine labs.

The size of meth labs has gotten smaller as the number of busts has spiked.

Mike Goff, a state Board of Pharmacyy administrator and former state police trooper, described the new labs as “shake and bake” or “one-pot” operations.

“You used to have one guy cooking for 20 people,” he said. “Now 10 of those people are cooking it for themselves.”

Still, the smaller meth-making operations are just as toxic as larger, traditional labs, Goff said.

Operators are using soda pop bottles to manufacture methamphetamine.

“With the plastic bottles, they’re more of a fire hazard,” Goff said. “It’s a much simpler and quick process, but it’s equally dangerous.”

State lawmakers passed Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s substance-abuse bill in 2012. It included a provision that requires statewide electronic tracking of pseudoephedrine, a cold and allergy medication that’s also a key meth-making ingredient.

The new law also limits the purchase of pseudoephedrine, commonly known sold under the name Sudafed, to three boxes per month and 20 per year.

Despite the tracking system, pseudoephedrine sales remain high.

West Virginians have purchased about 40,000 boxes per month of the sinus medication so far this year, according to data from the state pharmacy board.