A former Montesano police chief had a busy day in court, after he was arrested Tuesday for the second time this year in Tacoma.

Ray Sowers attended his drug court hearing at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. He was there because of January charges that he stole more than $1,500 in liquor from a grocery store.

At 1:30 p.m. the same day he pleaded not guilty to new accusations that he’s been trying to sell methamphetamine and heroin.

Pierce County sheriff’s deputies searched the 51-year-old’s apartment Tuesday as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation, according to charging papers.

They found 158 grams of suspected meth, 38.2 grams of heroin, a loaded 9mm handgun, crib notes and a digital gram scale, the court documents state.

Sowers allegedly told investigators he didn’t use the drugs, but admitted selling them.

As a convicted felon he cannot legally own the handgun, prosecutors said.

The search of the apartment left Sowers charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, two counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, and bail set at $50,000.

Possessing controlled substances violates the rules of drug court, which means Sowers has a hearing Oct. 14 to determine whether he’s kicked out of the program.

His second-degree theft charge for the liquor incident would be dropped if he completed the drug court program successfully. People kicked out instead face sentencing, and prosecutors asking for the high end of the sentencing range for the crime.

Sowers ended a 26-year career in law enforcement in 2010, when he pleaded guilty to charges that he used department credit cards to buy $17,000 in home electronics and other items.

He was sentenced to six months in jail for that crime.

The public defender for Sowers, Joseph Evans, declined to comment on his behalf Thursday.








Melbourne men believe they contracted HIV through ice use, with a ground-breaking study finding a “convincing significant association” between the drug and soaring rates of the infection.

The Prahran Market Clinic study found almost 85 per cent of the HIV postive patients at its medical practice believed methamphetamine use was a significant cause for contracting HIV.

“This study showed a convincing significant association between methamphetamine use and recent HIV diagnoses in MSM [men who have sex with men] in Melbourne,” clinic director Dr Beng Eu said.

Dr Eu said there was no other research like it in Australia, and the findings meant work urgently needed to be done to reverse the recent trend towards increased HIV rates.

“Australian clinicians managing MSM with and without HIV infection need to actively screen for methamphetamine use and counsel patients on the importance of reducing high-risk behaviors,” he said.

Dr Eu started the research after doctors at his clinic, which specializes in sexual health and addiction medication, began to see new HIV patients who were also using ice.

The study surveyed 211 gay men between 2011 and 2013, 65 of whom had HIV and 146 who did not. Of the HIV positive men, 84 per cent who had used ice in the past month prior to their diagnoses believed their use of the drug led to their infection.

“Most of the HIV-positive subjects who had used methamphetamine thought that their methamphetamine use was a significant cause,” Dr Eu said.

He said most of the infections would have happened through unprotected sex, with the drug’s effects boosting libido and stripping inhibitions leading to more risk-taking behavior.

HIV rates in Australia are at a 20-year high, with Kirby Institute data showing 1235 new cases were diagnosed last year. Victoria had the largest rise in cases, with 16 per cent more HIV notifications, with the Prahran Market Clinic diagnosing 20 per cent of the new cases.

It comes as data released on Thursday showed the nation was also experiencing its highest recorded rate of syphilis, and more Australians were dying of hepatitis C than ever.

“The increase in syphilis reported may also be associated with this [ice use] too, but we have not studied this,” Dr Eu said.

“Talking about this openly is the first step towards thinking about how to manage the problem.”

Victorian Aids Council chief executive Simon Ruth praised the Prahran clinic’s initiative and called for the state government to fund a research project that encompassed all of the high case-load clinics in Victoria.

“This is the sort of information we need to have information campaigns, and the government need to start funding health promotion campaigns,” Mr. Ruth said.

“This is from one clinic, it’s a relatively small number [of men] and I would be encouraging the government to fund a research project.”

Dr Eu will present his findings to the Penington Institute’s Australian Drugs Conference next month on methamphetamine use.








An Enid woman arrested Wednesday told the deputy who arrested her she uses meth because she is fat.


Lynette Rae Sampson, 54, was arrested following a traffic stop by a Garfield County Sheriff Office deputy.

Sheriff Jerry Niles said Sampson was stopped at 1:40 p.m. in the 200 block of South Grand for not wearing a seat belt.

As Sampson got out of her vehicle, Niles said she threw out a plastic bag that contained residue of methamphetamine.

The sheriff said the bag field tested positive for methamphetamine and will be sent to Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation for further testing.

Niles said Sampson told the deputy who stopped her, “I just use meth because I’m fat.”

Sampson was arrested on a complaint of possession of CDS and issued a citation for failure to wear a seat belt.

Sampson arrested in July after telling police she believed her methamphetamine was lace with something and was free on $5,000 bond at the time of her arrest Tuesday.

Sampson was charged in July with felony count of possession of methamphetamine and a misdemeanor count of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

In that case, Sampson called the Enid Police Department and told a sergeant she had methamphetamine in a tin container on her kitchen counter.

An officer was sent to Sampson’s house and she told him she thought her drugs were laced with something. Sampson then showed the officer a tin containing meth and a hollowed-out light bulb that had been used as a pipe.








(KTVI) – No matter how often people are warned to be careful about what they post on social media, some just don`t get it.

And according to police, one such person appears to be Jennifer C. Harrington, 36, of Jefferson County.

Last week, the Franklin County narcotics unit got a tip from one of Harrington`s Facebook friends saying they had seen a video on her page allegedly showing a man making meth while Harrington assisted him off camera as she shot the minute-and-a-half long movie.

‘They were talking about the manufacturing of methamphetamine, they were using street slang terms we could actually hear the bottle being shaken in a one pot manufacturing process,’ said Franklin County narcotics officer, Sgt. Jason Grellner.

‘Some of the apparatus and chemicals we normally see in a meth lab could be seen in the video,’ she said.

After watching the video, officers went looking for Harrington at several addresses in Jefferson County and in Union, Missouri.

They did not find her right away, but along the way they found several other friends of hers and arrested them on suspicion of either using or making meth.

Police have yet to find the man in the video.

‘They said the people weren`t very happy that their friend had posted this video and was bringing this investigation down on all of them,’ Grellner said.

Jennifer Harrington was finally arrested not on a drug charge, but for an outstanding parole violation.  Ironically, she was picked up as she arrived to meet with her parole officer.

None of the others arrested can be charged with drug crimes until lab results come back from the Missouri Highway Patrol.








Law enforcement agencies have many tools at their disposal to fight crime.

Now, add Facebook to that arsenal.

Members of the Franklin County Narcotics Enforcement Unit acted on an email tip last week and went to the Facebook page of a woman who had posted a video of people in the process of manufacturing methamphetamine.

“Yep, that’s meth-making components,” Detective Sgt. Jason Grellner commented after viewing the woman’s Facebook page.

That posting eventually led to the arrest of suspects at a home in Union where meth-making equipment and paraphernalia were seized last Thursday.

The case was based on information developed by Officer Nathan Pinter and Detective Leon Burton with the task force, Grellner said.

Investigators learned the woman, identified as Jennifer Harrington, 36, was wanted on a probation violation charge and believed she was living in Jefferson County.

“We contacted our counterparts in Jefferson County who began searching for her,” Grellner told The Missourian.

The woman was not located there, but in the process of searching for her, investigators arrested several other people on drug charges, Grellner said.

Harrington was arrested later on the warrant.

Grellner said once she was in custody, narcotics officers went to a home on Washington Avenue in Union where they arrested a 45-year-old man on suspicion of manufacturing meth. Burton said the male suspect was getting ready to cook meth and investigators seized a one-pot lab, chemicals and components and a number of pseudoephedrine pills, the vital ingredient needed to cook meth.

Burton said a 49-year-old woman who was at the home at the time was arrested on an outstanding warrant.

Evidence seized in the case will be analyzed at the Missouri Highway Patrol lab before a decision is made on issuing charges.

The name of the man arrested was not released because he has not been charged.

Grellner said the man told investigators that he had family members and friends purchase pseudoephedrine from pharmacies in St. Louis. He also was buying the drug from a source in St. Louis.

Harrington had been free on parole after serving part of a seven-year concurrent sentence for drug trafficking and stealing a credit card, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections.







Virginia, MN (NNCNOW.com) — The Boundary Waters Drug Task Force has arrested several suspected dealers following numerous investigations over the past several months.

Nine people have been charged in northern St. Louis County District Courts on drug–related charges:

  • Martell Kinard, 32–years–old, of Eveleth, and Alicia Cooper, 21–years–old, of Eveleth have both been charged for the seizure of seven ounces of heroin (street value of $40,000). Kinard faces charges of possession of heroin with intent to sell and 2nd degree sale of heroin. Cooper was charged with 1st degree sale of heroin.
  • Tara Waldvogel, 27–years–old, of Keewatin has been charged with 1st degree sale of methamphetamine.
  • Stephanie Stand, 35–years–old, of Calumet has been charged with 1st degree sale of methamphetamine.
  • Suzann Zidich, 31–years–old, of Hibbing has been charged with two felony counts of 5th degree possession of methamphetamine, and storing meth paraphernalia in the presence of a child.
  • Justin Stauffer, 32–years–old, has been charged with obstructing the legal process with force or violence. He was also wanted for a warrant at time of arrest.
  • Teelyn Minkel, 21–years–old, of Hibbing was cited for misdemeanor obstructing the legal process.
  • Brooke Jensen, 17–years–old, of Hibbing has been charged with 2nd degree sale of methamphetamine in a public housing zone.
  • Aaron Olson, 29–years–old, of Hibbing has been charged with 5th degree possession of methamphetamine.

All of the above arrests were a result of the Boundary Waters Drug Task Force’s investigations.







A Parker County grand jury earlier this month indicted a woman whose 2-year-old son reportedly tested positive for methamphetamine in May 2013.   541900b7a38be_image

Delena Rochelle Pool, 39, has been charged with 2nd degree felony abandoning or endangering a child.

Pool admitted to smoking methamphetamine on weekends while the child was in her residence when CPS responded to a complaint of neglectful supervision in April 2013, according to court records.

Pool reportedly agreed to a safety plan with CPS requiring a family member to supervise contact between the mother and toddler. However, CPS reportedly discovered during an unannounced home visit in May 2013 that the mother and child were not supervised overnight and the boy was removed.

The boy’s foster parents reported that the child slept for 12 hours after his removal and then took a 3-hour nap the following day.

Several days after the boy’s removal, the boy’s hair was drug tested and showed positive for methamphetamine at the high end of “low” or “recreational” use, according to Weatherford police.

CPS removed Pool’s three older children in 2006 after Pool tested positive for methamphetamine use and missed an important medical appointment for one of her children, according to court records. A family member was reportedly caring for the older children when CPS investigated the 2013 incident.

Pool, arrested in March, was released three days later on $40,000 bond, according to jail records.









A 40-year-old Phoenix man was arrested on the 1900 block of East Apache Boulevard on suspicion of possession of a dangerous drug and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to a police report.The man was contacted in an apartment complex as he was walking away from a room where there was already an investigation, police reported.

When the man was contacted by police the officer asked how he was doing and the man said, “I’m trippin’,” and he was very fidgety and could not stop moving his hands, according to the report.

The man was asked by police how much methamphetamine he had on him at the moment and the man said, “It could be a little or more than a little. I don’t really know,” police reported.

The man was asked what pocket he had put the methamphetamine in, and the man said, “It should be up front in a baggy. You can grab it,” according to the report.

The man was searched and the methamphetamine was located in the left front pants pocket, police reported.

Several baggies inside of a larger baggie were found and the larger baggie contained several empty dime baggies and five dime baggies with meth inside, according to the report.

The man told officers he had used methamphetamine for several years and admitted that he is addicted to meth, according to the report.

The man first said he found the baggies of methamphetamine by a dumpster but then said he had purchased the five baggies of meth for $50 from a man at a liquor store down the street, police reported.

The man was arrested and transported to Tempe City Jail, where he was booked and released, according to the report.








Officers of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have prevented a 38-year-old man from smuggling drugs to South Africa.

The arrest and drug seizure took place at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos during the outward screening of Arik Air passengers to South Africa.

The drug was concealed in a false compartment of the suspect’s luggage.

The NDLEA commander at the Lagos airport, Hamza Umar, gave the name of the suspect as Darlugar Ufondu Steven.

According to Umar, “a 38-year-old man, Dalugar Ufondu Steven was apprehended on his way to South Africa. He was found in possession of 1.535kg of substances that tested positive for methamphetamine”.

The suspect who claims to be an assistant coach in an amateur football club in South Africa said he was under immense financial pressure.

“I am married with a child and have lived in South Africa for about a decade. I have worked very hard to attain financial freedom but have nothing in return. This is my first time of smuggling drugs. I was under financial pressure to cope with peers. A friend introduced me to drug trafficking as a way of making quick money. They promised to pay me 6,000 dollars to take the bag containing the drugs to South Africa”, the suspect declared.

Chairman of the NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade called on members of the public to support drug control efforts saying:“We have made remarkable improvement in our counter-narcotic efforts. The Agency is prepared to detect hidden drugs and prosecute the drug barons. Members of the public should avoid drug trafficking and report suspected cases to the Agency”.

Giade said the suspect will soon be charged to court.








U.S. agents say they have seized 15 kilograms of cocaine and nine of methamphetamine they believe was destined for B.C. drug traffickers.$500,000 in drugs seized near U.S.-Canada border

Homeland Security agents were tipped that the drugs were hidden at the Grandview Business Centre in Ferndale, Washington.

The drugs have an estimated U.S. street value of $550,000 and a considerably higher Canadian value of $1 million.

The cocaine was marked with the word VITO.

No arrests have been made.

Homeland Security is asking anyone with information on the case to contact HSI’s tip line at 1-866-347-2423 (toll-free from the U.S. and Canada).








(MITCHELL) – A Mitchell couple was arrested for organizing meth-making operations at their home.

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Lawrence County Police arrested 32-year-old Christine Blackburn and 37-year-old James Blackburn on a warrant for aiding, inducing or causing dealing in meth, neglect of a dependent, possession of meth, and maintaining a common nuisance.

James Blackburn is also facing a charge of unlawful sale of a precursor.

According to a probable cause affidavit, around July 17, officers watched people purchase meth precursors at Wal-Mart.

A male tried to buy pseudoephedrine, but his ID did not meet Wal-Mart’s requirements. He then met another male and two women at the store, one being Christine Blackburn.

One of the men bought sulfuric acid, and the four left the store and went to CVS/pharmacy.

There one of the men bought some cold medicine, but the other man returned it after discovering it did not contain pseudoephedrine.

The four then went across the street to Walgreens and purchased pseudoephedrine.

All four then got into a vehicle that was driven by Christine Blackburn. According to police, Christine has a suspended driver’s license and was wanted on a warrant.

Police stopped the vehicle.

During that traffic stop, one of the men told police Christine that the other man in the vehicle gave him money to make the pseudoephedrine. Officers recovered the sulfuric acid and pseudoephedrine from the vehicle.

The other man then told police he bought the sulfuric acid for someone else who was going to make meth with James Blackburn at the Blackburns’ home in the 1300 block of Lawrenceport Main. He told police the men had made meth at the house a few days before being stopped.

The man told police he was to receive a fourth of a gram of meth for purchasing the sulfuric acid.

Officers armed with a consent to search affidavit then went to the Blackburns’ home.

There they found several items used to make a one-pot meth lab, one-pot reaction pots, metal ammo cans, Roebic drain cleaner which contained sodium hydroxide, empty instant cold packs that contain ammonium nitrate, 26 ounces of salt, lithium batteries, two glass plates that field-tested positive for meth, digital scales and coffee filters.

James Blackburn told police he threw a grinder into a well behind the home, and the grinder was used to grind pseudoephedrine.

He told police another person had made the meth at an abandoned home next to his.

He also admitted that both he and his wife were meth users and that the drug had been made in the house while the couple’s children slept.

He also confessed that they purchased the items to make more meth.








INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 17, 2014) – Methamphetamine, the scourge of rural Indiana over the last decade, is on the run thanks to tougher state laws and a nationwide computer system that allows investigators and retailers to track the purchases of cold medicines needed to make the drug.


Now Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department detectives are being trained to track down the buyers of pseudoephedrine.

Investigators gathered at the IMPD Training Academy to learn how to use the NPLEx computer system which monitors the sale of the ingredient that is as essential to cold medicine as it is to making meth.

“It’s a system that will allow you to track purchases of pseudoephedrine in real time and allow you to block purchases at point of sale,” said Detective Scott Kendall of the Aurburn (Ala.) Police Department who was brought to Indianapolis to train IMPD officers. “Now with the NPLEx system it’s all centrally located into one database. I can pull up and see everything right in front of me at one time and it definitely makes it easier to track it.

“I can put it in the system and I can immediately look and say, ‘Hey, they been buying ‘x’ amount of pseudoephedrine or they haven’t been buying,’ and right there I can kind of weed out if it’s a legitimate complaint or not.”

Though new to Indianapolis, access to the NPLEx system has succeeded in blocking the sales of nearly 200,000 boxes of cold medicines to suspicious buyers since the start of 2012.

Tougher state laws and pharmacy restrictions have also cut down on the sales of pseudoephedrine, a precursor to meth.

“It allows me to get a heads up and interdict some of these purchases at the point of sale,” said Kendall. “If it’s an illegal purchase, it automatically gets blocked at the pharmacy which prevents the person from getting the precursor which is the pseudoephedrine. If they do make a purchase and I get an alert I can use that information to try to stop them before they actually get to the point of where they manufacture methamphetamine.”

Kendall said that stopping the sale and blocking the production of the drug alleviates future clean up, contamination and exposure problems associated with meth labs.








By Sheldon Whitehouse, Rob Portman

This month marks the 25th anniversary of National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, and over the last 25 years, we have taken important steps to help the millions of Americans who struggle with addiction.

Many states and municipalities have established drug courts that help nonviolent drug offenders get treatment and avoid jail time. Local police departments are equipping officers with naloxone, which can be used to immediately treat individuals suffering from an opiate overdose. And communities are increasingly recognizing addiction as a disease, treatable with a combination of medication and behavioral health counseling

These are important and commendable efforts. But more and more of our fellow citizens are falling victim to the scourge of addiction — particularly from heroin, prescription pain medications and other opiates. Also, more and more, the stigma of addiction is abating, and the premise of recovery is more accepted.

We believe the time is ripe for a comprehensive approach to prevent addiction in those at risk; to reserve punishment for those who truly deserve it; to give hope to those who have lost it; and to further destigmatize the brave path from addiction to recovery.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more Americans die every day from drug overdoses than from car accidents — an average of 110 people per day. In Rhode Island, more than 100 people have died from drug overdoses already this year. In Ohio, the state’s Department of Health estimates that five people die every day from a drug overdose.

These are our husbands and wives, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors.  They are all too often veterans, women and adolescents. And right now the assistance available to them is woefully insufficient. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, approximately 22.7 million Americans needed treatment for substance use in 2013, but only 2.5 million received it.

We can do better. That’s why today we are introducing the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2014. From prevention efforts to law enforcement strategies, to addressing overdoses and expanding evidence-based treatment, to supporting those who are in recovery — we want to help communities pursue all of these proven strategies, not just one or two.

Our bill would expand efforts to prevent the abuse of opioids and heroin and to promote treatment and recovery. It would expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction by providing evidence-based treatment proven to reduce recidivism. And it would encourage states to support recovery for, and remove harmful barriers to, individuals walking the brave but thorny path from addiction to recovery. This comprehensive approach gets law enforcement and public health communities on the same page, to stop and reverse current trends.

We believe this will make a real difference both for victims of addiction and for American communities. Getting clean and staying clean enables former addicts to contribute to our economy and our society in ways they might not otherwise; and reducing drug abuse can help us all feel safer on our streets, behind the wheel and in our homes. Those are goals we can all support.


Whitehouse is Rhode Island’s junior senator, serving since 2007. He sits on the Budget, Environment and Public Works, and Judiciary committees. Portman is Ohio’s junior senator, serving since 2011. He sits on the Budget, Finance, Energy and Natural Resources, and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees.







BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. — A Bullhead City man facing a murder charge in the slaying of his friend’s 8-year-old daughter was getting high on methamphetamine before the child was reported missing and later found buried in a shallow grave, according to police records released Tuesday.


Justin Rector, 26, told detectives he had been smoking meth throughout the day in his mother’s upstairs bedroom, according to an affidavit establishing probable cause for the search of the girl’s home. Rector had been staying in a two-story duplex where Isabella “Bella” Grogan-Cannella lived with her mother, Tania Grogan.

Bella went missing after police say she was playing hide and seek with Rector late Sept. 1. Her body was found strangled Sept. 3 about a half mile from her home. Bullhead City police said they found Rector’s shoeprints where she had been buried and that a witness spotted a man who matched Rector’s description in that area.

Police initially arrested Rector Sept. 2 and accused him of shoplifting. Police said he admitted to stealing a change of clothes from a nearby Wal-Mart.

Rector is being held without bond in the Mohave County jail awaiting arraignment Friday on charges of first degree murder, kidnapping, child abuse and abandonment of a dead body.

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen ruled Monday that reporters will not be allowed to take pictures or make video recordings during Rector’s legal proceedings.








A Benton woman was tentatively charged with two felonies Tuesday afternoon after a search warrant executed at her residence uncovered a meth lab, Lafayette County Sheriff Scott Pedley said.

Patricia A. McLain, 54, is in the Lafayette County Jail on tentative charges of possession and distribution of methamphetamine, Pedley said. A significant amount of methamphetamine was recovered, he added.

An investigation at a location in Iowa County by the Richland-Iowa-Grant Drug Task Force connected the involvement of McLain and led to the execution of the search warrant by members of the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office and the multi-county drug task force, Pedley said.

Iowa County K-9 “Rosko” was a tremendous help in the investigation at both the Iowa County and Benton sites, Pedley added.






— A California man and his fiancee have been charged with trying to smuggle methamphetamine into Alaska.

The Ketchikan Daily News (http://bit.ly/1ARnUgG ) reports 52-year-old William Riggs and 55-year-old Lisa Soares were searched and taken into custody Sunday as they got off an Alaska state ferry. Both are from Winton, California.

Prosecutors say they were found with 52.7 grams of methamphetamine, worth $21,000 to $26,000 in the southeast Alaska community of Ketchikan.

Soares and Riggs boarded a ferry in Bellingham, Washington. Police in Ketchikan were waiting for them with a search warrant.

Police say they found small plastic bags containing methamphetamine in Soares’ purse and bags, along with a digital scale, empty bags and used meth pipes. Officers found more small bags in Riggs’ truck.

They were arraigned Monday, with bail set at $50,000.


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WJCL) – A joint operation led to multiple arrests and the seizure of methamphetamine from a hotel room Monday in Savannah.


On Monday afternoon, the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team (CNT), Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department (SCMPD) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) conducted a joint operation at the Days Inn at 6 Gateway Boulevard in Savannah.

Agents obtained information during the operation leading officers to a room at the hotel.

A search of the room resulted in the seizure of marijuana, methamphetamine and items commonly associated with the manufacturing of the extremely addictive and dangerous drug.  CNT agents specially trained in clandestine laboratories, secured the hotel room while wearing protective clothing.

A total of four people were arrested during the operation including Brandon Agner, 36, Morgan Cavallucci, 21 – both of Harlem, Ga. – Jessica Stokes, 26, of Springfield, Ga.; and Curtis Robinson, 36, of Savannah.  All are facing various methamphetamine related charges and remain in the Chatham County Detention Center following an arraignment hearing earlier Tuesday in the Recorder’s Court of Chatham County








SIKESTON, Mo. —A southeast Missouri man is hospitalized and expected to face drug charges after accidentally setting himself on fire.

The Sikeston Standard Democrat reported that a caller on Monday night told police that a man was on fire. Officers found the man on the side of the road screaming in pain. By then, the fire was out.

Witnesses reported seeing an explosion inside a car. Police said a “shake-and-bake” methamphetamine lab exploded, causing the man to catch fire. Others in the car kicked him out onto the street and left the scene.

Police said the man has second- and third-degree burns over 50 percent of his body. He was flown to a Cape Girardeau hospital and is being treated in the burn unit.






A 6-month-pregnant Union woman tested positive for cocaine. Another Union woman’s 1-year-old son was found with marijuana in his system. A Jonesville woman’s 2-year-old was linked to methamphetamine.

Recent findings like these hit close to home for authorities in Union County who are grappling with a spike in child neglect cases.

The Union Drug Task Force — made up of Union Public Safety Department and Union County Sheriff’s Office narcotics officers — has charged 18 people with child neglect so far this year. That’s the same number they saw in all of last year.

“There will be more,” Union County Sheriff David Taylor said.

Taylor said his wife has had three miscarriages, and he finds it unnerving that some mothers are wasting their opportunities to have healthy children. “When somebody has an opportunity to bring somebody into life and they’re just endangering the child’s life, I have a problem with that,” Taylor said. “It’s neglect. …A child has no way to protect themselves.”

Recently, Union County narcotics deputies worked four child neglect cases within a seven-day period, deputies say. Each one stemmed from drug abuse. “It comes in cycles,” Taylor said.

The drug task force works with the state Department of Social Services to identify child neglect suspects. The agency notifies the sheriff’s office to sign warrants and make arrests. Similarly, the sheriff’s office may notify DSS if a deputy discovers a neglected child on a call for service.

Taylor said children are placed in emergency protective custody once the parent is arrested. DSS is tasked with finding the child a suitable home, preferably with a responsible relative, he said.

According to the sheriff’s office, additional child neglect cases are sometimes found from newborns testing positive for methamphetamine or other illegal drugs. Deputies find the parents may have other children that become exposed to such substances.

Taylor said some of those charged are repeat offenders and points to weak conviction rates and sentences in the judicial system. Increasing penalties for such offenses would hold more parents accountable, he said.

“A lot of these are loose, probationary sentences,” he said. “It’s hard to show that being caught is just a deterrent. It’s just an inconvenience for them.”

Officers working such cases say the additional child neglect cases stem from a continued rise in methamphetamine throughout most of the region, not just in Union County.

Union County reported finding six meth labs in 2011, 10 in 2012 and 26 in 2013. The county has seen 24 so far this year, Taylor said.

In Spartanburg County, law enforcement officials have seen a steady rise in methamphetamine use since the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office first began recording drug tests in a forensic lab that opened in 1999. Chief Chemist Lt. Ashley Harris said each drug case handled by the sheriff’s office is processed through the lab to verify the substance recovered.

In 2007, methamphetamine made up 5.8 percent of all cases coming into the lab. In 2010, that increased to 10.6 percent. By 2013, 21 percent of all drug cases processed in the lab were meth. So far this year, it’s up to 28.9 percent.

“You can’t draw a better picture there. …It’s been skyrocketing,” Harris said.

He said the availability of methamphetamine is on the rise. It’s becoming easier to make, he said, and there is a greater influx in crystal methamphetamine coming into the U.S. from Mexico.

“It’s amazing, the volume,” he said.

Harris said he did not know how many child neglect cases were related to meth lab discoveries and the cases that come into the forensic lab, but said he’s come across several meth labs in which children were present and placed into emergency protective custody.

He cited a case he handled in the Greer area in which two small children were inside the home where a meth lab was operated. A plate sitting under a heat lamp in the kitchen held an amount of methamphetamine near the children. Both children tested positive.

“To their defense, it looked just like powdered sugar on a plate,” he said. “That’s the scary thing about it.”

Taylor said deputies in Union County continue to track sales of pseudoephedrine — a component commonly used to manufacture meth — and identify possible suspects to, in turn, reduce child neglect cases. He also said they use confidential informants to make drug buys and are having them report back to deputies if they notice children in the home where drugs are being used or sold.

“Child safety is what we’re concerned about,” Taylor said. “They can’t help themselves.”


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrived Tuesday at a suspected meth lab at a hotel on the Southside.Southside-hotel-meth-lab-jpg

Officers were dispatched at about 1:48 p.m. to the Extended Stay on Salisbury Road.

Police said employees were reporting suspicious items and a suspicious odor in one of the rooms. The bomb squad, firefighters and the Narcotics unit were also called to the hotel.

No one was in the room at the time and officers are still in the process of obtaining a warrant to search the room.

Police said once they are able to clear the room there will be more cause for concern.







Turlock police arrested multiple suspects for possession of stolen vehicles, with one suspect attempting to evade police before being apprehended, on Sunday evening.

Officers responded to the 500 block of East Linwood Avenue at approximately 5:02 p.m. after receiving a report of suspicious vehicles and persons.

As officers arrived on scene, one of the vehicles, which had been reported stolen, was leaving. When officers attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver failed to yield and a pursuit was initiated, said Turlock police spokesperson Sgt. Stephen Webb.

The driver, later identified as Kandice Hoffman, 24, lead police on a short pursuit before eventually yielding on the 1000 block of Larchwood Court, said Webb.

Hoffman was allegedly found to be in possession of methamphetamine.

Officers returned to the 500 block of East Linwood Avenue and allegedly located a second suspect, Andrew Onate, 33, who was in another stolen vehicle, said Webb.

Onate was also allegedly found to be in possession of methamphetamine. He was arrested and booked for possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of methamphetamine.

Hoffman was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of methamphetamine, and evading police officers.








Terrebonne sheriff’s deputies along with state troopers and Lafourche deputies took down a major local methamphetamine supplier last week, in an operation that netted the largest local seizure veteran officers can recall.


Christopher Reding, 48, 5314 W. Main St., was arrested Friday morning as officers executed a search warrant at a nearby property, 5292 W. Main St., which was an outbuilding he controlled.

A total of 70 pounds of methamphetamine was seized, Larpenter said, along with $1,860 in currency and $140 in counterfeit bills. According to police estimates the product seized had a street value of anywhere between $700,000 and $1 million.

“This was a major distributor that we took off the streets, a major player,” Terrebonne Sheriff Jerry Larpenter said. “This guy is as much of a threat as someone that shoots somebody. Can you imagine how many brains he has destroyed, how many families he has torn apart?”

Street value is determined by estimating known value of a raw product and multiplying that by how many times it can be “stepped on,” in drug parlance, or blended with non-drug materials to increase the profit margin.

Warrants were sought as a result of undercover buys of meth from Reding, said law enforcement officials, who described the Houma man as a distributor who sold to lower-echelon dealers, but was also known to make individual retail transactions to people he knew.

Police sources said that in the past Reding had bragged he could “step on” his meth as much as three times and still have a potent and salable product.

Unlike the methamphetamine manufactured in local laboratories, the quality and quantity of the product seized from Reding was likely imported.

“Here we go again,” Larpenter said. “This is coming out of Mexico, here we go with the Mexican connection.”

Crystal methamphetamine, known as “ice,” is increasingly coming from so-called “superlabs” in Mexico, according to information supplied by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The product sells for up to $200 per gram on the street. Just one ounce provides about 30 effective doses.

Ironically, the influx of meth from Mexico is due in part to the success states including Louisiana have had in reducing the ability for homegrown “mom and pop” distributors. This has been done by restricting purchases of large quantities of over-the-counter medicines containing the building blocks of the drug.

Reding was arrested in 2002 for felony drug possession, court records show, and received four years probation with a $5,000 fine. In 2012, he was arrested for drug distribution, a case which is still pending in the Terrebonne Parish courts.

Relatives of Reding living in Houma, reached by telephone this weekend, said they were aware that he has had problems with authorities but had no knowledge of his distribution operation.

Reding’s wife and his 14-year-old son were present when the warrants were executed but they were not suspected of illegal activities. Police said they do not live in the house with Reding.

He was booked at the Terrebonne Parish jail on two counts of methamphetamine distribution, possession with intent to distribute more than six pounds of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, monetary instrument abuse and failure to possess a drug tax stamp.

He is being held in the Terrebonne Parish jail in lieu of $2.2 million bond.

In addition to the seizure of drugs, money and counterfeit currency, authorities seized three vehicles for potential forfeiture, 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 3500, 2007 Harley Davidson super glide motorcycle and a custom made 2007 motorcycle.

An investigation of Reding’s operation continues.







GAINESVILLE –  After showing up with a kilogram of methamphetamine at a pre-determined location, according to authorities, a Cumming woman was arrested Thursday and charged with methamphetamine trafficking.


Denny Santana-Bernal, 24, was arrested on the 2800 block of Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville by Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad agents.

The kilogram of methamphetamine seized is valued at $100,000.

Lt. Scott Ware of the MANS unit said agents used calls and/or text messages to arrange a meeting with Santana-Bernal.

Gainesville Police assisted the MANS unit in the drug investigation.

“We try to have uniformed presence with us on these vehicle takedowns and the arrests, just in the event that they flee in their vehicle,” Ware said.

Santana-Bernal is charged with trafficking methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute. She was booked into the Hall County Jail on Friday.

“At this point, we don’t anticipate any further arrests,” Ware said.

Santana-Bernal does not have bond at this time, according to jail officials.







Police arrested a man after they found hundreds of grams of crystal meth in his Sweetwater home.

On Thursday, officials searched 41-year-old James David Bradley’s home at 227 Country Road 298 as part of an on-going investigation. Inside, officers discovered more than 225 grams of crystal meth as well as cocaine and marijuana for resale. Police also found drug paraphernalia, two assault rifles and a pistol that was reported stolen in Loudon County.

Authorities charged Bradley with possession for resale of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana. Bradley is also facing charges for having a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, theft, and violating probation.

Sweetwater Police Department Chief Eddie Byrum said recent legislation has made it more difficult to make meth in Monroe County.

“The officers are finding fewer meth labs and one pot labs,” said Chief Byrum in a release. “However, we are seeing more crystal methamphetamine being imported to our area.”







Heroin use in Eau Claire County had a notable increase this year, but methamphetamine remains the county’s biggest law enforcement problem, Sheriff Ron Cramer told the County Board Tuesday night.5095c7c286728_image

Cramer gave a presentation on past accomplishments and upcoming challenges for his department at the board’s monthly meeting, then fielded questions from supervisors, many relating to drug use.

2013 was the first year of operation of the new jail, and it went well, Cramer said.

They are continuing to work with the drug courts, which have had particular success in working with offenders who have alcohol problems, he said. But he added that some drug dealers were going to drug court who should not be in the program, which tries to rehabilitate people with drug and alcohol problems. “As sheriff I know some people who are going there who are out-and-out drug dealers,” he said.

Cramer said heroin is coming up Interstate 94 from Chicago and southern Wisconsin to the area. Some people who develop heroin habits start out using oxycodone or similar prescription drug, sometimes legally, but when they come off the prescription they are looking for a similar high and find heroin is cheaper. It can be gotten locally for about $40 per dose, he said.

But the main drug problem is meth, which they have been dealing with since 1996, and “it’s not getting better,” he said. A good portion of the crime they deal with is caused by people trying to get money for the drug.







 A chemistry teacher at a Texas high school and her husband, a convicted felon, have been arrested on drug charges.


Haivan Bui, 29, was arrested Friday at Oak Ridge High School, where she’d taught chemistry since last year. Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputies said she had recipes for date-rape drugs in her backpack when authorities took her into custody.

Her arrest followed a police raid earlier that day at the home where Bui lives with her husband, 33-year-old Chris Alan Hartwell. Police said Hartwell possessed methamphetamine and gamma-hydroxybutyrate, a compound used in date-rape drugs. The search also turned up a loaded shotgun and additional drug-making recipes, police said.

Police charged Bui with possession with intent to deliver or manufacture a controlled substance. Hartwell faces charges including possession of a controlled substance and felon in possession of a firearm.

The principal of Oak Ridge High School said there is no evidence that any illegal activity took place at the school. Students described Bui as a “good teacher,” and were surprised to learn she’d been arrested.

“It was kind of crazy. Everyone was like, maybe it’s drugs, and it was,” student Armando Sanchez told KHOU.

The couple’s neighbors were also shocked to learn of the allegations. Some said they didn’t feel safe with an alleged date-rape drug operation in the neighborhood.

“Maybe they’re trying to be the new ‘Breaking Bad,'” neighbor said Phyllis Hannon told KPRC. “He was a chemistry teacher on the show, too.”

The sheriff’s office said the investigation is ongoing.