Local residents were acting as couriers to bring large amounts of methamphetamine to Southwestern Indiana from sources near the Mexican border, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Eleven Evansville area residents and one California resident have been charged for what prosecutors said were their roles in two separate drug trafficking operations busted this month.

Federal agents seized 26 pounds of methamphetamine worth an estimated $1.2 million from the two busts, said Joseph Hogsett, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

“This is a significant success story in the ongoing effort to address the scourge of methamphetamine,” he said.

Deputy U.S. Attorney Lauren Wheatley said the methamphetamine was believed to have originated with a Mexican drug cartel because of its purity.

“This was crystal methamphetamine which is more potent and has a higher street value,” she said.

Hogsett said the “one-pot” method of making the drug locally from various off-the-shelf ingredients has created a demand that drug traffickers have stepped in to fill.

“Twenty-six pounds of methamphetamine. That amount cannot be produced locally. It has to come from somewhere else,” he said.

According to a federal criminal complaint six people were arrested for conspiring to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine after an investigation that began in October 2012 with information from informants and involved cellphone surveillance.

Charged are: Andre Bastain, 27, Evansville; August Hirsch, 28, Evansville; Adan Vasquez, 35, Evansville; David Haas, 43, Evansville; Bobby Bass, 40, Evansville; and Jesus Torres-Flores, 41, of East Palo Alto, Calif.

Prosecutors said Haas drove a rental car from Evansville to San Jose, Calif., with money hidden in a compartment in its trunk. The car was picked up from a hotel parking lot by Torres-Flores who then replaced the money with methamphetamine.

Officers tracked Haas leaving the hotel on March 21 and saw him stop at a gas station and meet Bass, who was driving a truck with an Indiana license plate. The vehicles were stopped and searched after leaving the gas station. Officers found 19 pounds of methamphetamine hidden in the two vehicles.

Prosecutors said Haas admitted to federal agents that he and Bass had been hired by Bastain to drive to California and return with the methamphetamine.

In the second case, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed Wednesday, six people face charges of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine: William Elder, 71, Posey County; Everett Tarr, 56, Evansville; Terry Ward, 61, Posey County, Michael Clark, 54, Evansville; Brenda Deer, 47, Evansville; and Lauri Cupp, 45, Posey County.

The indictment charges Elder with leading them in a scheme to acquire and distribute large amounts of drugs from Arizona, beginning in June 2012.

All of those charged in the two cases are in federal custody. Hogsett said they could face sentences from 10 years to life in prison.

Some may also receive sentence enhancements that could increase their minimum sentences to 20 years, he said.


Talk about life imitating art. Kinda, sorta.

It seems that Xavier McAfee, the 29-year-old who was taken into custody last Friday for allegedly breaking into Bryan Cranston‘s car and stealing a Breaking Bad script, served time on probation for possession of…wait for it…methamphetamine.

You know, the same stuff Cranston’s character, Walter White, just happens to produce and sell on the hit AMC show.


Xavier McAfee, Mugshot

Courtesy of New Mexico Department of Corrections

According to a criminal complaint filed at the Metropolitan Court in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, McAfee was arrested on July 18, 2006, on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine.

Court records show that Albuquerque police were conducting surveillance for a felony warrant on McAfee when he pulled into a gas station.

Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Ursula Coyote/AMC

“Officer D. Tafoya observed a plastic sunglass case on the driver’s seat under Xavier,” the complaint states. “Inside the plastic case was a small baggie with a clear, grainy substance consistent with the appearance of methamphetamine.”

The criminal complaint also notes that “Xavier was asked who this container belonged to, to which he stated it was his. The substance was field tested at the Northeast Substation which did test positive for methamphetamine.”

McAfee was booked into jail for the outstanding warrant and the possession of a controlled substance, a felony.

After pleading guilty to the possession charge on Dec. 6, 2006, McAfee was ordered to serve a three-year stint on supervised probation. He entered probation on Feb. 2007 and was released on Dec. 2009 with an “unsatisfactory discharge” because of several unidentified issues involving probation violations. He also completed a drug substance abuse program as well.

Meanwhile, the script McAfee is accused of taking out of Cranston’s vehicle last December has yet to be recovered.







SHAH ALAM, March 27 (Bernama) — A potential drug trafficker from Nigeria who failed to fool and get past Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Customs

authorities with 389.8gm of methamphetamine in his stomach was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment by the High Court here today.

Francis Ikenna Nwannochie, 27, was also ordered to be given 10 strokes of the cane by Justice Datuk Abdul Alim Abdullah after he pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of drug possession at the Customs inspection counter, KLIA arrival hall in Sepang near here between 11pm on Feb 29, 2012 and 6.55pm on March 2, 2012.

The judge, who ordered Nwannochie’s jail term to run effective from the date of arrest, said the latter was lucky to get away with an alternative charge and escape the death sentence, which he initially faced under Section 39B (1) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.

According to the facts of the case, Nwannochie was detained on Feb 29, 2012 when Customs authorities noticed him walking in a suspicious manner.

On March 1, 2012, he was brought to the Serdang Hospital where an X-ray showed the presence of a foreign lump inside his stomach. The lump was later found to consist of 54 capsules of methamphetamine.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Harris Ong Mohd Jeffery Ong appeared for the prosecution while counsel L.A.Gomes represented the Nigerian.






TWO men charged with trafficking $7 million in amphetamines will appear in the Holden Hill Magistrates Court today.

A police spokesman said two Nomad officers – on patrol for fire bugs – found more than seven kilograms buried in containers on Mount Gawler Rd, Inglewood, after seeing two men acting suspiciously near a vehicle park on the road.

When police approached, the men they fled into nearby bushland, police said.

“It was quickly determined the men were in the process of uncovering a large amount of methamphetamine that had been buried in various containers just off the road,” he said.

Meth haul

$7 million worth of drugs seized by police at Inglewood.


“Cordons were established and the Dog Operations Unit and police helicopter brought in to find the men. The men were found and arrested without incident.”

Detectives from the Drug Investigation Branch were called and Forensic Services SA analysed the powder to confirm the substance to be 7.33 kg of methamphetamine.

“In its present form this equates to 73,300 street deals with a value of $7,330,000,” the spokesman said. “However, the purity of the drugs is about 70 per cent, which means when adulterated with `cutting agents’ the true value of the drugs may be up to three times that amount.”


$7 million methamphetamine bust at Inglewood.

The men were arrested and charged with trafficking a large commercial quantity of methamphetamine.

Police said they believed the drug was locally produced.

Head of SAPOL’s Drug Investigation Branch, Detective Superintendent Des Bray, said the find was an outstanding result.


$7 million methamphetamine bust at Inglewood.

“This discovery shows that while SAPOL has different specialist areas aimed at different elements of the illicit drug market, patrol officers still play a critical role in the detection and intelligence gathering of drug activity in our community,” he said.

“Every day, across the state, uniformed police make considerable seizures of drugs. A seizure of this size will have a substantial impact on the availability of illicit drugs in our community.”


Salton City, Calif. – El Centro Sector Border Patrol agents assigned to the Indio station apprehended a suspected narcotics smuggler at the Highway 86 checkpoint and seized approximately 3.1 pounds of methamphetamine.

click for hi-res
El Centro Sector Border Patrol agents from the Indio station seized $99,000 of methamphetamine strapped to a man’s inner thighs at the Highway 86 checkpoint.
El Centro Sector Border Patrol agents from the Indio station seized $99,000 of methamphetamine strapped to a man’s inner thighs at the Highway 86 checkpoint.

The incident occurred on March 18, at approximately 8:00 p.m., when Border Patrol agents referred a travel bus to secondary inspection. Upon further inspection agents questioned a 21-year-old male passenger, and discovered two vacuumed sealed packages strapped to his inner thighs.

The methamphetamine had a combined weight of approximately 3.1 pounds and an estimated value of $99,000. The man, a Lawfully Admitted Permanent Resident was arrested as the sole suspect in the case. The suspect and narcotics were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration for further investigation.

The El Centro Sector’s Community Awareness







FAYETTE COUNTY, Ga. — A 16-year-old girl told Channel 2 Action News how she began using methamphetamine when she was just 15.

Whitney Lefler told Channel 2’s Diana Davis her story on the same day the Georgia Meth Project rolled out its new classroom meth prevention program.

“It made me feel very happy” Lefler said. “And that was appealing to me because I was very depressed. I was angry at the world.”

meth prevention program photo
Whitney Lefler told her story on the same day the Georgia Meth Project rolled out its new classroom meth prevention program.

Lefler said she was just 12 when she first smoked pot. By 15 she’d moved on to painkillers, synthetic heroin and meth.

“It was an instant effect and instantly, my brain was like, ‘This is your drug. This is what you need,'” she said.

Lefler, who is now sober and in recovery, told Davis she used meth with friends and strangers. But she said it was her own mother who got her started.

“It did kind of make me feel since she was smoking meth that it was OK for me to,” Lefler said.

The Georgia Meth Project said some meth users are as young as 9 when they first start using meth.

It is now taking its message of prevention that began on television, radio, the Internet and social media, directly to Georgia middle and high school students.

“We see people starting on meth at 9, 11, 12 years old, if you can imagine that. Our program is aimed at 12- to 17-year-olds.” Georgia Meth Project’s Executive Director Jim Langford told Davis.

The in-school education program was rolled out Tuesday at Fayette County’s Bennetts Middle School.

The eighth-grade health class, which was the first to see the presentation, are just one year younger than Lefler was when she started meth.

The aim of the program is to reach more than 860,000 Georgia teens.

Project directors know the message must be constant and strong. Lefler told Davis she was warned about meth in middle school but says it didn’t stop her.

“I just thought, ‘I’m high, I’m cool. This is all that matters in the world right now,'” Lefler said.

She told Davis she didn’t stop until the night police arrested her mother for drugs in the Forsyth County motel they were staying in.

Lefler said it’s an image she’ll never forget.

“And that was the first time I could ever say no to meth, was after seeing my mom get pulled into the cop car,” Lefler said.

She’s now focused on her recovery and staying sober, but she said she’d like to help other kids.

“I just want to make sure other people don’t have to go through what I have to go through, you know, what I did go through,” Lefler said.

NEW HAVEN — A suspended Roman Catholic priest accused of taking in more than $300,000 from sales of methamphetamine plans to plead guilty to a charge against him, according to a court filing on Tuesday.The man, Msgr. Kevin Wallin, is scheduled to appear in Federal District Court in Hartford next week for a hearing in which he is expected to plead guilty to conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute it, according to the filing, obtained by The Associated Press.

A message left with his lawyer was not answered on Tuesday night.

The authorities say Monsignor Wallin, 61, had methamphetamine mailed to him from co-conspirators in California and made more than $300,000 in drug sales out of his Waterbury apartment in the second half of 2012. He also bought a small shop selling pornography and sex toys in the nearby town of North Haven, through which he laundered the proceeds, authorities said.

An undercover officer with a state task force said he had bought methamphetamine from Monsignor Wallin six times from Sept. 20 to Jan. 2, the authorities said, and federal agents arrested him on Jan. 3.

Monsignor Wallin was the pastor of the Cathedral of St. Augustine in Bridgeport for nine years until he resigned in June 2011, citing health and personal problems. He had previously served six years as pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Danbury.

He was granted a sabbatical in July 2011. The Diocese of Bridgeport suspended him from public ministry in May 2012.

A grand jury indicted Monsignor Wallin and four other people on drug charges on Jan. 15. Each is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of a substance containing methamphetamine and 50 grams of the actual drug, a crime that carries 10 years to life in prison upon conviction. That is the charge to which Monsignor Wallin plans to plead guilty.

He was also charged with six counts of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine.


Posted: March 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

Narcotics agents released information Tuesday about three men arrested last Thursday on charges of trafficking about $22,400 in methamphetamine.

Juan J. Arreguin, 23, Pete A. Lopez, 21, and Richard Sandoval, 22, all of Lawrenceville, face charges of trafficking methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute and possession of marijuana. Lopez and Sandoval also face charges of possession of cocaine.

Authorities charge 4 with meth trafficking
Richard Sandoval
Authorities charge 4 with meth trafficking
Pete Lopez

Authorities charge 4 with meth trafficking

Juan Arreguin
Authorities charge 4 with meth trafficking
Jeremy Jackson

lti Agency Narcotics Squad agents arrested them in the 4900 block of Lanier Islands Parkway in Hall County after they say the men arrived with about 8 ounces of methamphetamine to be sold. Also seized was a small amount of cocaine, marijuana and $3,000.

All three suspects were booked at the Hall County Jail.

No bond was set at first appearance in Hall County Magistrate Court because the charges require it be set only at Superior Court. The men will have a committal hearing at 9 a.m. April 18 and said in court that they intend to hire their own representation.

In another case, a Gainesville man was arrested Monday on charges of trafficking methamphetamine.

A MANS investigation led to the 500 block of Park Street in Gainesville, where authorities said they found Jeremy David Jackson, 33, in possession of about $800 worth of methamphetamine, less than 1 ounce of marijuana, as well as packaging materials and digital scales.

Jackson is charged with possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, possession of methamphetamine and possession of marijuana. He was booked into the Hall County Jail and had his first appearance in court this afternoon. He said he intends to apply for indigent defense. Jackson is not eligible for bond until he sees a Superior Court judge, and his committal hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. April 8.







A man linked to the San Diego Chapter of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang was sentenced to 21 years in prison Monday for locally trafficking methamphetamine.

According to the office of U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy, 43-year-old David Raymond Garcia will serve 262 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute meth.

A U.S. District judge has also sentenced local methamphetamine supplier Jason Scalon, 42, to 15 years in prison.

Officials say the two defendants were prosecuted as part of a FBI Violent Crimes Task Force investigation that included a total of 36 defendants being charged with conspiracy to traffic meth.

According to investigators, Garcia supplied drugs and employed at least 20 co-defendants over the course of a Task Force investigation into methamphetamine trafficking and violent crimes committed by the San Diego Chapter of the Hells Angels and their criminal partners. Scalon employed four co-defendants himself during this time, too.

Court documents show that Garcia – along with another defendant, Michael Ottinger Jr., who’s the Sergeant-at-Arms for the Hells Angels – used violent force and intimidation to control the meth trade in San Diego.

Officials say Ottinger Jr. has also been sentenced to serve 262 months in prison for his role in this conspiracy to traffic drugs. He also faces murder charges in connection with the alleged 2010 killing of rival member of the Mongols motorcycle gang.

A U.S. District judge found both Garcia and Scalon to be career federal offenders.

Officials say this is Garcia’s ninth felony conviction. Eight of the nine felonies on his criminal record are drug felonies. Meanwhile, Scalon has 10 felony convictions, eight of which are drug-related.

“Individuals involved in the drug trade not only proliferate the spread of dangerous narcotics in our society, but they also destabilize our communities with violence and related criminal activities,” said U.S. attorney Duffy in a statement Monday. “Our federal, state and local law enforcement partners on the Task Force have done the San Diego community a great service by taking these dangerous offenders off the street.”





NEWTON — A Hickory man will serve more than three years in prison after being convicted this week on methamphetamine charges.


Kevin Junior Freeman, 28, of Hickory, was sentenced this week to a prison term, following conviction on several methamphetamine charges


Kevin Junior Freeman, 28, was found guilty on four felony charges — manufacturing methamphetamine; conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine; possession and distribution of a methamphetamine precursor; and attempted trafficking of methamphetamine by possession.

He was sentenced to between 3 years 8 months and 5 years 5 months in state prison. Freeman was arrested last May.


HAMMOND | A Mexican man was sentenced to more than three years in prison for federal methamphetamine dealing charges, according to a judgement filed Monday.

Miguel Chavez was charged with possessing with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine, according to federal court records. The charge stems from a February 2011 traffic stop in Merrillville.

Chavez will receive credit for time already served, according to court documents. He has to participate in a drug treatment program in prison.

Chavez, a Mexican citizen, will be under supervised release for three years after his prison term if he is not deported, according to court documents.







A 20-year-old woman faces methamphetamine manufacturing and other charges after Statesboro police said they investigated a drug complaint.
At about 6:45 p.m. Saturday, Cpl. Andrew Samples and Advanced Patrol Officer Sebastian Colquitt of the Statesboro Police Department responded to St. James Apartments on Lanier Drive in reference to a drug complaint, Public Safety Director Wendell Turner said in a news release issued Monday.
After further investigation, Samples located a quantity of suspected meth and the components of a meth lab. Detective Sgt. Patrick Harrelson of the police department’s Crime Suppression Unit and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Emergency Unit responded and processed the scene.
Jessica Ann Jernigan, of Lanier Drive, was charged with several drug-related offenses.







 ELIZABETHTON — A man who was out of jail on bond while awaiting trial on methamphetamine charges is facing new charges, including child endangerment, following an arrest on Saturday.



David P. Abernathy, 39, and Misty Hope Bennett, 35, both of 116 Flora Dugger Road, were arrested Saturday morning when Deputy Brady Higgins of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department came to their residents to serve another arrest warrant.

 When he arrived, Higgins said he saw Bennett run inside the residence and Abernathy come outside. Higgins said he also saw plastic soft drink bottles in the yard, bottles commonly used in the “one-pot” method of manufacturing methamphetamine. Higgins found a total of 10 bottles which contained residue.

 Two sheriff’s department’s certified meth lab technicians were called to the scene and positively identified all the bottles as being used in methamphetamine manufacture.

 Inside the residence, Higgins said he found two children, aged 8 months and 2 years old. He said they were the children of Abernathy and Bennett. Due to safety concerns of the children, Higgins said the state Department of Children’s Services.

 At the request of the children’s agency, both Bennett and Abernathy were given drug screens and both tested positive for methamphetamine.

 Lt. Mike Little responded and spoke with Bennett. He said she admitted that she and Abernathy were frequent methamphetamine users and that Abernathy had on occasion cooked methamptheamine in the residence where the children lived. She said Abernathy had also cooked methamphetamine in the car when the children were in the back seat.

 Little said a record’s check revealed Abernathy was previously arrested on Dec. 8 on charges of initiation of the process to manufacture methamphetamine and promotion of methamphetamine manufacture.

 Abernathy had been released from the Carter County Jail on Feb. 25 on bond.

 The records check indicated that both Abernathy and Bennett had recently purchased cold medicine containing psuedoephedrine, an essential ingredient in methamphetamine manufacture.

 Both Abernathy and Bennett were arrested Saturday on new charges of two counts of felony reckless child endangerment, two counts of promotion of methamphetamine manufacture and one count of maintaining a dwelling where narcotics are manufactured or sold.

 Abernathy was also charged with initiation of a process to manufacture methampthamine.

 They are scheduled to answer the new charges in Sessions Court on April 23.






(Cheyenne, Wyo.) – This morning, law enforcement officers from multiple agencies from southeast Wyoming and Colorado began serving federal arrest warrants for 18 individuals located in both states.

The arrest warrants are the result of two long-term joint investigations by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency into the sale and possession of methamphetamine.

Once arrested, individuals will be taken before a Federal Magistrate Judge for an initial appearance. Identities of the individuals arrested will not be made public until all have had their initial appearance and the case has been unsealed.






SILVER CITY — The Silver City Police Department conducted a drug warrant round up early Thursday morning in conjunction with the Southwest Border Operations Task Force that resulted in 32 arrests for various alleged drug trafficking offenses.

The result of a 4 1/2-month undercover narcotics operation, Operation Black Sheep was a huge success, Silver City Police Chief Ed Reynolds said in news release. A total of 38 officers and support personnel carried out the operation beginning at 6 a.m. Thursday morning. Other agencies assisting included Homeland Security Investigation, the U.S. Marshal Service, and the Grant County Detention Center.

“We are looking forward to doing more operations in the near future,” Reynolds said. “We want to impact the narcotics sales in the Grant County area because the sales and use drives our property crimes such as burglaries, larcenies and, to lesser extent, shopliftings.”

Undercover officers from the Silver City Police Department made street level purchases of narcotics of various controlled substances. Additionally, some of the defendants were arrested on charges of possession of controlled substances with the majority of those being found in possession on traffic stops conducted during the same period. The Grant County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit and personnel were involved in some of those traffic stops.

A total of 32 defendants developed resulting in a total of 37 warrants. Eight warrants for defendants still outstanding remained as of Friday morning.

Those arrested during the warrant roundup were:

Luis Cordova, 29, Silver City, trafficking cocaine, conspiracy to traffic cocaine. Bond: $30,000

Wesley Farris, 34, Silver City, trafficking methamphetamine, conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine. Bond: $30,000

Walter Larranaga, 41, Bayard, three warrants: Trafficking methamphetamine, conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine. Bond: $50,000

Leeria Larranaga, 36, Bayard, two warrants: Trafficking methamphetamine, conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine. Bond: $60,000

Salvador Vasquez, 33, Silver City, distribution of marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Bond: $10,000,

Buddy Young, 24, Silver City, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond: $6,000

Sergio Escobar, 57, Silver City, distribution of marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana, Bond: $10,000

Ross Lucero, 41, Bayard, distribution of marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Bond: $20,000

Thomas Teffertiller, 50, Arenas Valley, trafficking Oxycodone, conspiracy to traffic Oxycodone. Bond: $60,000

Amber Simpson, 25, Silver City, trafficking methamphetamine, conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine. Bond: $30,000

Bernice Miranda Ramos, 47, Silver City, possession of a controlled substance: methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond: $6,000

Zayne Chavez, 18, Silver City, trafficking cocaine, conspiracy to traffic cocaine. Bond: $30,000

Gilbert Flores Jr, 25, Silver City, trafficking methamphetamine, conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine. Bond: $30,000

Searra Crow, 18, Silver City, possession of a controlled substance: Oxycodone and methadone. Bond: $10,000

William D. Hix, 56, Silver City, trafficking a controlled substance: Hydormorphone, conspiracy to traffic Hydromorphone. Bond: $30,000

Robert Villalobos, 35, Silver City, trafficking methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond: $21,000

Elena Moon, 29, Silver City, trafficking a controlled substance: Hydormorphone, conspiracy to traffic Hydromorphone. Bond: $30,000

 Gregory Kras, 60, Silver City, trafficking a controlled substance: Hydormorphone, conspiracy to traffic Hydromorphone. Bond: $30,000

Arnulfo Facio, 24, Silver City, trafficking cocaine, possession of a controlled substance: marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond: $21,500

Arnulfo Fascio

David Ruelaz, 31, Silver City, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond: $6,000

David Ruelaz

Nick Martinez, 33, Silver City, four warrants: Contempt of court, failure to appear, failure to pay fines. Bond: $6,410. Martinez was not part of the roundup however it was known to the officers involved that he had several outstanding warrants.

Nick Martinez

Ricardo Mendoza, 25, Silver City, warrant: Contempt of court, failure to pay child support, $7,557.08. Mendoza was not part of the roundup, however it was known to the officers involved that he had several outstanding warrants.

Ricardo Mendoza

Angie Gibbons, 36, Silver City, trafficking methamphetamine, conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine. Gibbons was also in possession at the time of arrest and the additional charges are: Possession of a controlled substance: methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond: $36,000

Angie Gibbons

Other arrests with no photos available:

Amanda Mosher, 21, Silver City, possession of a controlled substance Methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond: $6,000

Nicoli Tungate, 45, Hurley, possession of a controlled substance Methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance Dextromanphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, $11,000. Tungate was served while in the Grant County Detention Center where she was being held on unrelated charges







On television’s “Breaking Bad,” crystal meth turns a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, into a paranoid, murderous multimillionaire.

In Bridgeport’s real world, it allegedly turned a charismatic potential Catholic bishop, Monsignor Kevin Wallin, into a twitching, hyperkinetic addict and cellphone juggling drug dealer, according to court documents and Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Caruso.

On the street, crystal methamphetamine is called crank, ice and glass. But in federal court, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas P. Smith called the growing problem with the drug in the Northeast a “dirty bomb” unleashed like plutonium on an unaware society.”

“It’s creeping eastward from California,” Smith has warned.

To Dr. Gary Blick, a Norwalk HIV/AIDS specialist and internist, that’s an understatement.

“It’s already here in full force and not going away,” Blick said.

Since July, the State Police Statewide Narcotics Task Force has seized 6,391 grams of meth, about 14 pounds. Most came from the Wallin case. That represents a marked increased from the 154 grams, or roughly five ounces, the task force seized the previous fiscal year.

Another 30 pounds, or $4.2 million worth of meth, was seized from a car by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Massachusetts State Police in December.

State Police Capt. Dale Hourigan, head of the Statewide Narcotics Task Force, said he has been advised by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that crystal meth is being manufactured in pill form and distributed as Ecstasy, a popular club drug.

These revelations, along with the latest task force intelligence, tell Hourigan that Connecticut has a large customer base.

To help get the word out on what he sees as a growing contagion, Hourigan has directed Wayne Kowal, his training-program coordinator, to compile a bulletin for local police. Kowal also is available to talk to parent and professional groups about crystal meth and other drugs in an effort to head off the scourge.

Feel-good drug

Crystal meth use is not just endemic to the seamy, criminal underworld. It spans all of middle America — bored housewives looking for kicks, upwardly mobile businessmen who crave its chemical energy and naive, experimenting teens. Even ordained priests are not immune to its seduction.

Celebrities charged in connection with methamphetamine possession included rock star Eddie Van Halen, singer Fergie, figure skater Nicole Bobek and evangelist Ted Haggard.

As state police are discovering, meth poses a big problem in the homosexual and bisexual community — which Blick treats.

“This is a feel-good drug,” Blick said. “It’s inexpensive, it takes away inhibitions and its effects last for hours. So you want to use it over and over and over again.”

But don’t expect to find it being sold on street corners like crack and heroin. Interviews with users confirm that it’s available in sex clubs, online bulletin boards and in social networks.

“When I was addicted, five or six years ago, I had to search far and wide,” said a local meth addict — now in rehabilitation — who asked for anonymity because of the stigma of being a former drug user. “Now it’s within 10-minutes access.”

The drug suppresses appetite, often leading to weight loss and a gaunt, wasted appearance. But it can increase concentration and focus, and reduce the need for sleep.

So for the soccer mom, that means “getting up, getting the kids to school, going to the gym, doing the laundry, driving the kids to after-school activities and having dinner on the table all by 6 p.m.,” Frank said.

Travis Wendel, a senior research associate in the anthropology department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, helped author a 2011 research report titled “Dynamics of Methamphetamine Markets in New York City.” Most of the participants interviewed reported the drug enhances sex, reduces pain and helps them cope.

The study estimated there were about 63,000 meth users spending roughly $640 million on the drug in the New York City market alone.

“The salient point to make here is that with increased production, wider availability in the U.S. and lower market prices, methamphetamine use will likely rise in the U.S. in the next few years,” the report concluded.

But Blick and Frank see a bigger concern, increasing HIV infections in younger men.

Blick said the drug’s inhibition-reducing effect causes HIV-positive users to discontinue medical drug regimens that arrest the virus and reduce the risk of transfer.

“So they go into clubs and have unsafe sex.”

“I’m absolutely positive that the introduction of crystal meth into the men-having-sex-with-men community has sent HIV infections soaring,” the doctor said. “People on crystal meth don’t care about themselves. They don’t care about their partners. Their only care is getting high.”

Meth 101

The drug in its methamphetamine form was synthesized in 1893. During World War II, both sides used it to fight fatigue and suppress appetite in military personnel. Nowadays, it’s only two FDA approved uses are to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, where low, time-released doses increase concentration and to help manage obesity.

By the 1960s, outlaw motorcycle gangs discovered it was a tremendous money maker, and began producing it using household chemicals. A $150 investment in cold tablets, aquarium tubing, matches, household cleaners and battery acid could produce a $10,000 profit.

Meth labs were springing up all over the country. So states like Connecticut, began restricting the purchase of cold tablets and requiring buyers to sign a log and show identification — and meth use dramatically decreased.

The U.S. Justice Department‘s National Methamphetamine 2010 Threat Assessment contends that domestic methamphetamine availability has rebounded from its 2006 low to a five-year high as a result of increasing large-scale production in Mexico.

Investigators in the Wallin case maintain that his supplies, like most of Connecticut meth, arrived from Mexico. Documents seized from Wallin’s Waterbury apartment indicated he pocketed $300,000 from sales between last August and December.

The going price for a pound of crystal ranges from $14,000 in Hartford to $19,500 in Bridgeport, according to court documents and testimony.

Most users purchase meth in gram quantities. Wallin’s prices ranged from $60 for a quarter of a gram to $500 for an eight ball or 3.5 grams with purity at 97 percent, court documents state.

One addict interviewed said he was paying $300 a gram five or six years ago. Hourigan said $200 an ounce is the going rate.

“A hundred dollars of crystal meth lasts a long time,” said Wendel, who helped author the New York report.

When compared to the more costly Ecstasy, Blick said meth wins hands down.

“The more continuous doses of Ecstasy, the less effect you get,” he said. “Not so with crystal meth.”

Users often begin by snorting, then smoking and finally injecting.

“The first time you inject, it’s like: “Oh my God,” an addict said. “Now you feel its effect for eight hours. You don’t have to keep hitting the pipe every 20 minutes … It doesn’t take much to become a full-blown addiction.”

Once addicted, the user fights to avoid the intense depression of coming down, said Dr. J. Craig Allen, medical director at the Rushford Treatment Centers. That’s because it takes over the brain’s pleasure center.

“Smoke crystal meth one time, and 50 percent of the users will develop a craving,” he said. “A cocaine high might last 30 minutes; crystal meth can last 12 hours.”

He said users binge because they can’t deal with the “horrible depression on coming down.”


Maybe it’s the drug’s effect on the brain that increases the probability of Parkinson’s disease, or the toxic chemicals used in the manufacture that eat away at organs and teeth. Then there’s psychosis and an intense itching that feels like something is under the skin.

“Crystal meth destroys the body from head to toe, teeth to skin, inside and out,” Blick said. “People who go down this road die.

Hourigan agrees.

“I haven’t seen too many old meth users or meth cooks,” he said.

While addicts prefer the higher quality Mexican-made meth, they’ll settle for a cheaper, browner homemade form, which is mixed in plastic bottles. This is called the `one-pot method.’

“It really is easy to make,” said Wendel. ” `Breaking Bad’ makes it look harder than it really is.”

Last year, the DEA uncovered 42 New England meth labs.

“The majority used the one-pot method,” said DEA Special Agent Anthony Pettigrew.

Pettigrew said it’s dangerous. A lab in a ground-floor room at the Peabody, Mass., Holiday Inn exploded last July, spewing ammonia gas and evacuating 200 guests. Another gutted a New Hampshire house.

Closer to home, DEA agents and state police here uncovered 15 labs in recent years. One was on Coventry Lane in Norwalk and in 2007 landed Michael Longo, the 60-year-old resident, in federal prison for two years.

Treatment and support

Blick’s Circle Care Center at 618 West Ave., Norwalk, is working with the Triangle Community Center and the Mid-Fairfield AIDS Project to create education, awareness and more support groups for users. There are groups in Bridgeport and New Haven.

“The success rate of someone entering rehab is about 10 percent,” Blick said. “Ninety percent relapse very easily — a smell, a sound, a picture, a person can trigger reuse.”

One addict said every day is a struggle.

“I can’t and I won’t watch `Breaking Bad'”






Fire is just one of the dangers facing communities fighting an epidemic of methamphetamine labs throughout Ashtabula County.

During the past year a rash of fires have been tied to meth labs while many others are under investigation.

Ashtabula Fire Chief Ron Pristera said firefighters almost have to assume they are walking in to a meth fire on every call.

The high profile Park Haven fire that killed a man and forced the evacuation of the Ashtabula facility, a little more than a year ago, made it clear people are willing to cook meth just about anywhere, said Ashtabula County Prosecutor Thomas Sartini.

“Not only are they willing to risk their own lives, they will risk the lives of their families, their children (as well as neighbors),” he said.

The need for the next hit outweighs any other factors, Sartini said.

He said meth makers are brazen and attempt to do a lot of work at the same time. “We have video of four or five pots cooking all at once,” Sartini said

Pristera said firefighters responding to a meth fire must be aware there may be more material that could ignite. “You have a fire within a fire,” he said of those started by “cooking” meth.

Bottom line is the addiction is so strong all controlling factors are taken out of the equation. “They (addicts) just don’t care,” Sartini said.

Some meth cookers feel like they are experts and aren’t concerned about the danger, Sartini said.

“Every single one of them is a potential fire bomb … one careless move and it explodes,” he said.

A more recent meth development has moved the production of the drug to mobile labs that are even more dangerous.

Ashtabula County Assistant Prosecutor Susan Thomas said a car that was being used to “cook” meth recently exploded destroying the car and severely injuring a man who will likely be on disability the rest of his life.

Old meth labs required hundreds of pseudoephedrine heated over open flames and cans of flammable liquids creating foul odors.

The “shake and bake” method requires a smaller amount of pills and can be “cooked” in a car or other small area, according to police and prosecutors.

The new method is extremely dangerous. “One careless move and it explodes and it burns,” Sartini said.

Several area residents have suffered serious burns in portable and “house bound” labs, Sartini said.

Arson investigations are becoming more challenging as fire departments pinpoint the cause and law enforcement officers interview witnesses and do other background investigation.

“Under most cases we can say this fire wasn’t an accident. The challenge is proving (who did it and how),” Pristera said.

Sartini said judges have been giving strong sentences and new laws have made it harder to get pseudophedrine, one of the key ingredients.

He said prosecutors are also charging people for helping those who make the drug and not giving first-time offenders any breaks.

“People are going to prison,” he said.

Even with all the deterrents, the epidemic continues.







Drug task force officers arrested a Franklin County man this week after a federal grand jury handed up a multi-count felony indictment against him.

Lionel Gillette, 45, St. Clair, was arrested Monday afternoon, March 18, after officers received information that he was staying at the St. Clair Motel off Springfield Road, according to Detective Cpl. Scott Briggs with the Franklin County Narcotics Enforcement Unit. 

After he was booked, Gillette was turned over to the U.S. marshals service and was being held until a detention hearing can be scheduled, Briggs said.

Gillette is charged in the federal indictment with three counts of manufacturing methamphetamine, two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count of distribution of methamphetamine to a person under the age of 21.

Authorities said the charges stem from incidents that occurred in Franklin County between 2009 and 2012, Briggs said.

Some of the incidents were investigated by Sullivan police and others by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

Gillette was charged last fall in Franklin County with possession of a firearm by a felon after he was arrested Oct. 26 in a traffic stop on Springfield Road west of St. Clair.

A deputy had been patrolling the area of the Anaconda Cemetery west of St. Clair in response to reports of vandalism and complaints that individuals were manufacturing methamphetamine in that area.

Gillette allegedly refused to allow the deputy to search his vehicle and the Washington police K-9 unit was called to the scene. The dog alerted on the vehicle, indicating that narcotics were present, according to a sheriff’s office report.

The deputy reported seizing suspected methamphetamine and some pills. Gillette also had a handgun in a coat pocket and was in possession of a taser gun.

The deputy also seized a large amount of cash and materials commonly used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, according to the report.

Gillette also is charged in a separate felony count with possession of precursor drugs with intent to manufacture methamphetamine, according to court records.







Nikke Balke, 38, Halfway, was charged in Dallas County Circuit Court with the Class C felony of possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, on March 6.





The grand jury also indicted a number of people previously jailed on methamphetamine-related charges in connection with alleged incidents in Altamont and Effingham. They include:

Chad W. Reed, 19, Ramsey, aggravated participation in methamphetamine manufacturing, a Class X felony. Reed is accused of participating in the manufacture of less than 15 grams of meth in a multi-unit residential building on March 10. He has been ordered to appear in court at 10 a.m. March 28. He remains in jail in lieu of $200,000 bond.

Alexander R. Beccue, 19, Altamont, possession of methamphetamine-manufacturing materials, a Class 2 felony. Beccue is accused of possessing acetone and lye on March 10 with the intent to use substances to manufacture meth. He has been ordered to appear in court at 11 a.m. March 28. He remains in jail in lieu of $75,000 bond.

Audra L. Daugherty, 20, Altamont, aggravated participation in methamphetamine-manufacturing, a Class X felony. Daugherty is accused of participating in the manufacture of less than 15 grams of meth in a multi-unit residential building on March 10. She has been ordered to appear in court at 11 a.m. March 27. She remains in jail in lieu of $200,000 bond.

Zakery K. Gentry, 23, Effingham, possession of meth precursors, a Class 2 felony. Gentry is accused of possessing less than 15 grams of pseudoephedrine with the intent to manufacture meth on March 10. His preliminary hearing is set for 11 a.m. March 27. He remains in jail in lieu of $65,000 bond.

Joshua A. McElhiney, 20, Herrick, possession of methamphetamine-manufacturing materials, a Class 2 felony. McElhiney is accused of possessing acetone and lye on March 10 with the intent to manufacture meth. His pretrial is set for 10 a.m. April 25. He is free on $1,000 bail.

Zachary A. Massie, 20, Altamont, protection of methamphetamine manufacturing, a Class 2 felony. Massie is accused of serving as a lookout on guard for a meth-related operation on March 10. He has been ordered to appear in court at 10 a.m. March 27. He remains in jail in lieu of $65,000 bond.

Kimberly S. Sinkler, 45, Effingham, possession of methamphetamine precursors, and use of property for manufacturing meth, both Class 2 felonies. Sinkler is accused of possessing less than 15 grams of pseudoephedrine on Feb. 7 and allowing meth to be manufactured on her property between Nov. 12, 2012, and March 6, 2013. Her preliminary hearing is set for 11 a.m. March 27. She remains in jail in lieu of $200,000 bond.

Kyle W. Sinkler, 22, Effingham, aggravated participation in meth manufacturing, a Class X felony. Sinkler is accused of participating in the manufacture of less than 15 grams of meth in a multi-unit dwelling on March 6. He has been ordered to appear in court at 11 a.m. March 28. He remains in jail in lieu of $500,000 bond.

Storey M. Woodruff, 23, Effingham, possession of methamphetamine-manufacturing materials, a Class 2 felony. Woodruff is accused of possessing coffee filters on March 8 with the intent they would be used in the manufacture of meth. She has been ordered to appear in court at 10 a.m. March 28. She remains in jail in lieu of $250,000 bond.






On Thursday, detectives from the Huron Undercover Narcotics Team executed search warrants at two separate residences on US-23 South in Sanborn Township, resulting in the arrest of three local individuals allegedly involved in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

Last week, while investigating an unrelated narcotics investigation, HUNT detectives learned of two Sanborn Township residents and an Alpena resident who were alleged to be involved together in the manufacturing of methamphetamine. HUNT identified the two Sanborn residents as father and son who resided in the same household, and the Alpena resident as being a girlfriend to the younger of the two men.

Assisted by troopers from the Michigan State Police Alpena Post, HUNT detectives executed a search warrant at the residence of the father and son. During the search warrant the men, along with the son’s girlfriend who was the third suspect, were located within the residence. As a result, the search warrant, multiple precursors, components, and containers all used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine were located within the residence.

While executing the search warrant, contact was made with the next door neighbor, and detectives learned the neighbor also was involved with the original suspects in the manufacturing of methamphetamine. A second search warrant was prepared and executed at the neighbor’s residence and detectives found multiple precursors, components, and containers all used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

The three suspects, whose names are being withheld pending arraignments, were arrested and lodged in the Alpena County Jail on multiple charges of manufacturing methamphetamine, which is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, which is a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison. At the time of the arrests, one of the suspects, who is a registered sex offender, was currently on parole after receiving convictions for criminal sexual conduct 2nd degree and possession of child sexually abusive material.

In addition, several other suspects have been identified and more arrests are expected in the future. HUNT detectives were assisted at the scene by troopers from the Michigan State Police Alpena Post, the Sanborn Township Fire Department, and the Michigan State Police 7th District Meth Response Unit.







A federal drug investigation into methamphetamine distribution in northeast Indiana resulted in three arrests this week, after a final undercover drug buy of two pounds of meth inside a cake.

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne, Javier Madrigal, 48, and his girlfriend, Lizbeth Correa, 34, both of Wawaka, are accused of distributing more than 500 grams of methamphetamine. Also charged in the distribution scheme is Juan Sandoval, 45, of Fort Wayne, who is accused of distributing meth obtained from Madrigal in Allen and Whitley counties.

The investigation began when an Indiana State Police detective assigned to a Drug Enforcement Administration task force began working with a confidential informant who told them that Madrigal supplied methamphetamine to Noble County.

Madrigal and Correa both worked at Madrigal’s restaurant, Chilangos Tacos, in Ligonier. According to court documents, the informant picked up drugs from Madrigal at the restaurant as part of the investigation.

Working their way up from an ounce of the methamphetamine in early February, investigators recorded a drug buy from Madrigal involving two pounds of the drug at $19,000 a pound.

On Tuesday, the informant bought the drugs, which were delivered to him in an item made to look like a cake. According to court documents, Madrigal and Correa put the two zippered plastic bags of drugs in a cake form, iced it and decorated it, and then put a lid over it and sent the buyer on his way.

Federal agents, with help from the Northeast Indiana SWAT team, served search warrants on Chilangos Tacos on Thursday, according to the criminal complaint.

The investigation into Sandoval also began this year, and he too dealt ever-increasing amounts of methamphetamine to a confidential informant assisting the DEA.

On Monday, Sandoval bought a half-pound of methamphetamine from Madrigal, according to court documents.

A search of Sandoval’s Calumet Avenue home revealed a sawed-off 20-gauge shotgun, another 20-gauge shotgun, a .40-caliber handgun and ammunition. He was arrested at a construction site in Columbia City.

Also arrested and charged in a federal criminal complaint was Glenda Brickey, 27, of Ligonier. She was charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. She was arrested after a traffic stop and found to have a small amount of the drug, along with a glass pipe.

On the way to the Noble County Jail, Brickey told the officer she had more drugs. A female jail officer searched her at the jail and found three ounces of the “ice” form of methamphetamine inside her bra, according to court documents.







MAYNARD, Iowa – A 64-year-old Maynard woman faces methamphetamine charges.

Connie McNeese’s charges include delivery of a controlled substance–methamphetamine–and assault.

A conviction could put her into prison for more than ten years. The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office investigated for three months. Investigators say McNeese sold meth from her home on Main Street in Maynard over the last two months.

Deputies arrested her last night at her home after getting a disturbance call. The investigation is ongoing and more arrests could be coming.







El Paso, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the El Paso port of entry seized 2.25 pounds of methamphetamine this morning. The drugs were concealed within the waistband of a Juarez teenager.

“This seizure reminds us all that a smuggler can be young or old, man or woman, traveling alone or with a family,” said Hector Mancha, CBP El Paso port director.

The seizure was made just before 6 a.m. today at the Ysleta international crossing when a male pedestrian applied for entry at the primary inspection station. A CBP officer noted that the man appeared nervous and hesitant during a routine interview. The CBP officer spotted what appeared to be bundle beneath the clothes the man was wearing. The man was detained and searched at which time CBP officers discovered a single bundle tucked into his waistband. The contents of the bundle tested positive for methamphetamine.

CBP officers took custody of the man, 18-year-old Jesus Manuel Chavarria Rivera of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. He was turned over to and arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI agents in connection with the failed smuggling attempt.

While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.






MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier today in federal court, a 35-year-old Arden Hills man was indicted for distributing approximately 12 pounds of methamphetamine. Marcelino Garcia was charged with one count of distribution of methamphetamine and one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The indictment alleges that on March 15, 2013, Garcia, also known as Moreno Marcelino Garcia and Marcelino Garcia-Moreno, conspired with others to distribute 500 or more grams of methamphetamine and that Garcia knowingly possessed with intent to distribute 500 or more grams of methamphetamine. According to a law enforcement affidavit filed in the case, authorities learned about Garcia during routine narcotics’ investigations in the Twin Cities.

On March 15, police arranged a controlled purchase at a store parking lot in Shoreview. Following the transaction, Garcia was arrested, and officers seized six bags containing approximately 5,100 grams of methamphetamine, along with packaging materials. If convicted, Garcia faces a potential maximum penalty of life in prison on each count. All sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Twin Cities Safe Streets Violent Gang Task Force, which is led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and includes the Minneapolis Police Department. The task force’s mission is to investigate and target the most violent gangs operating in the Twin Cities or those gangs engaged in the large-scale trafficking of illegal drugs. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Julie E Allyn. To learn more about the harmful effects of methamphetamine, visit http://www.justice.gov/dea/concern/meth.html.

An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.