More than 260kg of drugs used to manufacture methamphetamine have been found hidden in a shipping container.

The consignment was big enough to produce methamphetamine with a street value of approximately $72 million, Detective Inspector Bruce Good of Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand said.

Detectives worked alongside customs officers to intercept 248 kilograms of Pseudoephedrine, commonly referred to as ContacNT, and 16 kilograms of pure Ephedrine, which was discovered when a container ship arrived at Ports of Auckland on Sunday morning.

Police said the intelligence gathered during Operation Ghost was critical in the bust.

Operation Ghost, an 18 month intensive multi-agency investigation, focused on a group of senior Asian organised crime figures operating in New Zealand.

Prior to yesterday’s seizure over 330 kilograms of ContacNT, 15.5 ounces of methamphetamine and approximately $1.5 million of cash have already been seized.

Over $20 million worth of assets have also been restrained during the investigation.

Operation Ghost has yielded 594 kilograms, or over half a tonne, of pseudoephedrine during the investigation.

“While we were confident our intelligence was accurate it was still a huge relief when we opened the shipping container at the Customs inspection facility and the drugs were discovered,” Mr Good said.

ContacNT is manufactured legally in China but it is a class B controlled drug in New Zealand.




Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, Warren County Sheriff Larry Sims, and Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Marlon Miller announced Friday that an investigation conducted by a newly formed Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC) task force has resulted in the seizure of more than $1 million in illegal drugs.

Authorities with the Miami Valley Bulk Smuggling Task Force served multiple search warrants Wednesday in Huber Heights, New Carlisle, and Tipp City as part of an ongoing drug trafficking investigation.  As a result, investigators located large amounts of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine with an estimated street value in excess of $1 million.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars were also seized, and four people were taken into custody.

The Miami Valley Bulk Smuggling Task Force consists of officers from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Montgomery County RANGE Task Force, Warren County Drug Task Force, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office, and Warren County Prosecutor’s Office.

The task force was developed to investigate upper level drug organizations in Montgomery, Warren, and surrounding counties.

“The members of this task force have been doing outstanding work to keep drugs off the streets and protect Ohio’s families,” DeWine said. “Heroin alone is killing people in Ohio each and every day, but by working to cut off the supply, we are certain that this task force is saving lives.”

“This collaborative effort is proving to be highly effective in seizing large quantities of drugs before they impact neighborhoods in Montgomery County and surrounding areas,” Plummer said. “Seizing large amounts of money from these drug trafficking organizations directly effects their ability to continue to supply the area.”

“This is another excellent example of the type of drug offenders that can be effectively dealt with by the collaboration of multiple agencies with their individual resources being pooled together,” Sims said. “This OOCIC task force continues to demonstrate their value to their communities through the seizure of these drugs destined for the citizens of Ohio.”

Since its inception in September, the Miami Valley Bulk Smuggling Task Force has seized the following:

Methamphetamine: 25.2 pounds Marijuana: Approximately 22 pounds Heroin: 13.3 pounds Cocaine: 439 grams Illicit Pills: 749 Cash:  Hundreds of thousands of dollars

The task force has arrested a total of 51 people, and multiple guns have been seized.

“These significant results underscore how powerful collaboration is in combating a broad range of criminal activity,” said Marlon Miller, special agent in charge of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations in Detroit, which covers Michigan and Ohio. “When federal, state and local law enforcement bring together their diverse capabilities and unique authorities, our ability to disrupt and dismantle criminal groups is unmatched.”

Established in 1986, the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission assists local law enforcement agencies in combating organized crime and corrupt activities. The Commission is composed of members of the law enforcement community and is chaired by the Ohio Attorney General.




The circumstances are unclear but somehow 2-year-old Nathan Iverson consumed enough methamphetamine to kill him a year ago.

No one has been arrested or charged in the Spanaway toddler’s death. The boy’s mother, with whom he was living when he died, said she didn’t know there was meth in the house.


The boy’s family had been monitored since 2009 by the Children’s Administration, the division of the state Department of Social and Health Services that oversees child welfare. After his death on Dec. 6, 2012, a committee made up of state, health and law enforcement officials conducted a review of the case.

It found state employees missed opportunities to work with an assistant attorney general to remove Nathan from his family and that more work should have been done to find the family when they went off the grid.

Inactivity on the case from December 2011 to June 2012 concerned the review committee. The case had become high risk and more work should have been done to find the family, the committee wrote.


According to the review, a social worker might have received important information about Nathan’s health and safety by calling his doctor in the months before the toddler died. The physician had told the state months earlier that Nathan’s mother hadn’t been following through with her son’s medical treatment.

It is not clear whether officials decided any misconduct occurred on the part of the employees assigned to the case. When asked whether there had been repercussions for any of the workers, agency spokeswoman Mindy Chambers told The News Tribune to file a records request, which is pending.

Asked about the agency’s work on the case, assistant secretary Jennifer Strus replied: “Safety of children is the responsibility of everybody involved in a child’s life, including us. Drug cases are tough. They really are. Because a lot of folks who have drug issues vacillate between being clean and not being clean.”

When a social worker investigates allegations “if there isn’t any evidence of it when they get out there, there’s not a whole lot they can do other than offer voluntary services,” Strus said.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department is continuing to investigate the death, spokesman Ed Troyer said.

“We still have some work to do,” he said recently. “We’re still doing it.”

Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said his office is aware of the case.

“The instant the investigation is complete, we’ll review for charges,” he said. “The investigation is taking time. Where a child dies from a drug overdose, there needs to be accountability and justice.”

The News Tribune learned of concerns about Nathan’s death after a family member contacted the newspaper.

“I feel that, had they done their jobs, Nathan would still be alive, plain and simple,” the cousin of Nathan’s mother Krista Leonard, said of the Children’s Administration.

Leonard, a customer service worker who lives in Battle Ground with three children of her own, said Nathan’s relatives called the Children’s Administration repeatedly throughout Nathan’s life to report abuse and neglect.

“Pretty much where he lived and he died was deplorable conditions,” she said. “I treat my dogs better than that baby was treated. He was bounced around from drug house to drug house.”

Such allegations are documented in the review of Nathan’s death.

Leonard’s mother, Wendy Wright of Spanaway, gave a similar account of Nathan’s living conditions before he died.

“We’ve just been waiting for justice,” she said. “How does a little 2-year-old die from meth?”

Nathan’s father declined to comment for the story.

The boy’s mother, 25-year-old Alyia Iverson, talked to The News Tribune about her son’s death.

“He was sleeping in his bed, he fusses every night before he goes to sleep, I looked down, and I could tell he wasn’t breathing,” she said. “It flipped my world upside down to see my son like that.”

The toddler was in a bed made out of blankets at the time, she said.

There was no meth “in my room or in the house that I knew of,” she said, adding that she cleaned the room when they moved in.

“I agree that kind of house, we should not have been there,” she said. “Me and my son had been bouncing around before that. We finally had somewhere to be, so we could start doing better.”

After her son’s death, she said she got clean.

On the anniversary of Nathan’s death, Iverson posted his photo on Facebook with the words: “Gone 1 year today but not forgotten Love You Wild Boy.”

Drug-Use allegations 

The Children’s Administration began monitoring Nathan’s family before he was born. The reason was redacted in the review of his death and state officials declined to provide more information; family members and friends were not interviewed as part of the review process.

Nathan’s parents tested positive for meth in the years before the toddler’s death, but a social worker determined the child’s mother had no substance abuse issues when the Children’s Administration first contacted her in June 2009.

The review committee later said the worker should have asked for a drug test or tried to get more information about the alleged drug use by talking to more people before making the determination.

The state learned on July 31, 2010, that the woman had given birth to Nathan. Mother and child were living in Spanaway, according to family members.

In February 2011, the review stated, the state received allegations about the baby’s living conditions. Adults allegedly were smoking meth in the room where the infant was receiving breathing treatments and the home had garbage spilling onto the floor within reach of Nathan’s then-2-year-old sister.

Relatives told The News Tribune they didn’t know what sort of breathing treatments Nathan had been receiving.

The Children’s Administration deemed the allegations unfounded.

A similar report of unsanitary living conditions six months later was deemed founded.

Someone – the review does not state who – reported there wasn’t enough food in the home, that it was unsanitary and that Nathan’s mother was using drugs and physically abusing both children,

An investigation at the time determined those allegations were likely true, according to the review.

The social worker assigned to the case asked the Sheriff’s Department to put the children in protective custody on Oct. 4. The mother was sober when sheriff’s officials contacted her, so the children were not removed. The social worker went to the sergeant in charge, who also declined the request.

“In that particular incident, there were no drugs, there was nothing there that we could have taken the kids,” sheriff’s spokesman Troyer told The News Tribune. “If there’s a history of problems, it’s usually done by court order.”

The review committee later said this was one point at which an assistant attorney general should have been brought in to discuss filing a dependency petition to put Nathan in state custody.

Instead, a DSHS meeting on Oct. 5 produced a plan in which Nathan would stay with his maternal uncle, and Nathan’s sister would stay with her father. He was encouraged to continue outpatient chemical dependency treatment and domestic violence classes but tested positive for meth a week later, according to the review.

Lack of involvement 

On Nov. 16, the agency learned Nathan had been returned to his mother after someone reported the children were hacking and coughing throughout the night. The unidentified person making the report said he took a crack pipe away from the mother.

Explaining the change in Nathan’s living situation, Chambers said: “When families agree to take steps to help protect children, dependency petitions are not always filed and Children’s Administration social workers work with families and rely on the relatives to notify us of changes to the living arrangement.”

Leonard said Nathan’s 25-year-old uncle did notify the agency. He called repeatedly to tell the state he had tried his best, but could no longer care for the baby, she said.

“He just took the baby for the night” but had the child a couple months, Leonard said.

“He bought a car seat, shoes, a coat,” she said. Still, “it was never supposed to be a permanent thing.”

As a last resort, the uncle returned Nathan to his mother, Leonard said.

Nathan’s uncle did not respond to requests through family members to be interviewed for the story.

“He just has really extreme guilt,” Leonard said.

On Nov. 24, another report was made to the state concerning breathing concerns for Nathan and domestic violence between the mother and her boyfriend. The allegations were deemed unfounded, the review committee wrote.

The state lost contact with the mother that same month until June 2012. When officials met with the mother they again offered her parenting classes, chemical dependency services, among other programs.

Services that would have provided near-daily contact with the family might have helped, according to the review. And the mother should have been offered services for domestic violence victims, the review committee said.

In June, the Children’s Administration decided they lacked evidence to file a dependency petition. In July, the mother tested positive for meth and marijuana. This is another point at which an assistant attorney general should have been involved, according to the review.

Nathan’s doctor called the state Aug. 6, 2012, to say the mother had not been following through with the toddler’s medical treatment. The social worker tried to find the family that month, and was unable to find them.

Nathan died four months later, after a 911 call reported he was having trouble breathing. People living at the home at the time, including the mother, admitted to investigators that they were drug users, Troyer said.

The toddler’s uncle picked up Nathan’s ashes, Leonard said.

“He loved that baby,” she said.

Sister’s situation

In February, several months after Nathan’s death, the state took custody of his now-5-year-old sister, Leonard said.

Relatives started asking about the girl and became worried after learning she was being cared for by friends of her father, who Leonard said they believed were using drugs. The family had thought the sister had been living with her father.

Family members are looking into the process of adopting the girl, Leonard added.

Alyia Iverson said she hopes to get custody of her daughter.

She said she has a list of requirements to complete to try to get custody of the girl, such as parenting classes, drug tests, and inpatient treatment.

She was able to visit her Sunday, she said.

“She was excited to see me,” she said. “I cried more than she did when I had to say goodbye.”

Nathan – a blonde haired baby with shiny blue eyes – was always visibly excited when his sister visited, Leonard said. But the girl can no longer be placed with families with small babies, Leonard said, because she allegedly tried to smother an infant with a pillow recently.

When asked why, she said she wanted the baby to play with her brother, Leonard said.

“The sad thing is, I think she will be too young to be able to remember her brother,” Leonard said.

The girl brought a teddy bear to her brother’s funeral, and Leonard remembered her saying: “It’s not for me, it’s for Nathan.”





(Riverton, Wyo.) – A Riverton man, who was later found to be under the influence of methamphetamine and marijuana, allegedly incorrectly reported to deputies that he had been restrained and beaten in his home.


“A Riverton man reported being tied up, gagged, and beaten inside his home located within the Garden’s North Trailer Park Thursday night,” Fremont County Undersheriff Ryan Lee reported. “Deputies were unable to substantiate any of the allegations and suspected the man to be under the influence of methamphetamine. In the end, 39-year-old Nathon Brewer admitted to using drugs and a urinalysis test confirmed he was under the influence of methamphetamine and marijuana.

Lee said Brewer was arrested for two counts of Use of a Controlled Substance and a bond violation order from a previous drug charge.

“In a related incident a woman reported her home in Garden’s North had been entered and a jacket was missing from within,” Lee said. “Brewer admitted to entering the home and taking the jacket because he was not wearing a shirt and was cold. The woman did not want to pursue charges; the jacket was returned.”




A stripper, her boyfriend and a 72-year-old strip-club patron were busted last week in a stolen car while driving through Daytona Beach Shores.

os-trio-arrested-20131214A stripper, her boyrfiend and a 72-year-old strip-club patron were busted last week in a stolen car while driving through Daytona Beach Shores. Angela Miller, boyfriend Shalamar Lawrence and Meth suspect Robert Cook were busted in a stolen car Thursday


The boyfriend, 33-year-old Shalamar Lawrence, was giving 72-year-old Shark Lounge patron Robert Cook a ride home because Cook “had provided Angela Miller with half of the money that she had earned from dancing” on Thursday he told police, according to a report.

Miller, 33, said Cook “had spent $8 on her while she danced.”

Lawrence and Miller were charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle while Cook was charged with methamphetamine possession.





DUBUQUE (KWWL) – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says it should be a good second shotgun deer season, but they are warning hunters to look for discarded meth labs while in the woods.Grant Nelson of Dubuque was one of many hunters out Saturday.


“I’m just looking for one to hang on the wall,” Nelson said.

DNR officers say while hunters are focused on bagging a buck, they may also stumble across a crime scene. The DNR says meth labs can be dropped off in many areas where people typically hunt.

Nate Johnson is a DNR Conservation Officer.

“When people are manufacturing methamphetamine, they may dump some of that stuff out in the field,” Johnson said. ” Hunters may find those dump sites and that’s something you want to be really cautious about handling. It could be really bad stuff to handle or inhale.”

Officials with the Dubuque County Drug Task Force say hunters should watch for cold medicine boxes, batteries, cold packs and pop bottles or sports bottles.

“If they got plastic bottles that have hoses coming out of them or they are finding large packages of pseudoephedrine, that is stuff people are using to make meth,” Nate Johnson said.

Officials with both the Iowa DNR and Dubuque County Drug Task Force say do not touch those items and call local law enforcement immediately.



Every day Terry gets up, drinks her morning beverage and heads out to work. And every day of her life, she battles a drug addiction, specifically meth.

During the years she actively used and cooked meth, she lost her children, lost her teeth and lost her freedom. She was arrested three times, and finally faced federal charges, but through a plea agreement that will incarcerate her live-in boyfriend for 15 years, is on probation.

“My day did not happen unless I had meth or a pill,” said Terry, whose name has been changed in this story to protect her privacy.

Her story is not uncommon among meth users except for the fact that she’s been clean now for 18 months. She’s been employed for a year, and she focuses now on what she does have—contact with her kids, figuring out what her schedule will be like and taking life one day at a time.

She credits a surprising event in her life that caused her to realize the path she was on was deadly.

Her arrest.

Although she had been arrested multiple times, Terry knew from the first one that she didn’t want to do drugs anymore. It’s just that meth wouldn’t let go of her. It’s like that for most meth victims.

Jim Acquisto, a 24-year law enforcement veteran, has seen hundreds of Terrys, and said Thursday that she is right. Acquisto now works for Appriss, the developer of the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx), which tracks pseudoephedrine purchases in nearly real-time across the country, making it tougher for cookers to make the drug in large quantities.

“It’s one of the most addictive drugs we know of,”

Acquisto said, basing that statement on the recidivism rate. “The general rule of thumb is the relapse rate is seven times.”

Acquisto said addicts’ behavior becomes illogical and irrational. “The only reason is it’s highly addictive,” he said.

And addicts become sly and smart, working their way around the systems in place to track and arrest them.

While large meth labs were prevalent just a few years ago, now “one-pots” are the norm, Acquisto said. Larger labs had more combustible material and were known to cause explosions and fires, but one-pots, which typically use two-liter bottles, are just as volatile and are also dangerous to pick up alongside the road.

“They’re more mobile, and you could argue they’re more dangerous,” he said.

Pseudoephedrine is an essential element in cold and allergy medicines, and also in methamphetamines.  Meth is a stimulant that has multiple delivery options including swallowing, inhaling, injecting or smoking. Side effects include irritability, nervousness, insomnia, nausea, depression and brain damage, according to the Federal Drug Administration’s web site.

Federal law now mandates that all pseudoephedrine products be kept either behind the counter or in a locked cabinet. Individuals can purchase only 3.6 grams or less of pseudoephine in one day or no more than nine grams of pseudoephedrine in any 30-day period. Pharmacies must keep a written or electronic log of all pseudoephedrine products sold and include the name and address of the buyer, the name and quantity of the product sold and the date and time of the transaction.

Acquisto said law enforcement officers can search those records at any time without a warrant. NPLEx has helped officers with the search for meth makers because most agencies didn’t have the staff to either collect the paper logs, read through them and then make arrests.

It wasn’t only a law enforcement problem, either, Acquisto said. Stores using paper logs were selling pseudoephedrine products to customers who were over their purchase limit because pharmacists had no way of knowing quickly how much pseudoephedrine product the customer had already purchased.

NPLEx takes care of that because the purchase is electronically logged and available for pharmacists, as well.

Acquisto said 29 states have enabled NPLEx and required pharmaceutical suppliers to maintain electronic logbooks. In those states, Appriss trains law enforcement officers from all agencies to use the system.

The company is currently training roughly 100 officers in four West Virginia locations: Beckley, Charleston, Clarksburg and Vienna. Acquisto said the trainer is a full-time, active law enforcement officer who uses the system. The state  enacted the law to track pseudophedrine products in 2012, and actual NPLEx tracking began in January.

According to the state’s Division of Justice and Community Service Statistical Analysis web site, there were 711 drug arrests in Raleigh County and 175 in Mercer County in 2012. At a Nov. 22 media conference, Sgt. Michael Baylous said that, during a sweep for meth labs in the Raleigh, Fayette, Summers and Greenbrier County areas, nine meth labs and three abandoned dump sites were discovered, resulting in 18 people being arrested.

As for Terry, who got a set of teeth thanks to a church group, she admits the addiction and the cravings never go away. But she’s determined to stay clean for a very important reason. And she says she’s one of the lucky ones because she has support from friends. “Most people don’t have the cheering squad that I do,” she said.

“I focus on my life and where it’s going. I finally get to see my kids. I have a good job,” she said. “I take  strength from the love of my kids. I will never, never use drugs again — or go back to prison and leave them.”

Website for NPLEx – National Precursor Log Exchange:

SANTA FE — Police officials raided the home of a couple charged with planning to sell crystal meth and discovered the remains of nearly two dozen cats.

Authorities said the cats “appeared to have been tortured and killed.”

Brian Cheek, 39, and Veronica Springer, 38, of Santa Fe were arrested Friday afternoon during a raid at their property in the 4000 block of Avenue N1⁄2 in Santa Fe. Cheek was arrested on a first degree felony charge for the manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance and is being held on $300,000 bond. Springer was arrested on a charge of possession of a controlled substance and is being held on $20,000 bond.

52acb4a9422f7_imageVeronica Springer is charged with Possession of Controlled Substances and is in the Galveston County Jail on $20,000 bond

52acb521855aa_imageBrian Cheek is charged with Manufacture/ Delivery Controlled Substances and is under investigation for possible charges of animal cruelty and theft. He is in the Galveston County Jail on $300,000 bond


According to a news release from the Santa Fe Police Department, the couple was a target of a lengthy narcotics investigation.

During the raid, police recovered 9 grams of crystal methamphetamine, a scale and packaging material, as well as an all-terrain vehicle that had been reported stolen.

They also made a more gruesome discovery on the couple’s property — the remains of 20 cats.

Police say they found evidence of strangulation, blunt force trauma, disembowelment and burns among the cats. All of the remains were found on the couples’ property, including one in a box in the bed of Cheek’s truck.

Santa Fe police Sgt. Eric Bruss declined to provide additional information about the animals, including whether any animals had any tags or signs of ownership.

The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the suspected case of animal cruelty and more charges are expected to be filed.




As law enforcement steps up drug raids to disrupt distribution operations in the Lehigh Valley, one population has become an unwitting casualty.

The Northampton County Children, Youth and Families Divisionn has had to place more children this year than in recent years, and officials believe the rise in drug raids has played a significant role. The department used $200,000 reserved for new furniture purchases to cover unexpected costs for the final quarter of the year.

“This is bucking all the trends we’ve seen for the past five or six years,” said Kevin Dolan, director of Children, Youth and Families.

Patricia Himmelwright, assistant administrator of the division, said the department was making strides in reducing the number of children in its care early this year. There were about 194 kids in placement early this year and workers were able to whittle the number to 180 over the summer, Himmelwright said.

But come autumn, the number of children in need of placement skyrocketed to 242, she said.

In one September meth lab case, about 10 children at the home needed direction from Children and Youth and Families, according to authorities.

“This has been a striking increase for us,” Himmelwright said. “Some of that very definitely comes from drug-involved households.”

More fund transfers possible before year’s end

Dolan must schedule his budget two years in advance for state funding and he originally estimated the county would need $5.5 million in 2014 to house children in foster care. However, the recent uptick in child placements has left the county spending $16,990.84 a day, or $6.1 million over the course of a year.

To help alleviate the problem, the state has granted permission for the division to transfer $200,000 originally intended for furniture at the new Human Services building into its operational account. If the numbers don’t return to their normal level, Dolan said, he may have to transfer other funds as the year progresses.

“The safety of children comes first. It’s my job to try to find the money to cover this. I tell my staff it’s their job to make sure the children in the public are safe,” he said.

Himmelwright explained that the drug-related caseloads are topping an already overwhelmed system. A federal judge ruled in August that Children and Youth Services in Montour County violated a parent’s due process rights by ordering he be removed from his home when authorities believed an infant there had been abused.

Himmelwright said the ruling has offices around the state feeling pressure to process claims fast enough to ensure they’re not infringing on guardians’ rights, but with less information than some cases require, adding extra volume in the number of cases.

“I’m hoping, frankly, that the due process issue settles out and … we get a little better direction,” Himmelwright said. “But I think the reality of these drug-related cases is that they’re here to stay.”

Special concerns for kids at meth labs

When authorities are preparing to serve a warrant or investigate a drug operation, police are always aware they might find children at the home. Easton police Lt. Matthew Gerould said authorities try to determine before a raid whether they believe there will be any juveniles, but that’s not always possible.

“The first and foremost concern in the raid is the other people in the residence not involved in the drug operation,” Gerould said. “It does create a different situation when there are children, absolutely.”

Himmelwright said the department works hard to try to place children with family or friends they’re familiar with and won’t take children into county custody unless there aren’t other safe options. Being present during a drug raid, Himmelwright said, can be a scary experience for a child.

“On one hand, the kids are resilient,” she said. “But it’s important that we understand that this can be a frightening experience for the kids.”

Cpl. John Casciano, a leader of the Pennsylvania State Police Clandestine Laboratory Response Team, said he’s seen more and more children at the scene of methamphetamine labs. Himmelwright said a significant number of kids she sees in the system have come from homes where meth labs were uncovered.

“We do see children, it seems like, a lot more than normal,” Casciano said. “I’ve been in this business for a lot of years and with some of the other drugs you don’t see kids all over the place like that.”

In one case on Sept. 25 in Bethlehem  Township, Pa., Casciano said, about 10 kids were found in a home where evidence of a meth lab was discovered in a pool house shed at the rear of the home.

Casciano said authorities did not believe all the children lived at the home, but they were present when police responded. Thomas Stocker, 28, and Dawn Stocker, 52, have been charged in the case.

Casciano said methamphetamine labs, potentially volatile operations, create special concerns for kids in the home.

“We don’t know how long the child may have been subjected to any type of chemicals there,” Casciano said. “We have to probably assume the worst.”

Casciano said authorities take children for medical evaluations as a precaution since internal and external exposure to chemicals are a legitimate danger in such homes.

“We really don’t know the long-term effects here,” Himmelwright said. “We’re learning as we go. I know more about meth labs than I ever really wanted to.”

Casciano said he credits the dangerously addictive nature of methamphetamine and its relatively easy homemade production with the fact that there are more kids at such homes.

“I think it’s the nature of the drug, of the addiction, where there’s no remorse from the user. They’re so addicted that that’s all they care about,” Casciano said. “It’s tough to fight.”



GOSHEN — The cancer of methamphetamine use is still without a cure. Each year it continues to metastasize, affecting the user, family members, law enforcement and even the local economy.

In 2012, Indiana held the dubious distinction of being third in the nation in meth lab busts. In the four-county cluster of Marshall, Elkhart, Kosciusko and Noble, 182 meth labs were seized in 2012. All four counties ranked in the top 10 in the state.

Elkhart County recorded 46 meth labs in 2012, which ranks eighth out of Indiana’s 92 counties.

“It’s an absolute tragedy,” said Ed Windbigler, chief investigator with the Elkhart County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.It also puts a strain on local agencies.“You spend so much time just for a meth lab clean-up,” Windbigler said. “Then it puts all those people into the system.”

In the homes s then her job to mark them as unfit to live in.

While the meth user has been arrested, Still said, the homes often have family members continuing to live there.In the past, the majority of homes where meth labs were found were rentals, according to Still. More often meth users are recently out of jail or unemployed and instead have to live with family.

“There’s been more than a few times,” Still said, “I’ve had to tell grandma that she can’t live there anymore.

”This year Still has dealt with 30 such homes. That’s up from 18 in 2012. The high is 36 in 2009.

There are few options for those homeowners. Still said they can go through a demolition, do extensive cleaning or tear the home down to its studs. The cleaning costs are often in the range of $10,000.

Many just walk away.

“So far we have 28 properties posted in the county,” Still said, “where essentially (owners) walked away from the home.”That puts the financial burden of tearing those homes down on city or county officials.

White collar drug, blue collar drug

So what makes the rise in meth use different than when cocaine or heroin were the drugs of choice?

“There are two things there,” Windbigler said. “First it’s extremely powerful. Also, people have learned to — or think they’ve learned to — make it on their own.

”Cost is also a huge factor. It’s much cheaper to buy the ingredients to make meth than it is to purchase cocaine or heroin. But the sort of meth that is made in homes or in two-liter bottles in cars or in the woods isn’t the only sort of meth that is found in the area. According to Windbigler, meth from “super labs” out of Texas and Mexico is in the area. That meth is purer and deemed more potent.

“You have some people who will only use the pure stuff,” Windbigler said. “Then you have a lot of blue-collar people in the area and they’ll just make their own.”Still said the higher quality meth can be injected or snorted while the homemade stuff is smoked, creating more hazardous conditions and more often leading officers to the user.

For Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers, despite any influx of purer meth, the typical meth user hasn’t changed.

“The average meth user in Elkhart County,” Rogers explained, “is still (between the ages of) 20 to 35, white male, works at a factory, making lots of money in an environment conducive to sharing information.

”Going to a script?

Representatives at the statehouse are crafting potential legislation this session regarding meth that deals with contamination or the sale of homes where meth labs were seized. Regarding the meth ingredients themselves, in 2012 the state went to a tracking system. But the question of whether to make pseudoephedrine — a key ingredient in the manufacture of meth — only available by prescription remains.

Windbigler remains conflicted.“Part of me wants to say ‘Let’s put it behind the counter,’” Windbigler said. “But is that the end-all, be-all?”

Windbigler said making pseudoephedrine prescription-only could create collateral problems, including a spike in synthetic drug use. He also said there could be a rise in people using fake prescriptions or robbing pharmacies.

Rogers also has mixed emotions.“Am I willing to try tracking route? Of course,” he said. “But I’m not seeing the evidence.

”Rogers also said the tracking law targets “smurfs,” those who buy for the manufacturer rather than the manufacturer themselves. While he sees pros for the prescription argument, Rogers also sees the cons.

“We’ve heard from testimony of meth addicts that no way they’d go to a doctor,” Rogers said. “They’re paranoid they’d be found out. The downside of this: Costs go up.

”Rogers was also realistic about the political aspect.“Drug companies don’t want it,” he said. “They’re getting their money. They have no incentive to go along with prescription route. So what they’ve done is worked with the state in saying ‘Oh, we’ll put these computers in all the stores for you.

’”Back from the brinkRyan Yarian is a rare former meth addict who beat the odds.

“You put 100 meth addicts in a room that say they want to recover and about three would be able to actually recover,” Yarian said.Yarian is approaching four and a half years from the last time he used methamphetamine.

Yarian, who now lives in Ligonier, does speaking engagements through the Kosciusko County Probation Department and through an area meth awareness group. He’s got a job where he was recently promoted. He made it through the withdrawal. He made it through the early recovery where it was hard for him to walk through a pharmacy or Walmart.

t go in and purchase anymore. Prescription is the best route. Curb the ability for the smurfs, addicts, cooks.”

Yarian does know how meth infects all areas of the user’s life.“There’s not any one aspect it doesn’t affect,” Yarian said. “It will affect every part. For the first-time user they’ll just stop hanging out with old friends to get high. Then it will eventually lead to a lost job. You don’t pay bills. Then you avoid family. You look in the mirror. You’ve lost 20,30,40 pounds. You know they’ll know. But you don’t care about anything but that next fix.” –





Meth war is one that we must win

On today’s front page we chronicle some significant challenges presented by the use of methamphetamine in our community. The grip meth can take is very real, incredibly sad and undeniably destructive. The presence of this awful drug in any community is indeed a cancer. And what statistics are bearing out is that Indiana is practically ground zero for the horrendous and devastating impact of methamphetamine addiction. In 2012 Indiana ranked third in the nation for the number of meth lab busts with more than 1,700, according to state police. This year police believe that number will climb to around 1,900 busts.OUR COMMUNITY has also been greatly affected by this sad epidemic. Elkhart County ranked eighth out of 92 counties in 2012 in number of meth busts. Neighboring Noble and Kosciusko counties tied for seventh with 47 busts each.The escalation of meth in Indiana is profound. In 2000 there were 314 meth lab incidents reported by state police. Four years later that figure jumped to 1,137. The 2012 statistics eclipsed 1,500 for the first time (a total of 1,726). Meth is highly addictive, relatively easy to make and not terribly expensive. That’s a bad combination.THERE IS NO DOUBT that meth use destroys lives, tears families apart and leaves a dark and hallow stains in our neighborhoods. The manufacture of this terrible drug leaves behind toxic residue that contaminates homes nearly beyond repair. The cost of cleaning these homes so they can be inhabitable again can cost as much as $10,000. It can also attack the resale value of neighboring homes. Therefore the collateral damage of meth use is quite real for the law-abiding community.Debate on how to combat this drug continues. Some feel that making one of the main ingredients in meth — pseudoephedrine — a prescription rather than an over-the-counter drug could make a dent in the problem. Others exclaim that such action would be unfair to the majority of the law-abiding public. We can see both points. WE CAN ALSO SEE see that meth is such a danger to our communities that everything should be on the table when it comes to fighting it. This is a war that numbers tell us we’re losing in Indiana. We can’t continue this miserable slide. There’s too much at stake.



CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In the weeks before their arrest, Jennifer Boggs and Jennifer Funk went on a shopping spree for cold medicines used to clear up stuffy noses and make illegal methamphetamine.

Boggs and Funk shopped at Walmart, Target, Meds-2-Go Express and Rite Aid stores from Charleston to Huntington, records show. They bought Sudafed 12 Hour, Allegra D, Sunmark and Health Mart brands — nasal decongestants containing pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in meth.

And then they checked into Room 217 at the Economy Inn in Nitro.

On Nov. 21, Nitro police, acting on an anonymous tip, conducted a “knock and talk” at Room 217.

Inside, they found Boggs and Funk, along with an 18-month-old boy. There were bugs everywhere. Officers found beakers, rubber tubing, scales, razor blades, bags of red phosphorous, syringes, sulfuric acid, coffee filters, bulk matches and empty blister packs of pseudoephedrine cold medicine tucked into a box of Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal.

Boggs and Funk were charged with attempting to operate a meth lab.

“They are getting [pseudoephedrine] wherever they can get it,” said Maj. David Richardson, a Nitro police officer. “They steal it, trade things for it, have other people they know buy it, whatever they need to do to get it.”

Across West Virginia, drugstores are selling cold medicines to criminals, helping fuel a massive increase in meth production this year, according to a Sunday Gazette-Mail investigation.

West Virginia law enforcement agencies have busted more than 500 meth labs since January — the most in state history.

As a result, West Virginia is suffering from an unprecedented wave of explosions, fires, burns, toxic poisonings and environmental destruction.

Children and law enforcement officers have been sent to the hospital for respiratory illnesses after being exposed to meth. Ambulances have had to be shut down and decontaminated. Sheriff’s departments, strapped by tight budgets, are spending money to buy “moon suits” and special trucks to clean up the toxic drug.

Law-abiding West Virginians who live next to properties with meth labs have been forced to leave their homes and apartments. Landlords, hotel owners and operators of storage units complain about the increasing cost of cleaning up meth labs — as much as $17,000 for a small home.

“Due to meth labs, West Virginia’s children, families, neighbors, friends, businesses and property owners are suffering terrible health and economic consequences,” said Judy Crabtree, who helps lead a group called West Virginia Intervention on Meth Committee. “The meth lab epidemic affects all of us, no matter where we live.”

Meth busts peak where pseudoephedrine sales are higher

Look at the counties in West Virginia where pharmacies sell the most boxes of pseudoephedrine per capita: that’s where you’ll find the most meth labs.

So far this year, Kanawha County pharmacies have sold more than 80,000 pseudoephedrine-containing cold medicines. On a per-person basis, Kanawha pharmacy sales were more than twice the state average, and 46 times higher per-capita than in Monroe County, which had the lowest sales rate, according to a Gazette-Mail analysis of sales data from January to mid-November.

Kanawha County has been overrun with meth labs — 150 reported at last count — or 30 percent of all labs seized in the state and four times more than any other county. Monroe County hasn’t had any meth labs this year.

“There’s a definite correlation between the counties with high numbers of boxes sold per person and high meth lab numbers,” said Mike Goff, a former State Police officer who now tracks meth labs and drug sales at the state Board of Pharmacy.

Rural Nicholas County had the next highest pseudoephedrine sales rate. The Summersville Walmart in Nicholas County consistently ranks as one of the top-sellers of pseudoephedrine products in West Virginia. Authorities have busted 11 meth labs in Nicholas County, and another 17 combined in neighboring Fayette and Webster counties.

Pharmacies in the counties of Putnam (25 labs), Cabell (20 labs), Wood (35 labs), Jackson (14 labs), Logan (nine labs) and Randolph (18 labs) also sold more boxes of pseudoephedrine than the state average on a per-person basis.

“That’s where the diversion of pseudoephedrine is happening,” Goff said. “That’s where it’s going for something other than sinus congestion.”

Upshur County authorities seized 23 labs — a high number for a rural county — but Upshur’s pseudoephedrine sales rate fell below the state average, according to the Gazette-Mail analysis.

Four counties — Monongalia, Ohio, Wetzel and Harrison — also exceeded the state sales average, but have reported few meth labs. Wetzel County authorities haven’t busted any meth labs this year.

Such numbers could depend on store locations — along Interstate highways that stretch through multiple counties, Goff said.

Three of those counties — Monongalia, Ohio and Wetzel — border neighboring states.  Criminals could be buying pseudoephedrine at West Virginia pharmacies, but making meth in clandestine labs across the border, he said. “There are going to be anomalies,” Goff said.

Legislature twice rejects prescription bills

In 2011, West Virginia law enforcement officers and medical professionals had a fix for West Virginia’s meth lab problem: Require a prescription for cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine.

Oregon and Mississippi reported dramatic declines in meth lab numbers, after passing laws that made Sudafed and other pseudoephedrine pills prescription-only. The new laws made it harder for criminals to get their hands on the main ingredient used to cook meth. Oregon and Mississippi essentially put local meth makers out of business.

Legislation to do the same in West Virginia sailed through the House of Delegates by a vote of 77-23 during the 2011 session.

Next up was the Senate. More than 50 uniformed police officers and paramedics filled the Senate gallery to watch the vote.

Senators deadlocked on the bill, 16-16. The West Virginia Senate has 34 members. Then-Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, now governor, was serving as acting governor at the time and hadn’t voted in the Senate all session.

Former Sen. Walt Helmick, D-Pocahontas, also was absent. Helmick strolled into the chamber shortly after the vote. He said he was attending a luncheon for his grandson when his colleagues voted.

The prescription-only bill failed by a single vote.

The drug industry and retailers lobbied strongly against the legislation, arguing that the prescription for pseudoephedrine would burden consumers and drive up health-care costs.

The deep-pocketed Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which represents the makers of over-the-counter drugs, had waged a media campaign that included newspaper, radio and Internet ads, along with automated “robo” phone calls urging West Virginians to call their state lawmakers to block the prescription bill.

Legislators took a second swing at curbing meth labs during the 2012 legislative session.

At committee meetings, they heard stories about pharmacists and technicians at chain drugstores in West Virginia that received bonuses as a reward for selling large quantities of pseudoephedrine. Some pharmacies had cash registers specifically dedicated to pseudoephedrine sales because the cold product and meth-making ingredient was in such high demand.

But by that time, the lobbyists against the prescription requirement were even more mobilized. Drug trade groups based in Washington, D.C., sent their top lobbyists to West Virginia. The 2012 prescription-requirement bill didn’t make it past the Senate’s Health and Human Resources Committee.

Instead, lawmakers passed a bill that called for a “real-time” electronic tracking system designed to block illegal pseudoephedrine sales at pharmacies and reduce meth labs.

West Virginia law enforcement authorities say the system — called NPLEx — helps them charge and prosecute meth makers. But police say they’re not using NPLEx to find labs, even though authorities have seized a record number of meth labs this year. Instead, they mostly rely on anonymous tips to locate labs.

Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne, and Sen. Greg Tucker, D-Nicholas, have announced plans to introduce prescription legislation in the upcoming session, which starts next month.

They have a persuasive selling point for the bill this year: the prescription requirement would not apply to tamper-resistant pseudoephedrine products such as Nexafed and Zephrex-D. Criminals find it next to impossible to make meth from those medicines.

So, cold and allergy sufferers would still be able to buy pseudoephedrine without a prescription. And meth cooks would have a difficult time securing their main meth-making ingredient.

Drug industry lobbyists have already started a campaign to oppose bills that would make pseudoephedrine prescription-only — even with the tamper-resistant medicine exemption. The companies that manufacture Nexafed and Zephrex-D aren’t members of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, and their sales would cut into the profits of drug makers who belong to CHPA and make pseudoephedrine that can be cooked into meth.

“Now that the industry has come up with products that can’t be converted to meth, there’s no reason for us to continue to protect the products that can,” Perdue said. “You put the meth cooks out of business.”

Pulling the plug on single-ingredient pseudoephedrine drops sales

So, how much cold medicine is being diverted to make methamphetamine in West Virginia? No one knows for sure. But West Virginia’s pseudoephedrine sales data strongly suggests that people are using large quantities of the cold medicine for something other than stuffed-up noses.

West Virginia’s largest drugstore chain offers one example: In mid-October, Rite Aid stores across the state stopped selling cold medicines — such as Sudafed 12 Hour and Sudafed 24 Hour — that have pseudoephedrine as their only active ingredient. Meth cooks demand the single-ingredient medicines because they yield highly potent meth without byproducts.

The decision followed a Sunday Gazette-Mail story that revealed several Rite Aid stores were among the top sellers of pseudoephedrine products in the state.

After Rite Aids pulled single-ingredient Sudafed, the drugstore chain’s overall pseudoephedrine sales in West Virginia plunged 37 percent between September and November. And last month’s statewide sales dropped by half compared to January, according to NPLEx data.

Some Rite Aid pharmacists started addressing the problem before the chain drugstore’s corporate office directive, sales data suggests. In March, for instance, the Rite Aid on Charleston’s East End reported 826 pseudoephedrine transactions — the third-highest-selling store in West Virginia that month. In September, the East End Rite Aid sold 17 boxes, and in October, just 14 boxes.

That particular Rite Aid store stopped selling pseudoephedrine products, except for Zephrex-D, the tamper-resistant version.

“It’s my understanding from the Rite Aid pharmacists in charge that we talked to, they were given more leeway sometime earlier this year to say ‘no,'” Goff said.

Another example of declining sales: After the first week of September, the South Charleston Walmart also stopped stocking single-ingredient Sudafed, according to NPLEx data. Pseudoephedrine sales at the Southridge Walmart dropped from 1,851 transactions in August to 212 transactions in October, an 88 percent decrease.

A spokeswoman at Walmart’s corporate offices in Arkansas has denied that the Southridge Walmart changed its pseudoephedrine inventory, contradicting statements from employees at the store’s pharmacy.

As sales dropped at the Southridge Walmart, customers seeking single-ingredient pseudoephedrine flocked to a small, independent pharmacy in rural Lincoln County. Meds 2 Go Express, located seven miles south of Walmart along Corridor G, suddenly became West Virginia’s top-seller of pseudoephedrine in October, the NPLEx sales data shows. In response, the store’s owner decided to stop selling all pseudoephedrine products on Nov. 1.

“As soon as Walmart stopped, we shot up, and we didn’t know what to do,” said Philip Michael, who owns Meds 2 Go. “People were waiting in line before the store opened. As a business owner, it’s hard to turn that business away, but you have weigh what you know is right and what is wrong.”

The South Charleston Walmart and Rite Aids throughout West Virginia still sell cold medicines – such as Claritin D, Advil Cold and Sinus, and Allegra-D, which combine pseudoephedrine with other ingredients. Meth makers don’t typically buy the combination products because they include pain relievers and antihistamines.

Law enforcement authorities predict that meth cooks will buy more of the multi-ingredient cold medicines once all pharmacies stop selling Sudafed and other single-ingredient generic versions of the drug.

42 rooms, all shut down by meth

The Nov. 21 bust at Room 217 at the Nitro Economy Inn wasn’t the first time police have descended on the motel after receiving a complaint about a meth lab operation.

Police seized a lab at the Economy Inn in 2009, and another lab last June.

After the June bust, state health officials ordered the motel’s owners to shut down Room 306 and two-dozen other guest rooms in the same wing. The state gave the owners 30 days to clean up the meth mess. They never did.

The owners, Rohity and Nayona Megha, told the Gazette-Mail that Nitro code enforcement officers directed them to close rooms directly beside and below the meth-contaminated room – not the entire motel wing.

The Meghas said they couldn’t afford to decontaminate the rooms. They plan to apply for $10,000 through the Crime Victims Compensation Fund to pay for clean-up costs. Property owners across the state tapped the fund for more than $700,000 – a record amount — during the past fiscal year. West Virginia is the only state in the U.S. that reimburses landlords for their meth lab cleaning bills.

Meanwhile, the Economy Inn remains shut down, all 42 rooms. After Nitro police arrested the two suspects, Boggs and Funk, Maj. Richardson helped tape up yellow warning signs on every door of every room at the budget motel. The signs read: “Do Not Occupy. Contaminated Property.” He wanted to make sure there wasn’t any confusion this time.

Richardson pointed to the second floor balcony outside Room 217. A child’s car seat was propped below the window. Police left behind the car seat when they rushed the 18-month-old boy to the hospital. Officers also discovered toys and children’s clothes scattered among materials used to manufacture meth.

“The parents make the decisions to do the things they want to do,” Richardson said. “But the child’s just there. They don’t have a choice.”





YAKIMA, Wash. — A possible life sentence for a Yakima man blamed for the car accident that killed his baby daughter. He’s charged with vehicular homicide.


Heriberto Rodriguez Acosta made a preliminary appearance today. Prosecutors say he was drunk and high on methamphetamine when he slammed into a tree near Buena this summer.

His one-year old daughter died at the scene. Acosta is also charged with driving with a revoked or suspended license. He could get life if he’s convicted.

The death of a man shocked by Worth County deputies’ Tasers in September has been ruled a homicide, state medical examiner officials have concluded.

The man, Michael Zubrod, 39, was beating his girlfriend Rhonda Schukei with a hammer and scissors when deputies arrived, according to reports from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. He additionally attacked Deputy Isaac Short with a pair of needle nose pliers, agents said in a release today.

Michael Zubrod

Short and Deputies John Smith and Shayne Hoch attempted to subdue Zubrod with Tasers, which they reported as having little to no effect. Zubrod became unresponsive while in handcuffs and leg shackles and emergency officials were unable to revive him, agents said.

Zubrod’s mother, Cheri, has questioned her son’s death. She has said she doesn’t believe deputies intended to kill him but questions if Tasers were overused and believes they played a role in his death.

Cheri Zubrod said state officials told her Friday that her son had been stunned three times by Tasers. She does not know the total length of time he was shocked.

A press release issued today by DCI lists the cause of death as “cardiac arrhythmia following an altercation with law enforcement in the setting of acute methamphetamine intoxication.”

The press release does not note that Zubrod’s death has been classified as a homicide, which Cheri Zubrod said she was told Friday in a conversation with an official from the Iowa Medical Examiner’s office.

Cheri Zubrod noted that she was told that the homicide classification does not mean officers were part of any wrongdoing. That generally means that a person died at the hands of another, she said.

Gerard Meyers, assistant director of field operations for DCI acknowledged this afternoon that the case was considered a homicide. The state, however, is not looking to make an arrest in the death, Meyers said. Worth County Attorney Jeffrey Greve has concluded the deputies were justified in their actions.

“Law enforcement has to know these devices are deadly. They have to know that,” Cheri Zubrod said today. “This just doesn’t make sense. None of this makes any sense.”

Michael Zubrod is one of two people who have died after being shocked by Tasers by Iowa authorities in the last six months. In the United States at least 540 people have died since 2001, according to statistics by Amnesty International.

The other Iowa death associated with a Taser was Thomas Martinez Jr., 40, who was having mini-seizures at a Coralville restaurant when police say he became combative to medical personnel and was shocked twice by Tasers. He soon thereafter became unresponsive and died the next day in a hospital.

Martha McKee, the mother of Martinez, Jr., told The Register last month that she also suspects that Tasers were misused and played a significant factor in her son’s death.

Autopsy and toxicology reports in Martinez’s case have not been released.

Meyers said today that partly because of the drugs in Zubrod’s case, it’s impossible to definitively determine if there was an “associative impact” caused by Tasers in the death.

Schukei, 48, is still recovering but has been released from the Mayor Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Cheri Zubrod said Schukei called her a week after her son’s death and expressed sorrow about the entire situation.

“She told me she was so sorry,” Zubrod said. “I told her I was sorry, too. I was sorry for her, sorry for Mike and sorry for all the people involved in this.”

Studies by the U.S. Justice Department and the American Heart Association have concluded that Taser shocks can cause cardiac arrest and death, especially when an individual is stunned more than once or for a prolonged period.

Cheri Zubrod has previously noted that her son had a mental illness that she believes was exacerbated by drugs. She said she wants people to understand that her son was, nonetheless, generally a kind person who worked with her and her husband Larry Zubrod on their farm near Charles City.


“There was a lot more to Mike than anything that was written about him in the paper,” Cheri Zubrod said today. “He was our friend. He worked for us. He ate with us. He played with us. He was always sweet and always kind and always gentle.”

She continued: “I don’t know what happened to him that night. I don’t know what would have made him do or hurt or attack Rhonda like he did. It had to be the meth and his mind just snapped but that wasn’t the person that he was.”

Salton City, California – El Centro Sector Border Patrol agents arrested a suspected narcotics smuggler Wednesday and seized more than nine pounds of methamphetamine, concealed in an aftermarket compartment.

The incident occurred at approximately 10:50 a.m., when Border Patrol agents assigned to the Indio Station encountered a 36-year-old man, a citizen of Mexico possessing a Border Crossing Card. The man was driving a white 2000 Ford F-250 pick-up truck as he approached the Highway 86 checkpoint.

A Border Patrol Canine Detection team screened the vehicle. The canine alerted, and agents referred the driver for further inspection. During the inspection, agents discovered one plastic wrapped package of methamphetamine, weighing 9.88 pounds and worth an estimated $316,160, inside an aftermarket compartment inside the intake manifold.

Border Patrol agents turned the man, methamphetamines, and vehicle over to the Drug Enforcement Administration for further investigation.


The use of crystal methamphetamine by street-involved youth is linked to an increased risk of injecting drugs, with crystal methamphetamine being the drug most commonly used at the time of first injection, found a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Amphetamine-type drugs, including crystal methamphetamine, are second only to cannabis in popularity. Injection rates of crystal methamphetamine have increased substantially among adult drug users in some Canadian centers such as Vancouver, BC. Overall use of crystal methamphetamine by street-involved youth aged 15-24 in Canada also increased, from 2.5% in 1999 to 9.5% in 2005.

To understand whether crystal methamphetamine use is linked to first-time drug injection in youth, researchers from the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, University of British Columbia and the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, looked at data from the At-Risk Youth Study of street-involved youth aged 14-26 in Vancouver. There were 991 youth who completed a questionnaire on drug use, with 395 (40%) reporting using crystal methamphetamine and 390 (39%) injecting drugs at the start of the study. The researchers focused on the 395 youth who had not injected drugs at the start of the study. They found that 64 (16%) of these young people reported injecting drugs for the first time during the study period (October 2005 to December 2010). The average age for first-time use of crystal methamphetamine was 14 years in youth who later became intravenous drug users.

“Within a sample of street-involved youth in a Canadian setting, recent noninjection use of crystal methamphetamine was independently associated with an increased risk of subsequent initiation of injection drug use,” write Dr. Evan Wood and Dan Werb, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, with coauthors. “Within a subsample of first-time injection drug users, crystal methamphetamine was most commonly reported as the drug used during initiation events.”

Although youth described varied locations for first-time drug injection, 39% reported injecting drugs in public places, many in Vancouver’s downtown eastside neighborhood. Participants reported injecting for the first time with other people present, including friends (57%), family members (13%) and acquaintances (10%).

“Addressing the impact of crystal methamphetamine use in increasing the risk of injection initiation among injection-naive street-involved youth represents an urgent public health priority,” write the authors.

They call for further research to develop evidence-based interventions to prevent drug injection that consider the complexities of using crystal methamphetamine with other drugs.


INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Wendy McNamara knew methamphetamine was a scourge on her district in southwestern Indiana, even if it paled in comparison to Decatur County, which ranked fifth in the state for meth lab busts in 2012.But the damaging effects of the drug really hit McNamara when she met a real estate appraiser who’d suffered lung damage after visiting a meth-contaminated house.

The appraiser had no idea the house was once the site of a clandestine drug lab. Gone were the containers of chemicals used to cook the meth, but left behind were the toxic contaminants that permeated the carpets, walls, drains and ventilation.


That appraiser now carries protective breathing gear when he’s on the job, but McNamara thinks he and others need more protection.The Posey County Republican plans to introduce legislation to increase public disclosure requirements for properties contaminated by meth labs and to give local officials more authority to force quicker cleanup of those properties.

“We have to find a way to protect us from people who use meth and who don’t care about anybody else,” McNamara said.

Meth labs are a big problem throughout Indiana, state data shows. The state came in a close third in the nation in 2012 for the number of meth lab busts, at nearly 1,700. State police say the state is on pace for nearly 1,900 meth lab busts this year.

In the days and weeks to come, the Greensburg Daily News will take a closer look at the epidemic in Decatur County, which had 59 labs busts last year. Only Monroe, Madison, Delaware and Vanderburgh counties had more busts than Decatur.

The state doesn’t track how many labs statewide are located in homes, but police say that’s where many are located. That’s because the vast majority of homemade meth is now concocted by mixing pseudoephedrine and other ingredients in a soda bottle – the so-called “one-pot” method – which makes it simple to manufacture on a kitchen counter or bathroom sink, police say.

McNamara is among a bipartisan group of legislators who want to pseudoephedrine returned to its earlier status as a prescription drug. They face strong opposition from pharmaceutical companies and retailers, and their measure has gained little traction.

So now lawmakers are using what they call “reactive legislation” to address problems created by meth.

“We think of meth as a health issue, but it’s also an economic issues in our local communities,” said McNamara. “Think of the local resources that go into fighting meth and its consequences.”

Police are supposed to notify local health officials when a meth lab is found in a home. The health department is then supposed to post a notice ordering the house be evacuated and remain vacant until the dwelling is decontaminated by a state certified cleanup crew.

But the cost of decontamination can run into the thousands of dollars, leading property owners to delay or simply abandon the cleanup.

While the law forbids property owners from selling the house or letting anyone move back in until the health department declares the dwelling habitable, violating the law is a misdemeanor and rarely enforced.

And owners of properties where meth labs have been found are not required to disclose that when they sell or transfer the home.

“We just don’t know the number of homes out there that are contaminated,” said Scott Frosch, safety director for the state Department of Environmental Management. “People don’t really know what they’re buying or occupying.”

Another problem: Laws covering the cleanup and monitoring of meth-polluted homes came with no extra dollars for enforcement.

“It’s an unfunded mandate from the state,” said Mindy Waldron, administrator of the Fort Wayne Allen County Department of Health. “And there are really no penalties if no one cleans up a house. It can just sit there and be a blight on the community.

”Waldron said county health departments don’t have the power to condemn a house and have little power enforcing the evacuation notices they’re charged with posting.“

Just today, somebody ripped down a notice we just posted on a house,” Waldron said earlier this week. “We don’t carry guns, we’re not the police. How are supposed to enforce this?”

State officials are compiling an online database of every meth lab busted by address. The database will include information about whether a location, if a dwelling, has been decontaminated by a certified cleanup company.But police and environmental officials say that database is still months away from being operational.

Meanwhile, local officials worry that as the number of meth lab busts rise, there will be more vacant, contaminated houses in their communities.

“I have two houses like that within a block of my office that have sitting vacant since July,” said Plymouth Mayor Mark Senter, a former state trooper who served on a clandestine drug lab team. “There’s nothing I can do about them.”

Senter is worried that the houses may revert to the county tax rolls and be bought up a speculator who won’t invest money in cleanup. He supports a measure to require anyone buying a meth-contaminated house through a sheriff’s sale to pay cleanup costs so that the burden doesn’t fall on the county or city.

McNamara’s legislation is still a work in progress. She hasn’t filed her bill yet, but she wants to include language that would require sellers of meth-contaminated houses to disclose that information in the buyer’s purchase agreement. She also wants to find a way to strengthen the enforcement powers of county health departments and help state officials track contaminated houses to see if they’re getting cleaned up.

One significant concern she has is for innocent property owners who’ve unwittingly rented homes to meth-makers “who do the damage but don’t have the money to fix the damage they cause.”

“It just shows how terrible meth is,” she said. “It just leaves a lot of victims in its wake.”





State law enforcement officials are trying to find the best way to combat West Virginia’s meth problem.

On Nov. 22, Sgt. Michael Baylous and Trooper L.W. Price with the West Virginia State Police discussed the growing problem of methamphetamine labs in the Mountain State.

Baylous said looking at the data from a quantitative and qualitative research aspect, meth labs seem to be centered in the Kanawha County area — but that’s not necessarily true.

“It would be easy to jump to the conclusion a lot of them are centered around the Kanawha County area,” he said. “It’s more of a widespread problem than you might think.”

Baylous said thanks to the public as well as confidential informants, troopers in the central part of the state were able to take about a month to focus in on just how large the problem was.

“Troopers (were) taken from regular duties to see what kind of results we’d find in a month,” he said.

Focusing in on Troops 3 and 6, officers arrested more than two dozen people.

As a result of their efforts, police arrested 14 people throughout Webster, Pendleton, Randolph, Braxton and Webster counties. Two meth labs were found. Of those arrests, there were 28 felony charges, two misdemeanors and more than $1,000 in cash seized.

In Troop 6’s area of Greenbrier, Raleigh, Fayette and Summers counties, 18 people were arrested resulting in 47 felonies. Nine meth labs were seized and three were discovered abandoned.

“We want to stress it doesn’t mean we created a task force,” Baylous said last month. “We just took troopers away from assigned daily duties.”

Price said the most common lab seized during their efforts was the one pot method. About 345 one-pot or “shake and bake” methods were discovered in the past year alone, he said.

As of Nov. 17, almost 500 meth labs were seized.

Baylous said in order to take care of the clean-up of these meth labs, troopers have to be educated in the dangers of the chemicals. He said although Kanawha County has the resources to teach troopers how to respond properly, other rural areas in the state aren’t as lucky.

“It takes a lot more time and is more costly to address in rural areas,” he said. “You can’t take someone off the detachment and have them go into meth lab sites and address problems — there are hazards.”

Dealing with meth repercussions

Police officers aren’t the only people dealing with the deadly hazards of cooking dangerous chemicals.

Fire officials agree, responding to meth-related incidents can be a hazard for firefighters not used to the chemicals and how they might react when used improperly.

Mark Lambert, with the West Virginia Fire Marshal’s Office, said fire laws dealing with meth tread on shaky ground. He said when a fire occurs from meth, the cause of the fire is determined to be accidental.

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the number of meth labs seized throughout the country has gone up and down in the past several years.

The DEA reported in 2007 there were 6,858 meth labs seized; in 2008, there were 8,810; in 2009, there were 12,851; in 2011 there were 13,390 and in 2012 there were 11,210 meth labs found in the nation.

The numbers show the labs had previously gone up, while  in the last few years they have started to go down.

Taking a closer look at the numbers for West Virginia, there were: 2012: 59, 2011: 92, 2010: 207, 2009: 139, 2008: 116 and 2007: 111 meth busts.

In 2008, the U.S. government reported about 13 million people over the age of 12 had used meth — 529,000 of those being regular users. In 2007, 4.5 percent of American high school seniors and 4.1 percent of 10th graders reported using meth at least once in their life.

Meth is the most widely abused and most frequently produced synthetic drug in the nation according to the DEA.

The state’s local fire departments deal with the repercussions of meth cookers on a daily basis.

Capt. Tim Flinn with the Parkersburg Fire Department said meth users develop new ways of producing the drug, which usually involves fire or other chemicals in danger of exploding.

“The people using meth are going to extreme measures to get (the drug) and (don’t realize) the dangers that they are exposed to,” Flinn said.

Banning meth-making materials

A new poll conducted by Mark Blankenship Enterprises and funded by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association showed 604 West Virginia voters indicated between Nov. 9 and 12 that they would oppose any law that would require all consumers to obtain a doctor’s prescription before buying cold and allergy medicines that contain pseudophedrine.

A 65 percent majority said it would be somewhat or very inconvenient to obtain a prescription for those popular medicines.

An overwhelming majority of West Virginians, about 80 percent, said they support a separate proposal that bans criminals from purchasing pseudophedrine without a prescription for 10 years after being convicted of a drug-related crime.

Other key findings from the poll include nearly nine out of 10 people in the Mountain State who have read, seen or heard “quite a bit” or “some” about methamphetamine labs and meth use in the state; 56 perccent oppose prescription legislation while only 40 percent support it.

“The West Virginia findings are consistent with what we’ve seen across the country,” said Scott Melville, president and chief executive officer of the CHPA. “The clear majority of law-abiding consumers oppose the precription-only approach because it leads to significant economic burdens produced by unnecessary time off work and additional copays.

“Moreover, consumers understand that such restrictions are not an effective solution to address West Virgina’s meth problem. Penalizing honest consumers for the crimes of a criminal minority will not solve the state’s problems.”

Lawmakers look to reform

In a committee meeting last month, Dan Foster, a physician with the Kanawha County Substance Abuse Task Force and also a former senator from Kanawha County, spoke to lobbyists and lawmakers about the state’s growing meth problem.

Foster said a team worked throughout the past several months to see what the best long-term solution for solving the state’s drug problem could be. The team wanted to present its findings to state lawmakers to give them an idea of the reality of the problem by taking a look at the numbers.

Among his list of suggestions, Foster presented policymakers with several reasons why they should work to change the laws about certain drugs commonly used in making meth. He said red flags should be put on people who want to buy materials commonly associated with making meth, including the drug pseudoephedrine.

The task force also questioned the suggestion to make hydrocodone a Schedule II level of controlled substance, which also was recently recommended by the federal Food and Drug Administration.






HOCKING COUNTY, Ohio – Two people were arrested after a traffic stop in Hocking County revealed methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

According to the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office, deputies stopped a vehicle on Hide-A-Way Hills Road for a traffic violation Thursday.

Deputies said they observed criminal indications that illegal drugs may be inside the vehicle.

A K-9 deputy alerted to the driver’s side door.

A search of the vehicle revealed two syringes and spoons with black residue, two straws with unknown white powder residue, and a small glass plate with unknown white powder residue, the sheriff said.


26-year-old Mackinsey Roberts was arrested and charged with possession of drugs, tampering with evidence, and trafficking in drugs

The sheriff’s office said the driver, 26-year-old Mackinsey Roberts, of Glouster, admitted she had methamphetamine hidden inside her body, and later surrendered it to deputies.

Roberts was arrested and charged with possession of drugs, tampering with evidence, and trafficking in drugs.

She was transported to the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office until her scheduled appearance in Hocking County Municipal Court.


Randy Kress, 35, of Glenford, was also arrested for a parole violation and transported to the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail

Randy Kress, 35, of Glenford, was also arrested for a parole violation and transported to the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail. The sheriff’s office said charges against Kress will be filed at a later date.



Glouster woman arrested for having meth in vehicle

LOGAN — A Glouster woman was arrested and charged after meth was allegedly found in her vehicle and on her person.

Mackinsey Roberts, 26, was charged with possession of drugs, tampering with evidence and trafficking in drugs on Thursday, Dec. 12.

The Hocking County Sheriff’s Office Interdiction Unit stopped Roberts’ vehicle because of a traffic violation on Hide-A-Ways Hills Road. After speaking with her, deputies noticed signs that illegal drugs might be inside the vehicle, according to a release from the HCSO.

HCSO Deputy Trent Woodgeard walked K-9 Emma around the vehicle and she allegedly alerted him to the driver’s side door. After searching the vehicle, deputies allegedly found two syringes, spoons with black residue, two straws with an unknown white powder residue and a small glass plate with an unknown white powder residue.

Roberts told deputies that she had methamphetamine inside her body cavity and later turned it over.

Randy Kress, 35, of Glenford, was also inside the vehicle. He was arrested on a parole violation out of Perry County and transported to Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail. Additional charges are possible.

Roberts was arraigned on her charges in Hocking County Municipal Court on Friday. She was released on her own recognizance because of a lack of female beds at the SEORJ. She was incarcerated at the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office prior to Friday’s hearing.

She could receive a maximum of five years and six months in prison if convicted of all charges, according to the Ohio Revised Code.

A methamphetamine lab was discovered in a County Route 92 home in the town of Lorraine after Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a domestic dispute call there earlier this week.

During the course of the investigation into the domestic incident on Monday, deputies discovered the “clandestine” methamphetamine lab. A search warrant was issued on Thursday, resulting in the arrest of Francis J. Conklin III, 36, of 3358 County Route 92, said the Metro-Jeff Task Force.

He was charged with third-degree unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine, a Class D felony.

Mr. Conklin was arraigned in Ellisburg Town Court and remanded to the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building in lieu of $20,000 bail.




  • Stephanie Torres was discovered dead in her crib from dehydration and malnourishment July 16, 2012
  • Pathologist said 2-year-old weighed only 13lbs, had skin like red dough from lack of water, and her abdomen was so caved in her spine was nearly visible
  • Mother Brandy Lee Rose Devine told police she was smoking meth with a man and thought her 6-year-old son would take care of Stephanie

A California woman was sentenced today to 15 years behind bars in the death of her 2-year-old disabled daughter who was left alone with no food or water for nearly three days while her mother was getting high.



Standing in court in a red jail garb with her hair slicked back, a noticeably plumper Brandy Lee Rose Devine apologized to her four children, especially to baby Stephanie, who was discovered dead in her crib July 16, 2012.

‘I hope they can forgive me one day,’ the woman said.

Last month, a jury found Devine, of Turlock, guilty of second-degree murder. She was also convicted on drug counts and cruelty to children.

Devine told authorities she smoked methamphetamine in her home with an unknown man while her daughter remained in a room alone all weekend surrounded by cats.

Deputy District Attorney John Mayne told the jurors Stephanie starved to death in a ‘monstrous’ fashion, even though there was plenty of baby formula in the house, and the mother fed her other three children that weekend, Modesto Bee reported.

Marcus Mumford, Devine’s defense attorney, insisted his client didn’t know at the time that not feeding her child or giving her water would result in death and that Devine’s conduct was criminally negligent but not murder.

At her sentencing Friday, Devine sounded a markedly different note.

‘I accept full responsibility for my actions,’ she said. ‘I want to apologize to everyone who has been affected by my actions.’

Little Stephanie Torres was delivered prematurely at 29 weeks and suffered severe medical problems, including cerebral palsy.

An autopsy showed that the special-needs child who required constant therapy and medication died from dehydration and malnourishment.

At the time of her death Stephanie was nearing her third birthday, but appeared much smaller when her body was examined by a pathologist.

Dr Eugene Carpenter testified that the toddler weighed only 13lbs and had soft eyes and skin ‘like red dough’ indicating lack of water.

The victim’s abdomen was caved in to the point that her spine was almost visible through her stomach, according to the medical examiner.

In March, neighbor Lydia Whitworth said in court that when she saw Stephanie’s body in the crib on the afternoon of July 16, the child was grey, and her diaper was filled with urine and excrement.

Around her, the room was permeated with the stench of cat urine, and feces from Devine’s multiple pets littered the floor.

The detective who interviewed Devine said that the women told him she had assumed her 6-year-old son was taking care of the 2-year-old special-needs girl while she was busy smoking methamphetamine to make herself feel better.

(ST. GEORGE, Utah) – The Washington County Drug Task Force has been investigating Keven Jones and Kitty Dirickson’s involvement in the distribution of methamphetamine in the Washington County area.   Task Force Detectives obtained evidence of methamphetamine sales associated with the couple.
This investigation came to a head Wednesday, December 11, 2013, when the Washington County Drug Task Force, with assistance from the St. George Police Department tactical team, executed a search warrant at Keven and Kitty’s residence,861 N Redrock Rd, unit 15, in St. George, Utah.   Keven Jones and Jason Axley were stopped in a vehicle that had left the Redrock Rd address.  Contraband, a container used for transporting illicit drugs, was discovered during a search of the vehicle. Keven and Jason were arrested.  Following the traffic stop, a search warrant was served at Keven and Kiity’s Redrock Road address.  Suspected methamphetamine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, approximately  a thousand dollars in U.S. currency, and records indicating drug transactions were located during the search.  Additionally, six firearms were removed from the residence as evidence.

The investigation revealed that children have been present in the hours before the search warrant was served.  The suspected drugs and firearms in the residence were located in areas that were accessible to children, exposing them to the associated dangers with guns and drugs.

Kitty Dirickson and Keven Jones were booked into Washington County Correctional Facility, Purgatory, for felony child endangerment, as well as multiple felony weapons and drug manufacturing/distribution charges.

Jason Axley was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Adult Probation and Parole placed a 72 hour hold on Mr. Axley following his booking.





LAKELAND | A woman was carjacked at gunpoint Thursday, leading deputies to arrest eight people, and Sheriff Grady Judd to issue a statement about the connection between drug use and violent crime.

Deputies are searching for a ninth suspect on charges of drug possession and maintaining a dwelling for drug use.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Bridget Yopp, 27, of 5102 1st St. N.W., Lakeland, asked 28-year-old Nicole Brumagin for a ride home after a party about 4 a.m. Thursday.

Brumagin obliged but as they stopped at the intersection of Rustic Court West and Valley Farm Road, a man approached the car with a shotgun, according to Sheriff’s Office arrest reports.

The man pointed the gun at Brumagin and ordered her to get out of the car, a 2009 Acura. Brumagin got out, but Yopp stayed in the car, according to arrest reports.

Deputies later arrested Christopher Collins, 26, of 4058 Glisson Drive, Lakeland, on charges of being the gunman.

As part of the investigation, deputies interviewed Yopp at her home, where they found a bevy of drugs, paraphernalia and stolen property, according to the reports. The stolen car, parts of Brumagin’s clothes, her phone, and keys were found at the house as well, according to the reports.

Detectives executed a search warrant and found a shotgun under a shed in the backyard.

They also found U.S. currency templates and a copier. Investigators are looking into a possible counterfeit money operation, the Sheriff’s Office said. “This investigation demonstrates the strong link between illicit drugs and criminal activity,” Sheriff Grady Judd said.

Of those charged in the carjacking:

Yopp and Collins were each charged with armed robbery, armed burglary with assault, possession of methamphetamine, possession of paraphernalia, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Zachary Davis, 24, of 1361 Lake Parker Drive E, Lakeland, was charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery, possession of methamphetamine, possession of cannabis, and possession of paraphernalia.

Five other people were also at the house, and charged with drug-related crimes:

Scott Macsorley, 38, who did not have a listed address, was charged with multiple drug charges as well as resisting arrest without violence.

Tammy Slaton, 41, of 7042 Myrtle Road, Lakeland, Tena Dawson, 33, of 212 Azalea St., Lakeland, and Enrique Lopez, 37, of 5102 1st St. N.W., Lakeland, and Kendra Hutchinson, 37, of 2101 Crystal Lake Drive N, Lakeland, were each charged with possession of methamphetamine and paraphernalia.

Deputies are still searching 52-year-old David Jones Sr. who is charged with maintaining the house.

Anyone with information on Jones’ location is asked to call the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 863-298-6200.

LAKE STATION | Five individuals suspected of operating a methamphetamine lab were charged through Lake County criminal court.

Those charged Thursday were Harvey L. Morse, 54, Kimberly S. Neeley, 48; and Heather S. Bulthuis, 27, all of Lake Station;  Chad M. Skinner, 34, of Hobart and Jesse R. Vandiver Jr., 52, of Portage.

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Morse, Neeley and Bulthuis were all charged with dealing in methamphetamine, a class A felony; dealing in methamphetamine, a B felony; possession of methamphetamine, a C felony; maintaining a common nuisance, a D felony, and possession of a precursor, a D felony.

Skinner and Vandiver were both charged with visiting a common nuisance, a class A misdemeanor.

The drug raid at a house in the 3300 block of Arizona Street was conducted at 1:45 a.m. Wednesday after a search warrant was issued for the residence, Lake Station Police Chief Kevin Garber said.

This was the first meth lab raid in the history of the city, Garber said.

The raid was conducted by the Lake Station SWAT unit with the assistance of the Northwest Regional SWAT team.

During an investigation, Lake Station police conducted several undercover purchases of methamphetamine from the home.

Lake Station narcotic officers worked with investigators from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department.

Police obtained evidence the subjects were cooking the product inside the house.

During the investigation, police discovered the subjects were responsible for supplying methamphetamine to several other communities in the state, including some in Newton and Jasper counties.

During a search of the Lake Station house, police confirmed it was being used as a meth lab and recovered evidence indicating several batches of meth had been cooked in the house.

Among the items confiscated were methamphetamine and several electronic devices.

Several members of the Indiana State Clandestine Drug Lab team assisted Lake Station police with processing the house.




A woman is sentenced after authorities say an 11-year-old boy turned his mother into authorities after finding a bag full of drugs.

Patricia Adams, 47, was arrested back in February.


Police say Adams’ 11- year-old son found a baggie of methamphetamine in her bedroom and took it to the Foard County Sheriff’s Office, telling them she was on her way to Quanah to possibly buy more drugs.

Later, when authorities stopped Adams, who had her 12-year-old daughter inside the vehicle with her, they say they found an open daiquiri container, along with about five grams of methamphetamine.

Adams was sentenced to ten years in prison for possession of a controlled substance in Foard county earlier this week.



Drug Task Force agents arrested eight people on a variety of drug charges Wednesday – six of whom were charged after agents discovered eight active meth cooks at a Harmony Community home.

“They say you can never go back, but it was like old times as several familiar faces huddled around two different drug scenes in Covington County,” Drug Task Force commander Mark Odom said.

Odom said when DTF agents, along with the help of three former DTF agents – Andalusia Police Chief Paul Hudson, Assistant Chief Paul Dean and Investigator Roger Cender – made the arrests.

Odom said that once inside the home, a search revealed an assortment of meth making related items and “among other things, eight separate “one-pot” methamphetamine cooks, various chemicals used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, finished product methamphetamine and smoking devices.”

Arrested there were Clay Anthony Stacks, 22; Janerious Michael Carter, 20; Jasmine Gatlin,18; Andrew Dwight Coon, 23; Joseph Taylor Spenard, 20; and Joshua Seth Spenard, 22. All six were charged with trafficking in a controlled substance, manufacturing a controlled substance I and felony possession of drug paraphernalia. Each was booked into the Covington County Jail and held on a $550,000 bond.

“Meanwhile, Covington County Probation and Parole Officers were conducting a routine home visit on Tia Nicole Denmon in Opp when they found a vial containing methamphetamine,” Odom said.

There, the 31-year-old Denmon and 44-year-old Willie A. Henderson were arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. The two were taken to the county jail and held on a $13,000 bond each.

“I hate methamphetamine, and I am especially sickened when we find young people who are already enthralled by addiction,” Odom said. “Since the Drug Task Force was formed in 2000, we have fought the war on drugs, and we will continue to fight until they are eradicated.”