Estacada resident James Robert Svoboda was arrested Wednesday evening at his home on four drug-related charges involving the alleged manufacture and sale of methamphetamine.

Officers from the Clackamas County Interagency Task Force – with the assistance of the Oregon National Guard – surrounded Svoboda’s home at 162 S.E. Pierce St. at about 5 p.m. Wednesday.

He was taken into custody without incident.

Svoboda, 28, is being held at the Clackamas County Jail on accusations of possession of methamphetamine, manufacturing methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school, distributing marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school and an outstanding warrant for possession of methamphetamine. He his being held on $140,000 bond.

To serve the search warrant at the residence, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Detective Jim Strovink said there were a large number of law enforcement units involved, including members of the Oregon National Guard, a Clackamas County Sheriff explosive devise unit, SWAT team members, K-9 units, detectives and officers from the West Linn Police Department. The arrest was the result of an ongoing Interagency Task Force investigation into drug sales at the home.

Strovink said investigators had reason to believe Svoboda had fortified the house and that was the reason for the large number of law enforcement officers.

“They came well equipped to meet the demand, but he was taken into custody without incident,” Strovink said. “We received a great deal of complaints and tips that this is an active drug house and it is what the Interagency Task Force is designed to do – to target these types of criminal operations.”

Strovink said a woman at the residence was detained, but was not arrested.

Svoboda’s arraignment is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Because alleged drug sales were such a problem at the residence, several neighbors and residents clapped and cheered as the warrant was served.

“We want to thank the neighbors and the citizens of Estacada that brought this problem to us,” Strovink said. “They didn’t want this type of suspected criminal activity in their neighborhood, and as a result, we were able to effectively serve the warrant that was conducted yesterday.”

A 48-year-old man is facing charges after he an investigation that netted an active meth lab in a vehicle earlier this week in Clare County.

The Bay Area Narcotics Enforcement Team reports the incident occurred Tuesday in the Lake George area using information developed by detectives and the Clare County Sheriff’s Office.

The meth lab was discovered after the vehicles was stopped.

Gary Scott Cassiday faces charges of delivery and manufacture of methamphetamine, operating or maintaining a methamphetamine lab, possession of methamphetamine, and an habitual fourth offender notice.

Members of the Michigan State Police Third District Meth Team responded to safely dispose of the hazardous materials from the meth lab.

13-Indicted In Meth Ring

Posted: April 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

TERRE HAUTE, IN (WIBQ) — A grand jury indicted 13 people for trafficking large amounts of meth in the Terre Haute community earlier this week. The indictment charges conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The indictment alleges that the defendants used multiple sources of supply to bring pound quantities of “crystal” meth to Terre Haute. After the methamphetamine arrived in Terre Haute, the conspirators then distributed the drug throughout the community. Initial hearings are scheduled for Friday morning before in Terre Haute for 10 of the defendants.

OLYMPIA – Detectives with the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force seized more than four pounds of suspected methamphetamine and $71,000 in cash after executing two search warrants Tuesday – one at a residence in the 900 block of Garfield Street East in Tenino, the other in the 8500 block of Steilacoom Road Southeast.

Detectives arrested four people. Rogelio Pech Canche, 27, and his wife Virginia Santos-Jimenez, 28, both of the 900 block of Garfield Street in Tenino, were arrested on suspicion of unlawful distribution of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver and maintaining a dwelling for drug purposes.

Leobardo Santos Pioquinto, 31, and Marta Garcia Vasquez, 28, also were arrested on suspicion of unlawful possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver.

All four suspects had detainers placed on them by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service, meaning they will remain in custody even if they make bail, pending an immigration hearing. Canche and Pioquinto were held on $750,000 bail, Santos-Jimenez on $650,000 bail and Vasquez on $450,000 bail.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Toynbee said during a bail hearing Wednesday that Pioquinto has numerous felony drug convictions and has been deported from the United States three times.

During Tuesday’s bust, two children living in the residences were placed in protective custody.

The street value of the methamphetamine seized is roughly $180,000, court papers state. Four cars and the two homes that were searched were seized by law enforcement, according to a news release.

Tuesday’s bust was the result of a two-month investigation by the task force, along with Tenino police and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

During the investigation, confidential informants used approximately $3,200 in task force funds to purchase methamphetamine, court papers state. On two of those occasions, the informant wore a hidden recording device, and the transactions were recorded.

A Berkeley man is in federal custody in Sacramento after sheriff’s deputies found five pounds of methamphetamine and 22 pounds of cocaine hidden in his car during a routine traffic stop last week near Redding, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Roberto Sandoval, 44, is set for an arraignment in federal court in Sacramento May 5 on two counts of possessing cocaine and methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

Department of Justice spokeswoman Lauren Horwood said the drugs are worth at least $225,000. According to a statement of probable cause filed by the DEA, which responded to the traffic stop on I-5, the drugs were hidden in compartments on both sides of the car.

The statement said a Shasta County Sheriff’s deputy pulled over Sandoval’s car for going just 6 mph over the 65 mph speed limit on April 20.

The deputy was about to give Sandoval a warning citation for speeding and let him go, when a second deputy arrived with a drug-sniffing dog, the statement said. The dog walked around the car with the deputy and smelled drugs in the car. After a search, the deputy found numerous packages of the drugs hidden in compartments, the statement said.

Sandoval said he was on his way to visit his daughter in Hillsborough, Ore., knew nothing about the drugs and had borrowed the car from another man in Ontario, Calif., the statement said. Sandoval said he makes his living in Berkeley as a self-employed mechanic, earning about $5,000 a year.

Although he lives in Berkeley, Sandoval is a legal resident alien of Mexico, the statement said.

HOLBROOK, Ariz. — Three people have been arrested for allegedly selling methamphetamine in eastern Arizona.

Navajo County Sheriff’s officials say detectives found 60 grams of meth at a home Tuesday in the Silver Lake Estates near Show Low.

Officers also found a small amount of marijuana and some drug paraphernalia along with a pistol and more than $1,000 in cash.

Authorities say 49-year-old Crispin Gutierrez, 65-year-old Sotero Delgado and 64-year-old Maria Delgado were arrested on various drug charges.

Sotero and Maria Delgado each are being held in the Navajo County jail on $7,500 bond. It’s unclear whether they are related.

Gutierrez’s bond is set at $25,000.

Sheriff’s officials say detectives have had previous encounters with the Delgados selling meth in Navajo County.

It’s unclear whether any of the suspects have lawyers yet.–Navajo-County–Meth-Arrests/

HOLYOKE – Emergency personnel closed a section of Route 5 for over an hour starting late Thursday morning following the discovery of two one-gallon jugs believed to contain chemical by-product from the ilegal production of methamphetamine.

Since then, similar jugs have been found in various areas of the city, including six that were discovered behind the Signs Plus building at 62 Main St. Holyoke Fire Dept., spokesman Lt. Thomas G. Paquin.

“Needless to say they have been very busy,” Paquin said of emergency personnel and responding members of the Western Massachusetts Hazardous Materials Team.

Jugs have also since been discovered by the Department of Public Works garage and elsewhere in the city, Paquin said.

The Route 5 jugs, each about half-filled with a clear liquid, were discovered on the eastern side of Route 5, a foot or so from the inside of the curb, just south of Glen Street shortly before 10 a.m.

Emergency personnel closed Route 5, from Whitings Farms Road to Laurel Street, for about an hour while members of the regional hazardous materials team, clad in protective gear, tested the chemicals.

Holyoke Fire Dept. spokesman Lt. Thomas G. Paquin said the discovery marks the second time this week that gallon-jugs loaded with flammable chemicals, believed to be a by-product of meth production, have been found in that area along Route 5.

“This is a way of getting rid of the waste,” said Paquin, adding the creation of one pound of meth leaves behind about ten pounds of waste.

The first instance, which occurred Sunday afternoon, sparked a lower level response from haz-mat personnel because they were not fully aware of that nature of the chemicals.

Area residents, said, however, that they have sporadically seen such jugs appear along the side of Route 5 for months – if not years.

Walter Bara, who lives on Elmwood Avenue, said he spotted the jugs which prompted the Route 5 response about 7:30 a.m. as he returned home from work. Bara, said, however, that he has spotted such jugs along Route 5 about once a month since January.

“For what reason they are around, I have no idea,” Bara said. “But, I have seen these jugs before.”

Bara said he spotted similar jugs on Route 5 shortly before the start of the St. Patrick’s Day parade last month.

Alejandro Sanchez, who lives across the street from the scene, said he has seen similar containers placed along the side off the roadway several times over the past few months.

“It’s almost every week that they do that. They always put out two gallons,” Sanchez said.

Henry Ingersoll, who lives on Gilman Street, said he has spotted such jugs a number of times, some closer to the K-Mart Plaza along Route 5, for the past three years.

“But, I didn’t know what they were. I thought that somebody left water in them or something,” he said.

After testing the contents of the jugs, which were perhaps 50 or so feet apart from each other, hazardous materials technicians determined that the liquid was similar to that found in the same area on Sunday.

“It is consistent with the remnants of a meth lab,” Paquin said. He declined to name the suspected chemical or chemicals.

Meth manufacturers often leave such waste along the side of a road or near trash barrels in the hopes that a refuse truck may unknowingly cart the dangerous chemicals away.

“And that’s where the issue is, once it gets in the trash trucks it bursts and that’s where the fires start,” Paquin said.

Paquin said he is not aware of such chemicals causing fires in Holyoke. It has been, however, a big problem in Chicago where refuse trucks have caught on fire.

Police Chief Anthony Scott said that investigators, including representatives from the Holyoke police and fire departments, state police and state fire marshal’s office will meet later this afternoon “to go over exactly what happened and what are the next steps.”

The discovery of an alleged meth lab at a Bridge Street home in Northampton in October 2010 led to the indictment of three men and a woman on charges that included manufacturing a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate the controlled substance act.

According to a page on the state of Oregon’s official website, the production of methamphetamines involves a number of common household items — including drain cleaners, bleach, iodine, muriatic acid, toluene and over-the-counter drugs containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. The process generates a large amount of chemical waste.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A lengthy investigation has led to the arrests of five people on suspicion of selling methamphetamine out of a Flagstaff motel.

Authorities began investigating suspected drug activity after receiving complaints from citizens.

A Metro anti-narcotics task force spokesman says agents made several undercover drug buys at the motel. The Arizona Daily Sun reports when a buy was made in one room, drugs were brought over from other rooms.

Flagstaff Police Department SWAT team members and Metro agents served search warrants on three rooms at the motel Wednesday. Along with the arrests authorities say they confiscated small quantities of meth and drug paraphernalia.

The suspects range in age from 19 to 36.–Flagstaff-Meth-Bust/

DALLAS A shadowy Mexican drug gang that sprang from the Texas-Mexico border region just a dozen years ago has made North Texas a key hub in a criminal enterprise that now extends through Central America and into Colombia, law enforcement officials say.

The notoriously brutal group known as the Zetas has used family and personal connections to make the Dallas area into a sophisticated distribution point, moving cocaine, pot and methamphetamine to other U.S. markets and sending weapons, ammunition and millions of dollars in bulk cash back to Mexico, authorities say.

Developments in the last couple months underscore the region’s role in an increasingly dangerous criminal network. On Feb. 15, Texas-based U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata was fatally shot and his partner wounded after their armored vehicle was forced off a busy highway in central Mexico. The gunmen were members of the Zetas, investigators said, and one of the weapons used came from a North Texas gun shop.

In response to the shooting, U.S. law enforcement officials led a massive sweep throughout the country and Latin America against Mexican cartel suspects. Dallas-based agents arrested 57 people and seized more than $2 million in cash, gold and other property.

“Dallas is no longer a world away from the border,” said Jeffrey Stamm, assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Dallas office, describing the Dallas area as a key base for the Zetas and other cartels. “We are close enough to be the command-and-control center.”

Over several months, a team of Dallas Morning News journalists examined the Zetas’ role in the multibillion-dollar illegal drug trade, interviewing dozens of law enforcement officials and others with knowledge of the group in Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala and Texas. Among their findings:

The Zetas have built alliances with gangs in Central America, particularly Guatemala, adding to the violence and corruption afflicting that region and further empowering those groups to spread lawlessness and terror among the population. The Zetas also have gained control of large pieces of land in Guatemala, compromising border security and facilitating smuggling, and have made inroads into Colombia, gaining direct access to producers and smugglers.

The Zetas have become one of the most brutal and powerful criminal organizations in Mexico, wresting territory from rival groups and corrupting, intimidating and co-opting law enforcement authorities, politicians and others, especially along the border with Texas.

The impact of the Zetas and other criminal groups in North Texas is on display daily in Dallas drug courts, where addicts struggle to repair their damaged lives and step away from the criminal lifestyle that almost always accompanies their drug use.

The Zetas’ presence in Dallas, first documented in The Dallas Morning News in 2005, has continued to grow because of the area’s confluence of bustling highways, a busy international airport and the familiarity of a large Hispanic immigrant community. Its leaders are known to have relatives here, authorities say.

But the organization is hardly local. Over the years, through violence and networking, it has extended its reach throughout Mexico and into Central and South America. In 2009, President Barack Obama named the Zetas a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker Kingpin organization, reserved for the world’s most dangerous drug organizations.

“The reach of Mexican organized crime spreads across the globe,” said expert Edgardo Buscaglia, who has advised the United Nations on drug policy and teaches at the Autonomous Institute of Technology of Mexico in Mexico City. “They’re powerful, deadly and have proven they’re capable of paralyzing governments, including regions throughout Mexico. Calling them (simply) drug traffickers is no longer accurate. They’re some of the world’s most powerful organized crime members.”

The Zetas are known for bringing an especially brutal brand of violence to the borderlands just south of Texas. In August, after gunmen massacred 72 migrants, mostly from Central America, a survivor of the bloodbath said the killers identified themselves as Zetas.

“You have Mexican cartels, and then you have terrorists,” said a U.S. federal agent with expertise in gathering intelligence on the Zetas, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The Zetas are terrorists, not a cartel.”

The Zetas have transformed two Mexican states bordering Texas, Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon – including the key industrial city of Monterrey – into a bloody war zone as they have battled their former employers, the Gulf cartel, for control of the territory, law enforcement officials say.

Journalists have been killed or intimidated into silence. Police officers have been killed and corrupted. Politicians have been slain. Entire communities have been evacuated as residents flee for their lives.

Such wholesale bloodletting doesn’t yet characterize the Zetas’ presence in North Texas, although several recent killings carried the hallmarks of cartel violence. But here, as in Mexico, competition among cartels could take a turn for the worse, authorities say.

“I’m not going to predict street violence and turf battles on the streets of Dallas,” said Stamm of the DEA. “There is a fair bit of caution with … these organizations to not mess where they eat in the U.S. distribution markets. But certainly there is a power struggle. … It’s anybody’s guess how that’s going to end, and how much more violence will occur along the way.”

Currently, the Zetas are pitted against a confederation of rival groups, known as Narcos Unidos, which joined forces in an effort to counter the growing power of the Zetas, authorities say.

The Zetas originated as the Mexican military’s version of the U.S. Army’s Special Forces. Known in Mexico by the acronym of GAFES, for Grupo Aeromovil de Fuerzas Especiales (Special Forces Air Mobile Group), they were tasked with taking down the country’s burgeoning drug cartels.

Members of the unit received training at U.S. military bases, according to a database created through military reports to Congress by the Washington Office on Latin America, a think tank.

At least 35 of those original GAFES members switched sides, authorities say, joining the narcotics trafficking force of Osiel Cardenas and becoming armed enforcers for his Gulf cartel, named for its home base near the Gulf of Mexico and just south of Brownsville.

The paramilitary group flourished, eventually growing to more than 1,000 members and breaking away from the Gulf cartel to go into business for itself, according to the federal agent and Zetas expert.

A Mexican intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, played down the role of U.S. training as some of the original GAFES members formed the nucleus of the Zetas.

“Who trained who is irrelevant,” the official said. “The fact is the Zetas, whether trained directly or indirectly by U.S. Special Forces … have become force multipliers. They’re terrorizing our country and represent the biggest threat to the country’s national security.”

The organization is equal parts commando brigade, intelligence service, public relations firm and Fortune 500 company. Workers are drawn extensively from family, making it difficult for law enforcement to infiltrate. “It’s like the mafia,” Stamm said. “You’re going to utilize people you know.”

Its members arm themselves in large part from a steady supply of thousands of military-style guns, including long-range .50-caliber rifles, from Texas and other U.S. border states to get around stiff Mexican gun laws.

The cartel’s chief engineer, who was arrested in 2008 and charged in Houston, built and ran a sophisticated communication network throughout Mexico using short-distance walkie-talkies to avoid wiretaps, court documents show. He also set up covert camera systems throughout Mexico to spy on authorities’ activities.

The group has a sophisticated record-keeping system using laptops and flash drives, authorities say. Members keep databases of cocaine shipment amounts, identities of bosses over smuggling routes, payroll, payments made to law enforcement officials, and money received and owed, according to a federal indictment of the group pending in Washington, D.C.

The group uses a range of media to present itself to the public. It hung banners in Nuevo Laredo in 2008 seeking soldiers to join its ranks. Videos of some of the group’s beheadings can be found online. Some cartel trucks and SUVs in Mexico are adorned with painted “Z”s, an open challenge to Mexican military forces battling them.

To protect its cash flow from volatility in the international drug market, the cartel has diversified in recent years, ramping up ransom kidnappings for cash and stealing more than $1 billion worth of oil from Mexican pipelines, authorities say.

While the group is highly organized, Stamm cautions against thinking of the organization as a traditional business with a set payroll and logistics costs. “A drug trafficking organization can promise payment to a transporter and just not pay. And if he complains, they kill him,” he said.

Slaughtering rivals or out-of-line employees and their relatives is the norm. A former assassin told the Brownsville Herald in February that he killed 32 people for the Zetas. To fortify himself before a hit – which often ended with cutting up the body and scattering its pieces – he and his cohorts would drink whiskey or snort cocaine.

As the Zetas have battled the Gulf cartel for dominance of the region bordering South Texas, they have expanded their reach into Central and South America.

The U.S. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, an arm of the State Department, concluded in a March 2010 report that “entire regions of Guatemala are now essentially under the control” of drug-trafficking organizations, “the most visible of which is the Mexican group known as the Zetas.”

In Colombia, where the U.S.-backed government has succeeded in smashing that country’s most notorious cartels, the Zetas have stepped in to deal directly with coca growers, U.S. and Colombian officials say.

The Mexican group also uses Venezuela as a springboard to move the product northward, using fast boats to Panama and small planes to Honduras and Guatemala, the officials say.

It is difficult to know the extent of the Zetas’ presence in North Texas, but there are signs that it is substantial.

The organization’s reputed No. 2 leader, Miguel Trevino Morales, grew up in the area and was arrested in Dallas when he was a teenager before he began his cartel career. He still has family here, authorities say. He is under federal indictment in the Eastern District of New York and Washington, D.C. The State Department is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction.

In 2009, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control named Morales a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker through the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, making him one of the world’s most wanted narco-traffickers. The designation freezes any assets he has in this country and imposes more than a $1 million fine on anyone doing business with him.

He was the chief target in a massive law enforcement sweep in North Texas and throughout the U.S. and Latin America in late February following the death of ICE agent Zapata.

Another man alleged to be a member of the Zetas actually attended Dallas-area public schools, law enforcement officials say.

The man, Sigifredo Najera Talamantes, was arrested last year in northern Mexico and accused of a 2008 gun and grenade attack against the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey, two hours south of Laredo.

Clues about the group’s local activities come from federal criminal cases involving Zetas cell leaders as well as lower-level drug and gun smugglers.

In 2009, for example, the FBI and other law enforcement agents busted a cocaine ring in a case that was linked to the Zetas, who “kidnapped” a Farmers Branch man with a trucking firm who had worked with them, according to court records.

Gabriel Mendoza Sr., 60, the owner of Gabriel’s Trucking, pleaded guilty in February 2010 to conspiracy to distribute drugs and to commit money laundering. His son, Gabriel Mendoza Jr., 40, admitted he conspired to distribute cocaine from Mexico.

According to the court record, Mendoza Sr. was kidnapped in early 2009 in a Mexican border town by the Zetas, described as a “paramilitary organization that enforces the drug taxes.” Mendoza agreed to do further work for the Zetas, moving money south.

The court record describes how drugs were smuggled north from Mexico and how hundreds of thousands of dollars were moved south in a truck registered to the senior Mendoza. A transcript of a deposition also said the company recruited truck drivers to transport cocaine and methamphetamine.

Prosecuting attorney Heather Rattan said Mendoza testified that “when you start working for them, you can’t get out because basically they own you.”

In February, a Fort Worth gun dealer called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to report that suspicious men had paid cash for 27 military-style rifles. Agents arrested two of the men, Jayson Beltram and Eliseo Valverde Jr. According to court documents, they told agents that they got $20,000 from a Zetas contact in Grand Prairie to buy the weapons to be smuggled to Mexico.

In interviews with two reporters, a person with knowledge of the Zetas described in general terms the group’s North Texas operations, including money laundering in businesses such as restaurants, car lots and meat markets. The source also said there were warehouses from which loads of drugs were trucked to places including Kansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Atlanta and Chicago.

The source said scores of Texans were employed to transport high-powered weapons and bags of cash back into Mexico in hidden compartments of their vehicles.

Another person with knowledge of the Zetas recounted a case in which so many bundles of cash were stuffed into the gas tank of a vehicle that the driver had to stop every 50 miles to refuel.

That source, interviewed in Ciudad Aleman, Mexico, said the vehicle was driven by an American retiree eager to earn extra cash on his monthly trek to a Mexican pharmacy to buy his blood-thinning prescription and to visit a dentist.

The source said dozens of people traveled the same route weekly.

While fear of spillover violence is usually focused on border cities, El Paso, Laredo, McAllen, Tucson and San Diego actually rank among the safest cities in the U.S.

Federal authorities are more concerned about violence in key distribution points such as Dallas, Houston and Atlanta.

Bruce Bagley, a political science professor at the University of Miami, estimates that dozens of recent killings in cities around the U.S. are tied to cartels.

“White powder, dope, heroin doesn’t just magically appear in the streets of Dallas, New York or Miami,” he said. “You need a network, and there are consequences, like people killing each other on both sides of the border.”

A 49-year-old Novato man was arrested Tuesday night after officers discovered methamphetamine, cash and a video depicting him engaging in sexual activity with a child, police said.

William Jay Taylor was arrested at 10:40 p.m. after police searched his home in the 700 block of Del Mar Avenue, according to a Novato police statement. The search was conducted because Taylor was on probation, said Novato police Lt. John McCarthy.

Officers discovered numerous images of child pornography, including an image of Taylor penetrating a victim with an object, McCarthy said. The gender and age of the victim were not released.

Taylor was booked at Marin County Jail on suspicion of penetrating a minor under 14 with a foreign object and possession of child pornography, McCarthy said. Drug charges are also expected, he said. Bail was set at $500,000.

In May 2009, Taylor was convicted on weapons charges stemming from an incident at a Sonoma Valley Airport hangar, where he was accused of waving a gun and making threats, according to Sonoma County court records.

He served 240 days at Sonoma County’s North County Detention facility north of Santa Rosa and was released on probation in July 2010, according to court records and information from the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office. His probation was set to end in June 2012, according to court records.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — A St. Johns County man and woman were arrested Tuesday afternoon when police came to search their property in response to complaints about possible methamphetamine manufacturing.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office served the warrant at a home in the 6000 block of Santina Way.

Michael Edward Green, 32, and Christine Ann Stevens, 20, of St. Johns County were arrested and charged with manufacturing and possession of methamphetamine, maintaining a drug dwelling and possession of drug paraphernalia and were booked into the County Jail.

Green is being held on $20,000 bond. Stevens is held on $6,000 bond.

While police were in the home, two men escaped out a back door. They have not been identified. The investigation is ongoing.

Detectives found chemicals used to make methamphetamine at the home.

A self-described methamphetamine dealer gave rambling, emotional testimony at his murder trial Wednesday in an attempt to explain to an Anchorage jury why he fatally shot another man last year in Mountain View.

Ryan Angelo Malapit Sargento, 29, admits to killing 30-year-old John Lee “Dopey” Taylor outside an apartment building on Thompson Avenue the morning of June 2, 2010.

The jury heard Sargento’s side of the story: that he fired in self-defense.

“I shot him, to protect my life,” Sargento said from the witness stand. “He told me he was going to kill me.”

Sargento has been in trouble with the law since he was 18 years old, when he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge. Then-Gov. Frank Murkowski pardoned him for that crime years later, in 2006. Sargento’s mother, a state employee appointed by Murkowski, had requested the pardon.

Prosecutors described both Sargento and the man he shot, Taylor, as drug lords. Police said the two might have been engaged in a dispute over a cellphone that Taylor thought Sargento had stolen.

Sargento said Wednesday he wasn’t the big-time dealer prosecutors had made him out to be. He disputed the claim that he’d taken Taylor’s phone to steal the other dealer’s meth buyers, or “knocks,” as Sargento called them.

“I don’t go and get people’s cellphones … and try to take their knocks,” Sargento said. “No way, shape or form I would ever do that, I swear to you on my life. That is not how I roll, man.”

Questioned first by his lawyer, Rex Butler, and then by Assistant District Attorney Sharon Marshall, Sargento said Taylor had been violent, aggressive and angry at him about four days before the shooting.


It was late May 2010 when Taylor called Sargento to ask for help with a dispute between Taylor and someone else. It was unclear what the dispute was about, and Sargento was across town with his son when Taylor called, the defendant testified. Sargento told Taylor he couldn’t help.

Two days later, Taylor called him again, Sargento said. He asked Sargento to meet him in the parking lot of an apartment building near Boniface Parkway and 24th Avenue.

Sargento said he went to the parking lot and climbed into the front passenger seat of a car. Taylor sat behind him. Another man, named “Canteen,” was in the driver’s seat, Sargento said.

That’s when Taylor put a gun to his back and forced him to call himself a derogatory name, Sargento said.

“I said, ‘What are you doing? I thought we were friends,’ ” Sargento told the jury. “He told me next time he sees me he’s going to kill me, and I took him literal.”

The next time Sargento saw Taylor was two days later at the Mountain View apartment, he said. In the meantime, Sargento had bought a gun. A 9mm Hi-Point pistol.


It was early in the morning, about 6 a.m., and Taylor was knocking on the apartment door. Don’t answer, Sargento told everyone inside. The group had been up smoking methamphetamine after delivering some fake meth to a buyer in Chugiak, Sargento said.

No one answered the knock. Taylor had apparently left.

Sargento guessed it was 20 or 30 minutes later when he left the apartment heading for his truck, which had been parked behind a different building in an attempt to avoid Taylor, Sargento said.

Sargento walked through an alley between two buildings. He rounded a corner, and there was Taylor, he said.

“He gets out the car as soon as he sees me,” Sargento said.

“He gets up and he goes like this under his jacket,” Sargento said putting one hand under his belt buckle. “(He was) like, ‘What’s up, man? Come over here,’ like he’s trying to tell me to come over here, know what I’m saying?”

“Honestly, I didn’t know what to do,” Sargento said. “Somebody tells you they’re going to kill you, what are you going to do, know what I’m saying?”

“What did you do?” Butler asked.

“I just knew that I had to protect myself, man. I just protect myself. I have a right to protect myself, know what I’m saying?” Sargento said.

Butler asked again: “What did you do, son?”

“I took my gun out and I shot him. I thought he was going to shoot me,” Sargento said.

Police said Sargento ran from the scene, threw his gun away and hid.

A police dog sniffed him out about two blocks away.

Sargento, who is also charged with evidence tampering, is expected to return to the stand this morning for questioning by prosecutors.

LYNNWOOD — The beginning of a bitter divorce looks to have taken a violent and bloody turn for a Lynnwood man.

Now his wife and her son are facing serious criminal allegations in connection with a late-night attack.

Debra Glenn, 53, is accused of sneaking into the house she once shared with her husband and clobbering him with a baseball bat while he slept. The assault happened about a month after her husband filed for divorce and obtained a protection order forbidding Glenn from returning home.

In court documents the man accused his wife and her son, Jacob Warner, of being involved in illegal drugs and stealing from him. He told the court that he feared the pair and was concerned they would hurt him and her other son.

Prosecutors allege that the man’s predictions came true in the late hours of April 11.

Emergency dispatchers received a call from a man reporting that his wife and her adult son had hit him with a baseball bat. Lynnwood police officers arrived to see the man stumble out the front door and sit down on the porch. He was covered in blood.

The man later was interviewed at a Seattle hospital and explained that he was in the process of divorcing his wife of 20 years. A couple weeks earlier he’d obtained a court order directing Glenn and Warner to vacate the family home no later than April 1. Glenn was in court but had refused to sign the order.

The man explained that Glenn and Warner had been living out of a car ever since.

He told investigators that he’d seen Glenn the day of the attack. He’d met her at Scriber Lake Park, gave her a cup of coffee and handed over a rebate check that had come in the mail for her. He said she complained about having no money.

He told detectives that later that night he woke up to a noise and started to get out of bed to investigate. That’s when he felt someone holding him down. Then someone began hitting him with a bat.

The man said he was able to turn on the light and that’s when he realized that Warner was restraining him and Glenn was hitting him, court papers said. He fought his petite wife off and pushed her and Warner out of the bedroom and locked the door. He retreated to a bathroom and called 911. He told detectives that Glenn and Warner forced open the bedroom door and attacked him in the bathroom.

He said Warner began hitting him with something and the blows knocked the phone out of his hand. He made his way to another phone and called 911 again. He told detectives that’s when Glenn and Warner fled.

Detectives later discovered that someone had removed a board from the deck and used a crawlspace under the house to enter through the floor of an office. Officers found a jacket and a cigarette butt in the crawlspace. There was a cellphone, tissue and lighter in the jacket pockets. Police also found a bloodied and cracked baseball bat in the kitchen along with a wrench wrapped in a bloodied jacket.

Police arrested Glenn and Warner, 35, later that day. Police searched Glenn’s purse and allegedly retrieved bank cards belonging to her husband. They also found methamphetamine and a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes — the same brand as the butts they found on the floor inside the house and in the crawlspace.

Glenn, a convicted felon, served time in prison in 2004 for an attempted first-degree robbery. She was accused of using a knife to hold up a stylist who’d just cut her hair. The stylist reported that Glenn tied him up with the cord of a waxing machine. At her sentencing, her attorney argued that Glenn had suddenly stopped taking her medications and was suffering from some kind of breakdown at the time of the event.

In divorce papers, Glenn denied that she or her son used illegal drugs. She also denied her husband’s claim that she is violent.

He “is going to say anything about me to make me look bad including lie,” she wrote. “How could I hurt them physically. I can’t.”

Her husband required several stitches and staples to close cuts to his head.

Prosecutors charged the mother and son with first-degree domestic violence assault and first-degree robbery. They are being held on $250,000 bail.

An alleged Latin Kings associate who was arrested out of state in the July 21 sweep of suspected gang members and their associates pleaded guilty in federal court today.

Jose “Michael Jackson” Colon, of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and possession with intent to deliver 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. He is scheduled to be sentenced July 27.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John M. Gallagher and Colon’s defense attorney, William Honig, could not be reached for comment.

Colon, who was 46 at the time of his arrest, gave four pounds of methamphetamine to his nephew, co-defendant Samuel Colon, on the orders of local Latin King leader Luis “King Respect” Colon, police said. According to court papers, Samuel Colon flew to Las Vegas and gave his uncle $36,000 cash for the drugs. Jose Colon then packed the methamphetamine in Samuel Colon’s suitcase and dropped him off at the airport, police said.

According to court papers, police intercepted the bag of drugs before it got to Philadelphia.

A husband was sentenced Tuesday to more than a month in jail for kicking his wife in the face during a heated argument last week.

San Saelee, 30, of Sacramento was arrested the morning of April 20 at his Hackberry Lane residence just outside Carmichael on charges of domestic violence and false imprisonment. His 27-year-old wife told sheriff’s officers Saelee blocked her from leaving their home during the argument and threw her to the ground. Saelee then allegedly kicked her in the face, causing swelling. The wife was able to leave after the incident, according to the sheriff’s report.

Online court records show Saelee pled no contest Tuesday to one misdemeanor count of inflicting visible injury on a spouse, while the false imprisonment charge was dismissed. He was sentenced to 45 days in custody and three years probation.

Needle and the damage done

A parolee found loitering in a Carmichael parking lot last week ended up in handcuffs when officers found a hypodermic syringe in his possession.

Michael McSwain, 50, was seen hanging out in a parking lot at Marconi Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard the morning of April 19, according to a sheriff’s report. Officers found the needle when they conducted a parole search.

McSwain’s parole agent authorized a hold, which the sheriff’s report says led to his booking.

Justifiable concern

A concerned family member’s call brought officers to the Carmichael home of Kevin Lewis, 41, earlier this month.

According to Dep. Jason Ramos, a spokesman for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, a relative of Lewis’ called authorities that April 14 morning to request a welfare check. Ramos said the reporting party claimed Lewis was “acting crazy” and breaking things inside their Panama Avenue residence.

When officers arrived around 1 a.m., a deputy saw a large knife in Lewis’ pants that cleared the way for a cursory search for more weapons. Instead, the deputy found a small plastic baggie containing an off-white crystal-like substance believed to be methamphetamine, as well as a small black container holding more of the substance. Two concealed firearms were also discovered in Lewis’ vehicle.

He was arrested and booked into the main jail in Sacramento on firearm and drug charges. An online records search turned up no reports of his arraignment in Sacramento Superior Court.

BLUE BELL, Pa. — A Colorado couple is charged with transporting methamphetamine to Philadelphia on board a small personal airplane.

Investigators say 51-year-old James Handzus and 41-year-old Tamara Vincent, both of Rifle, Colo., were arrested Friday after they met an undercover detective at a suburban Philadelphia restaurant with a pound of methamphetamine.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman says the couple flew Handzus’ single-engine plane to a small airport in Blue Bell, Pa. from Las Vegas. She suspects the high-grade meth had originated in Mexico.

Ferman says Handzus flew to the area to sell drugs a few times a year. Authorities estimated the street value of the drugs seized last week at $64,000 or more.

Handzus and Vincent are both being held on $500,000 bail. It was not clear if they had attorneys.–Methamphetamine-Smuggling-Plane/

BOISE, Idaho — A southwestern Idaho man has been sentenced to roughly seven years in prison for planning to distribute methamphetamine in Idaho.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge sentenced 45-year-old Meliton Nunez-Felix, of Caldwell, on Tuesday to 87 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute meth.

Nunez-Felix admitted to planning to distribute the 500 grams of meth with three other individuals throughout Idaho between July 2005 and October 2006. Investigators say they also found the group had distributed more than 100 pounds of the drug in Idaho.

Several entities were involved in the investigation including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Ada County Sheriff’s Office and the High Desert task force in Payette.–Meth-Conspiracy-Sentencing/

Metro Narcotics agents arrested a man Monday in connection with a suspected methamphetamine lab found April 4 in the 1500 block of Bailey Street in West Monroe.

At that time, agents found the materials necessary to make meth in a trailer at the residence. According to reports, a witness said Tommy Davis, 43, of 1520 Bailey, had made meth that day.

At the location, a prescription bottle with Davis’ name on it was reportedly found containing pseudoephedrine tablets which are used to make meth.

Ouachita Parish deputies stopped and arrested Davis on Monday on outstanding burglary warrants. According to deputies, a search of Davis’ vehicle revealed a metal box containing approximately 2.5 grams of meth, small plastic bags and digital scales. The box was found on the driver’s side floorboard.

In the rear of the vehicle was a large plastic box containing the materials needed to make meth, according to an arrest affidavit.

Davis was taken to Ouachita Correctional Center and charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and two counts of creation of a clandestine lab. He was also booked on two warrants for simple burglary and one warrant for theft.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — A Washington state man who was caught in South Dakota with what authorities say was a large amount of methamphetamine has been sentenced to three years and eight months in federal prison.

U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson says 27-year-old Francisco Garcia was in a vehicle stopped by a South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper in July 2009 on Interstate 90 near new Underwood. Authorities say about 8 pounds of meth was found in the vehicle.

Garcia later pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute a controlled substance. He will be on supervised release for three years following his prison term.–Drug-Sentence/

Flying drug ring grounded

Posted: April 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

COURTHOUSE — A Colorado couple who flew from Las Vegas to Wings Field in a 1959 Piper Comanche planned to sell a pound of methamphetamine to help pay their travel expenses, but instead the two were nabbed by Montgomery County narcotics officers and sent to jail.

James Handzus, 51, and Tamara Vincent, 41, of Rifle, Colo., were arrested during the sting Thursday and charged with drug trafficking, according to Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, who held a news conference Tuesday at Wings Field.

She praised police but especially credited the Blue Bell airport staff for providing crucial support that led to apprehension of the suspects.

In March, the DA’s Drug Task Force and Narcotics Enforcement Team discovered Handzus routinely flew in methamphetamine to sell in the local area, but they didn’t know when he would make his next trip.

Then Thursday investigators discovered the couple’s travel plans, and later that day spotted the vintage blue Piper airplane at the Blue Bell airport.

“So with not a great deal of time for planning here for this operation, the detectives kicked into high gear, and I have to tell you anecdotally and interestingly, they were able to use social media to confirm (the couple’s) travel plans,” Ferman said at a news conference at Wings Field.

Handzus’ Facebook page shows him posing with his plane nicknamed “My Lady.” Apparently, he did not file flight plans before piloting the aircraft on the 2,400 mile trip.

One undercover officer contacted the Colorado man Friday and arranged to purchase a pound of illicit drug from him. Ferman showed the pound of crystal meth that had been seized from the couple’s luggage that same day.

“We’re not talking about something that is made in someone’s garage or basement,” she said. “This is extremely powerful, and it’s very high grade.”

The DA said she believes the methamphetamine was manufactured in Mexico and sent to Las Vegas, which is “the hub of distribution” for the illicit narcotic in the United States.

The undercover cop also spoke to the couple on Friday and arranged to meet them at Ruby Tuesday’s on Chemical Road in Plymouth Township.

At the restaurant, Vincent explained that her boyfriend had family in the area, and when the couple visited they brought the drugs to sell to pay expenses and provide extra money, according to court papers. She agreed to sell the undercover officer the meth for $27,000.

Vincent suggested the prospective buyer could divide the substance up into eighths of an ounce, called “eight balls,” that would sell on the street for between $500 to $600 each. She also said he would get a break on the wholesale price if he purchased quantities of at least five pounds in the future.

To allow the officer to inspect the meth before making a downpayment, Handzus took off a necklace he was wearing and handed it to the detective. When the officer took the necklace to the eatery’s restroom, he discovered a small amount of the narcotic inside. The undercover investigator then gave Vincent a $2,000 payment. He promised to pay the balance when they arrived at a nearby hotel, but as the officer was loading their luggage into his vehicle, narcotics officers moved in and arrested the two.

The DA said the authorities are seeking forfeiture of the Piper Comanche. And if forfeited, the aircraft would either be sold or used by police for drug enforcement.

Handzus and Vincent were arraigned are being held in Montgomery County Prison in lieu of $500,000 bail each.

Today, the St. Augustine Police Department served a search warrant on an apartment at 24b Louise Street. Investigators with the St. Augustine Police Department working on information they received about possible Methamphetamine being made at the apartment, obtained a search warrant and entered the apartment with an entry team from the police department.

Inside the apartment was James J. Belcher lll, age 40 and Laura I. Harris, age 24. Belcher was arrested and booked into the county jail for maintaining a drug dwelling, possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Harris was arrested and booked for possession cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia. She also had an outstanding warrant for violation of probation for uttering a forged instrument and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Jason Jon Carroll, 39, of Wayland, remains in custody following a March 7 arrest for manufacturing methamphetamine and operating and maintaining a laboratory at 3539 7th St. in Wayland.

The home where the incident occurred is owned by Carroll’s parents, Mary Louise Carroll and Jon Carroll, who were vacationing in Florida on the date of the incident.

Jon Carroll is currently a trustee on the Wayland Union Schools Board of Education.

“He is a grown adult. I am not responsible for his actions,” Jon Carroll said in a phone interview. “I want to make one thing perfectly clear. I’ve lived at that residence for a number of years and there has not been any drug activity at that house. I do not advocate drugs. I have nothing to do with drugs.”

According to a police report acquired through a March 18 Freedom of Information Act request, Michigan State Police officers approached the residence on March 7 after receiving an anonymous tip regarding the manufacture of methamphetamine at the address.

Upon arriving, police noticed a sulfur smell, according to the report.

Three vehicles were parked in the home’s driveway, one belonging to Heather Sparks, 24, who was identified as having an active warrant out for her arrest pertaining to a domestic violence charge.

Police spoke with Jason Carroll, asking about the smell. Carroll replied that he had recently burned an old vacuum in a burn barrel out back.

Upon investigation of the burn barrel, police discovered a burnt piece of foil, indicative of meth use, according to the report.

Carroll then refused to consent to a search of the home, the report states.

The officer asked if Sparks was inside the residence. Carroll replied that she was not.

The officer informed him that a search warrant would be pursued and if Sparks was located inside following the issuance of a search warrant, he would be arrested for harboring a fugitive.

Carroll then told police that Sparks was inside, but continued to tell officers that he did not use meth, and no meth was being manufactured inside the home.

Sparks and her 4-year-old son were located inside the home. She was arrested as a fugitive and was lodged at the Barry County Jail. The 4-year-old was taken to foster care.

Carroll’s 14-year-old son, who was also present inside the home, was placed with his biological mother, according to police.

Officers then secured the home while an affidavit for a search warrant was completed.

Upon searching the residence, officers located a small refrigerator in Jason Carroll’s room. Inside the freezer portion of the unit, officers discovered a one-pot meth reaction.

Police also located several pieces of methamphetamine paraphernalia at the residence, including a lye, camping fuel, muriatic acid, coffee filters, battery peelings, air tubing, a digital scale, and ammonium nitrate.

Carroll was placed under arrest and transported to the Allegan County Jail.

The following morning, at the jail, Carroll admitted to cooking meth and giving some of the finished product to Sparks, according to the report. He also admitted to placing the reaction bottle in the freezer, using fuel to cook meth, and to having the jar of meth that was located inside the freezer.

A pretrial meeting on Jason Carroll’s case was scheduled for Monday, April 25. No further court action is scheduled at this time.

West Michigan Enforcement Team Lt. Mike Anderson said the home will be identified as a drug lab.

“The notice of site of illegal drug manufacturing gets sent to the Michigan Department of Community Health and the Allegan County Department of Community Health. They then send letters out that no one should inhabit the home until it gets tested and cleared,” he said. “The next step falls on the back of the township as a zoning enforcement, though a lot of the time it isn’t enforced very stringently.”

Jon Carroll taught at Wayland Union Schools for 33 years and was first elected to the district’s board of education in July 1997.

Jon Carroll, and board members Paul Schloop and Don Borgic, were targeted for recall on Aug. 2, 2010.

Wayland resident Mick Lane filed the recall paperwork. Lane said the recall attempt was spurred by Carroll, Borgic and Schloop’s support of custodial privatization and their vocal support for former superintendent Eivor Swan following her decision not to inform police after two separate gun threats had occurred in January and May 2010.

Lane also claimed that Carroll was spending winters in Florida, causing him to miss 75 percent of board meetings from Dec. 12, 2009 through May 1, 2010.

The recall attempt failed to proceed due to a lack of collected signatures.

Jon Carroll said he was unaware of the March 7 arrest, stating that he didn’t receive any notice from the police of an incident at his residence.

“I’ve been in Florida since this happened and have received nothing. I have no idea if that place is sealed up,” said Jon Carroll. “The incident is over with, but I believe this is part of a witch hunt to destroy me and my family.”

Two Palatka men have been arrested on methamphetamine charges after police responded Monday to a Department of Children and Families investigation regarding the welfare of a 4-year-old, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said.

The agency was investigating a report that methamphetamine was being manufactured in the presence of a child in a home in the 5100 block of Silver Lake Drive, said Sheriff’s Office spokesman Johnny Greenwood.

Police observed two men, 32-year-old Timothy Ray Peterman and 53-year-old Elzy Leon Tootle, in the yard. Tootle was seen going behind the house and pouring out the contents of a pot. Deputies also smelled a strong chemical odor and found chemicals commonly used to make methamphetamine behind the home.

The 4-year-old, who is the child of Peterman’s girlfriend, was taken into protective custody. Peterman told authorities he was staying at the home with his girlfriend for a few days until they could move into a new home, the spokesman said.

Both men were charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Tootle, who had been arrested on a similar charge in September, was also charged with tampering with evidence.

Criminal charges regarding the 4-year-old are pending.

Driver in fatal crash high

Posted: April 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

An Orland man was high on drugs when he crashed his vehicle into an oncoming car April 5, killing himself and two others on rural Glenn County highway.

Toxicology results released Tuesday show Erik Ortega was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the crash, and the California Highway Patrol now believes that Ortega’s intoxication was the primary cause of the fatal wreck, Officer Rodney Pozzi said Tuesday.

Investigators recovered a small amount of methamphetamine from Ortega’s car on the night of the crash.

Melissa Ellithorp, 20, of Willows, and her friend, Nicolina Milani, 19, of Glenn, also died in the crash, and 31-year-old Emily Ellithorp remains hospitalized in fair condition at Enloe Medical Center.

There is no evidence of any drug or alcohol use on part of anyone in Ellithorp’s vehicle, the CHP said.

The CHP said Ortega was southbound around 9:30 p.m. on Highway 99W when his 1991 Ford Taurus drifted into the northbound lane and Ellithorp’s oncoming 2007 Hyundai Elantra where they collided head-on.

Family members said Melissa Ellithorp was celebrating her 20th birthday.

Fundraising efforts are underway to help the Ellithorp family defray hospital and funeral expenses.

A 31-year-old Red Bluff man was arrested Sunday evening and booked into Tehama County Jail on the charges of possession of methamphetamine for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia.

At 9:28 p.m., Officers Sean Baxter and Matt Coker learned that Christopher Dee Rhoads was staying at the Classic Inn, 1142 Main Street, in Red Bluff and attempted to contact him there about an on-going investigation.

There was no answer at Rhoads’ room, but as the officers were walking away they saw him exit a different hotel room and run into his room. Looking through a window, officers saw Rhoads hurrying to hide items under the bed in his room.

According to a Red Bluff Police press release, Rhoads is on non-revocable State Parole, and is subject to search and seizure.

When Rhoads came to the door, he admitted to officers that he had been concealing methamphetamine under his bed, the release said.

While searching the room, officers found methamphetamine, paraphernalia and evidence of sales. Rhoads was booked into Tehama County Jail.

Bail was set at $18,000.