KOSCIUSKO COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – Officers in Kosciusko County arrested five people in two separate incidents Monday afternoon in Warsaw. The suspects face various charges related to methamphetamine.

Around 3:30 p.m., Kosciusko County Drug Task Officers received information of a possible driver under the influence of drugs in the area of U.S. 30 and Old Road 30. Officers located the suspected vehicle near U.S. 30 and County Road 250 East and conducted a stop after viewing a traffic infraction.

After a Warsaw K-9 unit detected the odor of methamphetamine, officers searched the vehicle and found finished methamphetamine, meth precursors, and a small amount of marijuana.

Police arrested Trevor Lee Smith, 39, of Warsaw, and Michelle Lee Hoover, 42, of Syracuse. Both are preliminarily charged with felony possession of methamphetamine and meth precursors.

At almost the same time, officers from the Warsaw Police Department were advised of three people at Lewis Salvage in Warsaw who were trying to sell a possible stolen radiator from Marshall County. Also in that case, K-9 units detected the odor of methamphetamine in the vehicle. Police arrested rrested Danny Ray Clark, 18, of Warsaw, Megan Lynette Jamison, 25, of Rochester, and an unnamed juvenile. They face preliminary charges of possession of methamphetamine, meth precursors, and paraphernalia.


This is the sort of crime that meth can lead to – more often than you think …

A northeast Salem man was sentenced Monday to more than 16 years in prison for giving a teenage girl drugs, taking pornographic images and raping her.

Shawn Clinton Dixon, 30, pleaded guilty to charges including third-degree rape, second-degree sexual abuse, delivery of methamphetamine to a minor and using a child in display of sexually explicit conduct.

Dixon walked into Marion County Circuit Judge Pamela Abernethy’s courtroom in a jail uniform and chains, nodding toward four women sitting in the front row. They declined to comment after the sentencing hearing.

No one representing the victim attended the sentencing.

“Mr. Dixon made a mistake,” Albino Vela, Dixon’s attorney, said in court. “He was doing so partly through immaturity and partly through use of drugs at the time that affected him.”

At the time of his arrest in February, police said Dixon gave the girl meth and showed her pornography to overcome her objections to sexual acts. Her parents called Marion County Sheriff’s Office and reported the crimes that occurred between August and February.

Abernethy asked Dixon to describe the conduct behind each charge he was pleading guilty to, in his own words. Dixon spoke softly and at times sounded choked up.

He said the girl, who was 14 at the time, asked for meth.

“She came over to my house and we smoked meth,” Dixon said. “She asked to smoke; she told me she’d smoked before.”

He also said he couldn’t remember filming or taking pictures of sexual acts involving the girl. When asked about the conduct behind the rape charges, Dixon blamed drug use.

“(The girl) had a crush on me,” Dixon told the judge. “I didn’t go after her. She caught me at a very bad time in my life, and I was intoxicated. She came on to me extremely strong.”

Abernethy scolded the man for minimizing his own conduct.

“You keep blaming her,” Abernethy said. “Tell it to me straight.”

Dixon admitted having sex with the girl on multiple occasions.

Abernethy handed down the sentence and told Dixon that she hoped he could get help for his substance-abuse problems.


They are no better than the Islamic terrorists!

Mexican transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), more commonly known as drug traffickers or cartels, sure know how to act like terrorists. They’re cutting off people’s heads all over Mexico and hanging the decapitated corpses from bridges in plain view. They’re assassinating mayors, and kidnapping state governors who don’t want to play by the TCOs’ rules. They’re conducting massacres of innocent Mexicans riding public buses, then burying them in mass graves across northern Mexico.

Yet, these cruel and psychopathic thugs are considered mere criminals by both the US and Mexican governments.

In March 2011, US Representative Michael McCaul, R-Texas, introduced legislation that, if passed, would designate six Mexican TCOs as “foreign terrorist organizations.” McCaul said the TCOs are “using similar tactics to gain political and economic influence,” relying on “kidnappings, political assassinations, attacks on civilian and military targets, taking over cities and even putting up checkpoints in order to control territory and institutions.”

On April 7, 2011, the Dallas Morning News published an editorial supporting McCaul’s position.

“When drug cartel thugs order mass kidnappings, explode bombs, murder scores of public officials, behead victims or hang them from overpasses and post signs in border-area cities warning of more violence if they don’t get their way, that’s not mere drug trafficking. That’s terrorism,” the editorial stated.

Making this legal designation would open up new and interesting options for battling the TCOs on both sides of the border. Funding for federal, state and local law enforcement agencies working along the southwest border would open up. Programs for going after TCO funding and money laundering operations would increase. Tactics for going head-to-head with TCO members in the streets of Mexico might improve.

However, there are several important issues that would preclude either government from making such a drastic change in policy, and they’re not to be taken lightly.

First is the fact that the TCOs have no overt political, religious or ideological motivation for doing what they do; the violence is driven purely by the pursuit of monetary profit. This requirement is one of the common denominators of the various definitions of terrorism used by the US government.

Of course, an argument can be made that TCOs are killing politicians and coercing others under penalty of death to comply with their wishes, and that this is a form of government/political manipulation. However, this shouldn’t be confused with political ideology, as TCOs seek to manipulate the government only to facilitate their illegal activities, not actually take over the government.

Second, there’s the business of having thousands of Mexican terrorists and their contracted employees – gang members, straw purchasers, etc. – crawling all over Mexico and the United States. This is nothing new; members of Hezbollah have had a considerable presence in the United States for some time. They sell fake purses and fake cigarettes to raise money in order to fund their violent activities in the Middle East.

But Hezbollah in the United States has nowhere near the presence or reach of Mexican TCOs. What would it mean to, all of a sudden, have Mexican terrorists using our expansive highway network to transport drugs? Or renting homes in our middle-class neighborhoods to hold kidnapping-for-ransom victims? Or walking into a US gun shop to buy guns for use in terrorist operations?

Then the US government and law enforcement agencies would have to examine TCO support networks in the United States. Would US-based gang members who sell Mexican-origin drugs be prosecuted for supporting terrorism? What kind of scrutiny would millions of Mexican-Americans living in the United States start to face for their potential connections to these newly-designated terrorists?

The Mexican government hasn’t completely shied away from this concept. In 2010, the Mexican legislature passed a law that allowed for the treatment of TCOs as terrorists under certain circumstances, mostly for the purpose of increasing the duration of prison terms. However, in a justice system where only two percent of criminal cases are ever successfully prosecuted, this legislation has been largely meaningless.

Such a designation by the US government would also foster a whole host of political and diplomatic problems with the Mexican government. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was publicly reprimanded for her use of the term “insurgency” when referring to Mexican TCOs and the drug war, largely over fear of how the Mexican government would react to such nomenclature. Mexico is already having a difficult time trying to put on a brave face for the international community, sending the message that President Felipe Calderón is winning the war against these criminals.

How would it appear to the world if Mexico became embroiled in a decidedly losing battle with six different terrorist groups, equated in theory to the likes of Al Qaeda and Hezbollah?

That is yet another issue regarding the legal consideration of TCOs as terrorists. Is it right to equate drug-dealing, kidnapping and extorting thugs to religious zealots who brought down the Twin Towers and have killed tens of thousands across the globe in the name of Allah?

Islamic terrorists commit a whole host of crimes, and many are involved in the drug trade as a way to raise money for their jihad. But putting TCOs and Islamic fundamentalists in the same bucket seems to take something away from the significance of acts like the attack on the US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983, or the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996.

Mexican TCOs have definitely moved beyond the label of mere criminals. They exhibit several aspects of terrorist groups, insurgencies throughout history and organized crime groups. A renaming at the federal government level is definitely in order because it could definitely result in more effective strategies and resource allocation to combat them.


And he was having a Tupperware party with 23 POUNDS of meth …

AUSTELL — An Austell man is charged with possessing 211 pounds of cocaine and 23 pounds of methamphetamine in the attic of his home on Allegiance Avenue off Brookwood Drive in Austell.

According to jail records, Edgar Cruz, 26, was arrested Wednesday and charged with trafficking more than 28 grams, trafficking methamphetamine and possession of a weapon while committing a crime, all felony charges.

Cruz’s arrest warrant states that the cocaine and meth were packaged in ways that indicated drug trafficking.

“(Cruz) did possess approximately 211 pounds of suspected cocaine,” the warrant said. “The suspected cocaine was packaged in numerous kilogram blocks, heavily wrapped and marked with individual numbers, consistent with drug trafficking … (Cruz) did possess approximately 23 pounds of suspected methamphetamine; the suspected methamphetamine was packaged in various Tupperware containers wrapped in cellophane, consistent with drug trafficking.”

The warrant went on to say that police also found a Colt .45-caliber handgun underneath a sofa cushion “readily available for use.”

According to jail records, Cruz was arrested around 6 p.m. Wednesday at Grady Medical Center in Atlanta.

Earlier in the day, a man was shot in an apparent robbery attempt on Allegiance Avenue, Cobb Police Spokesman Officer Mike Bowman said. However, Bowman would neither confirm nor deny if the robbery had anything to do with Cruz’s arrest.

Cruz was booked into Cobb Jail on Thursday and remains there on an ICE hold, according to jail records.


And some of them were citizens of Mexico. I wonder if there is a connection …

Fourteen people have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a drug trafficking conspiracy and for illegally possessing firearms, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The federal indictment is the result of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation into a multi-state methamphetamine-trafficking organization. The drug-trafficking organization allegedly distributed large quantities of methamphetamine in southwest Missouri and elsewhere.

The indictment returned by a jury on June 14 in Springfield was unsealed today upon the arrests and initial court appearances of several defendants.

Ricky Del Prigg, 54, Dennis R. Reid, 53, and Hector Ferrer-Chavez, 55, a citizen of Mexico, all of Joplin; Donald D. Simonds, Jr., 37, Timothy L. Kent, 49, and Lori Kent, 49, all of Carthage; Darrell Thomason, 42, of Jasper; Harold E. Holland, 40, of Sarcoxie; Tony Raley, 41, of Wentworth; Noel Reyes-Garcia, 41, a citizen of Mexico living in Arkansas; Iris Leticia Correa, 40, a citizen of Mexico living in Garland, Texas; Gerardo Antonio Garcia, a citizen of Mexico, and Jefferson White, 44, both of Springdale, Ark.; and Lyndsey M. Johnson, 32, of Rogers, Ark.; were charged in a 26-count indictment.

The indictment alleges that all of the defendants participated in a conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine in Jasper County, and elsewhere from May 2010 to Jan. 25, 2011.

In addition to the drug-trafficking conspiracy, Prigg is charged with participating in a money-laundering conspiracy. The indictment alleges Prigg conducted financial transactions that involved the proceeds of illegal drug trafficking. Prigg is also charged with six counts of distributing methamphetamine in Jasper County.

Ferrer-Chavez is also charged with one count of possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute in Jasper County, and one count of illegally reentering the United States after having been deported.

Simonds and Thomason are also charged together with one count of possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute in Jasper County.

Reid is also charged with attempting to destroy methamphetamine in order to prevent its seizure by law enforcement officers.

Timothy and Lori Kent are also charged with making their apartment in Carthage available for illegally storing methamphetamine.

Holland was also charged with two counts of being a felon and an unlawful user of marijuana while in possession of firearms and ammunition. The indictment alleges that Holland was in possession of a Harrington and Richardson .22-caliber revolver and five rounds of ammunition on Nov. 9, 2010, in Lawrence County, Mo. The indictment also alleges that Holland was in possession of a Savage Arms 410 shotgun, a Savage 12-gauge shotgun and ammunition on Dec. 4, 2010, in Lawrence County. Holland was also charged with one count of possessing a sawed-off shotgun.

Raley is also charged with four counts of distributing methamphetamine in Lawrence County.

Correa is also charged with two counts, and White with three counts, of using a telephone to facilitate the drug-trafficking conspiracy.

The federal indictment also contains forfeiture allegations, which would require Ferrer-Chavez to forfeit to the government $1,517 that was seized by law enforcement officers, and would require Holland to forfeit to the government all firearms and ammunition cited in the indictment.


Must be one of those fancy “chemists” …

CASSOPOLIS — An Elkhart man is heading to prison for cooking methamphetamine at a residence in Niles.

In Cass County Circuit Court Friday, Shaun Curtis, 28, was sentenced to prison for 51 months to 30 years with credit for 173 days already served.

In November, Michigan State Police officers discovered evidence of meth production in a trailer in Milton Township. The trailer, owned by Curtis’ father, had been vacant when Curtis began producing meth for his personal use there. All the components to cook meth were found at the residence.

Defense attorney Lesley Kranenberg requested Judge Michael Dodge deviate from the guidelines and not send Curtis to prison given the results of his psychological evaluation.

She also argued that Curtis hadn’t been dealing the drug.

“It was a small, residual amount for personal use,” she said, arguing that a prison sentence would “over-penalize” the offense.

For his part, Curtis expressed his desire to turn his life around.

“A sentence of 51 months would add to some of my problems rather than resolve them,” Curtis said.
Dodge defended his sentence.

“I’ve sentenced a lot of meth offenders in the past 10 years,” he said. “This guideline range doesn’t shock me. It is a proportionate and just sentence.”


Check out this frightening story …

LOS BANOS — Evidence is increasing that California prison gangs are forging close relationships with powerful drug-trafficking cartels in Mexico, according to U.S. law enforcement officials and gang experts who say the relationships have moved into a dangerous new area as Mexican cartels and American gangs swap tactical information, share intelligence and exchange techniques to avoid detection.

“What we’re seeing is that highly sophisticated gangs, operating out of the prison system or from cartels in Mexico, are shot-calling, and then farming out the work to local street gangs in California, like the Norteños,” state Attorney General Kamala Harris said recently by phone from Los Banos, the scene of a large anti-gang operation June 7.

Increased cooperation across borders and among organized crime syndicates threatens California in new ways, officials say. As evidence, they point to the beginnings of a spillover into this country of the sort of violence that has pitted cartels against the Mexican government and army.

Historically, the term “transnational gang” has been used by academics and law enforcement officials to refer to the spread of such Central American gangs as Mara Salvatrucha into North Carolina, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Those gangs were formed in part by refugees who had fled the wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras in the 1980s and were deported back to their home countries. Many formed gangs to protect themselves. But they also exported violence.

A January report from the Congressional Research Service found that transnational gangs continue to expand, and over the past three years Congress has allocated more than $100 million to combat their growth in Central America and the U.S.

Harris said the term should be expanded to include the kind of cooperation she said is growing between California prison gangs and Mexican cartels that regularly traffic drugs, weapons and human beings across the U.S. border.

“There is good reason to connect the activities of these gang members here with Mexico,” Harris said. “I think they’re very connected.”

The raid

Just after 7 a.m. June 7 in Los Banos, a quiet Central Valley town, a dozen police officers in dark blue jumpsuits, SWAT gear and M-4 assault rifles loaded into four unmarked police trucks in the parking lot of a Carl’s Jr. They rolled through a quiet suburb of one-story ranch houses, European automobiles and leafy streets. Weapons ready, they knocked loudly at the door of a nondescript residence, and when a hefty Latino man in his mid-30s answered, they arrested him and quickly moved on.

Before the day was over, an additional 74 men would be taken in raids across the Central Valley in the largest gang sweep in California this year, according to detectives involved in the raid. More than 250 officers from 16 state and federal agencies swept into communities in two counties looking for members of a notorious California prison gang, Nuestra Familia, and its street affiliate, the Norteños.

The operation, “Red Zone,” was the latest continuation of a two-year Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement investigation into what Harris calls “the scourge of transnational gangs.” Two days later, a similar operation in Tracy netted 30 more alleged gang members.

Harris said she has made tackling transnational gangs a priority since her term began in January. Two major crackdowns, one in May and another in June, have resulted in almost 200 arrests of alleged gang members, and the seizure of about 200 pounds of methamphetamine.

After members of the Arrellano Felix cartel attempted to assassinate five members of a family in Palmdale, near Los Angeles, in February, Harris traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border to announce the expansion of a multiagency task force in Imperial County, along the border, to target transnational gangs.

Tracking gangs

Operation Red Zone was the latest sting in a two-year effort that provides a window into how the shift in gang methods may be taking place.

Officers from the Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement began tracking an increase in Norteño-related slayings in Salinas in October 2009. There, Norteños and members of Nuestra Familia were importing up to 20 pounds of methamphetamine per week and distributing it regionally. As a result, police say, the homicide rate there doubled from 2007 to 2009, increasing to four times the national average.

When law enforcement caught on, many gang members fled. Some sought safety in the flat plains and farms of the Central Valley, in and around Los Banos, in Merced County. Nuestra Familia, meanwhile, was struggling to get a foothold in the rural areas. But the team that was tracking them in Salinas followed them as they moved east.

What they started to see worried them. Nuestra Familia has established networks all over Northern California and well into Oregon, Illinois, Texas, Colorado and Utah.

The gang also had regimental commanders in several California counties. The ties to the East Bay were also deep and well-entrenched. Detectives found connections to Oakland, Tracy, Concord and Morgan Hill on a regular basis.

In the Salinas takedown in May 2010, the team arrested Martin Mentoya, also known as “Cyclone,” the regimental commander for the East Bay, responsible for Hayward, Oakland and Richmond. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms later indicted Mentoya on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics. Mentoya was also charged with two counts of firebombing.

“In Los Banos, they were working with people in the Bay Area to share resources,” said Dean Johnston, the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement special agent supervisor and lead investigator on the recent operations. “It’s part of a criminal organization; they all agree to help each other.”

More distressing still were the ties to Mexico, which were more sophisticated than expected. “They’re doing things proactively now to cooperate with each other,” Johnston said. “Now there are signs these gangs are working with the cartels, and it’s more sophisticated than we’ve seen before.”

This strategic partnership appears to mirror a dramatic rise in methamphetamine production in Mexico. According to Malcolm Beith, author of “The Last Narco,” a recent book about the drug war in Mexico, meth production in Mexico has soared since 2003, largely due to U.S. demand. In 2007, the Mexican army seized 22 meth labs. This year, it has already seized 89 — an increase officials say signals radically increased production. One lab in Sinaloa was producing about 20 tons of meth annually at an estimated street value of $700 million.

Making connections

The Nuestra Familia and Norteño members found what they thought was a shelter from law enforcement in the rural communities of the Central Valley. Many lived in nice suburban homes. It was quiet. The detectives began to piece together a picture of how the two organizations are working together. In the past, Johnston said, the cartels would only sell the narcotics that U.S. buyers could pay for up front. Now, he said, the Mexican cartels “are opening lines by giving them fronted amounts of drugs. They’re helping them out, not just selling to them, and that’s a big change.”

Johnston said the cartel leaders have been reassured somewhat by the reputation Norteños have for being honest about their drug trafficking. Whereas other groups may cut their drugs with other products to increase their profit margins, Norteños do not.

“Nuestra Familia guarantees its product,” the detective said. “If people complain about their ability to consume it, they’ll return it. They’re very strict on the quality of their substance.”

This has also reassured the cartels, officials say.

“Recently, these drug-trafficking cartels are making large amounts of meth available to the gangs,” Johnston said. “They’re saying, ‘We know you guys are good for it,’ and that’s a big difference.”

Officials say they have also seen the cartels and the gangs getting more sophisticated. Detectives watched traffickers falsify tags on vehicles to bring cars across the U.S. border from Mexico. A Mexican official with access to vehicle registration was on their payroll. U.S. Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement officials said the Mexican official was getting paid $400 for each vehicle registration change. At least three registrations were changed. Nuestra Familia also began wiring money into bank accounts instead of dealing in cash transactions.

One of the most worrying developments was the sophistication of countersurveillance techniques adopted by the gangs.

“They were driving to meet locations and purposefully trying to avoid detection,” Johnston said. “They never used to do that.”

The more time and exposure the U.S. gangs had to Mexican cartels, the more they tended to adopt the methodology of the cartels, he said.

“The gangs are doing things now that we’ve seen the major drug-trafficking organizations do. They’re learning our techniques, in part, and they’re also learning new stuff from the cartels.”

Officials say the effects of the recent raid will be felt statewide. Gangs and the Mexican cartels have national reach. They dabble in a multitude of transjurisdictional crimes, including weapons and the illegal trade of human beings, including children for the sex trade. Throughout, Nuestra Familia helps smooth transactions.

In the Los Banos case, for example, Norteños from Merced had purchased an AK-47, but didn’t have ammunition for it. They reached out to Morgan Hill Norteños, who supplied them with bullets.

Johnston said he often sees guns used in crimes in the East Bay that resurface months later three counties away, having essentially been “washed” by crossing the county line.

“This is not just about one region,” Harris said. “An operation like this affects the entire state.”


And it is happening all across the United States, not just in California. We have to be aware and prepare …

There is increasing evidence that Mexican drug-trafficking cartels — DTOs, in the language of law enforcement — are forming closer ties with prison and street gangs in California, such as Nuestra Familia and its street affiliate, the Norteños. According to the 2010 National Drug Threat Assessment, this kind of cooperation has been going on in the Southwest border states of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico since about 2001, when federal funds were redirected toward counterterrorism efforts abroad.

According to the NDTA’s website, the reach and sophistication of the cartel-gang nexus has intensified since.

“Hispanic prison gangs such as Hermano de Pistoleros Latinos, or HPL, and Raza Unida operating in Southwest border states have increased their involvement in wholesale drug distribution activities through cooperative relationships with Mexican DTOs,” the report states.

The report’s authors say that some of this cooperation may just make good business sense. In Texas, for instance, the Chicago-based Latin Kings gang has been purchasing cocaine from Mexican drug cartels for between $16,000 and $18,000 per kilo, roughly a third cheaper than what it would pay if it bought from its normal suppliers in Chicago. The cost savings has also bolstered the ability of the cartels to maintain and even extend power as it fights off rivals and the Mexican army at home.

“To ensure a consistent profit stream from the wholesale drugs they purchase from Mexican DTOs, Hispanic prison gangs distribute drugs through street gangs that they largely, if not entirely, control. Through force or intimidation, Hispanic prison gangs exercise significant control over local gangs that distribute their drugs in the Southwest border region,” the NDTA report goes on.

“In Texas, such ties are definitely being solidified,” says Malcolm Beith, author of “The Last Narco,” a recent book about the drug trade in Mexico. Beith says another worry is the explosion of the methamphetamine business.

Meth production boomed in Mexico in the mid-1990s, but took a brief hit when the Mexican government banned ephedrine, the precursor to meth, in 2007. Since then, however, cartels have been importing ephedrine from Asia, and meth production has increased dramatically since 2003. The Sinaloa cartel, run by Chapo Guzman, controls the lion’s share of the burgeoning meth trade.

Each lab is thought to be producing several tons of high quality narcotic, worth millions of dollars on the American street. In the Los Baños raid earlier this month, detectives told me that the meth was between 94 and 99 percent pure, a mark of the Norteños skill at importing high-quality drugs, and keeping them pure for customers.

Beith, who spent several months investigating the drug war, says he has no direct knowledge of what is happening today in California. However, he says, his reporting did turn up evidence that “Mexican drug bosses are increasingly working on the ground in Central America and even former drug hot spots like Colombia, effectively running the show on foreign turf.”

That, says Beith, may indicate that increased cooperation in California may be part of a more global trend.

Since 2001, the true reach of the major Mexican cartels has been a subject of intense debate. Beith says he has come across former DEA officials who believe, for instance, that Chapo Guzman has direct contact with other organized crime bosses, and even perhaps terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, the Shiite extremist group in south Lebanon. Beith has never confirmed these allegations himself, and says there is scant evidence to support such claims.

What worries U.S. officials most is the possible spillover of violence from Mexico. Beith says these fears are overrated. “Mexico’s biggest problem is lack of law enforcement,” he says, “not the number of sociopaths here.”

These days, he points out, it costs around $35 to have someone killed in Sinaloa because the police are

But does a horrific childhood justify dealing meth???

WORCESTER — Kenneth Sparks is the victim of the most horrific child abuse that the judge here in U.S. District Court has ever encountered. Yesterday, he was sentenced to 3 years in federal prison

The Worcester resident is also a thief who became the victim of a burglary.

Until it was stolen from him, he possessed and tried to sell 5 pounds of the illegal and highly addictive methamphetamine.

And yesterday, he was sentenced to 3 years in federal prison.

The saga began when Mr. Sparks, dressed in the fatigues he wore while in the Army National Guard until his honorable discharge four months earlier, set off about May 1, 2009, to drive a van from California to Georgia. Mr. Sparks, of 4 North Ashland St., believed the van was filled with drug money and decided to steal it, thus heading to Massachusetts instead of to Georgia, as he had been instructed. What he found, when he finally stopped at a truck stop in Chicopee, was not money but five 1-pound bags of methamphetamine hidden in a fuel tank, according to FBI agent John M. Woudenberg. Undeterred, Mr. Sparks contacted Johnny McCoy, a neighbor, to find a buyer for the drugs.

Soon after Mr. McCoy inspected the booty, the drugs disappeared from the backpack in which they were stored in Mr. Sparks’ apartment. Mr. Woudenberg does not say why, but Mr. Sparks contacted him and soon Worcester police were warned that there were 5 pounds of a scourge that New England has mostly escaped on the streets.

The FBI also enlisted a cooperating witness to get the drugs back and the agency also examined the van that Mr. Sparks abandoned in Chicopee and found hidden 3 more pounds of crystal methamphetamine.

The drugs were recovered and all but one of the people charged with being part of the distribution and attempted sale of the drugs have been sentenced.

They are Johnny McCoy of 1 Goulding St., sentenced to 11 years; his brother Anthony McCoy of 69 Gage St., 10 years; Johnny McCoy’s girlfriend, Ivonne Lugo of 1436 Main St., 1 year and 1 day; and Jaime Alvarez-Ramirez, one of two men who had Mr. Sparks drive the van from California, 72 months.

By yesterday, Mr. Sparks had traded his fatigues for the orange prison scrubs he’s been wearing during the 11 months he’s been in custody. Before sentencing him, Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV recounted the horrors of Mr. Sparks’ life.

They include physical and sexual abuse, torture, and forced prostitution at age 14 — “a childhood as horrible as I have ever seen. As long as I live I will never understand how people allow this to happen to their own children.”

But the judge said that does not give him a free pass to make the bad decisions he’s made, unleashing a highly addictive “terrible, life-destroying drug” to the streets.

“But if anyone deserves mercy because of his childhood, it is Mr. Sparks,” said Judge Saylor, who noted that he is a first-time offender, and allowed a motion by defense attorney Edward P. Ryan Jr. of Fitchburg. That “safety valve” motion permitted the judge to sentence below the 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David H. Hennessy asked for a sentence of 43 months, well below the sentencing guideline range of 108 to 135 months. Judge Saylor did not follow Mr. Ryan’s request for a sentence of 1 year and a day, and instead imposed 37 months in prison, plus the first 6 months of 5 years’ supervised release to be served in a community residential facility such as Coolidge House in Boston. He recommended addiction and mental health treatment while Mr. Sparks is behind bars.

Mr. Sparks tried to read a statement to Judge Saylor, but instead collapsed on the defense table, clasping his head between his arms. Mr. Ryan read the statement “accepting the responsibility for my involvement in the crime I committed.”

He said, “I’m sorry for my crime and when I do get out I’m going to get a job, a place and stay out of trouble. I will also be going to AA/NA plus therapy. I’m a good kid and I want to better myself.”


Sounds like a slow learner to me …

YOUNGSTOWN — A man who was burned after a Youngstown meth lab explosion in 2009 was arrested Friday in connection with a meth manufacturing operation, according to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.

Eric Willerson, 32, 12209 Hutchison Blvd., Panama City Beach, was charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.

In July 2009, Willerson was burned when a “shake and bake” style meth lab exploded in a home in Youngstown. Authorities said he was burned while trying to help another person in the home who was fully engulfed in flames from the explosion. Also present in the home were several of Willerson’s children, none of whom were injured.

Although he was initially charged in connection with the incident, the charges against Willerson were eventually dropped after his children testified that Willerson was with them in another room when the explosion happened.

On Friday, BSCO narcotics officers working on an investigation discovered Willerson and Shana Diaz in possession of Coleman fuel and ephedrine, both key components to making methamphetamine, BCSO said. It was unknown where Friday’s arrest was made. Diaz, 32, 9005 Hornbill Drive, Youngstown, was charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.


A couple staying at a Warsaw motel were arrested Thursday after officers found methamphetamine, a sawed-off shotgun and a 2-year-old child in their room, the Kosciusko County Drug Task Force said.

Joe Truman Lynn, 31, and Staci Mai Craig, 20, were staying at the Super 8 motel at 3014 Frontage Road. Officers responded to a 911 call from their room about 7:15 a.m. Thursday. The task force did not say who called 911 or why.

While officers were talking with Lynn and Craig, they spotted meth and two shotguns, including a sawed-off one, in the room. Craig’s 2-year-old was taken into protective custody.

The task force said officers found two one-pot meth labs in Lynn’s vehicle parked in the motel lot. A team from the Indiana State Police came to deal with the potentially harmful labs.

Lynn, of Bremen, and Craig, of Warsaw, were each arrested on charges of possessing meth and drug paraphernalia. Lynn was also charged with making meth and possessing a sawed-off shotgun.

The couple were being held Friday at the Kosciusko County Jail. Lynn’s bail was $50,000, and Craig’s was $20,000.


A Lake Elsinore narcotics parolee was arrested Thursday for possession of methamphetamine and violating parole, police are reporting today.

Patrick Graham, 42, was arrested around 2 p.m. Thursday near the intersection of Grand Avenue and Pepper Drive in Lake Elsinore by Riverside County’s multi-agency Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (SAFE) Task Force.

The SAFE Task Force was conducting random compliance checks on registered sex offenders living in the Lake Elsinore area when they happened upon Graham, according to a SAFE Task Force report.

SAFE Task Force personnel searched Graham and allegedly found a small quantity of methamphetamine in one of his pockets, the report stated. He was subsequently arrested on felony possession of methamphetamine and violation of parole charges, and was booked at the Sheriff’s Robert Presley Detention Center.


A homeless man accused of sexually assaulting two Fort Collins women after sneaking into their homes could spend the rest of his life in prison, because a district judge on Friday bound all 13 charges over for trial.

Herbert Daily, 38, remains jailed with bond set at $475,000. He was arrested in February at the Book Ranch, an adult novelty store, on suspicion of possessing methamphetamine and hypodermic needles, as well as one of the sexual assaults.

In the alleged Feb. 8 sexual assault, in the 600 block of Remington Street, the suspect – a stranger – had appeared next to the 20-year-old victim in her bed, Fort Collins Police Detective Jaclyn Shaklee testified at the preliminary hearing Friday.

The intruder said he had a knife, and he ordered her to perform oral sex, before he took off her clothes. He told her that because she was cooperating, “he was going to keep her from getting raped,” Shaklee said.

But the woman said “a switch was flipped” in the intruder, and he put a pillow over her head and raped her, threatening to “slit her throat and leave her corpse to rot,” Shaklee said.

“She thought when the switch flipped that he was going to kill her,” Shaklee said.

The intruder then forced the victim to take a shower to “wash the DNA off,” she said.

Analysis showed DNA evidence connecting Daily to samples taken from the women, and the one in the Feb. 8 case positively identified him in a line-up.

“She was very shocked and said, ‘That’s 100 percent him,'” Shaklee said of the alleged victim.

On cross examination, Shaklee told public defender Erin Richmond that the woman said she “saw him clearly.”

She also said the alleged victim was “80 percent sure” that another man could have been the assailant.

“We had so many leads,” Shaklee said.

The other victim, a 23-year-old, was allegedly raped by a stranger in the 300 block of East Plum Street on Jan. 23. In that case, the woman did not initially believe that she was sexually assaulted. But an examination at the hospital later revealed DNA matching Daily, according to court testimony.

The latter woman had been drinking alcohol that night. She said personal items had been stolen from her apartment, according to testimony from Detective Siobhan Jungmeyer.

Charges against Daily include five counts of sexual assault by overcoming the victim’s will, possibly with a weapon, all of which are Class 2 felonies punishable by up to 24 years in prison – or more, depending on the circumstances.

Other counts include second-degree kidnapping, another Class 2 felony, as well as lesser felony charges of first-degree burglary, felony menacing, sexual assault with a helpless victim, and more, according to Colorado court records.

Daily is scheduled for arraignment June 24.


Mexico’s Biggest Drug Lord

Posted: June 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

Rhen Osama Bin Laden bit the dust in Pakistan last month, the world’s media rushed to speculate as to who might replace him as the World’s Most Wanted Man. The name thrown up most frequently, on account of how mystically elusive he appears to be, was one Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, the head of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel and the biggest drug lord in Narcoville. Since he broke out (or “walked out” is the common consensus) of a maximum security prison in 2001, Guzman’s drug-trafficking empire has gone supernova, his estimated $1 billion personal fortune landing him a spot on the Forbes List as the 11th richest man in Mexico.

The Sinaloa Cartel controls more territory than any other drug-trafficking organization (DTO) in Mexico, distributing Colombian cocaine as well as domestically-produced marijuana, opium, and methamphetamine. The organization has successfully smashed its rivals’ operations in Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, and other key smuggling hubs to the point where formerly powerful cartels are either hanging on for dear life or mere tributaries. Then there’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room – the fact that independent analysts and countless officials cite collusion between the Sinaloa Cartel and the federal government, which apparently prefers Guzman’s mob over the others. “El Chapo” – the nickname means “Shorty” – is routinely described as “el capo del panismo”, “capo” meaning drug boss and “panismo” referring to the current ruling party, the PAN, or National Action Party.

Mexico has seen the worst kind of action since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the drug-traffickers in 2006. Over 45,000 troops and federal officers have been deployed across the country in a US-funded crackdown, leading the DTOs to fight each other even harder over both cross-border traffic and a rapidly growing domestic market. In the resulting melee, former big names like the Tijuana and Juarez Cartels have taken serious losses; budding rivals like La Familia Michoacana and the Beltran Leyva Organization have come and gone, but the Sinaloa Cartel has only grown stronger. Its last major rival, the infamously violent Los Zetas, has made some gains but is taking a pounding from the Mexican military, which has made a slew of arrests and seizures against it.

Born into poverty, for “El Chapo” Guzman the drug trade was an easy route to otherwise unattainable wealth (opium and marijuana have been big business in fertile Sinaloa since the early 20th century) and as a young man he became an apprentice of Pedro Aviles Perez, one of the first generation of big-time Mexican traffickers. Ambitious and savvy, Guzman took over what became the Sinaloa Cartel when the legendary Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo (“the Godfather”) was busted in 1989. Four years later, Guzman was arrested and sentenced to twenty years for drug-trafficking and bribery, but on the eve of being extradited to the US in 2001, he miraculously escaped from Puente Grande maximum security prison in Jalisco. The most famous breakout in Mexican history purportedly occurred “A-Team”-style in a laundry cart, the wheels greased by $2.5 million worth of bribes for prison officials.

Guzman’s escape took place early in the presidency of Vicente Fox, the first PAN administration after the 70-year PRI regime was thrown out in 2000. Every Mexican administration since the 1970s is said to have had its preferred drug lord. Whereas the PRI supposedly favored the Gulf Cartel in the ‘90s, the arrival of the PAN saw a shift of allegiance to the cartel with the closest ties to the party. Soon after leaving Puente Grande, Guzman called a meeting of top capos to plot the future of the Mexican drug trade, going after the then-dominant Gulf organization (now an ally) and later breaking a long-held truce with the Juarez Cartel, leading to a violent turf war in the border city of the same name. The goal was expansion and dominance, and Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel has been a juggernaut ever since.

“El Chapo” has taken on near-mythical status; rumors fly about his latest whereabouts and activity, or how hundreds of guests – including local politicians and police – raised their glasses when he married for the third time in 2007. For ordinary Mexicans, he is the personification of the intense “narco-violence” plaguing the country, which has gotten much, much worse since Calderon turned up the heat. The president’s apologists (and there are very few) claim that the PAN backs Guzman under the notion that it’s better to live with one all-powerful cartel and then negotiate peace. But Calderon leaves office next year, almost certainly handing over the reins to the PRI, and the cartel war goes on unabated between the Sinaloa Federation (Guzman and his allies) and a loose coalition of Los Zetas, the Juarez Cartel, and other DTOs.

Guzman commands significant respect (and fear) among Mexico’s downtrodden as a self-made man who stuck several fingers up to the authorities, particularly in his native Sinaloa where country songs portray him as a Robin Hood-type figure, albeit with AK-47 replacing crossbow. He has myriad political and business connections and the financial clout to buy new ones. His current rumored hideout is in the northern state of Durango.

There’s a theory brewing in Mexico, however, which says that Calderon is now so unpopular after five years of socially-devastating policy that he has not only cost his party next year’s election, but risks going down as one of the country’s worst ever presidents (which the average Mexican will tell you is no easy feat). After Bin Laden’s death hit the headlines, many domestic observers suggested that Calderon’s only option to salvage his legacy and leave office on a high is to pull an Obama “black-ninja-gangster” moment (as Bill Maher would say) and take Guzman down. The Colombian government pulled off a similar coup with Pablo Escobar in 1993, which had absolutely no effect on the cocaine trade but at least gave the impression that Colombia could kick some tail.

But just as one can question whether Bin Laden’s death really meant anything beyond retribution for 9/11, it’s uncertain what taking down “El Chapo” would do for Mexico’s Drug War. The major DTOs regularly go through internal upheavals where factions split off and go to war with one another, or one capo makes a power play to take control of the organization, leading to yet more bloodshed. The Sinaloa Cartel has long been considered the most stable of the Mexican DTOs, largely on account of Guzman’s iron hand. For that reason, “El Chapo” may be too valuable to simply wind up as trophy kill.

At some stage, the Mexican government will have to declare an endgame in the Drug War, or civil protests like the 100,000-strong March for Peace in Mexico City in May, and subsequent “Peace Caravan” that culminated in Juarez/El Paso, will become increasingly politicized. While obviously blaming the drug cartels as much as the politicians, many Mexicans resent the fact that their country has become a war zone due to the mores of US anti-drug and pro-militarization policy. As for Calderon – facing savage criticism at home – it’s likely that he didn’t expect the cartel war to get this bloody or drag on for so long. Yet while his own public decries his policies, Calderon continues to receive the green light from the Obama administration for further zero-tolerance. One might imagine the rhetoric from Washington if Hugo Chavez had deployed 45,000 troops to do the job of the police in Venezuela – allusions to military dictatorship, Soviet-style authoritarianism, not to mention “human rights abuses” would be rampant, and probably followed by an excuse for US intervention.

Needless to say, painting “El Chapo” as the drug trade’s Bin Laden is far easier for both media and politicians than addressing the more crucial issues of drug law reform and vast consumer demand, factors that feed men like Guzman. For Mexico, there are also huge questions to be asked about why an estimated 450,000 citizens have turned to the incredibly risky drug trade for employment in the first place. The North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, has devastated Mexican agriculture and driven many small farmers to grow opium and marijuana in its place. Meanwhile, in the cities, unemployed youth join street gangs that ultimately work for the DTOs, providing muscle in exchange for guns, cars and cash.

Mexico needs to find a way out. With nearly 40,000 lives lost and violence continuing to swell in trouble spots like Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon, something has to give. The inevitable return to power of Mexico’s old guard, the PRI, next year may see more of a willingness to negotiate with the cartels, but just as the death of Osama Bin Laden is really just a footnote in the “War on Terror”, the capture or killing of “El Chapo” would only lead to more massacres in Mexico’s own never-ending war.


Three Visalia residents were arrested on suspicion of drug offenses as part of an ongoing drug investigation this week.

William James Chavez, 22; Ellen Seagraves, 50, and a 17-year-old girl were arrested, police said.

Chavez, a passenger in a vehicle stopped by police, had 12.8 grams of heroin and 13.2 grams of methamphetamine in his possession, police said.

Officers later searched Chavez’s home and found methamphetamine in Seagraves’ bedroom and stolen property in the teen’s room, police said. The home, searched at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, is in the 2700 block of North Thomas Street.

Chavez was arrested in connection with transportation of heroin, possession for sales of heroin, transportation of methamphetamine and possession for sales of methamphetamine. Seagraves was arrested in connection with possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. The teen was arrested in connection with possession of stolen property.


A small child was taken into protective custody after a 9-1-1 call led Warsaw police officers to a motel room where police seized methamphetamine and two shotguns.

Officers from the Warsaw Police Department went to the Super 8 Motel, 3014 Frontage Road, at 7:16 a.m. Thursday and reported finding two shotguns, one of them sawed off, finished methamphetamine and a child about 2 years old, according to a written statement from the Kosciusko County Drug Task Force.

It said Joe Truman Lynn, 31, of the 400 block of North Indiana Street in Bremen, and the child’s mother, Staci Mai Craig, 20, of the 400 block of West Riverchase Drive in Warsaw, were charged with felony possession of methamphetamine and possession of paraphernalia.

The child was taken into protective custody by Child Protective Services.

Drug task force officers reported finding two one-pot method meth labs inside Lynn’s vehicle in the motel parking lot.

Lynn was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and possession of a sawed-off shotgun, and was arrested on an outstanding warrant out of Elkhart County. His bond was set at $10,000 and Craig’s bond was set at $2,000 by the Kosciusko County Prosecutor’s Office.


SAN LEANDRO (KRON) — Federal authorities say a confessed San Leandro methamphetamine dealer will spend more than 15 years behind bars.

Judge Jeffrey White sentenced Candido Bonavente to 188 months in federal prison for operating a large meth operation that sold the drug throughout the Bay Area.

Bonavente has been in custody since 2009. He pleaded guilty to the charges last fall.

Prosecutors say Bonavente ran a large operation that involved buying large quantities of the drug and distributing them to customers across the region. He’s also accused of hiring a number of people to deliver the meth and pick up the money.

Four other men have also pleaded guilty in connection with the methamphetamine ring. Gerald Sullivan is already serving a 57 month sentence. John Nathan, Antonio Lacerda, and David Barrientos are still awaiting sentencing in the case.


SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Shore narcotics officers arrested two people Tuesday morning in connection with alleged methamphetamine sales at a house on the 1200 block of Sierra Boulevard.

About 11 a.m., South Lake Tahoe SWAT personnel helped South Lake El Dorado Narcotics Enforcement Team members serve a search warrant after a month-long investigation, said Jeff Catchings, SLEDNET task force commander.

During the investigation, SLEDNET members recovered about three ounces of crystal methamphetamine and about $4,000 cash, Catchings said.

SLEDNET personnel believe a man at the home was attempting to flush large amounts of cash down the toilet at the time of the raid. Narcotics officers dismantled the toilet and found about $1,500, Catchings said.

SWAT team members were used in serving the warrant after narcotics officers received information the man was armed while conducting drug sales, Catchings said. No firearm was found during the raid.

The California Highway Patrol helicopter also provided air support for the raid, Catchings said.

A male resident of the home was arrested on suspicion of methamphetamine sales Tuesday. A female resident was also arrested for allegedly maintaining a home for illicit purposes, Catchings said.

The man gave narcotics officers a false identity, and the names of the individuals arrested were not immediately available Tuesday afternoon, Catchings said.


A 50-year-old woman, 22-year-old man and 17-year-old girl, all of Visalia, were arrested Tuesday on drug and theft charges, the Visalia Police Department said.

Police conducted a traffic stop around 1:30 p.m. in Visalia and found 12.8 grams of heroin and 13.2 grams of methamphetamine on the man, Sgt. Ron Epp said. Officers then searched his home on the 2700 block of North Thomas Street and found more methamphetamine in the woman’s bedroom and stolen property in the girl’s bedroom.

The man was booked into the Tulare County Jail on suspicion of transportation and possession for sales of heroin and methamphetamine. The woman was booked into the Tulare County Jail on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. The girl was booked into Juvenile Hall on suspicion of possession of stolen property.


TOLEDO, OH — A traffic stop on the Ohio Turnpike in Toledo yielded a cache of marijuana, hashish, methamphetamine, prescription drugs, and guns, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

At approximately 9:24 AM, a state trooper stopped a 2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse with California registration for a speed violation near milepost 59 on the Ohio Turnpike in Lucas County. The trooper observed criminal indicators and initiated a probable cause search. That search revealed six lbs of marijuana, four grams of hashish, four grams of methamphetimine, 34 prescription pills, three handguns, and two rifles.

The driver, Mark Parker, 52, of Citrus Hills, CA, was charged with two counts of drug abuse, one count of trafficking in drugs, carrying a concealed weapon, which are all third degree felonies. He was also charged with improper transportation of a firearm, possession of drug paraphernalia, which are fourth degree misdemeanors, and possession of a Schedule IV substance, a third degree misdemeanor.

Parker is incarcerated in the Lucas County Jail. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.


United States Attorney Deborah R. Gilg announced that Hugo Galaviz, aka “Big Happy,” 23, of Grand Island, was sentenced in Lincoln June 15 to 151 months in prison by the Honorable United States District Judge Richard G. Kopf, for distribution of methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

In addition to his prison term, Galaviz will serve four years of supervised release following his release from prison.

Galaviz was arrested on Nov. 18, 2010, in Grand Island for distribution of at least five grams of pure methamphetamine and various firearms offenses.

On Feb. 10, 2010, Galaviz sold a government informant a short shotgun. Later, on Oct. 21, 2010, Galaviz sold a government informant about an ounce of methamphetamine.

On June 15, a sentencing hearing was held where witnesses testified about an attempt by another defendant to have a government informant killed. The informant for the other defendant was the same informant who assisted police in the investigation of Galaviz.

Judge Kopf found that Galaviz’s involvement in the plot, while certainly minor compared to the other defendant, was still enough to warrant the application of an obstruction of justice enhancement under the United States Sentencing Guidelines.

This case was investigated by the Central Nebraska Drug and Safe Streets Task Force along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


SANTA ANA – A Placentia man has been charged with beating, stabbing and torturing a 5-year-old boy who was being cared for by the man’s girlfriend, including burning the youngster with a cigarette, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Carmen William Iacullo II, 33, was charged earlier in the week with felony counts of torture, child abuse and corporal injury on a child, plus sentencing enhancements for causing serious injury. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending his arraignment.

Iacullo, who has convictions for battery in 2006, child abuse in 2002 and possession of methamphetamine for sale in 2003, faces a potential sentence of life in prison if convicted.

His girlfriend, Lori Louisa Pincus, 39, also of Placentia, was charged with child abuse and accessory after the fact. Prosecutors allege that she allowed the torture to take place and protected Iacullo.

If convicted, Pincus faces a maximum sentence of six years and eight months in state prison. She is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending her arraignment.

Prosecutors allege that Iacullo, who had been living with Pincus for three months, beat the 5-year-old boy frequently during the first week of June with his fists and a wooden kitchen utensil, burned him on the chest with cigarettes and a lighter, and stabbed him with scissors or pliers, according to a news release from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors declined to reveal the child’s relationship to Pincus to protect his identity.

Iacullo also picked up the boy and dropped him to the ground, causing multiple injuries, including a black eye, according to prosecutors.

Pincus is accused of failing to call the police to report the abuse, failing to seek medical attention for the boy’s injuries, and intentionally not sending the boy to school so that school personnel would not become suspicious of his injuries, according to prosecutors.

Pincus also ordered the boy to hide under the bed when Placentia police came to the home June 8 to arrest Iacullo for a parole violation for drug paraphernalia, prosecutors said.

When Pincus left the 5-year-old alone for several hours when she went to visit Iacullo in the Santa Ana Police Department jail June 9, the boy wandered out of the house to a gas station, according to the news release. An acquaintance of Pincus then saw the boy alone and stopped to offer assistance, prosecutors said. Upon seeing the boy’s black eye, the friend called Placentia police, who investigated this case.

The boy was placed in protective custody. Pincus was arrested later June 9. Iacullo was already in custody on the parole violation.


A man once dubbed the “sex toy bandit” went to prison in 2008 and has been on probation since February, 2010. On Wednesday he was arrested in connection with the same kind of crimes that previously put him behind bars: breaking into adult stores to steal magazines and other novelty items.

He allegedly hit at least one of the same stores again this time around.

According to police, Daniel Ray, 40, used his truck early Wednesday morning to smash into Adam & Eve on East Republic and Lilith’s Lair on East Kearney. The first break-in occurred at about 2:30 a.m., the second at about 5 a.m.

“Adult merchandise and magazines were taken from both locations,” said Springfield Police Lt. Kirk Manlove.

Ray was arrested at about 9 a.m. on the 900 block of West Nichols after a foot chase with police, Manlove said.

Ray earned the moniker “sex toy bandit” after several local sex shops experienced similar thefts in January 2008. In those break-ins, Ray used a vehicle or another object to smash out windows to get into the stores.

“He’d always hit two stores a night,” said Marilyn Glessner, owner of Lilith’s Lair.

Ray eventually pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree burglary after breaking into and stealing from Victoria’s Palace, Cosmic Fish and Adam & Eve.

According to a probable cause statement from the 2008 burglaries, Ray said he’d been high on methamphetamine, which caused him to do crazy things involving sex toys and pornography. He called himself “sick in the head.”

Before the 2008 conviction, he’d had convictions for drug offenses.

He was sentenced to seven years in the Department of Corrections, which included entry into a long-term drug treatment program.

As of Tuesday evening, Ray had not been formally charged in connection with the latest thefts. He was in Greene County jail. Warrants listing crimes of burglary and resisting arrest were noted with his mugshot on the jail website.

MODESTO — Two pounds of methamphetamine were discovered today in a Modesto house thanks to a member of the Modesto Police Department’s K-9 unit.

Acting on tips, investigators with the department’s Narcotic Enforcement Team honed in on a west Modesto house in the 2300 block of Ridge Road, where suspected drug sales were taking place, according to Lt. Rick Armendariz of the Modesto Police Department.

After obtaining a search warrant, officers, including Glenn Graves and his dog, Kai, entered the home. They began searching a room cluttered with boxes, furniture and debris. Kai alerted to a cardboard box concealed somewhat beneath a stack of other boxes.

When officers opened it, they found two large plastic zip-lock baggies with a total street value estimated at $30,000, Armendariz said.

“It would have taken officers hours to search the bedroom and residence by hand,” said Sgt. Allen Brocchini, supervisor of the MNET. “Our narcotic canines are invaluable and are a tremendous asset to the department.”

Police are looking for Jose Talavara, 34, of Modesto, who is wanted for possession of methamphetamine for sale.

Graves and Kai are ranked third in narcotic detection with the Western States Police Canine Association.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A Deming man has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for methamphetamine trafficking.

New Mexico prosecutors say 49-year-old Frank L. Gutierrez was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Las Cruces.

He’ll be on supervised release for 10 years after completing his prison term.

Gutierrez was convicted of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in April 2010 after a two-day jury trial.

Authorities say Gutierrez was stopped by Lordsburg police officer for a traffic violation on Nov. 12, 2008.

A subsequent search of his vehicle turned up a plastic coffee canister in the car’s trunk with nearly 71 net grams of pure methamphetamine.

Prosecutors say Gutierrez was previously convicted in New Mexico in 1993 of conspiracy to possess marijuana with the intent to distribute.