Calexico, California – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested a 58-year-old male yesterday after intercepting narcotics valued at $3.2 million concealed in a false compartment hidden in the cargo truck he was driving.

The incident occurred on Thursday, August 1st, at about 2:15 p.m., when officers encountered a 2000 Volvo tractor and empty trailer that entered the Calexico East cargo facility. A CBP officer conducting inspections referred the tractor and trailer to the secondary dock area for further examination.

While conducting an intensive inspection of the conveyance, CBP officers utilized the port’s imaging system and detected anomalies in the trailer’s structure. Officers subsequently removed 77 packages of cocaine and 34 packages of methamphetamine hidden inside a specially-built compartment under the floor of the trailer.

Weights of the cocaine and methamphetamine were 198 pounds and 67 pounds, respectively, totaling a combined seizure weight of 265 pounds.

The driver, a Mexican citizen and resident of Mexicali, Baja California, was turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigation agents for further processing. The subject was later transported to the Imperial County Jail.

CBP placed an immigration hold on the Mexican citizen to initiate removal from the United States at the conclusion of his criminal proceedings.

CBP seized the narcotics and conveyance.


Initially arrested on warrants for unrelated crimes, a Greenwood couple is facing various drug-related charged after police discovered a portable methamphetamine lab Aug. 2 in their W. Market Street home.
Initially arrested on warrants for unrelated crimes, a Greenwood couple is facing various drug-related charged after police discovered a portable methamphetamine lab Aug. 2 in their W. Market Street home.

Jamie L. Craft and John R. Benchoff

Jamie L. Craft and John R. Benchoff


According to the Delaware State Police, troopers responded to the residence around 10:20 a.m. to locate 36-year-old Jamie L. Craft, wanted on an active warrant for a traffic violation. Police said Craft was taken into custody without incident, as was 31-year-old John R. Benchoff, who was also inside the residence and was wanted on a probation and parole administrative warrant.

Police said during the execution of a search warrant, they found bottles containing waste associated with the byproducts of manufacturing meth, along with equipment and key ingredients in making the drug. Police said they also discovered 0.1 gram of manufactured meth.

Craft and Benchoff were charged with manufacturing of meth, second degree conspiracy and possession of drug paraphernalia, among other offenses. Craft was committed to the Delores J. Baylor Women’s Correctional Facility on $13,000 secured bond and Benchoff was committed to the Sussex Correctional Institution on $11,000 secured bond.


A 38 year-old Singaporean man has appeared in the Manukau District Court today, charged with importing methamphetamine with an estimated street value of up to $50,000.

He was arrested by Customs officers at Auckland International Airport last night after being found in possession of 55g of methamphetamine.

The man arrived on a flight from Sydney and was questioned by Customs officers, and his luggage searched, revealing a small package wrapped in black insulation tape at the bottom of his bag.

While he claimed it contained salt, drug testing analysis identified the substance as methamphetamine, with an estimated street value of $30,000 to $50,000.

Customs arrested and charged the traveller with importation of a Class A controlled drug. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment.

Customs Manager Investigations, Mark Day, says this is a good result for Customs as it has stopped harmful drugs from getting to the streets.

“Such offenders think they can get away trying to bring drugs into New Zealand, but Customs officers are well-trained and experienced – they know what to look out for.

“This man showed signs to give Customs reason to suspect he was not coming to New Zealand for a legitimate purpose,” Mr Day said.

Customs focuses its efforts to break the methamphetamine and precursors supply chain at the border.

Activities include gathering intelligence, identifying risks, detecting and intercepting drugs, and conducting investigations, arrests and prosecutions.




A Mexico man is facing drug distribution charges for the second time in less than 2 months.

33-year-old Allen Vestal was arrested on Saturday afternoon following a raid by the East Central Drug Task Force. Officers allegedly found meth, chemicals, and precursors used in the production of meth at Vestal’s home in the 1600 block of South Clark Street in southern Mexico. Vestal was arrested for similar charges back on June 21.

Another suspect, 25-year-old Synthia Johnson of Lakewood, Colorado, was also arrested for possession charges.



GREENVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) – Two Greenville men are under arrest for what was inside their Spider-man backpack.

The Darke County Sheriff’s Office arrested Adam Sturgill and Matthew Bowlin in an alley off Ohio Street just after 1:00 pm Monday.

Police say they found all the items needed to make methamphetamine inside the backpack.


Items used to make meth found inside backpack in Greenville. Two men were arrested


Matthew Bowlin arrested for backpack full of meth making items in Greenville



Both men were immediately arrested and taken to the Darke County Jail. The county prosecutor’s office is now reviewing the case to determine any charges.



A federal grand jury today indicted 21 defendants, including six members of one Joplin family, in an alleged conspiracy to import high-quality methamphetamine from Mexico and distribute the drug in Jasper County.

Gerardo Hernandez Cazares Sr., and his wife, Leticia Cazares, both 51, and their four sons, Jose D. Cazares, 28; Gerardo Cazares Jr., 29; Eric E. Cazares, 30; and Abraham Cazares, 24, are accused, along with 15 others, of conspiring to distribute meth between July 16, 2012, and June 14, 2013.

The others indicted include Joplin residents Gilbert Roland, 49; David Roland, 32; Casey Murray, 19; Charles J. Lee III, 29; James Pickel, 55; Michael Fordyce, 52; Michael Ray Hendrix, 33; Jimmy Don Thompson, 22; Nathan K. Hernandez, 33; Jorge Ercules, 27; Henry Gonzalez, 31, and Hugo Rodriguez, 41.

Leticia Cazares is a citizen of Mexico and permanent legal resident of the U.S. Ercules is a citizen of Honduras, and Gonzalez and Rodriguez are citizens of Mexico, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri.

Also named in the 34-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury July 24 were Daniel Nevarez, 27, Gerardo Cazares’ son-in-law who lives in Carl Junction; Gabrielle Sharp, 20, of Springfield; Jose Puente, 41, of Commerce, Okla.

Besides the conspiracy charges, Gerardo Cazares Sr., Gerardo Cazares Jr., Jose Cazares, Hendrix, Pickel, Ercules and Gonzalez are charged in 22 counts related to distribution of meth. Gerardo Cazares Sr., Gerardo Cazares Jr., Jose Cazares, Eric Cazares, Leticia Cazares, Hendrix, Pickel, Sharp, Thompson, Hernandez, Rodriguez and Lee also face 11 counts related to use of a telephone to facilitate drug trafficking.

Jose Cazares has been facing a count of second-degree murder in state court in Jasper County related to the 2006 shooting death of a Duenweg man in Joplin. He was on the run for 4 1/2 years before being captured in Brownsville, Texas, in January 2011, and brought back to Missouri to face the charge.




St. John the Baptist Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested a man for allegedly running a methamphetamine lab out of a Reserve home.

Detectives began their investigation after learning that Jeffery Williams, 36, and others were buying ingredients to cook meth, Sheriff Mike Tregre said in a news release.

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- About 60 firefighters responded to a three-alarm fire that damaged Rio Vista Cleaners and a neighboring building in Old Jefferson on Monday.

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON — About 60 firefighters responded to a three-alarm fire that damaged Rio Vista Cleaners and a neighboring building in Old Jefferson on Monday



After conducting surveillance on Williams’ home on West First Street, investigators obtained a search warrant and found him in the process of cooking meth, Tregre said.

Detectives also found a handgun, scales used in the drug-making process and half a gram of meth.

Williams’ home had an “intricate” ventilation system to remove toxic fumes produced during the cooking of meth, Tregre said.

A hazardous waste disposal company was called in to disassemble the lab and remove toxic chemicals.

Williams was booked with distribution and manufacture of a schedule II controlled dangerous substance, illegal carrying of a weapon with a controlled dangerous substance, obstruction of justice/tampering with evidence, creation or operation of a clandestine laboratory, and possession of drug paraphernalia, Tregre said.

His bail was set at $186,500, the Sheriff’s Office said.



State police are investigating a methamphetamine dump site found in Summit Township at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The dump site was along the Salisbury Street extension.

Meyersdale Borough police Officer-in-Charge Nathan Claycomb said the dump site included items used to make the synthetic drug.

Resident Jeff Irwin found the dump site while he was walking his dog.

Meth dump site

A methamphetamine lab dump site was found along the Salisbury Street extension in Summit Township on Sunday



“It was actually my dog, Herman, who found it,” he said.

The dump was about 200 yards from the road. He said he saw an iced tea bottle and a plastic water bottle.

“It was suspicious to me once I saw the plastic tubing coming out of the top of it,” he said.

Bottles with plastic tubing are often used as part of the meth-making process. Other materials that could be used to make meth include stripped batteries, pseudoephedrine packets, lighter fluid, salt and hydrogen peroxide.

Irwin said parents should teach children what meth labs look like so that if they see one, they can stay away.

“It worries me because kids ride their bikes down here all the time. I definitely urge parents to tell their kids what these things look like,” he said.

No report was available from the state police.

Two other meth lab dump sites were discovered in May along Sand Spring Road in Summit and Greenville townships. The sites were connected to a lab in an apartment along Mason Dixon Highway. Charges were filed against multiple people in connection with the discoveries.




A woman suspected of attempting to knock off a local Wells Fargo branch was found naked and struggling to put on a nightgown in a SoMa alleyway near AT&T park last week. When 26-year-old Drusilla Holmgren was picked up near Stanford and Townsend Streets around 7 a.m. last Tuesday, she told SFPD officers that she had been up all night smoking meth and that she was Jesus Christ.

As it turned out, the woman was not in fact the reincarnated Son of Man, but instead carried the mark of the beast: Officers spotted a “666” tattoo on her wrist when EMTs arrived to take her away on a gurney. The responding officers recognized the tattoo from a description of a suspect wanted for attempting to hold up a bank the week before. She wasn’t much of a bank robber either, apparently, when she tried to rob the bank by claiming she had a gun and passing a note to the teller, the bank reportedly denied her request and nothing happened.



Witnesses from the bank robbery and video surveillance footage confirmed she was the missing suspect. There is, however, no evidence at the moment to confirm her claims about being Jesus Christ, but she is a convicted felon who was out on probation at the time of her arrest. She was booked into the County Jail on suspicion of attempted bank robbery and will likely lose her probation when she appears in court in October.

In other, more successful bank robbery news, the FBI is currently investigating whether a group of serial bank robbers still on the loose after robbing banks in San Francisco and Millbrae back in April and June are the same suspects who pulled off a pair of bank heists in the Richmond and Lakeside neighborhoods last week.



A Tulsa police arrest and booking report states police were called to investigate a disturbance and found something else- a meth lab. Police said there was a young child inside the apartment at the time.

A neighbor told FOX23’s Price McKeon he did not want us to show his face because he lives in the same building where police reports said they found a meth lab.

He said, “I was just trying to get home from work.”

But he said he could not get home because there were about eight police cars blocking off the area.

Police arrested Kerri Padron and Samuel Harris Friday near 81st and Yale.

FOX23 obtained the arrest report. It states officers were responding to a disturbance call at this apartment. It said when officers were allowed inside they found a 2-year old-girl in “very bad living conditions” and evidence of a meth lab.

The report stated after officers got a search waiver they found a functional meth lab inside.

The neighbor said he saw the meth lab cleanup team outside the building.

He described the scene he saw Friday night, “There were three people in gas masks.”

Padron and Harris were booked in the Tulsa County Jail. According to the arrest report they are both being held for child endangerment and endeavoring to manufacture.

The report stated the girl was taken into DHS custody.

According to the jail’s website, Padron is being held on a $50,000 bond and Harris is being held on a $75,000 bond at the Tulsa County Jail.



The man facing criminal charges in a crash that killed a teen model admits he used methamphetamine the day of the incident but thought he was sober enough to get behind the wheel.

In a jailhouse interview with NBC 7, Robbie Gillespie offers up new details about a crash that took the life of Poway teenager Evelyn Courtney.

The 45-year-old faces charges of driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter after a fire truck hit his car, killing Courtney.

Gillespie says he wishes he was the one that died that night so that his friend could live on.

Gillespie claims he had the green light when he crossed the intersection at Midland and Poway Road. He said he didn’t know the fire engine was coming with no sirens.

“Next thing you know I’m spinning around and slamming into a light pole,” he said.

Two days before the collision he had bailed out of jail and couldn’t go home.

“My wife said she’d call the police and I didn’t want that to happen. I didn’t want that to be around my wife and my kids,” he explained.

He said he and Courtney had built a platonic relationship in the weeks before the crash, sharing each other’s problems.

He said the 19-year-old aspiring model would often be drinking when they had their talks. Officials say her blood alcohol level was 3 times the legal limit at the time of the crash.

According to Gillespie she was preventing him from doing more methamphetamine.
She had encouraged him to stop doing meth, and he says the night before the crash it was her that kept him from doing more drugs.

“I knew that if I was with her, I wouldn’t use,” he said. “And I didn’t.

Gillespie says if he could trade places with the teenager, he would.

Now he’s seeking the help of a pastor, trying to figure out why his life was spared and how he can make amends.

“He said ‘You know there’s a reason why you lived and she didn’t,’” Gillespie said. “He said ‘Your will on this earth is not done yet.’”

Gillespie is scheduled to appear in court Monday afternoon.

Two men were arrested Sunday at a Petaluma homeless encampment after police said they found one carrying methamphetamine and the other in possession of a loaded gun.

Robert Arriola Lizama, 42, and Jorge Juarez-Espinoza, 35, were booked into Sonoma County Jail, Sgt. Marty Frye said.

The men had been warned to vacate makeshift shelters near Cedar Grove Parkway along the railroad tracks, Frye said.

Officers responding to citizen complaints gave them three days to pack up their belongings and leave, he said.

Police followed up Sunday and found they were still there, Frye said.

They searched Lizama and found four bags of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, Frye said.

A search of Espinoza’s shelter turned up a loaded handgun, Frye said.



LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — A recent drug raid at a hotel is the latest in a series of methamphetamine busts in La Crosse.

Police Sgt. Randy Rank says officers have arrested about 40 people on meth charges this year — both for use and for manufacturing. Rank tells WXOW-TV ( ) police have seen a significant increase in meth arrests since 2011, partly because of the easy access to ingredients.

Household products used in meth labs include drain cleaner, cold packs and camping fuel. Tom Johnson from the west central Wisconsin drug unit says criminals put all the ingredients in one vessel, usually a 2-liter soda bottle and then shake it to start the chemical reaction. He says that was the case at the hotel last month.

Rank says people in the adjoining rooms were at risk of a possible explosion.



A Greenwood couple have been arrested after a methamphetamine manufacturing operation was discovered in their home on Friday, Delaware State Police said in a release this morning.

Shortly before 10:30 a.m. on Friday, the Governor’s Task Force and Greenwood Police Department responded to a home in the first block of W. Market St. in Greenwood. They were searching for 36-year-old Jamie L. Craft, who was wanted on an active court capias for a traffic violation, Sgt. Paul G. Shavack said. He said they found her at the home, and she was taken into custody without incident.


Jamie L. Craft

Jamie L. Craft

John R. Benchoff

John R. Benchoff



At the same time, troopers found 31-year-old John R. Benchoff, who was wanted on a probation and parole administrative warrant, and he also was taken into custody without incident, Shavack said.

Troopers carried out a search warrant and found bottles with waste associated with the byproducts of manufacturing meth, as well as equipment and key ingredients used in making the drug, Shavack said. He said 0.1 gram of manufactured meth also was discovered.

Craft faces the following charges: manufacturing of methamphetamine, maintaining a drug property, second-degree conspiracy, hindering prosecution, possession of methamphetamine and four counts of possession of drug paraphernalia. She was taken to Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution on $13,000 secured bond.

Benchoff faces the following charges: manufacturing of methamphetamine, second-degree conspiracy, possession of methamphetamine and four counts of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was taken to Sussex Correctional Institution on $11,000 secured bond.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Greenwood Fire Company and Sussex County emergency medical services helped dismantle the labs, clean up and dispose of the waste.



The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday charged a Gerton man with multiple felony drug charges.

Chaz Daniel Rhodes, 26, of Cottage Hill Drive, is charged with possession of cocaine with intent to manufacture, possession of methamphetamine and possession of a controlled substance. Rhodes had less than a gram of methamphetamine and one 15 mg pill of oxycodone on Sunday, according to arrest warrants.

He was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Rhodes is scheduled to appear in court Monday morning. His bond was set at $2,000 secured.



Stockbridge-Munsee Police and the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department concluded an on-going drug investigation into the manufacture and sale of Methamphetamine with the arrest of a 27-year-old Bowler area man.

The man was taken into custody Saturday night around 8:45 pm after he delivered suspected drugs to an undercover officer in the Town of Bartelme on the Stockbridge-Munsee Reservation. The man fled on foot when confronted, but was apprehended and arrested within minutes.

He is currently being held at the Shawano County Jail.



NORTH PORT – Unable to post $33,000 bail, a homeless man remained in the Sarasota County jail on Sunday as he faced charges of amphetamine trafficking, possession of narcotic equipment and possession of a manufactured controlled substance.

James “CJ” Swore


North Port Police arrested James “CJ” Swore, 22, last week after they reportedly found 14.7 grams of methamphetamine along with tools and ingredients to make the illegal drug on his bike.

Police said Swore was carrying tubes, funnels, white powder, lithium batteries, Coleman Camp fuel and other materials for making methamphetamine tucked inside a canvas bag strapped to his bike.

An officer pulled Swore over after he ran through a stop sign on his bike, police reported.

Police said the officer had dealt with Swore before and knew that he sometimes did illegal drugs. The officer called for a police dog, which smelled a suspicious substance in Swore’s bags.

Police say they also found several syringes, a scale and empty plastic bags.

Officers handcuffed Swore, searched his clothes and found a black case with three bags filled with 1.6 grams of off-white, crystalline powder inside, resembling meth. It later tested positive for the illegal substance.

A blue water bottle Swore carried with 14.7 grams of liquid inside also tested positive for meth, police say.





Two Red Boiling Springs residents are wanted by the Macon County Sheriff Department for manufacturing methamphetamine, after a total of 29 one-pot meth labs were discovered in their residence at 296 Powell Road.


Fifteen one pot meth labs, as discovered by authorities at 296 Powell Road.

Fifteen one pot meth labs, as discovered by authorities at 296 Powell Road

On Thursday, August 1, Sheriff Mark Gammons obtained a search warrant for the home, which had been under surveillance by the department for some time. Gammons and five other Detectives and Deputies searched the residence and located fifteen labs, as well as small amounts of methamphetamine and all the components necessary to manufacture meth.

“We don’t know how much they’d already made,” said the Sheriff. “Some of the shake ‘n bake labs appeared to have already produced several amounts of meth.”

A cleanup task force was called in, as well as meth techs from the Macon County Sheriff Department. After the cleanup process, the residence was quarantined. The two suspects were not on the scene at the time of the search and have not been seen since. Arrest warrants were issued for each of them, under charges of manufacturing methamphetamine.

“At this time, these people are wanted by the Sheriff Department,” said Gammons. “Pending investigation, we are attempting to locate them.”

The following day, further investigation at the residence led to the discovery of fourteen more ‘shake ‘n bake’ one-pot labs, for a total of 29.



GREENWOOD, Del. — A woman and a man from Greenwood have been charged with manufacturing methamphetamine inside their home.

Police say they discovered the meth lab on Friday while serving a court summons on 36-year-old Jamie Craft. She was taken into custody without incident.

Police also found 31-year-old John Benchoff inside the home. Benchoff is a probationer and also had an active warrant.

After searching the home, police say they found waste associated with the manufacturing of meth, along with equipment and ingredients needed to make the drug. They also found a small amount of meth. Craft and Benchoff are both in custody on numerous charges.

METHAMPHETAMINE has overtaken heroin and even cannabis as the drug of choice among regular injecting drug users, a new survey shows.

The South Australian Drug Trends 2012 findings triggered calls for more prevention programs and education about long term damage from meth use.

 Meth is now the drug of choice in South Australia, more popular than heroin and cannabis.

Meth is now the drug of choice in South Australia, more popular than heroin and cannabis



The study surveyed 93 regular injecting drug users likely to have good knowledge of the illicit drug situation, as well as experts working in the area.

“Interestingly, in 2012 methamphetamine overtook heroin as the drug injected most often,” the report notes.

More: Read the full report here

“Methamphetamine was the most commonly used illicit drug among injecting drug users, as well as the drug injected most often in the past month, overtaking cannabis and heroin respectively.

“In addition, there was an increase in the proportion of Drug and Alcohol Service SA clients who nominated amphetamines as their primary drug of concern.

“Given the negative health effects associated with prolonged methamphetamine use, it is essential education and harm reduction strategies continue to be disseminated among this population.”

The study found methamphetamines, heroin and cannabis were easy to obtain and prices were stable.

It also found 1-in-10 heroin users had overdosed in the previous year; two-thirds of the sample were at risk of psychological distress; and 81 per cent drove under the influence of drugs in the previous year.

Opposition mental health and substance abuse spokesman Duncan McFetridge said the report show the need for young people and substance abusers to be educated and encouraged to get help to curb their addictions.

“There are serious health and mental health consequences from using these illegal substances,” he said. “This is reflected in the increase in substance abuse related hospital admissions in South Australia and increasing numbers of young people presenting with mental illness.”



LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – A drug raid at a hotel this July is the latest in a series of methamphetamine busts in La Crosse.

“So far this year we’ve had approximately 40 arrests for methamphetamine use. Both use and manufacturing,” said La Crosse Police Sgt. Randy Rank.

La Crosse police have seen significant an increase in meth arrests since 2011, partially because of the easy access to ingredients, Rank said.

Meth can be made out of common household items including drain cleaner, cold packs and camping fuel.

That leads to an increase in household and mobile meth labs, better known as shake and bake labs, according to Tom Johnson, investigative coordinator with the West Central MEG Unit.

“These people have figured out a way to put all the ingredients in one vessel – usually a 2-liter pop bottle or Gatorade-style bottle, something of that nature – and basically put all the ingredients in, and shake it, and start the reactions,” Johnson said.

Johnson collaborates with five counties in Western Wisconsin.

He said while meth use has increased in all of them, it’s difficult to give a specific number of meth labs he’s seen.

When the unit investigates, they generally look at how many cooks there are.

For example, when the unit investigated a meth lab in Sparta, they looked at the residue on each bottle and determined one lab did about 30 separate meth cooks, Johnson said.

While meth use is dangerous for the people using it or running a lab, Johnson said labs also put the public in danger.

“At the right moment you can actually look in one of these vessels and see flames,” he said. “So, the problem is they’re obviously not made for chemical reactions. They’re simply plastic soda bottles. And if the reaction gets out of hand, the pressure expands. If they don’t gas it, the vessel can fail and it can explode or burn right in their lap.”

Which was a police concern with a shake and bake lab found in a La Crosse hotel last month.

“(There’s a) possibility of people in adjoining rooms where if there would have been some type of explosion or a fire, or a reaction with these chemicals, these other people could be affected by the manufacturing of the meth at that location,” Rank said.

Law enforcement is being trained to better locate meth labs. With usage on the rise, they encourage the public to keep their eyes open for suspicious activity, too.

The number for La Crosse Area Crime Stopper’s anonymous tip line is (608) 784-8477.






CENTRAL VALLEY — Drug fads come and go in California. But not methamphetamine. This highly addictive, widely available, dangerous drug has been a 20-year scourge that shows little sign of abating, especially here in the Central Valley.

There are multiple ways to assess just how deep and wide is the chaos caused by meth in our community. Consider:

• 35 percent of the 2,034 people who entered licensed and certified treatment programs in the year ending in June named meth as their drug of choice. Stanislaus County’s meth rate was significantly higher than the statewide rate listed by people entering treatment. A top official with county Behavioral Health and Recovery Services said meth has held this dubious No. 1 distinction for many years.

• What are the reasons for Modesto’s repeat appearance at the top of the national list for auto theft? Meth is a big factor. “There’s a notorious methamphetamine problem in this state,” said Frank Scafidi of the National Insurance Crime Bureau. “Where you have a lot of drug problems, police will tell you, you have a lot of property crimes. It’s like peanut butter and jelly.”

• In May, during a question-and-answer interview on multiple topics, JoLynn DiGrazia, executive director of Turlock’s Westside Ministries, was asked what she saw as the biggest challenges facing her area, particularly its youth. Her response: “The continual battleground is methamphetamine use. The property crimes go along with it.”

• In Modesto alone, there were 1,618 meth-related arrests in the last two years, according to the Modesto Police Department.

• In the first six months of 2013, the Stanislaus County district attorney’s office filed charges in about 6,700 cases. Of those, 1,807 — nearly 27 percent — involved what are known as schedule 3, 4 and 5 drugs, of which meth is by far the most common, said District Attorney Birgit Fladager. Of those drug cases in the first half of the year, 1,008 were for simple possession, 96 were for possession for sale, 59 for selling or transporting drugs and 14 for manufacturing drugs.

The drug case count is up from the same period in 2012, when there were 1,582 cases filed with drug-related charges.

Fladager and Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson both say that the drug cases don’t tell the full story, because a meth addiction might be what motivates a person to steal a car or commit a burglary. If the person does not possess meth when arrested, it won’t show up as a drug case, even though that’s the root cause.

“It’s safe to assume there’s an element of meth in many of the crimes we investigate, primarily property crimes,” Christianson said.

Compared with 2000, when the McClatchy newspapers in California teamed up on a special report called “A Madness Called Meth,” there are fewer big busts today and fewer labs causing major ground pollution problems. The reduction in labs is partly due to state laws that have the precursor drugs, notably pseudoephedrine, harder to purchase — a change that also has made it less convenient for the average consumer to buy cold and allergy medicines.

While there are fewer labs producing meth in the valley, it is readily available. Most is brought in from Mexico.

The demand also hasn’t subsided because meth is relatively cheap, especially compared with a drug such as cocaine. Street dealers, many gang-related, sell meth for $20 to $30 for a “teener” (one-sixteenth of a gram).

Meth also is virulently addictive. An undercover agent told The Sacramento Bee that people get addicted so fast and some get so desperate that they will fry their own urine in a pan to extract meth crystals.

Tweakers — those who use meth day after day — exhibit poor judgment, strange sleeping patterns, agitation, confusion, anxiety, paranoia and sometimes violence.

Stories of the extreme behavior of people on meth make the news, such as an armed man who confronted a parishioner at Sacramento’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, taking his cell phone and wallet. He was “experiencing a mental episode” as a result of using meth. A woman driving under the influence of meth ran over and killed a 6-year-old boy walking to school and injured his 8-year-old brother. In May, a 31-year-old Oakdale mother was sentenced to nine years in prison for using methamphetamine while she was breast-feeding, which resulted in the death of her infant daughter.

The collateral damage from meth use is routinely visible to social workers from Child Protective Services. A Stanislaus Behavioral Health official says meth use has become so commonplace that officials don’t talk about its prevalence.

Meth reaches across the demographic landscape: urban and rural; men and women; white, black, Latino and Asian. Experts who deal with the effects of meth agree that we need a three-pronged approach: prevention, treatment and disrupting the market by going after the manufacturers and distributors.

All came under hard times during the Great Recession. Police and sheriff’s departments downsized or shuttered their narcotics units.

Voter-approved Proposition 36 in 2000 diverted those convicted of nonviolent drug possession offenses to drug treatment, but the money ran out after five years. Others challenge whether Proposition 36 was ever a wise strategy because participants took the treatment option so casually. Drug court has been a much more effective strategy because the convicted addicts are closely monitored and faced graduated sanctions for relapses.

People who commit crimes need to be held responsible for their behavior, but people with substance abuse problems also should have treatment options available as part of the consequences.

But the best and least expensive answer is education and prevention — steering people, especially youngsters, away from meth by making them fully understand that it is a dangerous and destructive drug that can ruin their lives.

With attention and focus on front-end strategies that work, Californians and the valley can take on this 20-year scourge — a quality-of-life issue for us all and a life-and-death issue for far too many.

A child and three law enforcement officers were treated for chemical exposure, and one man was taken into custody after a meth lab blew up in a Dexter home in the early morning hours of Thursday, prompting firefighters to be summoned clear the toxic smoke from the residence.


Items are shown from the meth lab that ignited Thursday morning when police entered a Dexter home.

According to Stoddard County Sheriff Carl Hefner, an ongoing investigation by his office, along with members of the SEMO Drug Task Force, Dexter Police Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol prompted a search warrant to be served at the Dexter residence of Terry Wayne Wilkerson, 46, at 1213 E. Elk Street on Thursday, Aug. 1.


Terry Wilkerson


Upon entering the residence, a male subject, later identified as Wilkerson, reportedly attempted to dispose of some drug activity evidence by pouring an active methamphetamine lab down the kitchen sink of the home.

“When an active ingredient (lithium metal) in the meth lab came into contact with the water that was in the drain of the sink,” Hefner explained, “it ignited causing the other ingredients to explode and burn.”


A three-year-old child was asleep in a bedroom of the home when the chemicals ignited. Officers quickly removed the child from the home and evacuated the residence. The Dexter Fire Department was summoned to clear the residence of the toxic smoke and fumes.


“Dexter firefighters are well-trained,” Hefner noted. “They knew exactly what to do under these circumstances, and acted accordingly.”

One Stoddard County deputy, along with the child and two Dexter police officers, were transported to SoutheastHEALTH of Stoddard County, where they were treated for eye and lung irritation from the chemical exposure. All were released following emergency treatment, and the child was placed into protective custody.

Terry Wayne Wilkerson is charged with the Class B felony of attempt to manufacture a controlled substance and the Class C felony of endangering the welfare of a child. There is no bond set at this time, the sheriff stated Friday, and Wilkerson remains in the Stoddard County Jail.





Another discovery of a methamphetamine lab in a local motel surfaced  last week, after three people were arrested on petit theft charges for a botched robbery of a CVS pharmacy in Brandon, according to a report  from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the sheriff’s office report, the day started badly for Jamie Gay and Colleen Cooke on Tuesday, July 30, when they wrongly chose to rob the  CVS pharmacy at 715 Brandon Blvd. Bad turned to worse after they  reportedly passed “all points of sale” without paying for “Scar Jel,” Culture Digest and a pair of sunglasses.

Colleen Cooke. Photo credit: Hillsborough County Sheriff
Colleen Cooke
Nicole McCall. Photo credit: Hillsborough County Sheriff
Nicole McCall
Jamie Gay. Photo credit: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.            

Jamie Gay

Gay, 32, of 2108 East 99th Ave., Tampa, and Cooke, 46, of 617 Auxerre  Circle, Seffner, then allegedly passed the stolen items on to Nicole  McCall, 22, of 15055 Citrus Way, Brooksville, who re-entered the store  in hopes of returning the items as if she had bought them.

“The store manager realized that the items were stolen and would not accept the items for return,” notes the report.

Gay, Cooke and McCall reportedly left the scene in a Maroon 1996 Ford  Explorer. Deputies conducted a traffic stop and confirmed that the  driver, Gay, had a suspended driver’s license. “A search subsequent to  the arrest the defendant had five counterfeit U.S. $20 bills in his  front right pants pocket,” the report continues. “At the time of the traffic stop, the defendant falsely identified himself as Donald White,” 33.

The report continues: “It was learned that the defendants were staying at the Motel 6 located at  Falkenburg Road and Highway 60. Deputies responded to the hotel and a  search of the room they were staying in revealed that the defendant  Jaime Gay was manufacturing methamphetamine in the motel room.

Gay is  also charged with violation of probation.”




A  Kiowa County woman, Teresa Jones, has been charged with distribution of a  controlled substance and other counts after allegedly giving her son methamphetamine while law enforcement officers were attempting to execute a  search warrant on her property.

Kiowa County   —  A Kiowa County resident, Teresa Jones, has  been charged with one count of distribution of a controlled substance which  results in great bodily harm and other counts after allegedly giving her son  methamphetamine while law enforcement officers were attempting to execute a  search warrant on her property on July 26.

Besides distribution of a controlled substance to another, Jones,  who was arrested July 26, has also been charged with possession of  methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana with intent  to distribute, contributing to a child’s misconduct, obstruction and aggravated  endangerment of a child, said Kiowa County Attorney J. Scott James who filed the  charges on July 29.

A $100,000 bond has been set for Jones. The child remains  hospitalized at a regional hospital in Kansas, James said.