PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Four family members and another man were arrested in West Linn on Monday morning after authorities searched a home and found drugs, cash and a gun.

West Linn Police say they stopped 29-year-old Jacob Martus for a DUII after he left a home on Midhill Circle. The home was known to police and Martus’ arrest gave them cause to search the home.

Inside, they found $5,800 in cash, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, Xanax and a 12 gauge shotgun.

Police arrested 60-year-old Margie Joe Burke and her two sons 38-year-old Justin Alan Burke and 36-year-old Jason Adam Burke. Jason’s 33-year-old wife Amy Louise Burke was also arrested.

Margie Burke is charged with possession of heroin and methamphetamine. Justin Burke is charged with possession of methamphetamine and Jason Burke is charged with possession of methamphetamine and heroin, possession of schedule 2 Xanax, and probation violation for robbery. Amy Burke is charged with possession of methamphetamine and heroin, possession of schedule 2 Xanax, and probation violation for heroin possession.

All were charged with frequenting a place where drugs are sold.





A Harlan woman is facing multiple charges including drug possession after police allegedly found methamphetamine at her residence.

Aimee Nicole Woodard, 32, was arrested on Monday by Harlan City Police Sgt. Jeff Owens.

According to the citation, police executed a search warrant at Woodard’s residence on Monday. Police seized items including scales, hypodermic needles and methamphetamine pipes. Police also located a clear plastic bag containing a hard rock-like substance believed to be methamphetamine. Police additionally found multiple beige pills marked 214. Woodard, who lives within 1,000 feet of a school, advised police the substance believed to be methamphetamine was ice cream salt but admitted she intended to sell the substance as methamphetamine. The citation states that Woodard told police she had smoked methamphetamine that morning with her children present in the home. Police also found loose needles, some of which were uncapped, inside the residence.

Woodard was charged with first-degree possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, endangering the welfare of a minor, first-degree wanton endangerment, illegal possession of a legend drug, trafficking a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school and trafficking a controlled substance.

She was lodged in the Harlan County Detention Center.






A Gadsden woman faces charges after investigators say her baby tested positive for drugs.

Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin said Felicia Megan Hansard, 23, of Gadsden, has been charged with chemical endangerment of a child.

Entrekin said Hansard admitted to using methamphetamine throughout her pregnancy, and her baby tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine after delivery.

Hansard is being held in the Etowah County Detention Center on a $10,000 cash bond.  As a condition of the bond, she must complete a drug treatment program and will be monitored by Etowah Community Corrections.

The Etowah County Department of Human Resources is also involved with the case.





The Etowah County Sheriff’s Office confirms a Gadsden mother faces a charge of chemical endangerment of a child after her baby tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine at the time of delivery.

“Felicia Megan Hansard, 23, of Gadsden, is charged with chemical endangerment of exposing a child to an environment in which controlled substances are ingested, produced or distributed, which is a felony,” said investigator Brandi Fuller.

Hansard allegedly admitted to investigators her use of methamphetamine throughout the pregnancy and is being detained at the Etowah County Detention Center on a $10,000 bond.

Hansard must complete a drug treatment program and will be monitored by Etowah Community Corrections as a condition of her bond.




Police say they found a little over 7 grams of methamphetamine on a woman who was arrested on shoplifting charges at the West Rome Wal-Mart.

According to Floyd County Jail reports:

Wanda Joy Hall, 34, of 2531 Shorter Ave., left the store on Tuesday around 1:30 p.m. with a number of items that had price codes changed. She was stopped by store personnel after checking out.

When police responded they found suspected methamphetamine on the woman.

Hall was charged with felony possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor shoplifting.

She was in jail without bond Tuesday with a hold for Polk County on unspecified charges.







BAY TOWNSHIP – A woman is facing charges after several grams of “crystal” methamphetamine allegedly were found in her vehicle during a traffic stop.

Amanda Cooper, 35, of Curtice, was charged with possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, operating a vehicle under the influence and an additional traffic lane violation, following the traffic stop late last week.

According to authorities, an Ottawa County sheriff’s deputy observed Cooper leaving a house known for drug activity around 1:45 a.m. on Dec. 29.

Deputy Matt Gandee requested mutual aid from the Port Clinton Police Department for assistance with a K-9 sniff of the exterior of the vehicle while he performed a field sobriety test of Cooper.

Port Clinton’s police K-9 Spike made a positive detection for the possible presence of drugs in the vehicle, according to the report, and Cooper allegedly told the officers there was a “one-hitter” pipe in the car.

During a search of the vehicle, officers found a cloth bag closed and locked with a three-digit combination. When asked for the combination, Cooper allegedly told police she did not know and claimed the bag was not hers, according to the report.

Police then cut that bag open and reportedly found three small plastic bags of crystal methamphetamine weighing a total of four grams; two glass pipes; an additional “one-hitter” pipe; two plastic snorting devices; a digital scale; a syringe cap; a piece of rubber commonly used as a tourniquet, and a few more plastic bags with suspected methamphetamine residue.

Another locked cloth bag similar to the other was later found in the trunk of the vehicle, which Cooper allegedly provided police with the combination to, saying “that is where the weed should be,” according to the report.

In the second bag police reportedly found a plastic container with two grams of marijuana; a metal grinder with marijuana; another glass pipe; numerous small plastic bags, and a glass container with suspected methamphetamine residue.

Cooper was taken to the Port Clinton Police Department and later charged.






The Harnett County Sheriff’s Office has arrested one person and charged them with the manfucture of methamphetamine.

Renee Sandy Faircloth, 36, is facing three charges relating to an an incident outside Angier. A search warrant was executed at 462 James Norris Road which led to the arrest.

Officers found a total of 30.5 grams of methamphetamine at the residence Ms. Faircloth was charged with trafficking methamphetamine by possession, trafficking methamphetamine by manufacture and possession of drug paraphernalia.

She was held on an $80,000 secured bond.


A Crossville man who pleaded guilty to a host of crimes ranging from felony possession of meth to statutory rape was designated a career offender by the court and will serve 18 years in prison at 35 percent.

Christopher Lee Moore, 42, formerly of Lee Circle, entered his plea before Criminal Court Judge Gary McKenzie on Dec. 14. He was represented by Crossville attorney Jonathan Hamby. Prosecutor in the case was Assistant District Attorney Mark Gore.

  • In the complex plea agreement, Moore was accused of the following crimes in separate indictments:
  • Possession of methamphetamine of more than .5 grams with intent to sell, possession of more than .5 grams of meth with intent to deliver, simple possession of marijauna, possession of a schedule IV drug with intent to sell, possession of a schedule IV drug with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia.
  • Possession of less than .5 grams of meth with intent to sell, possession of less than .5 grams of meth with intent to deliver, simple possession of a schedule II drug, simple possession of marijuana and tampering with evidence.
  • Possession of more than .5 grams of meth with intent to sell, possession of more than .5 grams of meth with intent to deliver, possession of a schedule IV drug with intent to sell, possession of a schedule IV drug with intent to deliver, possession of a schedule III drug with intent to sell and possession of a schedule III drug with intent to deliver.
  • Aggravated statutory rape.
  • Three counts each of sale of more than .5 grams of meth and delivery of more than .5 grams of meth, possession of less than .5 grams of meth for delivery, possession of less than .5 grams of meth for sale, simple possession of marijuana, simple possession of a schedule II drug and possession of a firearm during commission of a dangerous felony.

Moore pleaded guilty to delivery of more than .5 grams of meth, aggravated statutory rape and two counts of possession of less than .5 grams of meth for delivery.

Moore was fined $6,000 and must forfeit all claim to property, currency and firearms seized during his multiple arrests.

The offenses occurred between October 2015 and February 2016.

All remaining charges were dropped.

Ten convictions from July 1997 through November 2015 on Moore’s record for crimes ranging from theft, evading arrest, promotion of the manufacture of meth and felony possession of marijuana were noted in the notice to make Moore a career offender for the purpose of sentencing should he be arrested again.

The majority of those convictions were in Cumberland County with one each in Bledsoe and White counties.



A newly elected West Virginia sheriff who admitted to authorities that he was a meth addict was charged Tuesday with stealing the drug from a police evidence storage area.

A criminal complaint filed by state police in Roane County Magistrate Court says Bo Williams is charged with grand larceny.

Williams made an initial appearance on the charge Tuesday before a magistrate in Calhoun County after two magistrates in Roane County recused themselves. He signed a rights statement informing him that he is charged with a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison upon conviction. He was freed on $50,000 property bond.

Williams was elected as Roane County’s sheriff in November and his term started Sunday. While serving as a police officer in Spencer, Williams was placed on leave and he resigned last month after evidence went missing. The complaint says more than $1,000 in evidence was involved, mainly methamphetamine.

Prosecutor Josh Downey said Williams told him, Spencer Police Chief Greg Nichols and a state police sergeant in November that Williams had been addicted to meth for more than a year.

Downey said Williams admitted removing methamphetamine from a police case file and consuming it.

“I know Bo Williams,” Downey said. “It’s a sad situation.”

A preliminary hearing for Williams was set for Jan. 11.

It wasn’t immediately known whether Williams plans to resign. An attorney whose firm represents Williams declined to comment.

The county commission has started removal proceedings against Williams. Downey said if a circuit judge finds the allegations are sufficient, a three-judge panel would be appointed to hear the removal process and make a recommendation to the state Supreme Court.

A recent court order sought by Downey bars Williams from entering the sheriff’s department’s law enforcement and tax offices at the Roane County Courthouse. Downey said case evidence is stored at the department.

The county commission has appointed former Roane County Sheriff Todd Cole to serve as chief deputy in charge of law enforcement operations. Cole served two terms as sheriff from 2000 to 2008. In 2014 he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of the previous sheriff who left for health reasons. Cole’s term ended last Saturday.





MUNCIE — On Jan. 21, 2014, police received an anonymous tip that a wanted felon was inside a house at 1215 W. 10th St.

Armed with an arrest warrant, police surrounded the property. It turned out the wanted person was not present. But when someone answered the back door, a strong, distinct odor associated with the manufacturing of methamphetamine burned the eyes, nose and mouth of an officer. Police found a meth lab in the attic when they entered the house without a search warrant to evacuate four people.

The homeowner, Mark Lee Heilman, 49, has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial on charges including possession of, and attempted dealing in, meth. Jesse Curtis Randolph, 33, who was leasing the house from Heilman, has pleaded guilty. Co-defendant Kassandra LeAnnn Rankin, 27, is also awaiting trial.

Thanks to the non-profits ecoREHAB and the Ball Brothers Foundation, the meth-contaminated, 848-square-feet, 19th century structure did not become yet another one of Muncie’s numerous vacant lots or abandoned buildings.

“They purchased it, remediated it and completely rehabbed it,” says real estate broker Ryan Kramer. “We listed it on the market and have a pending sale right now. I think that’s pretty neat. I went over there and peeked in before it was rehabbed. Obviously I didn’t go inside. I would have never dreamed you could rehab it. Otherwise, it was destined for demolition. With so much bad press for our community — just when you think we’ll get over the negative stories something else pops up; yesterday it was pipe bombs — I think it’s pretty neat that they revitalized that house.”

Delaware County led the state in the number of discovered meth labs with 148 in 2014 and 234 in 2015. While many of the drug labs were found in locations other than residences — they have been discovered outdoors, in motel rooms, garages, sheds and motor vehicles — some were encountered in residences.

The largest contaminant left behind from a meth lab is the drug itself, made from toxic household and farm chemicals. According to the Indiana State Department of Health:

“Like smoke damage, tiny droplets containing the drug are deposited inside the home … This leaves a meth residue coating surfaces, absorbing into porous materials and contaminating the forced-air heating-cooling system. The drug is potent, and so exposure to a small amount could cause adverse health effects. If not decontaminated, the drug lab can leave toxic meth residue behind indefinitely. The smoking of meth will also create residue in a home that is above the levels considered safe by most states.”

The risk is significant enough that the state-prescribed “seller’s residential real estate sales disclosure” form now asks, “Has there been manufacture of methamphetamine or dumping of waste from the manufacture of methamphetamine in a residential structure on the property?” Kramer said.

The most common decontamination methods are washing, painting  and sealing all interior surfaces and getting rid of movable materials/objects. But in some cases, tearing out the interior and rebuilding is more cost effective than washing. That’s what ecoREHAB did at 1215 W. 10th St.

“They gutted it,” Kramer said. “That’s what it was going to take. The problem is, it costs more to rehab than it’s worth.”

A non-profit organization that collaborates with Ball State University and the city, ecoREHAB bought the house from Heilman for $1,000. The organization then spent $16,600 to get it decontaminated by a state-certified cleanup contractor who removed about everything but the wood frame. A local dentist agreed to lift a lien on the property for unpaid dental bills, and the Unsafe Building Hearing Authority agreed to remove a $5,000 penalty also owed by the previous owner. But ecoREHAB had to pay about $3,000 in delinquent property taxes.

Reconstruction itself cost about $54,000. Professional contractors were hired to install new plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems, and 20 Ball State University architecture students provided the rest of the labor. The project’s costs were underwritten by the Ball Brothers Foundation. The home is being advertised for sale for $34,900.

ecoREHAB, which has overhauled four other Muncie houses, chose to renovate a meth-contaminated house partly as an experiment.

“I had not found any precedent online where it had been done before,” said Craig Graybeal, director of ecoREHAB. “I found horror stories of people who purchased meth houses but didn’t know they were meth houses — and then six months later their kids are sick, their dog is sick, and a neighbor comes up and says, ‘Oh, yeah, this used to be a meth house.’ Sellers weren’t disclosing it. So there was no positive precedent where this has been done before.”

Graybeal knew if the house wasn’t rehabbed it would be torn down.

“If we’re trying to renew energy in this corridor close to the Ross (Community) Center and in what turned out to be an 8twelve Coalition target area, something needed to be done,” Graybeal said. “So we stepped in and jumped on the grenade.”

The 8twelve Coalition is a group of residents, non-profits including Habitat for Humanity and the Vectren Foundation, and businesses working to revitalize a target area bordered by Eighth Street, Memorial Drive, aka 12th Street, Perkins Avenue and Madison Street. Just a block from the former meth house, a community garden has been established across the street from the Avondale United Methodist Church.

By the time ecoREHAB acquired 1215 W. 10th, the house was full of trash, and animals were coming and going through gaps in the brick foundation. “In the rear of the house …there was a 4×4 beam below the floor,” said Graybeal, a recent BSU architecture graduate. “One end was resting on a gas line and one end was resting on cinder blocks. That was holding up to some degree a portion of the house. The foundation was pretty much non-existent.”

The finished product includes all-new interior walls, floors and ceilings, a reconstructed front porch, new kitchen appliances, a new deck and an awning running along the back of the house, a wooden fence to shield the trash Toter and air conditioner on the alley side of the house, LED light bulbs, low-flow plumbing fixtures, a high-efficiency furnace, new duct work, new windows and doors, a rain barrel and ceiling fans.

In the center of the house, there used to be a narrow stairway to the attic, where police found the meth lab. The staircase was eliminated during the rehab. The furnace and a water heater now take up that space.

On the day the house was raided, police say they found meth lab equipment including coffee filters attached with rubber bands to the top of a red Solo Cup; a white, crystallized substance in a plastic bottle with tubing drilled through the cap; and a second plastic bottle containing off-white-colored sludge.

Police claim a national database showed that Heilman and his co-defendants had all purchased the decongestant pseudoephedrine and had all been blocked for over-purchasing the product, a chemical precursor in the manufacture of meth. Heilman was freed from jail on pre-trial electronic house arrest, but that was revoked after he gave a urine sample that tested positive for meth.





LYNDEN – A commercial driver was arrested when he tried to smuggle 68 pounds of methamphetamine into Canada through the Lynden border crossing in December, the Canada Border Services Agency announced Tuesday.

The northbound driver was taken into secondary inspection Dec. 11. Canadian border officers on the Aldergrove side of the crossing found a black suitcase in his vehicle, with 68 pounds of meth inside, according to a news release.

He was arrested and turned over to Langley Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

An agency spokeswoman declined to answer a series of follow-up questions about the bust, citing CBSA policy and Canada’s privacy laws.







BROCTON – A Brocton woman is the county jail on $30,000 bail for allegedly making methamphetamine.

The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office says 52 year-old Jodi Denmead was arrested on Friday afternoon at her home at a trailer park on Ellicott Rd. in Brocton, after an arrest warrant was issued out of the village of Brocton court.

The warrant was issued after Denmead was stopped on Dec. 15 while operating a vehicle on E. Main St. in the Village of Brocton and taken into custody on a prior arrest warrant. During that incident her car was impounded and a search of the vehicle turned up a one-pot style methamphetamine laboratory, along with other items used to make methamphetamine. Authorities also located a digital scale used for weighing controlled substances and an electronic stun gun.

DENMEAD was charged with one count each of Unlawful Manufacturing Methamphetamine (3rd Degree), Criminal Possession of a Weapon (4th Degree) and Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia (2nd Degree).






A woman travelling more than 90 mph on northbound I-5 and suspected to be high on methamphetamine crashed near Woodland on Monday morning with a 5-year-old in her vehicle, injuring two, after being in a separate accident just minutes earlier, according to Washington State Patrol.

The woman, who has been identified as Heather L. Kinsfather, 33, of Kelso, sideswiped a vehicle shortly before 9:30 a.m. Monday morning north of Ridgefield and took off. Kinsfather continued travelling northbound on I-5 at more than 90 mph and rear-ended a pickup truck of a 40-year-old Battle Ground woman at mile post 20, just before Woodland. The pickup went into the median, hitting the cable barrier, and rolled several times south of becoming entangled in the cable barrier, according to a press release.

The Battle Ground woman was transported to PeaceHealth Southwest in Vancouver where she was treated and released. Kinsfather had a 5-year-old boy in the vehicle with her. He was also transported to PeaceHealth Southwest and later transferred to Emmanuel Hospital in Portland for treatment of a non-life-threatening head injury, according to William Finn, spokesperson for Washington State Patrol. The relationship between Kinsfather and the boy is not known at this time, Finn said.

Drug paraphernalia was found at the scene of the crash and a drug recognition expert was called in to conduct sobriety tests and take a blood sample from Kinsfather, Finn said. Kinsfather was arrested, but was later released from custody because there were no serious injuries and because troopers believe she will show up for her court date.

The Washington State Patrol has requested she be charged with DUI, reckless driving, two counts of reckless endangerment, no proof of insurance, possession of drug paraphernalia and hit and run.





At 12:20 a.m. Sunday, Bell County Deputy Chris Barnes received a tip regarding someone allegedly making methamphetamine at a residence in Middlesboro, according to a news release from the Bell County Sheriff’s Department.

After requesting assistance from Deputies Nick Capps and James Taulbee the tip led Barnes to a residence at Ralph Mays Lane off of KY 74. Once on scene the deputies initially saw a male and female in the driveway, but were led to the shack behind the home when they heard movement inside the structure.

According to the release, the deputies knocked on the door and made contact with 40-year-old Gary Elliot of Middlesboro and 20-year-old Kala Williams, also of Middlesboro. The deputies say they openly observed needles and drug paraphernalia along with tubing and a gas generator which is commonly used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Elliot was sitting in a chair initially and Capps raised him up, reporting that he found spoons filled with morphine.

The pair was taken into custody and lodged in the Bell County Detention Center.

Elliot was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and first-degree possession of controlled substance, first offense (methamphetamine). He was also served four outstanding warrants for non-support and failure to maintain insurance.

Williams was served two bench warrants.





Louisiana Drug Woes .Louisiana is known for a lot of things that include sports, food, hospitality, and culture.

There is a real threat of drug smuggling from both air and sea. However, there is also a major drug threat of drug smuggling over its Interstate Highway System. One of the most common methods of smuggling drugs into Louisiana is through commercial and private vehicles. Interstates I-10, I-12, and I-20 are major drug smuggling routes. Many of the drugs come from the Caribbean, Mexico, and Colombia. Crack, meth, cocaine, and marijuana are among the most popular drugs smuggled. Drug Addictions on the Rise in Louisiana.

  1. Meth now competes with marijuana as the drug of preference. The drug can be found all throughout Louisiana, and is easily manufactured in small quantities. Private and commercial vehicles move the drug into Louisiana by air from Texas and California. Meth labs are typically found in rural, isolated areas. Louisiana meth factories produce 66 percent of all meth chemicals in the mid-west.

  2. Cocaine is brought into Louisiana in powder form and base form. It has a huge impact on Louisiana’s communities. Its use also correlates with violent crime and murder. Miami and Houston are the major cities where cocaine is the drug of choice.

  3. Heroin distribution and use has become a major concern in Louisiana. The drug enters via California and Texas. Heroin is now a regional distribution center for the drug.

  4. Club Drug abuse and distribution is also on the rise in Louisiana. Baton Rouge is a major area where club drug abuse takes place. Young whites are the primary candidates to abuse this drugs. Its popularity is high among white college students. Vietnamese drug smugglers have targeted Louisiana and made this drug prominent.

  5. Marijuana is yet another popular Louisiana drug. It is popular among youth ages 18-20. Today, the drug has reached epidemic proportions. Those who buy, sell, and use the drug have little fears of being caught by law enforcement.

  6. Painkillers, prescription drugs, are also a significant threat to Louisiana’s culture. It has reached epidemic levels. When users cannot get their supply of painkillers, they often turn to heroin.

Wherever illegal drugs abound, there will be addictions that follow. Addiction, of any kind, literally ruins lives. Some people have not one, but several drugs they are addicted to. The only resolution is to seek rehab treatment. Seeking rehab is a brave step for many. Of course, there is always the concern that admitting to a drug problem may be admitting that there is something illegal going on. The good news is that rehab centers are there to offer help and healing—nothing more.

The first stage of rehab is detox, which removes all harmful chemicals from the body. Detox can be painful, even deadly. It is never recommended that anyone try and detox alone. Medications are administered to ease the withdrawal symptoms. Rehab offers counseling and cognitive behavioral therapies that allow patients to work on their own thinking and behaviors. Rehab can be a long journey. However, when a person makes up their mind that addiction is no longer a way to live, help is available.





TOWN OF CAMPBELL, Wis. (WEAU) — Law enforcement officials in the Town of Campbell have seized 12 grams of methamphetamine from a traffic stop, Sunday afternoon.

According to the Campbell Police Department, officers stopped, and arrested the driver of the vehicle for an outstanding warrant.

A K-9 patrol sniff searched the vehicle and found nearly $1,000 worth of meth.

The passenger in the vehicle was arrested and charged with possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.


While tackling opiate addiction has been a big part of his first two years in office, Wisconsin’s attorney general say he wants to start focusing on a meth problem that’s still prevalent in parts of the state.

Lawmakers and the Department of Justice have taken big steps forward with efforts to reduce access to prescription opiates, a common gateway to people moving on to heroin. However, Attorney General Brad Schimel says some parts of the state are actually facing a bigger problem with methamphetamine abuse. “In the Northwoods and a lot of western counties…they’re seeing the meth problem eclipsing the opiate problem,” he says.

Wisconsin shut down dozens of meth production labs in the early 2000s. While still present, cases of them being found started to drop off late in the decade. The state Department of Justice says much of the meth making its way into the state now is coming from Mexico, and is being transported here from California and other border states.

Schimel says he hopes to launch the same kind of public awareness and law enforcement campaigns that have helped the state fight opiate abuse. The “Dose of Reality” campaign has resulted in thousands of pounds of old prescription medications found in homes being safely disposed of, cutting off a key supply line for those who use the drugs, while also raising awareness about the dangers users face.

Schimel says battling methamphetamine use needs to take a similar approach – by getting dealers off the streets and reducing demand for the drug. “We’re going to work on both the supply side and the demand side,” he says. “We’re working to enforce those who are trafficking in the drug, but we’re also working to reduce the demand.”





The demand for crystal methamphetamine and synthetic cannabinoids continue to fuel the illicit drug trade in southcentral Kentucky.

“What has changed the most in 2016, and we anticipate to continue that change is the decrease in meth labs,” said Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force Director Tommy Loving. “At this time last year we had had 32 meth lab incidents. As of today we’ve had 15. I believe this is totally due to the influx of Mexican crystal meth into not just Bowling Green but the region.”

Crystal meth that is made in cartel-controlled super labs has a higher purity level than the home-cooked meth made locally, Loving said. That makes it a more attractive choice for meth users. It’s also less labor intensive to simply buy the finished product than it is to gather all of the ingredients necessary to make it.

When the number of meth lab incidents decreases that means that the number of crystal meth dealers is on the increase, said Ron Lafferty, director of the Barren River Drug Task Force serving Barren and Allen counties.

“It seems like crystal meth and synthetics have taken over 2016 for us,” Lafferty said.

In June, a three-month investigation by the local task force and the FBI led to the arrests of 10 people whose cases are pending in either state or federal court.

“We have intercepted multiple pound loads (of crystal meth) coming into this area, and in a joint investigation with the FBI dismantled a drug trafficking organization that was bringing crystal meth into Bowling Green,” Loving said.

Days after those arrests, the task force identified a Mississippi man “as a primary supplier to this drug trafficking organization,” Loving said.

“The trafficking and use of methamphetamine, synthetics and pills continues to be the driving force of the vast majority of criminal activity in our area,” Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron said. “Thanks to having one of the finest drug task forces in the nation, we are able to take on all the issues that arise with these types of cases. The work of our DTF has helped us avoid the wave of heroin that is plaguing other parts of the state.”

Lexington, Louisville, northern Kentucky and eastern Kentucky are awash in opioids – prescription painkillers, clandestinely produced fentanyl and heroin.

Task forces in this area haven’t been hard hit by opioid trafficking cases.

In 2015, the BGWC task force logged 51 opioid trafficking cases. In 2016, the number rose slightly to 53. As for heroin, the task force made two trafficking arrests in 2016 and one in 2015.

“It hasn’t gone away but it has not had a dramatic increase,” Loving said of opioid pills. “I think for the last 15 years that methamphetamine has consistently been our squeaking wheel, and we have a larger base of meth addicts then we do of opiate addicts.

“I believe thanks to the 2012 session of the legislature that passed the opiate prescribing legislation is why our cases have not been higher. We do know that less opiates are being prescribed in Kentucky than four years ago. We know that physicians are being more careful in their prescribing habits. In our area that has helped keep the opiate problems from becoming worse and remaining at a consistent basis.

“For whatever reason, heroin is still not the major drug of choice in our area as it is in Louisville, Lexington and northern Kentucky and we hope it remains that way,” Loving said. “We are very attentive to any kind of intelligence we get on heroin and jump on it quickly. It’s here and probably more than we see it but by no means to the extent that they’re experiencing it in the golden triangle.”

Lafferty anticipates seeing more heroin in Barren and Allen counties in 2017.

“Thank goodness we haven’t seen that many heroin cases yet but I’m afraid it’s headed this way,” Lafferty said. “It just seems to be trickling down southward. You’ve got northern Kentucky and eastern Kentucky that’s flooded with it. Meth worked west to east, and heroin is working north to south in Kentucky. That’s what it appears.”

Loving expects that synthetics and crystal meth will continue to be the problem drugs for Warren County.

“I expect us to see more crystal meth, and I expect to see synthetics on the uptick,” he said.






Original article available at ZETA

Translated by El Wachito

Four human heads were found in a cooler that was located in front of an Oxxo convenience store, in the community of Llano Largo, over the road Puerto Marques-Cayaco, according to the spokesman of the Coordination Group of Guerrero (GCG), Roberto Alvarez Heredia, who said that till this Monday, the human bodies have not be found.

An anonymous call to the emergency number 066, around 18:30 of last Sunday, alerted the authorities of the terrifying discovery, a cooler that had inside four heads, which belong to males between the ages of 25 and 30.
The heads belonged to four males, and one of the heads was missing an eye and the superior right area of the skull was visible.
The human heads were taken to the Forensic Service and are marked as “unknowns” however, the local media claims that they could belong to Federal Police Agents.
During the last 24 hours, in different areas of the port, 8 people have been assassinated, one female among them. A few days ago, the government of Guerrero promise that the whole state would be protected by Federal cops, State cops and Mexican Soldiers, during the holidays.

In an interview with local media, after the Security Operation “Winter 2016” started, the Governor Hector Astudillo Flores, claimed that the Municipal and State police have not been able to get to the necessary level of the circumstances due to a lack of resources and training.

In regards to the four heads found, the Governor said that till this moment, there is no proof that the heads belong to Federal Agents.

“According to what we have analyzed, and discussed with the Federal police, the Army, and the State police, we dont have any elements to conclude, to this moment, that the heads belong to Federal Agents”, claimed the Governor.

Posted by DD Republished from New York Times

WASHINGTON — In 2012, Joohoon David Lee, a federal Homeland Security agent in Los Angeles, was assigned to investigate the case of a Korean businessman accused of sex trafficking.

Instead of carrying out a thorough inquiry, Mr. Lee solicited and received about $13,000 in bribes and other gifts from the businessman and his relatives in return for making the “immigration issue go away,” court records show.

Mr. Lee, an agent with Homeland Security Investigations at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, filed a report saying: “Subject was suspected of human trafficking. No evidence found and victim statement contradicts. Case closed. No further action required.”

A plea agreement for Joohoon David Lee, a homeland security agent, details his request and acceptance of a bribe from a Korean businessman.

But after another agent alerted internal investigators about Mr. Lee’s interference in another case, his record was examined and he was charged with bribery. He pleaded guilty in July and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

It was not an isolated case. A review by The New York Times of thousands of court records and internal agency documents showed that over the last 10 years almost 200 employees and contract workers of the Department of Homeland Security have taken nearly $15 million in bribes while being paid to protect the nation’s borders and enforce immigration laws.

Bribes Take Different Forms Cash isn’t the only method of payment. Here are some other items that were given as bribes:

Richard Elizalda

  • The Customs and Border Protection officer was given a 2000 Lexus.
  • Mai Nhu Nguyen

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer received 100 egg rolls for a party.

  • Guadalupe Garza

The Customs and Border Protection officer received Cialis pills and a “sexual device”.

  • James Dominguez

The Immigration Customs Enforcement special agent received three trips to Thailand.

These employees have looked the other way as tons of drugs and thousands of undocumented immigrants were smuggled into the United States, the records show. They have illegally sold green cards and other immigration documents, have entered law enforcement databases and given sensitive information to drug cartels. In one case, the information was used to arrange the attempted murder of an informant.

The Times’s findings most likely undercount the amount of bribes because in many cases court records do not give a tally. The findings also do not include gifts, trips or money stolen by Homeland Security employees.

Throughout his campaign, President-elect Donald J. Trump said border security would be one of his highest priorities. As he prepares to take office, he will find that many of the problems seem to come from within.

“It does absolutely no good to talk about the building of walls or tougher enforcement if you can’t secure the integrity of the immigration system, when you have fraud and corruption with your own employees,” said an internal affairs official at the Department of Homeland Security who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Although Homeland Security employees who have been caught taking bribes represent less than 1 percent of the more than 250,000 people who work at the department, investigators say the bribes and small numbers of people arrested and charged with bribery obscure the impact corruption can have on border security and immigration enforcement.

“Any amount is bad, and one person alone can do a lot of damage,” said John Roth, the inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security. “It doesn’t have to be widespread.”

Law enforcement experts say the bribing of border and immigration agents is not surprising. As security along the border has tightened with the addition of fences, drones and sensors, drug cartels and human smugglers have found it increasingly more difficult to operate.

Is it treason? No. Some people accused of accepting bribes were caught passing information to cartels and foreign criminals. It is not considered espionage or treason because they did not pass the information to a foreign government or state actor.

“So it makes sense that cartels would target and try to corrupt border interdiction agents,” said Fred Burton, chief security officer at Stratfor, a global intelligence company, and a former deputy chief of counterterrorism at the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service. “It’s very similar to the tactics and tradecraft used by foreign intelligence services during the Cold War.”

Homeland Security officials, acknowledging that internal corruption is a problem, have hired more internal affairs investigators, provided ethics training and started to administer polygraph tests to new applicants, along with countersurveillance training to employees so they can recognize when they are being targeted by criminal organizations.

Customs and Border Protection, which has had dozens of its officers arrested and charged with bribery, said it had made additional changes to combat corruption. Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, in 2014 gave authority to the agency’s internal affairs office to conduct criminal investigations for the first time. And Mark Morgan, a former F.B.I. agent who had investigated corruption on the border, was put in charge of the Border Patrol.

Johnny Acosta, a Customs and Border Protection officer, he was sentenced to eight years in prison for bribery and drug smuggling.

“Polygraphs have made it so we don’t hire people with significant problems,” said R. Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of the customs agency. “The bigger problem is what happens to people who are already on board. These changes address that.”

Records show that the bribing of Homeland Security employees persists. In 2016, 15 have been arrested on, convicted of or sentenced on charges of bribery. In February, Johnny Acosta, a Customs and Border Protection officer in Douglas, Ariz., was sentenced to eight years in prison for bribery and drug smuggling. Mr. Acosta, who was arrested as he tried to flee to Mexico, took more than $70,000 in bribes and helped smuggle over a ton of marijuana into the United States.

In a plea agreement, Johnny Acosta, a Customs and Border Protection officer, admitted to taking bribes and participating in a scheme to smuggle marijuana across the United States-Mexico border.

Last month, Eduardo Bazan, a Border Patrol agent in McAllen, Tex., was arrested and accused of helping a drug trafficking organization smuggle cocaine. According to court records, Mr. Bazan admitted to receiving $8,000 for his help. José Cruz-López, a Transportation Security Administration screener at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, P.R., was arrested around the same time and accused of taking $215,000 in bribes to help smuggle drugs.

Corruption investigators said the case of the former Border Patrol agent Ivhan Herrera-Chiang illustrates the damage a single compromised agent can cause. In 2013, he was sentenced to 15 years for providing sensitive law enforcement information to drug cartels.

Mr. Herrera-Chiang, who was assigned to a special undercover unit targeting the cartels in Yuma, Ariz., provided maps of hidden underground sensors, lock combinations to gates along the United States-Mexico border and the locations of Border Patrol traffic checkpoints to an individual who provided them to the cartels. The cartels used the information to bypass Border Patrol agents and transport methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana into the country, according to court records.

Ivhan Herrera-Chiang, a former Border Patrol agent who is known as La Mujer, was accused in a criminal complaint of passing information about a confidential informant to a member of a drug cartel who planned to have the informant killed.

Mr. Herrera-Chiang also entered law enforcement databases on his work computer to run drug seizure checks and even provided information on confidential informants in Mexico. That information included one informant whom federal law enforcement officers were able to locate before he could be killed, court records said. Mr. Herrera-Chiang admitted to receiving about $4,500 in bribes for his efforts, but his co-conspirator put the amount between $60,000 and $70,000.

“Corrupt C.B.P. law enforcement personnel pose a national security threat,” a Department of Homeland Security report released in May concluded. The report also revealed numerous problems with efforts to root out corruption among Border Patrol and customs agents. The report said the “true levels of corruption within C.B.P. are not known.

” Convicted former border and immigration agents give different reasons for taking bribes, from financial troubles to drug use. But for many, it was simple greed.

Homeland Security Bribe Documents Records show that Border Patrol officers and customs agents, who protect more than 7,000 miles of the border and deal most directly with drug cartels and smugglers, have taken the most in bribes, about $11 million.

But the issue of bribery extends well beyond front-line agents at the border. Department of Homeland Security employees who enforce immigration and customs laws and provide citizenship benefits and aviation security have also been arrested or indicted on and convicted of charges of taking bribes.

Last month, Daniel Espejo Amos, a former immigration service officer at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to taking $53,000 in bribes from immigration lawyers on behalf of 60 immigrants who were not eligible to become naturalized citizens of the United States. Mr. Amos certified that the immigrants met the requirements for citizenship, even though one person’s English-language skills were so poor that copies of test answers were given to him so he could memorize them for a naturalization interview.

Transportation security officers and screeners with access to secure areas of airports that could be used to smuggle weapons and even carry bombs onto planes have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes as well, records show.

Mr. Roth, the inspector general, said rooting out corrupt employees is a top priority for his office, which gets 300 to 400 cases a year alleging corruption. The office takes about 100 of the cases and sends the rest to internal affairs offices at ICE, Customs and Border Protection, the T.S.A. and Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The Border Corruption Task Force, which is directed by the F.B.I. and includes agencies from the Department of Homeland Security as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration, has also pursued dozens of corruption and bribery cases that have ended in convictions.

But the Homeland Security report released in May said Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of the Border Patrol, currently lacks proactive programs to weed out corruption. Instead, the report said, the agency based its investigations on reporting from other employees, other government agencies or the public, by which time the corruption could have festered for decades.

The agency also needed to more than double the number of internal affairs criminal investigators to 550 from about 200, the report said. It said the agency’s 2017 budget calls for an increase of only 30 investigators.

James Tomsheck, the former head of internal affairs at Customs and Border Protection, said many of the problems the agency is facing with corrupt agents had to do with inadequate prehiring screening programs.

Background checks and polygraph tests have failed to weed out actual cartel members who were hired by the Border Patrol in some instances, he said.




Borderland Beat Reporter




Anti-drug agents are usually extremely cautious about spilling the beans on their secret world, which lies somewhere between espionage, police work and battlefield.

But here’s a rare inside look, offered by a veteran of the drug war. Mike Vigil, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s former chief of international operations, served more than three decades in the agency, including 18 years abroad, and more time than any other DEA agent in Mexico.

Now an independent consultant who still advises Mexican security forces, Vigil has detailed his work in a new memoir called “Deal.”

Vigil’s known as the agent who best infiltrated Mexico’s and Colombia’s violent cartels. And he lives to tell the tales.

He has many thrilling ones: pretending to be a trafficker and setting up cocaine deals; working to take down corrupt soldiers and police; watching a drug lord offer him $3 million for his freedom, and smiling as he turned it down.

But, no doubt, the DEA is a controversial operator. The US government has spent billions to break up narco networks in Latin America and elsewhere, only to see millions of Americans still abusing drugs. Some of the agency’s tactics, at times backed by elite military operatives, have also come under criticism.

And times have changed since Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs” in 1971. US citizens in many states are even voting to legalize pot. On this issue, Vigil is a defender of the DEA’s official, prohibitionist line about marijuana being a highly addictive gateway drug — claims that are increasingly disputed.

Still, whatever the debate, agents like Vigil have some of the sharpest inside knowledge of drug cartels wreaking havoc on the Americas.

In a recent interview, GlobalPost asked Vigil to dish on some crime family secrets and to explain why he still backs the drug war. Excerpts follow.

GlobalPost: How did you first become a DEA agent?

Mike Vigil: I was always very interested in law enforcement. I grew up watching TV programs such as “The Untouchables,” “Dragnet” and “FBI.” I went to New Mexico State University, which was just south of my hometown and one of the few colleges that offered a four-year degree in police science criminology. I graduated with honors and looked at different law enforcement agencies. The one that attracted me was the DEA as it gave me the opportunity to work both in the United States and abroad.

How did you pull off the drug trafficker act?

Spanish was my first language and I didn’t learn English until I started school. I picked up the Mexican trafficking jargon very quickly. They have their own code words, their own way of talking. When I was working undercover I would totally expunge from my mind the fact that I was an undercover agent and, quite frankly, I transformed myself mentally into a drug trafficker. I thought like them, I acted like them, I spoke like them, and that prevented them from noticing any nervousness. There was no perspiration, and I knew how to answer all of their questions in a way they could not check on the story and check my bonafides.

What’s the closest you’ve come to losing your life?

I was working on a case in Caborca, Sonora, Mexico. I had met with a trafficker and negotiated to buy several tons of marijuana. Mexican federal agents moved in to make an arrest. A Mexican fed came and put his gun to the trafficker’s chest.

The trafficker grabbed the barrel and got leverage. He pulled back the gun so it went off and shot the fed in the head. I saw a splat of blood go up in the air. He turned quickly and fired two rounds at me from 3 feet with the federal agent’s gun. [Vigil wasn’t hit.] It all happened in two to three seconds. Then he went down. I was fortunate to have survived because I did an enormous amount of undercover work.

What motivated you to take this risk?

The big thing was that I enjoyed playing the chess game. It was the ultimate game of cat and mouse where somebody was going to win and somebody was going to lose. And it was the adrenalin rush, it was incredible. You really have to curb that situation. Because you find yourself taking more and more chances to get a bigger rush, and that is when it really becomes deadly.

How did you arrest Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros, the Honduran trafficker convicted in the kidnapping of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena?

We tracked him to a house in Colombia. When we went in he started to run and jumped over a wall. I jumped after him and he was on the floor with a 9mm. I took out my gun and I was going to kill him, and he said, “Don’t shoot. I can get out of a prison, but I can’t get out of a tomb.” … Then he proceeded to offer me three and half million dollars if we turned him loose. He said he could have the money there in 20 minutes. Obviously, we told him to shove it. Later on the plane to the jail, he said, “I want to congratulate you because no one has been able to capture me in 20 years.”

What do you think of accusations that the CIA was involved in Camarena’s killing or was negligent?

No, that is not correct. We know that it was the Guadalajara cartel. There are all kinds of allegations but there was never any evidence that I saw and I was pretty actively involved in that investigation. I’ve worked closely with the CIA and they would never do anything like that, involving themselves in the murder of a US agent. That would never happen.

What’s your opinion of how Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto administration is fighting drug traffickers?

I think it has done a very good job. It has carried on with the legacy of [former President] Felipe Calderon in trying to make an impact on the drug trade. Obviously it has resulted in a lot of violence, because a lot of the drug cartels were crippled, so others want to take control, and a lot of innocent people die as a result.

How about the release from prison of drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, also implicated in the killing of DEA agent Camarena?

The situation with Caro Quintero was pretty tragic. He is a killer, a complete psychopath, who has no respect for human life. For him to be released after killing Kiki Camarena and a multitude of other people is a travesty of justice. … I would have to say that it was corruption by the judge.

Who’s running the Sinaloa Cartel following the arrest of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman?

The information that I have is that Ismael “Mayo” Zambada is running the organization. … He has the ability, he is widely respected by the organization, he knows who the sources are for cocaine, and other drugs, and has a great understanding in all the aspects involved in cultivation, transportation and distribution.

What do you think of the use of soldiers to fight drug traffickers and the risk of civilians being killed, as in a recent case in Mexico state?

The military are good at using force but the military are not trained investigators, so when they go on these raids and arrest situations, they often destroy evidence. That may weaken the case against these cartel heads.

What’s your take on the marijuana legalization in two US states and in Uruguay, and high-profile criticism of the war on drugs?

Legalized marijuana is a tragedy. … Marijuana is highly addictive and has been proven to be a gateway to other drugs. What kind of message are we sending to our partners like Mexico and Colombia that every year lose hundreds of police officers and military personnel [at the hands of narco gangs] when we legalize drugs in the United States?

I think we need a very balanced approach to the drug situation where we have to work as a community. Families, the church, the school[s] and independent organizations have to work together to try to reduce the demand. You have to start educating children at a very early age in terms of the issues involved in taking illicit drugs.

Borderland Beat Reporter El Wachito






Diplomats and top officials from governments around the world gathered last week at United Nations headquarters in New York to discuss what to do about the global drug problem. Over the course of four days and multiple discussions, the assembled dignitaries vowed to take a more comprehensive approach to the issue than in years past — but they also decided to keep waging the war on drugs.

The “outcome document” adopted during the UN General Assembly’s special session (UNGASS) calls for countries to “prevent and counter” drug-related crime by disrupting the “illicit cultivation, production, manufacturing, and trafficking” of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and other substances banned by international law. The document also reaffirmed the UN’s “unwavering commitment” to “supply reduction and related measures.” Yet according to the UN’s own data, the supply-oriented approach to fighting drug trafficking has been a failure of epic proportions. Last May, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issued its 2015 world drug report, which shows that — despite billions of dollars spent trying to eradicate illicit crops, seize drug loads, and arrest traffickers — more people than ever before are getting high.

The UNODC conservatively estimated that in 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, 246 million people worldwide, or 1 out of 20 individuals between the ages of 15 and 64, used an illicit drug, an increase of 3 million people over the previous year. More alarmingly, 27 million people were characterized as “problem drug users.” Only one out of every six of these problem users had access to any sort of addiction treatment.  Meanwhile, at a UN roundtable on drug-related crime and money laundering last week, the agenda noted that while drug treaties remain unchanged, organized crime has kept pace with the expansion of the global economy: “Advances in technology, transport, and travel have added to the fluid efficiency and speed of the global economy. They also offer similar efficiencies to the business of trafficking networks.”  In other words, globalization has led to an explosion of drug trafficking. More than 420 million shipping containers traverse the seas every year, transporting 90 percent of the world’s cargo. Most carry legitimate goods, but authorities cannot inspect them all, and some are used to smuggle drugs — or just as importantly, the chemicals used to make meth and cheaply process coca leaves and opium poppies into cocaine and heroin. Airplanes, submarines, speedboats, trucks, tunnels — taken as a whole, the systems used to move illegal drugs around the world comprise a logistics network likely bigger than Amazon, FedEx, and UPS combined.  Precisely how all of that illicit cargo moves around the globe is constantly shifting. New routes evolve as authorities crack down, laws evolve, wars erupt, and the climate changes. During UNGASS, VICE News spoke with UNODC officials from Mexico and Southeast Asia, as well as with independent experts on organized crime in Latin America, to learn about the latest trends determining how drugs are smuggled around the globe.  We also culled information from the aforementioned UNODC report, the US State Department’s International Narcotics Control Strategy report, the White House’s report on National Drug Control Strategy, and a variety of other sources.  This is what we learned about today’s golden age of drug trafficking.


Methamphetamine: Huge Profits and ‘Super Labs’ 

Demand for methamphetamine has soared since the UN’s last drug summit in 1998, and it has become one of the most popular — and profitable — illicit substances in nearly every corner of the world. From Australia and Asia to Africa and North America, meth is the poster drug for the global narco economy. The quantities of meth confiscated by authorities over the past decade reflect its rise. According to the UNODC, global meth seizures nearly quadrupled from 24 tons in 2008 to 114 tons in 2012. Meth seizures in Mexico increased from 341 kilograms in 2008 to 44 tons in 2012. In Australia, meth seizures in Australia soared by more than 400 percent in a single year, climbing from 426 kilograms in 2011 to 2,269 kilos in 2012. In Asia, meth is primarily produced in China, where the precursor chemicals needed to synthesize the drug are abundant, and in the lawless Golden Triangle region of Myanmar and Laos. Douglas, the UNODC rep in Southeast Asia, said that “crystal meth is exploding in the region.” According to the UNODC’s preliminary estimate, 25 tons of meth were seized last year across the region. Douglas said part of meth’s appeal for drug traffickers is the relatively low startup and overhead costs. Producing heroin requires paying hundreds of farmers to tend crops that can produce only a limited amount of poppy gum per harvest. For meth, it takes only a shipment of relatively easy-to-obtain chemicals and a little bit of scientific know how. The drug can be shipped to countries like Australia, which offers the highest price per kilo of meth anywhere in the world, and sold for an enormous profit. “They don’t need to employ thousands of farmers to produce starting materials,” Douglas said. “Basically they just need to get access to the precursors. It’s a much more tight-knit business model and more profitable for organized crime than heroin.”

A new development, according to Douglas and Soe, is that Indian pharmaceutical companies are supplying meth manufacturers in Myanmar with the necessary lab ingredients. Authorities have busted shipments of millions of pseudoephedrine pills crossing east from India through the porous border with Myanmar. The UNODC officials said the pills were recently manufactured, indicating they were likely made-to-order for illicit purposes rather than diverted from legitimate use. But for the most part, the chemicals used to make the world’s meth originate in China, where a booming pharmaceutical industry manufactures all the raw ingredients to produce “ice,” the common name for glassy shards of high-purity crystal meth. According to data presented by the Chinese government at UNGASS, the country seized a whopping 20,338 tons of meth precursor chemicals from 2009 to 2015. Busts have shown that individual villages are capable of producing enormous quantities of the drug. On a single day in 2013 in Boshe, a village northeast of Hong Kong on the Chinese mainland, authorities seized three tons of meth and more than 100 tons of precursors. ” [With] crystal meth, the leader appears to be China, but they also produce significant amounts in the Philippines and in Indonesia, and also to some extent in Myanmar,” Douglas said. “But what we’ve seen in recent years is industrial-scale production from a few labs in China.” The DEA estimates that Mexican cartels produce 90 percent of the meth consumed in the United States. Most of the mom-and-pop meth cooks in the Midwest have been put out of business by laws restricting access to cold medicine that contains precursor pseudoephedrine, and that void had been filled by high-purity product from so-called Mexican “super-labs” fueled by Chinese chemicals.

In one infamous case, a Chinese-Mexican businessman named Zhenli Ye Gon was arrested in 2009 after police found $207 million in cash hidden in his Mexico City mansion; he later admitted to selling tons of meth precursors to the Sinaloa Cartel. Another cartel, the Knights Templar, is known to send illegally mined iron ore to China from ports in the state of Michoacan in exchange for meth precursors. (It’s arguably not the oddest such commodity trade on record: South African meth manufacturers reportedly swap poached abalone — a type of shellfish prized in China — for precursors.) The connection between Mexican groups, particularly the Sinaloa Cartel, and Asian crime syndicates is well documented. Early last year, an alleged Sinaloa Cartel operative named Horacio Hernandez Herrera was arrested in Manila, and local authorities later confirmed that his organization has attempted to gain a foothold in the country’s domestic meth trade. Shortly after Herrera was detained, police in the Philippines seized 84 kilograms of high-grade “shabu” crystal meth worth $9.4 million and arrested three suspects with alleged links to the Sinaloa Cartel. Mazzitelli, the UNODC representative in Mexico, pointed out that the Sinaloa Cartel has also been linked to meth manufacturing operations as far afield as Nigeria. Last month, authorities in that country’s Asaba Delta state arrested four Mexicans and dismantled a “super laboratory” that reportedly had the capacity to produce four tons of meth per week. “They are everywhere,” Mazzitelli said of the Sinaloa Cartel. “They have the capacity to negotiate with Nigerian criminal groups, European criminal groups — they provide to everybody. They are businessmen.” He compared the cartel to a “multinational” corporation, and cited the “entrepreneurial spirit” of Mexican traffickers and the “technical edge” the Sinaloans have over their competitors as reasons for the group’s global expansion. “In these last 15 years, they have transformed the illicit drug business into a worldwide business,” he said. “They are everywhere. They had the capacity to take advantage of the globalization of the demand for illicit drugs. They have the capacity to provide all types of drugs everywhere.”



Cocaine: Guerrillas and Gold 

In 1998, the last time the UN held a special gathering to discuss drug policy, the stated goal was “eliminating or significantly reducing the illicit cultivation of the coca bush, the cannabis plant and the opium poppy by the year 2008.” Even in hindsight, at least part of that goal doesn’t seem entirely out of reach: Just a handful of Andean nations — Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia — are responsible for virtually the entire global supply of cocaine.  Funded in large part by the US — the world’s largest cocaine consumer — Colombia and Peru have spent decades and many dollars spraying poison on the fields of impoverished farmers, or campesinos, who turned to coca because it is significantly more valuable than other crops. Coca has also fueled conflict in both countries. Peru’s Shining Path guerrillas still control coca-rich territory in the country’s remote VRAE region, while FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrillas in Colombia have funded the Western Hemisphere’s longest-running insurgency with profits from the drug trade.  While official estimates briefly put Peru ahead of Colombia in overall cocaine production, the homeland of Pablo Escobar regained the top spot after its output of the white powder spiked by 44 percent last year. A variety of factors are behind the surge, including a peace deal between the Colombian government and the FARC; and, oddly enough, the price of gold.  The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime issued a report this month that linked Plan Colombia — the US-backed campaign that has funded coca crop eradication and paramilitaries to fight the FARC and ELN (National Liberation Army), another guerrilla group — to the rise of illegal gold mining. The drug war drove up the cost of doing business for guerrillas, narcos, and campesinos alike, who switched to gold as a safer, more lucrative alternative to coca, the Global Initiative said.  “These groups were quick to realize that taking control of large swaths of land remote from government attention and dominating the enterprises that mined that land would enable them to generate larger profit margins with much lower risk,” the report found. “The change of strategy by the drug trafficking groups proved so successful that in Peru and Colombia — the largest cocaine producers in the world — the value of illegal gold exports now exceeds the value of cocaine exports.”

According to James Bargent, a Medellin-based journalist and analyst who specializes in Colombian organized crime, the Global Initiative’s assessment is accurate. Speaking to VICE News following a trip to coca-producing areas in Colombia’s Antioquia region, he said falling gold prices combined with the looming demobilization of the guerrilla groups has led to a bumper crop of coca. “You can trace up and down illegal gold mining and coca,” Bargent said. “When eradication was going crazy and planes were spraying everywhere and rounding up farmers, gold prices went through the roof, and a lot of farmers switched to mining. Now you’ve got the reverse happening. The state is cracking down on mining and prices aren’t as high so it’s less risky to go to coca.” The guerrillas are deeply involved in the cocaine trade: In November, the Colombian military busted a jungle compound that belonged to the ELN with a laboratory that was reportedly capable of producing seven tons of powder per month. Other reports indicate that the country’s most powerful criminal organization, the Urabeños, is preparing to take over cocaine production after the guerrillas lay down their arms as part of the peace deal. But the guerrillas aren’t giving up their business without a fight — FARC and ELN fighters have clashed recently with Urabeños members in Antioquia, reportedly over coca-producing turf. “The ELN and Urabeños are starting to face off over who is going to fill the vacuum when the FARC go,” Bargent said. “What I’ve been hearing is that the Urabeños are encouraging people to go back to coca [from gold mining], and are paying people more per kilo of leaf than the guerrillas. They’re trying to position themselves for when the FARC start stepping away.” Colombian cocaine typically flows northward to Central America and Mexico by maritime routes, often via semi-submersible “narco subs” that can carry up to 14,000 pounds per shipment. Conventional boats also drop loads in the Caribbean, with the Dominican Republic emerging as a key transhipment point for cocaine on its way to both Europe and the US. Peruvian coca paste is often processed into powder in Bolivia, and authorities in both countries have spent the last two years trying to dismantle a so-called “air bridge” that sees small aircraft fly from one country to the other via remote jungle landing strips. Peruvian cocaine tends to find its way to Europe through Brazil and Argentina, often with stopovers in West Africa. The UNODC reports that Colombian cocaine also moves to Europe through West Africa, sometimes after passing through Venezuela. Italy’s ‘Ndrangheta mafia is thought to control most of the continent’s cocaine trade. “Between 2004 and 2007, at least two distinct trans-shipment hubs emerged in West Africa: one centred on Guinea-Bissau and Guinea, and one centred in the Bight of Benin which spans from Ghana to Nigeria. Colombian traffickers transported cocaine by ‘mother ship’ to the West African coast before offloading to smaller vessels,” according to the UNODC. “Some of this cocaine proceeded onward by sea to Spain and Portugal, but some was left as payment to West Africans for their assistance.” According to the DEA, 90 percent of cocaine destined for the US moves through Mexico and Central America. The UNODC report noted that demand for cocaine in the US has fallen by nearly half since 2006, but the use of Central America as a transhipment point has led to the emergence of domestic cocaine markets in countries like Honduras and El Salvador. Steven Dudley, co-founder of InSight Crime, a foundation that studies organized crime in Latin America, says that the phenomenon is caused in part by traffickers paying middlemen with cocaine rather than cash. “In Central America, in very poor neighborhoods in [the Honduran city of] San Pedro Sula, we’ve seen people selling powder cocaine,” Dudley said. “On the surface, that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but we’ve never had that before. That’s just an illustration of the incredible increase of availability of drugs in those areas. I don’t want to defy economic logic and say supply creates demand, but to a certain extent it feels that way.” Once the coke reaches Mexico, groups such as the Sinaloa Cartel shepherd it overland through regional territories called “plazas” to the US border. Antonio Mazzitelli, the UNODC representative for Mexico, said cocaine seizures in the country started to plummet sometime around 2009 as violence peaked during an all-out war between cartels and the government. “Cocaine was not moving north through Mexico because it was too risky,” Mazzitelli told VICE News. “These trafficking routes, they were not safe anymore.” He said cocaine seizures have picked up again over the last eight months or so, a trend he connected to the destruction of Los Zetas, a group blamed for much of the bloodshed in Mexico’s drug war, and a consolidation of power by the Sinaloa Cartel, led by recently captured kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and his partner Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, who remains at large. “Basically, the drug business was disrupted by violence,” Mazzitelli said. “This is a normal economic feature — more violence means more economic risk to the operators who are moving stuff. Now the situation has been stabilized.” “The Pacific (Sinaloa) Cartel in the middle of the violence was proposing to the other cartels to join to a federation,” he added. “They were business-oriented, they were saying ‘Let’s stop this and get back to business.'” Once a cocaine shipment reaches the US border, cartels employ a dizzying array of tactics to smuggle it across, including hiding drugs in shipments of legitimate goods, having human drug mules carry loads by foot across the desert, and building lengthy and elaborate cross border tunnels. It’s a constant game of cat-and-mouse with law enforcement. “Clearly, traffickers are always thinking about new methods for moving stuff,” Mazzitelli said. “As soon as the focus is on tunnels, traffickers will find a new way to do this, using speed boats, unmanned drones, or small airplanes, trucks, cars — whatever, this depends on the capacity of the drug trafficking organization.”

Heroin: Afghan Poppies and Golden Triangles 

Much like cocaine, the global heroin supply originates from just a few countries, but one in particular has emerged as the source for nearly all of the world’s smack. According to the UNODC, Afghanistan “has a virtual monopoly on the illicit production of opium, producing 6,900 tons in 2009 — 95 percent of global supply.” Afghanistan has long been a source of heroin, but the remarkable surge in poppy production from the country can be traced directly to the US-led invasion of the country in 2001. That year, according to the UNODC, Afghan growers cultivated about 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres) of poppy plants. By 2014, that figure skyrocketed to more than 224,000 hectares (553,500 acres). The plant, which had been outlawed under Taliban rule, now funds the group’s ongoing insurgency against the US-backed government in Kabul. “A symbiotic relationship exists between the insurgency and organized narcotics trafficking,” the US State Department wrote in its 2015 report on the global drug trade. “Traffickers provide weapons, funding, and other material support to the insurgency in exchange for the protection of drug trade routes, cultivation fields, laboratories, and trafficking organizations.” Afghanistan supplies nearly all of the heroin consumed in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, while also commanding a sizable share of the market in parts of Asia, the Pacific, and North America. The UNODC estimates that the global heroin business is valued at $55 billion annually, and Afghanistan is thought to produce 375 tons of the drug every year. That’s significantly more than the next two largest heroin producers — Mexico (26 tons per year, according to the US) and Myanmar (about 50 tons, per the UNODC) — combined.

Historically, Afghan heroin has flowed into Europe via what’s known as “the Balkan route,” an overland path that stretches west through Iran, Turkey, and Greece and up through Serbia, Hungary, and other nations in the Balkans. The UNODC notes that this route is “exceedingly well organized and lubricated with corruption.” Another path, the “Northern Route,” sends heroin to Russia through the “stan” countries: Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan. “About a third of the heroin produced in Afghanistan is transported to Europe via the Balkan route, while a quarter is trafficked north to Central Asia and the Russian Federation along the northern route,” the UNODC says. “Afghan heroin is also increasingly meeting a rapidly growing share of Asian demand. Approximately 15-20 metric tons are estimated to be trafficked to China, while a further 35 metric tons are trafficked to other South and Southeast Asian countries.” One recent development has seen more Afghan heroin — an estimated 35 metric tons per year — shipped across the Indian Ocean to parts of East and Southern Africa. The UNODC said it’s also becoming more common for heroin smugglers to use their networks to smuggle hashish, methamphetamine, and other illicit goods. ” To a certain extent, there has also been a shift in the focus of the trafficking routes themselves,” the UNODC wrote. “There is increasing evidence that routes traditionally used for smuggling one type of drug are now being used for smuggling other drug types.” According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, at least 90 percent of the heroin seized in Canada from 2009 to 2012 came from Afghanistan. That’s a stark contrast to the United States, where the vast majority of heroin now comes from Mexico. The UNODC attributes the recent surge in heroin addiction in the US to “changes in the formulation of OxyContin, one of the main prescription opioids that are misused, as well as an increase in the availability of heroin and a decrease in its price in some parts of the country.”

‘The Mexicans are producing a better-quality product and moving into markets previously dominated by the Colombians.’ 

Opium poppies can be found in nearly every region of the world, but they were introduced to Mexico in the late 1800s by Chinese immigrants. The plant it is now grown primarily by impoverished campesinos in mountainous parts of the states of Guerrero and Nayarit, and in the so-called Golden Triangle, a lawless region on the frontiers of Sinaloa, Durango, and Chihuahua. The Sinaloa Cartel controls most of the heroin production, and the organization has started to move from producing lower-quality “black tar” heroin to higher-grade “China white,” which is more lucrative and prized by consumers in the northeastern US. For years, Colombia was the leading supplier of “China white” in the US, but poppy production has steadily declined in the country over the last half-decade. Bargent, the Colombia-based organized crime expert, said Mexicans have stepped up to meet the American demand. “All evidence points to a massive decline [in Colombian heroin production], and that’s in large part because Mexicans are filling that market,” Bargent said. “What appears to be happening is the Mexicans are producing a better-quality product and moving into markets previously dominated by the Colombians, and I don’t think there’s any push back from them on that.”

The only other significant heroin-producing region is another Golden Triangle, — the border area between Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand. Poppy cultivation is down overall in Myanmar, but is has increased in conflict-plagued eastern parts of the country that remain under the control of warlords and groups like the United Wa State Army, a 20,000-strong rebel group that is heavily involved in the narcotics trade. According to Tun Nay Soe, UNODC program coordinator for East Asia, an estimated 90 percent of heroin produced in Myanmar ends up in China, with the remaining 10 percent going to other countries in Southeast Asia. Jeremy Douglas, the UNODC regional representative for Southeast Asia, said the relatively weak borders in the Golden Triangle make it ripe for exploitation by smugglers. Product moves over land north into China, or on boats down the Mekong River and throughout the region. “Between Laos and Thailand, you can pretty much get most things across,” Douglas said. “It’s not exactly rocket science. The same with Thailand and Myanmar — the flows aren’t really held back by the control of mechanisms you’d have at most borders because they lack the protective capacity.” High-ranking officials from China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam gathered last week at the UN for a “side event” to discuss the development of “a coordinated regional response to drug production.” Douglas, who hosted the discussion, said improved border security was on the agenda, but he was encouraged by the calls for increased “balance” in the collective approach to drugs in the region. Most nations in the regions have harsh drug laws — China routinely puts drug offenders to death — and offer little access to rehabilitation for addicts. “They need to look at the demand for the drugs, which is unabated,” Douglas said. “As long as the demand is there, organized crime is going to meet it.”

Borderland Beat Reporter El Wachito




BAGHDAD — A Nov. 23 report by specialized judges revealed the establishment of plants to produce Krystal — the local name of crystal methamphetamine or crystal meth. The findings suggest that Iraq is changing from a corridor for drugs between neighboring countries into a producer of narcotics, taking advantage of poor regulatory procedures on the porous border.

A member of the Iraqi Kurdish security forces stands next to seized drug before its destruction on October 29, 2013 in the Iraqi northern city of Arbil. Authorities said they seized one ton of various drugs in the past months.

Ministry of Interior announced the arrest of a group of six people who were trafficking narcotics in a horse stable in the Abu Ghraib area, west of Baghdad.

A source in the national security apparatus confirmed Nov. 19 the presence of plants used to produce drugs, such as crystal meth, in Basra and Maysan provinces in the south. The people running the plants mix narcotic chemicals that are smuggled from abroad with other materials. The source said that this has turned Iraq into a producing country of narcotics.

Faeq al-Sheikh Ali, a member of parliament, said Oct. 25 that “cannabis is cultivated in opium farms in south Iraq under the patronage of political parties and influential armed groups,” which gave the phenomenon a political dimension, causing much controversy about political parties using drug profits for political money.

Ali’s statements prompted Iraqi parliament’s Agricultural Committee to declare Dec. 12 that it will “investigate the information about the cultivation of some crops used for the manufacture of drugs, especially opium in the south of Iraq.”

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Ali al-Badri, a member of parliament on the Agricultural Committee, denied claims about opium cultivation in southern Iraq at the hands of political parties and groups. “These reports are not accurate. The cultivation of such narcotics requires production means and lands for cultivation. The presence of some individual cases does not mean Iraq is now producing drugs,” he said.

However, it appears that Badri’s statements are not in line with what is happening on the ground, especially in the peripheries of Erbil in the Kurdistan Region, where security forces raided the first drug farm on Oct. 13, with narcotics estimated at a value of about $1 million.

Badri and the Agricultural Committee’s statements that deny the production of drugs in the country contradict the Oct. 5 statements of sources in the Sharqat district in the north, saying that the security forces destroyed 16 acres of opium.

This raises questions about why Iraqi parties are denying drug production in the country. Sources confirmed that members of the Islamic State (IS) were cultivating opium in Sharqat to finance their operations. The sources said that opium was used to extract heroin in the laboratories of the University of Mosul, which fell under IS control in June 2014.

Salah Hassan, brigadier general in the Iraqi Interior Ministry, told Al-Monitor, “Drug cultivation and production is happening in the areas under IS control,” which is further proof of the incidents in Sharqat. This raises the speculation of drug cultivation and narcotics marketing in Kurdistan, as well. Given the area’s mountainous nature and rough terrain, it is difficult for security services to detect the plants.

Amer Habib, an academic in agricultural sciences from Babil, told Al-Monitor that opium cultivation is not widespread in the center and south of the country because “this kind of cultivation requires a relatively cold atmosphere, which is not the case in the central and southern areas. But it is still possible.”

“These cultivation farms need special care and to be hidden from the public eye, which can be done in these areas. Therefore, there might be individual attempts to grow narcotic plants, but this cannot be considered a widespread phenomenon,” Habib added.

In the same context, Sabah al-Saadi, a member of parliament’s Security and Defense Committee, told Al-Monitor, “Reports on drug manufacturing in Iraq are hyperbolic, but one can say that this industry is being launched. The number of drug dealers have increased each year after 2003, while the spread of IS in Iraq increases the chances of local production should the consumption of use of drugs remain high. This could encourage smugglers to start manufacturing inside the country.”

In further evidence to Saadi’s statement, the Department of Mental Health in Basra General Hospital called upon the state on Jan. 2 to establish a specialized center for combating drugs, especially with the increased use of crystal meth.

Ignoring the signs and signals that emerge every now and then in Iraq could cause Iraq to become a country producing and exporting drugs, leading to more victims of addiction and rising numbers of drug traffickers. Iskandar Watout, a member of the Security and Defense Committee, told Al-Monitor that he has been calling for the “intelligence apparatus to take action and impose tight measures and apply Iraqi law, banning the cultivation and production of drugs and punishing groups trafficking and using narcotics.”





The Utah County Sheriff’s Office is actively searching for Britney Vert, last known to live in the Springville area, for two warrants for her arrest.

Vert’s most serious warrant stems from an incident in June 2014. Police reports state she had been arrested on June 13, 2014, by Springville police officers. As she was being arrested, Vert, 32, grabbed a bag of methamphetamine and stuffed it down her pants, police reports state.

Springville police officers asked if she had any drugs on her, to which she said no. Vert was patted down at the Utah County Jail and the bag of meth fell out of her pants, reports state.

Vert told police she understood she would have additional charges if she had drugs in the jail, reports state.

Vert was charged with multiple crimes, including a second-degree felony of possession of meth in a correctional facility.

Vert pleaded guilty to her crimes in September 2014 and was sentenced in January 2015.

On Nov. 23, 2016, a no-bail warrant was issued for her arrest after she reported violated her probation. She has been wanted since.

Vert has one other warrant for her arrest outstanding: a third-degree felony of possession of a controlled substance.

Vert has been described as being 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighing about 145 pounds. She has hazel eyes and brown hair.

If you have any information on her or any of these people, call the Utah County Sheriff’s Office at (801) 851-4034.






A Lincolnton Police Department raid at a home on North Grove Street resulted in the arrest of five residents on two dozen felony drug charges on Dec. 23.

Officers said Robert Shuford, Leslie Shuford, Berry Osborne, Jessica Lane and Arthur Houser, all of 401 N. Grove Street, were arrested after a three-month investigation into methamphetamine sales at the home.

“The residence located at 401 N. Grove Street has been a problem for the citizens of Lincolnton for a long time,” Lt. Jason Munday said in a press release. “We have made numerous arrests out of this residence on multiple occasions. We are currently using all available resources to stop the drug supply that is going in and out at that location. We are constantly looking at the levels above and below these offenders to work on stopping the supply and demand of methamphetamine here in Lincolnton. This specific residence has been a center point for the methamphetamine traffic for the City of Lincolnton, Lincoln County, as well other adjoining counties.”

  • Robert Shuford, 63, was charged with five counts of maintaining a dwelling for a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to sell methamphetamine. He received a $30,000 secured bond. Shuford has prior convictions for failure to file or pay income tax, driving while impaired and multiple other traffic offenses. Shuford has pending charges of obtaining property by false pretense and uttering a forged instrument.
  • Leslie Shuford, 31, was charged with two counts of conspiracy to sell or deliver a schedule II controlled substance. She was issued a $10,000 secured bond. She has prior convictions for simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, shoplifting, possession of marijuana, driving while impaired and other various traffic offenses. Shuford has pending charges for felony possession of methamphetamine, larceny and possession of stolen goods.
  • Osborne, 65, was charged with three counts of possession with intent to sell a schedule II controlled substance, three counts of selling a schedule II controlled substance and three counts of delivering a schedule II controlled substance. Osborne was issued a $45,000 secured bond. Osborne has prior convictions for possession with intent to sell methamphetamine, selling methamphetamine, delivering methamphetamine, selling a schedule II controlled substance, delivering a schedule II controlled substance, obtaining property by false pretenses, forgery of an instrument, uttering a forged instrument, larceny from a person, felony larceny, possession of marijuana, assault on a female, assault inflicting serious injury, resisting a public officer, misdemeanor stalking, threatening phone calls, driving while impaired and several other traffic offenses. Osborne has pending charges for possession with intent to sell methamphetamine, selling methamphetamine, delivering methamphetamine and maintaining a dwelling for controlled substances. Osborne was on active probation at the time of his arrest.
  • Lane, 20, was charged with one count of conspiracy to sell or deliver a schedule II controlled substance. She was issued a $5,000 secured bond. Lane has prior convictions for uttering a forged instrument, obtaining property by false pretenses, resisting a public officer, simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and traffic offenses. Lane has pending charges for conspiracy to sell or deliver a schedule II controlled substance, larceny and possession of stolen goods. Lane was on active probation at the time of her arrest.
  • Houser, 26, was charged with two counts of possession with intent to sell a schedule II controlled substance, two counts of selling a schedule II controlled substance and two counts of delivering a schedule II controlled substance. Houser was given a $30,000 secured bond. Houser has an underage possession of alcohol conviction as well as traffic convictions. Houser has multiple pending counts of possession with intent to sell methamphetamine, felony possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia charges.