Meth labs continue to pop up in southern Ohio. The latest discovery took place Thursday at around 12:15 a.m. That’s when Jason N. Hall, 35, of 36 French Grant, Franklin Furnace, Ohio, was arrested for manufacturing methamphetamine.

On Sept. 7, 2016, at around 9:15 p.m., during an investigation conducted by the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, at 36 French Grant in Franklin Furnace, an active methamphetamine lab was reportedly discovered inside the residence. A detective with the Southern Ohio Drug Task Force responded upon request to assist in the investigation.

Deputies and detectives processed the scene; removing the meth lab as well as additional chemicals and materials used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Shortly after midnight Thursday, Hall arrived at the residence. Upon further investigation by deputies and detectives, Hall was arrested and charged with illegal manufacture of methamphetamine, a felony of the second degree.

Hall was placed in the Scioto county Jail and is to be arraigned in Portsmouth Municipal Court on September 9th, 2016.

The case against Hall will be forwarded to the Scioto County Prosecutor’s Office to be presented to a Scioto County grand jury for the consideration of additional felony drug charges.

Sheriff Marty V. Donini thanked the Green Township Fire Department and EMS for their assistance at the scene and continues to request anyone wishing to leave drug information for the Southern Ohio Drug Task Force to contact the Task Force tip line at 740-354-5656 or email drugs@sciotocountysheriff.com. All information will be kept confidential and anonymous.

 

 

Another day another meth lab

 

meth_1473373202646_5971112_ver1_0Police in Greenville had to call in the Drug Enforcement Administration after finding more than $1 million worth of methamphetamine during a traffic stop.

It happened on east bound Interstate 30 near the 100 mile marker. Officers discovered several packages of methamphetamine concealed in a compartment.
The driver, Cesar Baltazar of Mexico, was arrested and released into federal custody. The drugs weighed more than 70 pounds with a street value of several millions of dollars.
Working together, the DEA and Greenville Police Officers arrested three people in connection to the crime along with seizures of cash, firearms, and additional methamphetamine.
The investigation is on-going.
http://www.cbs19.tv/news/local/police-seize-millions-in-methamphetamine/315696252
  • Felicia Djamirze suffered severe burns when a grenade blew up in her face
  • The former beauty queen will stand trial on ice trafficking charges
  • Says police threw ‘flash’ grenades in a drug raid at her home in February
  • Her case will now be transferred to the Supreme Court

A former beauty queen who suffered third-degree burns after a grenade blew up in her face will stand trial on Methamphetamine trafficking charges.    380dfdde00000578-3779361-image-a-1_1473323311812

In February, Felicia Djamirze, 29, was sleeping inside a Susan River home, north of Brisbane, with then boyfriend Dean O’Donnell, 35, when she says officers threw ‘flash’ grenades into the bedroom during a drug raid.

The former Miss Australia International and Miss Tourism Queen Australia was later charged as part of a police operation targeting large scale ice trafficking, The Courier Mail reports.

The former Miss Australia International and Miss Tourism Queen Australia says officers threw ‘flash’ grenades into the bedroom of her Queensland home during a drug raid in February

In an interview with A Current Affair earlier this year, Djamirze said she will plead not guilty and had ‘nothing to hide’.

During the early morning raids on a handful of homes earlier this year, which included the house the couple were sleeping in, police found 2kg of the drug ice, meth oil and steroids, according to a Queensland Police statement at the time.

Police also uncovered seven high-powered illegal weapons and two silencers. 380dfdea00000578-3779361-image-a-13_1473324484989

The model was charged with drug trafficking and her boyfriend, who is allegedly linked to the Rebels bikie club, was charged with both drug and weapons offences.

Djamirze denied the charges and her lawyer Chris Ford added police had not allowed her to see to her injuries and paramedics did not show up at the scene for 40 minutes.

The case will now be transferred to the Supreme Court.

 

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3779361/Former-Miss-Australia-International-Felicia-Djamirze-stand-trial-meth-trafficking.html

 

 

A METH addict mother told her blind and autistic teenage son “let God take you” before she left him to die in a field, police say.

Kimberly Lightwine, 42, was found on August 29 wearing just her panties next to her son Austin Anderson, 19, who was dressed only in a diaper.

This Sept. 6, 2016 photo provided by the Polk County Sheriff's Office in Bolivar, Mo., shows Kimberly Lightwine, of Aldrich, Mo. Lightwine, who was found lying near the body of her blind and autistic son in a field near Morrisville, Mo., on Aug. 29, was charged Saturday, Sept. 3, with second-degree murder in his death. (Polk County Sheriff's Office via AP)

This Sept. 6, 2016 photo provided by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Bolivar, Mo., shows Kimberly Lightwine, of Aldrich, Mo. Lightwine, who was found lying near the body of her blind and autistic son in a field near Morrisville, Mo., on Aug. 29, was charged Saturday, Sept. 3, with second-degree murder in his death.

Suffering from a broken leg, she claimed they had been lying in the field in Polk County, Missouri, for several days before they were found.

A post mortem later showed Austin had died from brain swelling due to dehydration and having not received vital medication over several 30° C days.

Lightwine admitted to police she had left him to die, telling the officer who arrived on the scene that “god had brought her son into this world, and that she had to help God take him out”.

According to a prosecutors’ probable cause statement, Lightwine told cops: “I’m a terrible mother, I got high, and I got depressed, and I think I am going to throw up.

“I don’t know why I did, I just got really high and depressed and I killed my kid.”

She said she remembered arriving at the field where she told Austin to “get out of the car and go reach for help”.

She allegedly told him: “Put your hands in front of you for help and God is going to take care of you.

Pictured: Austin Anderson, 19, the disabled son of Kimberly Lightwine. A mother has been charged with murdering her blind autistic son, Austin, after she was found lying near to his body in a field. Kimberly Lightwine, 42, was discovered by police officers face down with a broken leg wearing just her underwear in Polk County, Missouri, on August 29, and was charged Saturday, Sept. 3, with second-degree murder for his death.

Austin Anderson, 19, the disabled son of Kimberly Lightwine.

“I just kept thinking for God to take my baby away from the pain and misery because that’s all I have.”

Lightwine said she drove to the field “mad as hell” and said she did not want Austin to die, but wanted someone to reach out and take him away.

“I threw Austin through barbed wire and cut him up really bad trying to get him to safety.

“My baby kept getting hot and kept coming back and wanting his mommy, but I knew it wasn’t good.”

When he did this, she told cops, she pushed him away, telling him: “No you don’t want to love me, please let God take you.

“I don’t know how long he’d been on the ground, he cried for me.”

Lightwine has been charged with second-degree murder and elder abuse.

 

 

 

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1747176/final-haunting-words-of-meth-addict-mum-charged-with-murdering-her-blind-autistic-son-19-after-both-were-found-lying-half-naked-in-a-field/

 

BOLIVAR, Mo. – An injured woman who was found lying in a field in southern Polk County is charged with murdering her son, whose body was found nearby. Kimberly Lightwine, 42, is charged with second-degree murder and abuse of her disabled son.

Law enforcement officers found the body of Austin Anderson, 19, wearing only a diaper, about 15 or 20 feet from a vehicle in a field near Missouri 215 at Missouri 13, east of Morrisville, on Aug. 29. Lightwine was next to the vehicle, lying face down and nearly naked. Officers told the landowner that she was waving her arms to try to get someone’s attention, and had a broken leg. Investigators think Anderson might have died as early as Aug. 26.

The probable cause statement against Lightwine says she admitted several times on the way to the sheriff’s office in Bolivar that she’d killed her son. She said later, after being read her Miranda rights, that she and her son had been lying in the field for a couple of days, but she couldn’t remember exactly how long. She said she remembered driving to the field.

“I’m a terrible mother. I got high, and I got depressed, and I think I am going to throw up,” she told the detective, according to the probable cause statement.

She told the detective that she was high on methamphetamine at the time and had used meth for years.

Lightwine said her son was blind in both eyes and had autism. She said she remembered being angry and screaming from the top of her vehicle. She remembered telling her son, “Austin, get out of the car and go reach out for help. Put your hands in front of you for help, and God is going to take care of you.” She also said she threw him through a barbed wire fence to get him to safety, according to the probable cause statement.

Lightwine said she remembered him falling to the ground but didn’t know what happened next. She said, “”My baby kept getting hot and kept coming back and wanting his mommy, but I knew it wasn’t good,” and, “No, you don’t want to love me, please let God take you.”

“I don’t know how many days, I don’t know how long he’d been on the ground, he cried for me,” she told the detective.

She said she thought they’d been there longer than a day when they were found.

“I asked her how long it had been since her son had stopped asking for her,” the detective wrote. “She stated, ‘I don’t know, at least several days. I just try to block so much out.’ I asked Kimberly LIghtwine if she had ever gone to her son and she stated, ‘I just blocked it out. I just kept thinking that God or somebody came and got him and took him where he need to be. I don’t know. I don’t know what I was thinking.’

“I asked Kimberly Lightwine if God came and took her son to where he needed to be, would that be Heaven? Kimberly Lightwine stated that she did not know if that would be Heaven or to his daddy,” the probable cause statement says.

LIghtwine told the detective that her son couldn’t take care of himself without her care. She remembered in the field that he said, “Mommy, I want to go home,” but she couldn’t remember when he stopped talking.

Lightwine eventually told the detective that she didn’t want to talk anymore. A deputy than took her to a hospital for her broken leg.

“A nurse asked how her leg got hurt and (she) later stated that she remembered it giving out as she was pushing her son through several fences, trying to get away from the bad place. She also made the statement in front of (a deputy) ‘I killed my baby’ several times. (The deputy) also reported that (she) made the statement ‘whatever happened to him, I did it,'” according to the probable cause statement.

Detectives interviewed Anderson’s father, who confirmed his son was blind in both eyes and diagnosed with autism. He said Anderson completely depended on his mother for his care.

The father said his son was not able to walk far without help, and had only a limited vocabulary. He also said Anderson took several medications, including hydrocortisone needed to keep him from going into a coma and dying.

The father said Lightwine had a violent temper. He recalled an incident in which Anderson kicked Lightwine and she reacted violently by grabbing him and cussing at him.

The autopsy showed Anderson was dehydrated, his brain was swollen, and likely went into shock from lack of medication, according to the probable cause statement. A pathologist said Anderson appeared to die from neglect from not having proper medication — hydrocortisone — to maintain his adrenal gland.

The pathologist also said exposure to the elements contributed to the teenager’s death. The high temperatures on Aug. 27, 28, and 29 were in the low 90s, with nightly lows about 71 and maximum relative humidity in the 90 percent range each day.

Polk County sheriff’s deputies and Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers looked for Lightwine and Anderson after her sister, who lives in Tennessee, told Bolivar police on Aug. 28 that she couldn’t reach them and feared for the safety of her sister and her nephew, who had physical and mental health problems.

Lightwine’s sister said they’d been living in a motel in Bolivar, although online court records list Lightwine’s address as a rural home in Dade County, west of Aldrich. Officers searched the motel room where they’d been staying and found evidence of meth, as well as a supply of hydrocortisone pills that showed Anderson likely had not been taking them as prescribed. A motel employee said the mother and son had last been seen in their room on Aug. 27.

The Polk County prosecuting attorney charged Lightwine on Saturday but law enforcement officers didn’t release any information about the case over the Labor Day weekend. Her bond is $250,000. She is not in jail, likely because she is still in a hospital.

Lightwine is also charged with second-degree elder abuse, a crime that applies to a disabled adult over age 18 “who is unable to protect his or her own interests or adequately perform or obtain services which are necessary to meet his or her essential human needs” if someone “recklessly and purposely causes serious physical injury.”

If Lightwine is convicted, she could get a prison sentence between 10 and 30 years for murder and up to 20 years for elder abuse.

A graveside service for Anderson is scheduled for Wednesday in Butterfield, near where Anderson’s father lives in Barry County.

 

 

 

http://www.ky3.com/content/news/murder-charge-kimberly-lightwine-392455991.html

 

 

 

‘There’s more to the story’: Family of blind, autistic son found dead in MO field

 

Family members of a woman charged with murder in Polk County said she is a victim, not a killer.

Kimberly Lightwine, 42, is charged with second-degree murder and elder abuse in connection with the death of her 19-year-old blind and autistic son, Austin Anderson.

Polk County Sheriff’s deputies say they found Lightwine and Anderson lying in a field on Aug. 29 wearing nothing but their underwear.

Anderson was dead, and Lightwine said “I killed my kid,” according to investigators.

A probable cause statement used to charge Lightwine with murder says she drove her son to the field and let him die, telling investigators, “It’s my fault, and you should charge me with murder right now for my son’s death, and I’m not joking.”

Lightwine’s sister, Stephanie Saloga, told the News-Leader this week that Lightwine made those statements while she was recovering from being drugged, and there is more to the story.

Saloga said she has spoken with Lightwine and gotten her side of the story.

Saloga said Lightwine received a call that lured her and Anderson out of the Bolivar apartment where they were staying on Aug. 27.

Once in the parking lot, Lightwine and Anderson were abducted by three people, according to Saloga.

Saloga said those people drugged Lightwine and then took the mother and son out to a field, beat Lightwine — breaking her leg — and then left them there to die.

“When she made the comment that she killed her son, she was meaning that she wasn’t able to get up off the ground to care for him and attend to his needs,” Saloga said. “Anybody who knows my sister knows that she loves that boy more than life itself. She would never, ever hurt him.”

Saloga said Lightwine knows the people who abducted her, but the motivation is unclear.

Saloga said her sister has a history of drug use, and she doesn’t know if the abduction might have had something to do with her past.

Saloga said the Polk County Sheriff’s Office has been dismissive of her attempts to give information, and she has been frustrated by all of the people making disparaging comments online about her sister.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has not responded to a request for comment made Thursday morning. Court and police records filed in the case make no mention of any suspects other than Lightwine.

The family of Anderson’s father also believes authorities aren’t telling everything they know, according to Anderson’s aunt Diana Cope.

“We believe there’s more to the story,” Cope said. “We hope they don’t stop looking for whoever really did it.”

Lightwine and Anderson’s father, Robert Anderson, divorced when Austin was a baby, Cope said, but Robert Anderson still saw his son every couple of weeks.

“(Austin Anderson) never came to his dad’s home abused,” Cope said. “In her right mind she would never harm him — never. Never in a million years.”

Cope said Lightwine was interviewed by police when she was still under the influence of meth and that parts of her testimony are being misconstrued.

For instance, Lightwine told her son to go to “God,” according to police, but Cope said she meant the opposite of what people are assuming.

“She was asking him to go find help,” Cope said.

According to the probable cause statement, Lightwine recalled telling her son to “get out of the car and go reach for help… Put your hands in front of you for help and God is going to take care of you.”

Her son had trouble walking, the statement said, but kept coming back to her saying “mom.” According to the statement, Lightwine said she would push him away and tell him: “No you don’t want to love me, please let God take you.”

Cope said the family is also suspicious of how Lightwine’s leg was injured.

“None of the story adds up,” She said. “Her leg was literally crushed — not just broken.”

The family of Robert Anderson knew his ex-wife had been doing drugs over recent years, Cope said, and that might have led to what happened in the Polk County field.

“(Lightwine) chose that lifestyle of drugs,” Cope said. “She got involved with some bad people.”

An initial examination showed Austin Anderson had a swollen brain from dehydration and could have gone into shock after not taking a vital medication, the statement said.

Lightwine worked in child care and baby-sat frequently, Cope said, though much of her time was devoted to taking care of her son.

Cope said she simply wants the investigation to continue.

“I’m hoping they’re trying to bring out the real killer,” she said.

The Polk County Prosecutor said he will be arguing in court that Lightwine caused her son’s death in the course of committing a felony — and whether she intended his death is immaterial.

The felony Lightwine was committing at the time of her son’s death, prosecutors say, is elder abuse. Even though it has “elder” in the title, the statute can be applied to disabled adults under state law.

 

 

 

http://www.ksdk.com/news/theres-more-to-the-story-family-of-blind-autistic-son-found-dead-in-mo-field/315596292

 

 

 

A 29-year-old suspect high on meth was in custody Thursday on suspicion of attempted murder after he randomly pulled a woman out of a taco truck line in East Los Angeles and stabbed her several times, authorities said.

A Good Samaritan with a crowbar failed to stop the attack, but deputies happened to be nearby and saved the woman.

The 23-year-old victim was in line at a taco truck with her mother late Wednesday night near the intersection of Whittier Boulevard and Clela Avenue when the suspect grabbed her by the neck and dragged her away, according to Lt. Alex Salinas of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s East Los Angeles Station.

A man driving by who saw the attack attempted to scare off the suspect with a crowbar but was unsuccessful, Salinas said.

The woman suffered stab wounds to her hands and arms from blocking the suspect’s strikes with a knife, according to Salinas. Deputies happened to be in the immediate area, stopped the attack and took the suspect into custody, he added.

The woman was taken to a hospital in stable condition, Salinas said.

The suspect did not know the victim but admitted to deputies he had been using methamphetamine all day, according to Salinas. No one else was injured.

 

 

Taco truck terror: High on meth, he grabs, stabs random woman

 

TERRELL, Texas — A grandmother is being held on bonds totaling $550,000 after police say she brought her granddaughter to a drug deal with an undercover narcotics investigator last week in Terrell.
Terrell Police Department Captain A.D. Sansom says narcotics officers received information of a woman, Ana Rosa, who was selling illegal narcotics in the city limits of Terrell. ba36d6f94debc62bcf14d209e31b9799_xl

“An undercover Terrell Police Department Narcotics Investigator made contact, and arranged to purchase a specified amount of methamphetamine,” stated Sansom. “The suspect was more than willing and a price, time, and location were set.”

Rosa, another male, identified as 39-year-old Ronnie Brown, and an infant child, later identified as Rosa’s granddaughter, arrived at the predetermined location where they met with the undercover investigator.

The officer identified himself and Rosa was taken into custody while in possession of five grams of suspected methamphetamine.

Brown was taken into custody without incident on active Terrell Police Department warrants.

Rosa confessed to further drug possession after entering the Terrell Police Department jail which was located in a baggie in her bra, according to Sansom.

The total weight of methamphetamine was determined to be 6.3 grams, stated Sansom.

Rosa was charged with manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance in penalty group 1 greater than or equal to four grams and less than 200 grams and abandon or endanger a child, criminal negligence. Rosa was later transported to the Kaufman County Jail where she is being held on the two charges with bonds of $500,000 and $50,000, respectively.

The infant was released to her mother. Sansom says investigators are following up with Child Protective Services.

 

 

 

 

http://inforney.com/crime/item/4775-550k-bond-for-woman-who-brought-grandchild-to-drug-deal-with-undercover-officer

 

 

 

When Eileen Hanna arrived home Wednesday afternoon, a police vehicle and a van from a local news station were parked outside a rear apartment in her neighborhood along North Main Street in Sellersville.

Yellow crime tape was tacked across a doorway.57d085b188af2_image

“What happened?” Hanna shouted from her car to neighbor Barry Snyder.

“Damien killed someone,” he said.

The news floored her as thoughts flooded her mind about Damien Walker, who has lived in the building next door for the past 17 years.

 “This is so not him at all,” she said.

Walker, 34, confessed to killing his neighbor while under the influence of methamphetamine, authorities said Wednesday.

Bucks County detectives, working with Perkasie police, filed a homicide charge against Walker, of the 100 block of North Main Street. He was arraigned early Wednesday and sent to county prison.

According to police in an affidavit, Walker traveled about 20 miles to Norristown and confessed to the killing at a police station. He told police he was using methamphetamine, authorities said.

The victim has been identified as Faith Price, 62, who lived in an apartment near where Walker lived with his wife.

Police said they found Price’s body in a rear bedroom with a large pool of blood around her head and more blood on the wall. Police said they were having a difficult time locating her next of kin.

An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday morning, according to Perkasie police Chief Steven Hillias.

Snyder said he felt bad for the victim, who he said he did not know. He said he was still in “utter shock and disbelief” that Walker is charged with the crime.

“I’ve known the guy for quite a few years living back here,” said Snyder, who lives on nearby Maple Avenue. He said Walker was always “nothing but friendly, cordial, willing to give a hand.”

“I never saw this coming,” he said.

 

 

 

http://www.theintell.com/news/local/cops-sellersville-man-confesses-to-killing-neighbor/article_b1e1c2de-7509-11e6-aee1-635469133c5c.html

 

MANILA, Philippines – Seven Chinese citizens were arrested in a raid on a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory inside a pig farm north of Manila, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said Thursday.

The agency said nearly half a kilogram (one pound) of methamphetamine with a street value of around 2.5 million pesos ($5,400), about 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of the drug ingredient ephedrine, laboratory equipment and various chemicals were confiscated in the raid Wednesday in Pampanga province.

Charges of illegal drug possession and manufacturing are being prepared against the six men and one woman, it said.

The drug laboratory in the basement of a stockroom was able to produce up to 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of methamphetamine a week and may have been built in the hog farm to mask the foul smell from drug production, officials said.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who has launched a massive crackdown on illegal drugs, has said Chinese citizens are involved in the drug trade in the Philippines and that drugs have been smuggled from China to the Philippines.

More than 2,800 suspected drug dealers and users have been killed and nearly 700,000 others have surrendered out of fear of being killed since Duterte took office on June 30, according to police.

http://www.fresnobee.com/news/nation-world/world/article100561322.html

A 25-year-old man is in the Boone County Jail after he was accused of forcing a woman to drive him around so he could get some methamphetamine.

Boone County sheriff’s deputies arrested Ryan D. Osterberger on two warrants, one for a parole violation and one for kidnapping.

He was being held Wednesday morning at the jail without bond for the probation and parole violation and on a $100,000 cash-only bond for the kidnapping charge. Osterberger is on parole for first-degree property damage. 57d03ccbda7d2_image

A woman contacted Columbia police at about 1:28 p.m. Aug. 23 and told officers Osterberger was waiting by her car at Once Upon a Child, 2101 W. Broadway, when she returned to it at 6 p.m. the previous day.

She said Osterberger forced her into the car, Columbia police Officer Justin Thomas wrote in a probable cause statement.

Osterberger then took $300 out of her purse and made her drive him around to buy methamphetamine, the statement said. While the woman, 22, was driving, Osterberger punched her several times and broke the top of her car’s center console and hit her with it, Thomas wrote.

The woman, with whom Osterberger had been in a relationship, had bumps and bruises.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Osterberger at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday at Lutz’s BBQ, 200 E. Nifong Blvd.

Osterberger has previous convictions for second-degree property damage, peace disturbance, misdemeanor stealing and violating an order of protection, and he has a pending third-degree domestic assault case involving the same woman, according to court records.

 

 

http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/crime/columbia-man-accused-of-forcing-woman-to-drive-him-to/article_f354b3a0-2213-599d-8726-7834dc5742cf.html

 

Tara Montgomery wants other family members of addicts to know they are not alone. She hopes recovering addicts and those affected by someone’s addiction will join her at Lights of Hope from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, in Benton City Park, 600 S. DuQuoin St.

“I am part of a nationwide group called The Addict’s Mom, TAM for short,” Montgomery said. “It’s an online support group.”

The Addict’s Mom hosts Lights of Hope events across the country each September, in conjunction with SMASHA National Recovery Month. The event supports and instills hope in those who lives have been affected by addiction and honors those who have been lost to the disease of addiction.

The event in Benton will have two speakers, Montgomery and Angela Green.

Green was living in what she calls the dark and crazy world of addiction, and has been sober for almost three years.

“I was addicted meth and gambling. I was manufacturing it, too,” Green said.

Green knew she needed help to overcome her addictions, so she turned herself in to police. She was sentenced in drug court to six months in the county jail followed by a year of treatment, which included Narcotics Anonymous and Moral Reconation Therapy.

“I just successfully graduated drug court May 13,” Green said.

She presently teaches MRT for drug court. She calls it her way of giving back.

“I want to give people hope. You can come out of the darkness and into the life. You can experience that peace. At least give it a try,” Green said.

Montgomery will share her experiences as the mother of a child with an addiction. Her son began his journey into addiction when he was 18, and it started with depression.

“I didn’t realize he was coping with it [depression] with alcohol,” Montgomery said.

He spiraled out of control very quickly, going from alcohol to anything with alcohol in it. Montgomery said it caught her by surprise or she just did not recognize the symptoms.

Her son’s life was endangered in his last hospitalization in July 2016. He was taken to the emergency room, and he left. His friends found him, so his parents took him back to the ER.

“His probation officer told him he was either going to rehab or jail,” Montgomery said.

He is currently in rehab at Teen Challenge, a faith-based residential program for adults, and is doing well.

Lights of Hope also will provide information about rehab centers for all types of addictions and resources for families, like Al-Anon, Nar-Anon or TAM, as well as a list of places that will hire felons and basic information about homeless shelters.

Although Montgomery works with probation and court services, she had to call and call to find resources. She said help is available, and families do not need to feel alone.

“I wanted to get that message out. It can be overwhelming. It’s such a lonely feeling to love an addict. A lot of people don’t know what to do. They feel ashamed or embarrassed. I did for a while,” Montgomery said. “Addiction steals the joy out of your life. It’s a horrible, horrible thing for families and for the addicts, too.”

 

 

http://thesouthern.com/news/local/women-to-share-experiences-with-addiction-at-lights-of-hope/article_b677724f-c6f5-5148-83e9-3dc1040fc108.html

 

At least five winning racehorses have been disqualified from races at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie this year after testing positive for trace amounts of meth, according to Texas Racing Commission officials.

The horses tested positive for methamphetamine during a thoroughbred race meet held April 7 through July 17, commission records show. 1473280837-lonestarpark

During that time, the commission also reported seven human drug violations, and officials believe the horses may have been contaminated by their handlers, known as grooms.

The Texas Racing Commission issued rulings to the owners of the five horses — Cape Caduceus, Majestic Holiday, It’s About the Cat, Cheval De Montagne and Gospel Teresa — that retroactively disqualified the horses from the races and ordered the purse to be redistributed to their competitors in the affected races.

Texas Racing Commission officials issued the rulings Aug. 17. They took no further action against the owners of the contaminated horses.

Robert Elrod, public information officer for the Texas Racing Commission, said in addition to the five winning horses, one horse that placed second in a race on April 23 — U.S.A. Destroyer — was also disqualified.

Elrod said there’s no way to determine whether the trace amounts of methamphetamine affected the horses during races, but it is possible.

Chuck Trout, the commission’s executive director, said the drug “just popped up” at Lone Star Park. Many of the teams that competed in Grand Prairie had also competed at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston from January to March, but no horses tested positive for meth during that meet.

Not all of the rulings detail the amount of the drug found in the racehorses, but two of the rulings say urine samples taken after the races contained levels of the drug around 0.5 nanograms per milliliter. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram.

“The low level of methamphetamine in the sample, and its absence in serum, as well as other facts presented in the case file indicate that this positive test is a case of human contamination instead of intentional administration,” the rulings all read.

It is unclear how the racehorses were contaminated with the drug, but Marsha Rountree, executive director of the Texas Horsemen’s Partnership, said during a commission meeting Aug. 9 that the contamination levels were so low that the horses are likely being contaminated by horse grooms using the drug. Grooms made up the majority of people cited by the commission for drug use violations.

“It was very concerning to all of us in the horseman’s organization, and most especially the trainers whose horses were coming up positive,” Rountree said at the meeting. “We became very proactive.”

Gary Aber, a member of the Texas Racing Commission, said during the Aug. 9 meeting that he wanted the organization to pursue a zero-tolerance policy regarding contaminated racehorses or grooms that test positive for the drug.

“That way, if a horse comes up positive, the horse is positive,” Aber said. “That horse needs to be shut down.”

Elrod said the trainers of the contaminated racehorses could have faced a one-year suspension and a $10,000 fine, but the commission chose not to punish the owners further.

Jim Blodgett, director of investigations at the commission, said employees at racing facilities who test positive for drugs are given a mandatory 30-day suspension. They also have to receive counseling and provide a clean urine sample before they are allowed back by the stewards.

“I think that’s way too lenient, and so I would like for us to take a look at that,” said Rolando Pablos, chairman of the Texas Racing Commission.

Trout said the commission is working on instituting a random drug test policy for stable employees, but it is unclear when that policy will be instituted.

Rountree said racehorses in several other states have been cross-contaminated with drugs before. It’s not just a Texas issue.

“It is happening everywhere, so much so that Oklahoma had to come in and actually establish a threshold for methamphetamine and caffeine because of the cross-contamination,” Rountree said.

One other case of contamination has been reported in Texas at Gillespie County Race Track in Fredericksburg. Other instances of contamination have occurred in California, Minnesota, Kentucky and Australia.

 

 

 

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/headlines/20160907-at-least-5-winning-racehorses-disqualified-after-testing-positive-for-methamphetamine-at-lone-star-park.ece

Three people are jailed in Cherokee County and face methamphetamine-related charges following a Monday traffic stop in Tahlequah.

Officers said they spotted a truck veering in and out of lanes as it traveled on Downing Street. Sgt. Cory Keele stopped the truck as it pulled into a motel.

Larry Davis was driving the truck, and Keele also encountered Shannon Lyman and Toni Pritchett in the passenger seats, along with a fourth passenger, Anthony Robinson.

Davis appeared “lethargic” and was shaking, Keele reported. Davis was asked to exit the truck and Keele requested permission for a pat-down. Davis asked the officer why he wanted to search him, and told Keele about a knife in his pocket. In another pocket, Keele found several baggies.

When other passengers were asked to get out of the truck, Pritchett grabbed two bags. The officer asked Pritchett to leave the bags. Lyman also grabbed a purse, Keele said, and was also asked to leave the purse. The bags were placed on the ground next to the truck.

Pritchett and Lyman both denied having anything illegal in their bags. Pritchett gave Keele permission to search, but Lyman told the officer he could not look inside her purse.

Keele finished a search of Davis and found a bag of a white, crystal substance inside his shirt pocket. Davis then allegedly confessed there were syringes in his sock.

Based on the items found in Davis’ possession and the prior drug arrests involving Davis and passengers, Keele opted to search the truck and items in it. He found a light bulb that had been fashioned into a pipe, and noticed it contained a meth residue. Under the driver’s seat were clear baggies, cut straws, several syringes and other items.

When Keele looked in Lyman’s purse, he came across six baggies containing a white, crystal substance.

“Lyman then started yelling at me, saying, ‘That is Abilify’; she told me this repeatedly,” Keele reported.

But Keele said the substance appeared to be meth, despite Lyman claiming it was “cooked Abilify,” the brand name of an antipsychotic medication.

“Lyman was very agitated with me and to be honest I laughed when she told me this; although this is unprofessional, I could not help it because I had never heard that excuse before,” Keele said.

When Keele field-tested the substance, the results were positive for methamphetamine.

“I advised Lyman that it tested positive for methamphetamine and she again yelled at me that it was Abilify and that she would tell the judge the same thing and see me in court,” Keele wrote in his arrest report.

During a search of Pritchett’s two bags, Keele discovered two marijuana pipes and two baggies with a white residue identified as meth.

Davis was taken to jail where another bag of a crystal-like substance was found in a pocket. He was booked for possession of meth with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Lyman was booked for possession of meth with intent to distribute and possession of paraphernalia.

When Pritchett was booked into jail, officers found two syringes, a baggy of white residue, and a glass pipe, along with a bag of a white, crystal substance inside Pritchett’s bra strap.

“[Detention Officer Shayna Pemberton] advised me that she secured the baggie in her pocket and at one point Pritchett bumped into her,” Keele reported. “Officer Pemberton stated she went to retrieve the baggie of crystal substance from her pocket, and it was missing and she could not locate it during a search of the facility.”

Pemberton told Keele she believes Pritchett took the baggy from the officer’s pocket and flushed it down a toilet. Keele requested the jail retrieve surveillance footage of the incident as evidence, and Pritchett was booked for possession of drug paraphernalia and taking contraband into a penal facility.

Robinson was booked into jail for an outstanding warrant.

 

 

http://www.tahlequahdailypress.com/news/suspect-claims-white-powdery-substance-is-abilify/article_25ad957f-8268-5272-9dc7-304c6f685093.html

 

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — A Winfield woman was arrested Friday night by the Arkansas City Police Department on drug charges at a motel in north Arkansas City.

Tiffany Marie Keith, 24, was arrested on suspicion of possession of drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine.

Police responded around 8:20 p.m. Friday to a possible disturbance in a motel room at America’s Best Value Inn, 1617 N. Summit St. They made contact with Keith when they arrived at the motel.

She denied any disturbance in the room. Officers later obtained consent to search the room, where they located methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. Keith then was arrested in connection.

She was transported to and booked into the Cowley County Jail in Winfield in lieu of $6,000 bond through Cowley County District Court in Arkansas City.

Keith since has posted bond and been released.

 

 

 

Winfield woman arrested on suspicion of meth possession

 

The south Alabama house where five people were slain with an axe and gunshots has mysteriously burned, authorities said.

Investigators had gotten a tip that the home in Citronelle, Alabama, would be burned — and then it went up in flames Sunday morning, Mobile County sheriff’s officials said.1473190061654

Derrick Dearman, 27, of Leakesville, Mississippi, is accused by authorities of killing five people, including a pregnant woman, in the home on Aug. 20.

He then kidnapped his ex-girlfriend, Laneta Lester, and a 3-month-old infant Lester grabbed from the house, authorities have said.

An email sent to the sheriff’s department had tipped off detectives that the house would be burned, Mobile County sheriff’s spokeswoman Lori Myles said. Investigators had already finished collecting evidence of the killings at the home before it burned, she said.

No one knows how the blaze started, Citronelle Mayor J. Albert “Al” McDonald tells Al.com. He also said it’s unclear whether it was arson.

“Nobody knows who did it or how it happened,” he told the news site.

Dearman has been held in jail since shortly after the killings, and he has pleaded not guilty to two counts of kidnapping and six counts of murder — one for each adult killed and one for the pregnant woman’s unborn child.

Lester had moved into the home shortly before the killings to escape her abusive relationship with Dearman, sheriff’s officials have said. She was awakened by the sound of a gunshot and watched her ex-boyfriend kill the other five adult occupants of the home: three men and two women, according to search warrant affidavits. Dearman told investigators that he had parked in the woods nearby and injected himself with methamphetamine just before the killings, court records show.

Recently released search warrant affidavits also revealed new details of how Lester said she and the infant managed to escape after Dearman drove them to Mississippi.

Lester told detectives that Dearman had threatened to kill her if she tried to escape the house. He found the keys to her brother’s car and forced her and her brother’s infant into the vehicle, she told investigators.

Dearman drove to a truck stop and bought cigarettes, and also made other stops before reaching his father’s house in the Leakesville, Mississippi area, where his father told him he was going to take him to turn him into authorities, the search warrant affidavits show.

“Lester said that Dearman tried to force her to go with him, but she jumped into the driver’s seat of her brother’s vehicle,” the affidavits said. She then drove it back to Citronelle’s police station to report the crimes, she told investigators.

 

 

 

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/09/06/alabama-house-where-5-killed-with-axe-gunshots-mysteriously-burns.html

 

Derrick Dearman, 27, of Leakesville, injected Methamphetamine before killing five members of ex-girlfriend’s family with axe and guns in Greene County, Miss.

 

Derrick Dearman, 27, claims he was on Methamphetamine when he murdered 5 of his girlfriend’s family and friends in Citronelle

RAPID CITY, S.D.Police found half a pound of methamphetamine in a local hotel room, leading to the arrest of two Rapid City residents.

Hotel employees had called in the discovery of a stolen handgun inside a room at the AmericInn on Rapp Street. The room was registered to 22-year-old Sirena Chavel, who arrived back at the hotel during the investigation. She gave police consent to retrieve her suitcase and dog that she left in the room. Inside, police found a large amount of drug-related items on the bed.

While police were still in the room, 32-year-old Daniel Richards entered, holding four cell phones and with numerous jewelers bags. Daniel was detained as police were granted a search warrant for the room. That’s when the half pound of methamphetamine and several other drug-related items were found.

Sirena Chavel has been charged with Possession of Controlled Substance, Unlawful Ingestion of a Controlled Substance, Possession with the Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Daniel Richards was charged with Possession of Controlled Substance, Unlawful Ingestion of a Controlled Substance, Possession with the Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance, Possession of Marijuana, Possession.

 

 

http://www.newscenter1.tv/story/33030512/police-make-substantial-meth-bust-after-tip-from-hotel-employees

 

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) – Work in communities and in courtrooms across Alabama is ongoing as narcotics agents try to curb the spread of a powerful form of methamphetamine.

It’s called “ice” and it’s a purer, more potent version of meth.

A gruesome quintuple murder in the southwest part of the state further exposed the dangers of the drug.11724346_g

Court records say Derrick Dearman, the 27-year-old man accused of killing five people, including a pregnant woman in a Citronelle home, told investigators that he parked in the woods nearby and injected ice into his veins shortly before the killings.

Ice has been keeping local narcotics units very busy, shedding light on just how severe the problem is and what’s being done to fight it.

Since January of this year, the Tallapoosa County Narcotics Task Force, which includes members of the sheriff’s department and police departments in the area, has arrested 232 people on drug-related charges and 84 of those arrests involved methamphetamine. More than 34% of the cases the task force has worked this year to date have been meth-related.

“A majority of the methamphetamine cases that we work are what is termed Mexican ice. Most of it is brought in from Mexico. The closest location for us is Georgia. That’s where a lot of it is coming in from. The problem is statewide,” said Investigator Chad Jones.

Laws limiting access to cold medicine have phased out a lot of home-cooked meth. Now, ice is being made in large quantities in super labs, mostly in Mexico, and shipped to the U.S. The influx of ice has changed the street flow of the drug.

“We don’t see as much of the old shake and bake meth labs anymore due to the abundance of Mexican meth or ice,” Investigator Jones explained. “In the past, it took several people to go out and purchase boxes of Sudafed and other chemical precursors. Now dealers are going across state lines and buying it for as low as $300 an ounce, then returning to sell it for about $800-$900.”

Alabama’s heroin epidemic has been widely documented and it has been responsible for thousands of deaths nationwide. Investigators say it goes hand-in-hand with the meth problem.  11723160_g

When those addicted to pain killers could no longer easily get oxycodone and Lortab, they switched to heroin because it’s cheaper.

Meth addicts also use pain killers to come down off the drug so they can sleep so they too switched to heroin.

“One thing translates to the next,” an investigator said.

Covington County is another area where ice is dominating the drug business.

Assistant District Attorney Emmett Massey, who serves as prosecutor for the 22nd Judicial Drug Task Force, has been working to convictions in court and says right now, the county is seeing a lot of ice cases, as well as synthetic marijuana, or spice.

“The trend in Covington County really has been ice lately, which is a form of methamphetamine,” Massey said. “Methamphetamine has always been a huge plague on Covington County. There used to be a lot of shake and bake labs and we used to get red phosphorous back in the day. There was a lot of manufacturing methamphetamine. Now what you’re starting to see is people bring ice in from cartels. The guys are very diligent about that. They’ve built up networks to know when people are coming in and out with it.”

The 22nd Judicial Drug Task Force is making four-five ice arrests each week, sometimes more. The charges include possession and trafficking.

“Anytime we get a conviction, it validates the work the guys are doing and I’m just proud that I can help facilitate that in any way. we’re going to keep working hard to get these people off the streets,” Massey added. “The drug task force really cares about getting drugs off the streets and protecting our families.”

Ice is mainly smoked or injected, but it can produce the same high any way it is introduced into the body. Narcotics agents say it can heighten aggression in users.

Derrick Dearman, the Mississippi man reportedly high on ice when he allegedly killed five people in Citronelle, Alabama, has pleaded not guilty to murder and kidnapping in Mobile County.

When he was escorted to jail, he stated: “Don’t do drugs.”

Search warrant affidavits indicate that he confessed to investigators about shooting up with ice before the brutal slayings.

According to the Associated Press, search warrant affidavits say Laneta Lester was awakened by the sound of a gunshot, and saw her ex-boyfriend Derrick Dearman kill the other adult occupants of the home: three men and two women.

Officials say an axe and at least one firearm was used in the murders.

Detectives say in the affidavits that Dearman gave “a full confession” when detectives interviewed him.

Authorities say he attacked the victims as they slept Aug. 20, then kidnapped Lester. Police say Lester had recently moved into the house to escape a violent relationship with Dearman.

The victims have been identified as 26-year-old Robert Lee Brown, husband and wife Chelsea Marie Reed, 22, and Justin Kaleb Reed, 23, as well as their unborn son; and Joseph Adam Turner, 26 and his wife (by common law) 35-year-old Shannon Melissa Randall.

Over Labor Day weekend, the home where the attacks happened burned down. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

 

 

http://www.wbrc.com/story/33019036/arrests-continue-to-rise-as-drug-units-combat-influx-of-mexican-ice

 

SPRINGHILLFlipping off police and speeding off led to multiple charges against a Springhill woman following a high-speed chase.

Stella Jean Sanders, 29, of Coyle Street, was arrested for two counts of distribution of methamphetamine, possession of schedule I controlled dangerous substance (marijuana), aggravated flight from an officer, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest by flight.600011610767

Springhill Police and Webster Parish Sheriff’s deputies say Sanders was backing out of her driveway when they made contact with her regarding the two distribution warrants. According to reports, she reportedly flipped them off and took off at a high rate of speed.

They chased her down Payne Street to 7th Street SW, going north to Highway 157 out of town. Agents say she was hitting speeds of at least 80 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone.

She turned north going into Bradley, Arkansas, and agents contacted Lafayette County and Columbia County sheriff’s deputies for assistance.

By this time, according to the report, she was driving at speeds in excess of 100 mph in a 55 mph zone, passing several vehicles in curves, appearing to have no fear of oncoming traffic. Arkansas Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents joined the chase, where road spikes were set up just south of Stamps, Arkansas.

She bypassed the spikes, but wildlife agents stopped her. She fled the vehicle on foot through the woods. She was apprehended a short time later, agents said.

During a search of her vehicle, agents discovered inside her purse approximately three grams of suspected methamphetamine, marijuana and several syringes, one appearing to be ready to use. They also located several glass pipes, commonly used for smoking illegal narcotics.

She was transported to the Lafayette County correctional facility, where she was later transported to a local hospital to be checked out.

Once released from the hospital, she was extradited back to Louisiana and booked at Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center.

Bond on the warrant was $50,000 and has not been set on the remaining charges.

 

 

Woman flips police bird, leads them on high-speed chase

 

ATHENS — A Madison County fugitive has been indicted in connection with the 2013 rape of a Limestone County woman, authorities said.

Ricardo Gordillo, 29, is charged with first-degree rape, a Class A felony, in connection with the forcible sexual assault of a woman at her residence in the Limestone-annexed portion of Madison on May 1, 2013, court records shows. 57cedc152e21c_image

Earlier this year, deputies arrested Gordillo on a warrant in Imperial County, California, sheriff’s spokesman Stephen Young said.

Since May 19, Gordillo has been held in Limestone County Jail with bail set at $25,000.

Gordillo, who also is wanted on a 2013 methamphetamine trafficking charge in Madison County, is listed as a fugitive in connection with that arrest, court records show.

Gordillo was indicted in 2014 after a Madison County grand jury determined there was enough evidence to formally charge the suspect with possession of at least 28 grams of meth in southwest Huntsville, court records show.

If convicted of the rape charge, Gordillo faces up to life imprisonment.

 

 

http://www.decaturdaily.com/news/limestone_county/madison-county-fugitive-indicted-in-limestone-rape-case/article_67ed6ce8-6f56-5a0c-97a9-e8c11b40fce3.html

 

The convicted killer of a Waikato couple will spend another 18 months in jail after breaching parole by using methamphetamine.

Leith Rex Ray, 42, is serving a life sentence for the brutal 1994 murder of Te Akau couple John and Josie Harrisson.

Ray, a 19-year-old at the time, and Gresham Kirsten Leith Marsh, 22, broke into the Harrisson home on June 1, 1994.1473136471657

Ray and Marsh had been on a burglary spree around the Central North Island, stealing a car and a .22 rifle.

While in the Harrisson’s home, one of them coughed, waking John Harrisson, 83, who confronted them.

John Harrisson threatened to call police but was shot in the back.

His wife, Josephine Harrisson, 72, was shot as she lay in her bed.

Ray and Marsh were then said to have taken turns at shooting the couple – John Harrisson, four times. Josie Harrisson, twice.

Ray and Marsh were both sentenced to life imprisonment with minimum non-parole periods of 10 years each.

Ray was released on parole in February, 8, 2016 but recalled just weeks later on March, 15.

A subsequent parole hearing was delayed to July 13 after he pleaded guilty to breaching his release conditions. Among the raft of conditions, including GPS monitoring, Ray was not permitted to consume alcohol or drugs.

At the March recall hearing, he said he unwittingly consumed methamphetamine when traces of the drug were on a drink bottle he had used.

He was sentenced to two months in prison for the parole breach.

Ray was a recognized drug user while in custody until 2010. He held an Identified Drug User status which put him under special Corrections Department management.

At the latest parole hearing, he continued to deny knowingly using methamphetamine, saying he was “set up” by a housemate.

The Parole Board did not agree with Ray’s counsel that Ray would not pose an undue risk if he was released.

Ray’s counsel, whose name is withheld, and Ray “tended to minimize the offending”, the Parole Board said in its decision.

“We, like the victims, whose written submissions were shown to Mr Ray, now query whether, with the benefit of hindsight, there was some truth to the suggestion . . . that Mr Ray was in fact involved in using or dealing drugs in custody,” the decision said.

Ray is “weak and easily led”, the Parole Board said.

“Mr Ray obviously needs help to deal with the pressure to use substances, and the challenges which will confront him in the community.

“He needs assistance to stand up to others and to be open and honest with his supporters.

“Mr Ray has a lot of work to do to make up for lost ground.”

Ray will next front the Parole Board at a hearing scheduled to take place in February 2018.

 

 

 

 

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/83964803/Meth-test-failed-parole-denied-for-killer-who-took-turns-to-shoot-Te-Akau-couple

 

AMARILLO, Texas – An Oklahoma City man was arrested after authorities in Texas allegedly discovered nearly $1 million worth of methamphetamine in his vehicle.AYALA--ERNESTO-BMP

The Texas Department of Public Safety claims that it seized more than 12 pounds of methamphetamine on Saturday during a traffic stop in Carson County.

uklhkgltgklglAround 2:44 p.m. on Saturday, a trooper pulled over a 2003 Nissan sedan on I-40 for a traffic violation.

During the stop, the trooper found several plastic-wrapped packages of methamphetamine concealed inside the rocker panels.

The driver, 20-year-old Ernesto Ayala, was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance.

Authorities say the drugs were allegedly being transported from San Diego to Oklahoma City.

 

 

 

Police: Oklahoma City man arrested with nearly $1 million worth of methamphetamine in car

 

Child soldiers in foreign conflicts are treated as victims. What about the adolescents on the U.S.-Mexico border? 

 By Patrick Radden Keefe

After Gabriel Cardona was sentenced, in 2009, press photographers took his picture through a pane of protective glass, as if he were some exotic beast. There was something unthinkable about what he had become, a ghoulish contradiction too awful for the culture to assimilate: a child assassin. Yet there he sat, in pristine white prison scrubs, reciting a catalogue of macabre achievements in the matter-of-fact tones of a college interview. When Cardona was arrested, he was nineteen, and his delicate-featured face retained a dissonant boyishness. But he blinked when he spoke, in nervous flurries, and his interlocutors found themselves staring at a tattoo of a second set of eyes, blue-black and smudgy, that had been inked onto his eyelids.

 

In the past decade, as the death toll from Mexico’s drug war spiralled, it was all too easy for people in the United States to think of the horrors unfolding just across the border as a foreign problem, as disconnected from our day-to-day reality as the conflicts in Libya or Syria. But Gabriel Cardona was an American kid. Born and raised in Laredo, Texas, he was poor but smart, and fully attuned to the meritocratic ethos of life in the United States; as a child, he thought he might grow up to be a lawyer. Cardona played on the football team, read Buzz Bissinger’s “Friday Night Lights,” and identified with the stunted yearning of the characters in the book. Then, during his sophomore year, a coach benched him, and he ended up dropping out and drifting into delinquency—first stealing cars, later smuggling drugs and weapons across the border. As Cardona came of age as a petty criminal, a brash new cartel, the Zetas, was asserting itself in Mexico’s drug economy and developing a reputation for tactics of unparalleled cruelty.

 

Laredo’s population grew by nearly fifty per cent in the nineteen-nineties, as cross-border trade surged after the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the new relationship between Mexico and the United States transformed the underworld ecosystem as well. In a new book, “Wolf Boys: Two American Teenagers and Mexico’s Most Dangerous Drug Cartel” (Simon & Schuster), Dan Slater writes that by 2004 the Zetas were moving as much as ten tons of cocaine across the border—and grossing roughly a hundred million dollars—every week. They called their cartel the Company, and as that dirty revenue trickled into the sprawling metropolitan region that comprises Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, just across the border in Mexico, the area started to look like a company town. Small businesses became fronts for laundering drug proceeds, Slater writes, and “everyone, it seemed, was mixed up in something.”gabrieltattoed_eyes

 

Slater, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, read about the arrest of Cardona, and of his childhood friend and fellow teen hit man Rosalio Reta, in the press. In interviews with the Times and other outlets, Cardona and Reta described living in a Texas safe house and carrying out hits on demand. Slater wondered how an adolescent becomes a mass murderer. Cardona was seventeen when he joined the cartel and nineteen when he was captured. Reta, who, with his diminutive stature and oblong head, was known as Bart, after Bart Simpson, joined at sixteen and was in custody less than a year later. Between them, by their own accounts, they killed more than fifty people. Were they psychopaths to begin with? Or were they ordinary kids whom the Zetas had sculpted into monsters?

 

Wanting to understand “the allure of cartel logic,” Slater wrote to Cardona and Reta in prison. To his surprise, they wrote back.

 

One day in the summer of 1995, a psychologist named Michael Wessells visited Grafton Camp, a rehabilitation center in Sierra Leone for child soldiers who had fought in the country’s civil war. The children ranged in age from nine to sixteen. Many of them had killed. But as Wessells watched they drew pictures and danced and played coöperative games. They behaved, in other words, like kids. In an essay, he recalled how he was struck, in that moment, by the realization that, “under certain conditions, practically any child could be changed into a killer.”cardona_and_reta_teens

 

The phrase “child soldier” tends to conjure images of places like Sierra Leone, and minors were used extensively there and in other African conflicts during the nineteen-nineties. But boys and girls under the age of eighteen have been deployed in battles throughout the world, from Colombia to Sri Lanka, and still fight on the front lines of many conflicts today. According to the United Nations, recruitment of child soldiers in Afghanistan doubled last year, with both the Taliban and government forces relying on underage combatants. In March, the State Department reported that the Islamic State is increasing its dependence on a cadre of juvenile conscripts, some as young as ten years old, who are known as the Cubs of the Caliphate. Historically, children often served in ancillary roles during wartime, as couriers, drummer boys, or “powder monkeys,” who ferried ammunition to cannon crews. But as weapons design evolved during the past century, and particularly with the advent of the AK-47 assault rifle, it became more practical to put children in front-line combat. P. W. Singer, in his book “Children at War” (2005), observes that the AK-47, with fewer than ten moving parts, is “brutally simple”: “Interviews reveal that it generally takes children around thirty minutes to learn how to use one.”

 

What juveniles lack in strength and experience they make up for in other qualities: they are coachable and often available in abundant supply. The uncertainty of wartime leaves young people acutely vulnerable; separated from family or other support structures, children can form a dependency on their military commanders that makes them easy to exploit. The warlord Joseph Kony, in the early years of his insurgency in Uganda, conscripted adults for his Lord’s Resistance Army. He eventually switched to children, because they were easier to indoctrinate. Of course, there is a moral taboo associated with defiling the innocence of youth, but a willingness to violate that taboo can amount to a tactical advantage. A professional soldier, peering through the scope of his rifle at a twelve-year-old, might hesitate to pull the trigger. And signalling that there is no boundary one is unprepared to transgress may demoralize one’s adversary. A recent report by the Quilliam Foundation describes Islamic State propaganda videos that feature children committing murder, and suggests that the group is broadcasting its willingness to flout international norms in a deliberate effort to seize “the psychological upper hand.”

 

One context in which we don’t often hear about child soldiers is the drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border. Yet, according to Child Rights Network, an alliance of civic and social organizations in Mexico, some thirty thousand minors have been pressed into playing a role in the country’s ongoing criminal insurgency, and several thousand of them have been killed. “Wolf Boys” offers a bracingly intimate glimpse of how this insurgency looks from the point of view of the young killers on the front lines. Prison can make a good correspondent of almost anyone, and, after writing to Cardona and Reta, Slater found himself drawn into an epistolary relationship of queasy intensity. He visited both boys in prison and spoke to them for hours. Reta eventually cut off contact, but Slater and Cardona continued to correspond, exchanging hundreds of pages of letters.

 

 

When Cardona was seventeen, in 2004, he was in Nuevo Laredo doing a freelance smuggling deal; corrupt local police spotted him and brought him to Miguel Treviño, the dead-eyed commander of the Zetas. Treviño, who was in his thirties, interrogated Cardona while palming a hand grenade, “like a pitcher cups a baseball,” Slater writes. Treviño was impressed by Cardona’s self-possession, and not long afterward Cardona was sent, as a probationary foot soldier, to a training camp in Tamaulipas.

 

The Zetas originated from a team of élite commandos who defected from Mexico’s armed forces, so the cartel was prone to paramilitary affectation. Treviño was known by his radio call sign: Cuarenta (“Forty”). But the training camp bore a notable resemblance to regimens from other parts of the world in which armed groups teach kids to kill. Cardona was instructed to leave behind his civilian clothes, along with his wallet and phone, and to wear the same uniform as the other recruits (bluejeans, white T-shirt), in a symbolic shedding of skin.

 

In a 2007 memoir, “A Long Way Gone,” Ishmael Beah describes a similar ritual when, at thirteen, he was inducted into the Armed Forces of Sierra Leone. As he is putting on new army shorts, Beah sees a soldier burning his “old belongings.” He is given a bayonet and ordered to attack a banana tree, imagining that it is his enemy. This is a standard feature of any curriculum in homicide: progressive exposure to violence. When the Islamic State trains the Cubs of the Caliphate, children are instructed to decapitate a doll, then to watch while a human is decapitated, then to decapitate a human themselves.

 

Cardona and his fellow-trainees, who ranged in age from fifteen to thirty, were given assault rifles and coached by mercenaries from Colombia and Israel. They were taught how to shoot a fleeing target, “like leading a wide receiver in a football game.” At the camp, the Zetas had assembled hundreds of prisoners—captured adversaries from the rival Sinaloa cartel—whom they called “contras.” “You see and do,” the instructors intoned, demonstrating how to kill someone with a knife by killing a contra. It was not in the heat of battle but with these hapless human guinea pigs that Cardona learned to kill. The recruits were told to take an AR-15, run into a house, and murder the contra inside. So Cardona did. You see and do.

 

Child soldiers often rely on drugs to injure themselves to horror. Ishmael Beah became addicted to “brown-brown,” a mixture of gunpowder and cocaine. Cardona favored a cocktail of heavy tranquillizers and Red Bull, administered at regular intervals throughout the day, which rendered him alert but insensate. Miguel Treviño, though, required no drugs to kill. If the role he plays in “Wolf Boys” is an archetypal one—the psychopath father proxy, the charismatic comandante—the details have a chilling specificity. When Treviño is driving and sees a dog sleeping by the side of the road, he swerves to hit it. After stealing a tiger from the circus, he starves it, then feeds it human victims. At one point, Treviño tells Cardona that he has killed “more than eight hundred people.” Among the Zetas, this counts as a boast. It is not merely the act of killing but a real or feigned emotional indifference to the taking of human life that consolidates status in the cartel. Armed groups that use child soldiers often truck in mystical elements—one reason that Joseph Kony found kids so easy to manipulate is their readiness to believe in magic—and the Zetas betray some elements of a death cult. Cardona was not an especially spiritual kid, but like his colleagues he offered lip service to Santa Muerte, the Mexican folk saint of the dead.

reta_tattoos

In the Zetas, Dan Slater tells us, the highest praise you could offer someone was to say that he was frío—coldhearted. The first time Rosalio Reta kills someone, his comrades rally around to celebrate. “Your first job!” they exclaim. “You’re going to have nightmares!” He was sixteen. Slater charts Cardona’s evolution into an efficient and reliable killer, “a heat-seeking missile of black-market capitalism to be deployed against anyone who ran afoul of the Company.” At one point, Treviño touches Cardona’s chest and tells him, “You’re just as cold as me.”

 

In the United States, when a child murders a classmate or a family member, the criminal-justice system makes few allowances for youth. After a Supreme Court decision in 2005, we no longer execute minors, but children as young as thirteen have been tried as adults, and thousands of juveniles have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. For child soldiers in foreign conflicts, the situation is often different. In recent decades, humanitarian groups have successfully campaigned for juvenile combatants to be considered not primarily as the perpetrators of violence but as casualties themselves. “Children associated with armed groups are, above all, victims of these groups,” Leila Zerrougui, who advises the U.N. Secretary-General on child soldiers, said last year. In 2002, when the Special Court for Sierra Leone was established, it was decided that children under the age of fifteen, even those who had committed monstrous crimes, should be exempted from the proceedings. As the anthropologist David Rosen observes in his book “Child Soldiers” (2012), the idea that a juvenile who commits war crimes should be spared any judicial accounting represents a “new and radical notion.”

 

One beneficiary of this approach was Ishmael Beah, who after nearly three years as a child soldier in Sierra Leone was rescued by the U.N. and “demobilized” in 1996, at the age of sixteen. Beah turned out to have a fluid ability to narrate his own story and a camera-ready smile that seemed to signal, at a glance, his rehabilitation. You would be hard pressed to find a more ingratiating spokesman for former child combatants. Beah was eventually adopted by an activist in New York City and attended Oberlin. His memoir was displayed in Starbucks and sold 1.5 million copies. (There was subsequent controversy over charges that Beah fabricated parts of his story, but both Beah and his publisher reject these claims.)

 

If Ishmael Beah is eligible for redemption, should we extend a similar dispensation to Gabriel Cardona? Beah writes that he and his compatriots “had no choice” but to join the hostilities: they were separated from their families in the midst of a civil war. Parts of Mexico certainly resembled a conflict zone when Cardona was a Zeta; in places along the border, the murder rate was higher than in Afghanistan or Iraq. But Cardona didn’t live in Mexico; he lived in Laredo, and Laredo was comparatively safe. His father was an abusive drunk who left the family when he was a child, and, Slater writes, Cardona had “seen enough movies” to blame his father’s absence for “part of his situation.” But only part of it. Cardona sees that this is no basis for absolution. He was not an orphan: he remained close with his mother and his brother. He was an intelligent kid who had other options.

 

Cardona might have been frío, but he was not a sadist. Unlike Miguel Treviño, he derived no thrill from killing. So why do it? The anthropologist Alcinda Honwana has observed that young combatants, in the face of pervasive murder, “vividly experienced their own powerlessness—except as killers,” and Darwinian logic may have played a role. Better to be a meat eater than a grass eater in a world in which grass eaters get eaten. Cardona tells of the macho empowerment he felt as an alpha in a hazardous domain. But he offers another explanation, too, one that is as bleak as it is banal: he killed for cars and clothes. The Zetas paid Cardona five hundred dollars a week. “Commission missions”—solo contract hits—could mean a ten-thousand-dollar bonus. Like any callow American kid, Cardona was hopelessly materialistic, and Slater reels off brand names like a catalogue of ships in the Iliad: Volvo, GMC Denali, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Joe Brand, Versace, Lacoste. You might think that the Zetas, in their taste for bloody mayhem, share something with Al Qaeda or ISIS. But, to members of the cartel, jihadists seemed misguided, because they were willing to die for an ideology, when their real problem was “being poor.” For a street kid like Cardona, making his way in the war economy along the border, murder meant upward mobility. “Riches and bitches,” the instructors in Tamaulipas chanted, explaining what recruits stood to gain if they killed for the Company.

 

It is difficult, when reading such passages, to feel much sympathy for Cardona. But teen-agers are hardly known for the sophistication of their decision-making. Studies have shown that during adolescence the parts of the brain that incline us to risky behavior are more developed than the “cognitive control system,” which regulates such impulses, and tends to develop later. In fact, while we often focus, when we talk about child soldiers, on the systems of exploitation that perpetuate the phenomenon, it may be driven just as much by an element of unhinged adolescent agency. In 2006, Michael Wessells, the psychologist who visited Grafton Camp, published a book, “Child Soldiers: From Violence to Protection,” in which he addressed the fact that the majority of underage combatants are not kidnapped or forcefully conscripted; they voluntarily enlist. Their range of alternatives may be constrained by wartime circumstance—more constrained than Cardona’s. Still, Wessells says that many children join armed groups not because they “have no choice” but because they are seeking “meaning, identity, and options civilian life does not afford.”

 

Cardona can distinguish right and wrong. He knows that what he is doing is immoral, but he rationalizes. He tells himself that there are no innocents in the drug trade; if he didn’t execute his victims, somebody else would. Even so, he has doubts, and one quietly devastating aspect of “Wolf Boys” is the way in which, whenever Cardona starts to question his gruesome métier, he finds himself set straight. At night clubs, the young hit men are fêted like rock stars and courted by groupies. In a country where more than ninety-five per cent of homicides typically go unsolved, anyone might begin to question the value of life. The police in Nuevo Laredo don’t merely fail to investigate murders; they assist Cardona in his executions, patrolling outside a restaurant while he slays a diner inside. When the Company needs to dispose of bodies, it subcontracts to the police, who have a sideline burning corpses in oil drums.

 

At different points in the book, Cardona uses the word “across” as a noun, to describe the country across the border—Mexico—but also, it seems, the metaphysical realm of pure transgression in which he resides. “That’s the way it is across,” he says. Cardona has a girlfriend, Christina, whom he loves. Between murders, he takes her to Applebee’s and they order orange sodas. During a moment of introspection, he asks why she would want to be with a troublemaker like him. Wouldn’t it be better to date a “civilized person”? Christina grew up in Laredo, surrounded by the costs of cartel life. She ponders the question, before replying, “Los calmados son jotillos.” (“The calm ones are faggots.”)

 

In a book about killing, Slater is curiously vague about most of the murders that Cardona and Reta commit. This could be a matter of legal necessity: the boys were charged with only a handful of homicides, and detailing other crimes might result in further indictments. Slater may also have elected to gloss over grisly particulars as a narrative strategy, so as not to foreclose any identification between his reader and his subjects; Ishmael Beah describes killing as a “daily activity” but similarly refrains from graphic elaboration. Or perhaps, for Cardona and Beah alike, such specifics are lost in the fog of war. When a CNN interviewer asked Cardona how many people he had killed, he laughed nervously and said, “I have no idea.” (Prompted to estimate, he put the number between twenty and thirty.)

 

One theory about why we may be prepared to forgive child soldiers in foreign conflicts while harshly punishing children who kill in this country has to do with the identity not of the killer but of the victim. Mark Drumbl, a law professor at Washington and Lee, observes that “whereas the child perpetrator targeting Africans tends to be held as a mindless captive of purposeless violence, the child perpetrator targeting Westerners tends to be held as an intentional author of purposeful violence.” Eventually, Miguel Treviño made a fateful decision to deploy Cardona, along with Rosalio Reta, across the border to Texas, with a list of Americans to kill. In Laredo, a D.E.A. agent named Robert Garcia began to pursue the young killers, so Treviño decided that they should kill Garcia as well. Before they could do so, both boys were taken into custody. After their capture, a prosecutor said in court, Laredo’s murder rate dropped by half.

 

The recent film “Beasts of No Nation,” based on the novel by Uzodinma Iweala, depicts the transformation of Agu, a child from an unnamed West African country, from a giggling boy to a machete-wielding killer. It is a searing chronicle of metamorphosis, and, owing in part to the performance of Abraham Attah, the Ghanaian actor who plays Agu, the film leaves the viewer little choice but to identify with a marauding underage soldier and to construe each incremental tragedy that befalls him as a basis for mitigating his culpability. Watching the film, you desperately want Agu to escape. And he does. The final scenes take place at a coastal rehabilitation center for demobilized child soldiers. Agu’s soul is not beyond salvage, and the film ends on a hopeful note, as a gaggle of former child combatants take to the ocean and frolic in the waves and Agu, looking very much like a boy again, plunges in to join them.

 

There is no such redemption in “Wolf Boys.” When Cardona and Reta received what amount to life sentences in prison, no N.G.O. intervened on their behalf. There was no art therapy. Nobody seemed eager to “reintegrate” the boys into society. Deprived of his tranquillizers, Cardona started having gory nightmares. In letters to Slater, he seems to fluctuate in his own assessment of his past. At times, he expresses remorse. But he still maintains that Miguel Treviño, who was arrested by Mexican forces in 2013, is “a good man.”

 

Rosalio Reta, in some of his initial media interviews, expressed glassy-eyed contrition, casting himself as a hapless victim of grave forces beyond his control. But this was a put-on, Slater writes. Reta was merely savvy enough to know what people wanted to hear. He told stories about killing for the first time when he was thirteen, though according to “Wolf Boys” he was actually sixteen. Reta’s bogus narrative of redemption was “a hit with his public,” Slater observes. In fact, Reta tells Slater that he’s been thinking about writing a book—something along the lines of Ishmael Beah’s “A Long Way Gone.”

baby_faced_killers

Cardona and Reta are still young, with decades ahead of them for reflection. They may yet come to terms with the wreckage they have caused. In 2013, a team of psychologists at the University of Utah published a paper noting that, while there is extensive academic literature on the indoctrination, rehabilitation, and post-conflict trauma of child soldiers abroad, there are few corresponding studies of American children drawn into gang violence. Perhaps, they suggested, some of the research lessons gleaned from international studies could be applied to “the child combatants in our own backyard.” For Slater, the story of Cardona and Reta is, at least in part, an indictment of American obliviousness: a parable about the mutant children of the drug war. When Cardona was sentenced, in 2009, his lawyer pleaded for something shorter than a life sentence. “I don’t know what’s in my client’s mind,” he said. “I’m not Freud. I’m sure Freud would have a field day. I don’t know what the motivation was. We don’t know what makes him tick. No one seems to really care.”

 

Borderland Beat Reporter dd Posted at 10:20 PM

 

 

 

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2016/09/the-teen-killers-of-drug-war.html

 

ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – A Hawkins County woman is facing drug charges after police find large amounts of methamphetamine in traffic stop.

According to the Hawkins County Sheriff’s department Stephanie+Bailey1Stephanie Michelle Bailey was seen driving a 1996 Cheverlot truck North on Highway 66S. A deputy noticed Bailey was not wearing a seat belt and pulled her over.

That’s when the deputy discovered the Churchill woman was driving with a revoked license for a previous DUI. A K9 unit discovered 1 oz of methamphetamine, 3 round tablets of Tylenol, and 2.5 tablets of Alprazolam. The drugs have an estimated street value of over $4,000.

Bailey is also wanted in Georgia for a violation of probation on a drug charge.

She was taken to the Hawkins County Jail.

 

 

http://www.local8now.com/content/news/Hawkins-County-woman-arrested-after-traffic-stop-leads-police-to-meth-392331131.html

 

Columbus police say a Phenix City man arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute struck an officer during the arrest.

According to a police report, 41-year-old Harold W. George grabbed an officer by the throat, pushed him and threw multiple punches.

He was arrested in the area of Manchester Expressway and Second Avenue Saturday.

Besides the drug charge, George faces charges of obstruction of an officer, no state tag and no proof of insurance.

http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/news/local/crime/article99953912.html
A tentative trial date has been set for a North Idaho man accused of forcing a 22-year-old to eat a deadly dose of methamphetamine.
The Coeur D’Alene Press reports 43-year-old Shaun Patrick Kelly, who was arrested on July 1st, recently entered a not guilty plea.
Authorities said the victim, Evan Mychal Larkin was held at gunpoint and forced to eat the lethal dose of meth to prove he wasn’t a police informant.
Kelly’s bond is set at $150,000 and his trial is scheduled for November.
http://www.kivitv.com/news/trial-date-set-for-man-accused-of-forcing-22-year-old-to-eat-deadly-dose-of-meth

Sometime in 2012, Richard Wold began going to the office six days a week. He also started coming in at 6 a.m., an hour ahead of most colleagues.

Wold, then 59, saw he got more done by starting early. For the first couple of hours, there were no phone calls, meetings or visitors to interrupt his flow. It was just him, his machines, some classical music and drug specimens.57cb6bda05949.image

As the only drug analyst for the Rapid City Police Department’s Evidence Section, Wold wanted to increase his output to keep pace with the growing number of local drug crimes.

By the end of 2012, he had conducted 2,605 drug analyses, a thousand more than the previous year. In 2014, he set a lab record of 3,233 analyses.

His job, as a forensic chemist, is to identify the substances seized by law enforcement and determine if they are indeed illegal. His reports are crucial to the prosecution of drug offenders.

But evidence has been coming in much faster than one drug analyst can process. Wold’s turnaround time now is four to eight weeks.

Meanwhile, local prosecutors have no choice but to dismiss some drug charges while they wait for the lab reports.

“It is fairly frequent that we have to dismiss a case and then re-file it when the testing gets done,” said Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo.

In 2015, Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris sought to address the problem by asking city hall for a second drug analyst. Mayor Steve Allender allocated $84,500 for it in his budget proposal for the coming year, but the council voted it down due to a lack of funding.

The request is again on the table as the deadline nears to finalize the city’s 2017 budget. Jegeris is hopeful the council will approve it this time around as his department deals with the growing drug problem.

“Our No. 1 goal is to reduce victimization in our community, and we can only do that by holding known drug offenders accountable,” he said.

The testing process

Wold spends many of his waking hours in a room with off-white walls and gray furniture. Located on the second floor of the police Evidence Building, at the corner of Kansas and First streets, it houses equipment worth tens of thousands of dollars, as well as an assortment of vials and folders marked EVIDENCE. On one long table, beside stacks of lab reports, are CDs of Queen, Jim Groce and Josh Groban.

“My little radio’s broken, so I’m listening to CDs right now,” said Wold, a chemical engineering graduate from the School of Mines & Technology, who professes an affinity for classical music on South Dakota Public Radio.

On an average day, Wold completes analyzing 15 specimens, corresponding to evidence in at least three court cases. He testifies in court about three times a month.

Prosecutors consider Wold’s analyses invaluable in their work. Drug-testing results are “absolutely necessary to get a conviction,” said Sara Rabern, spokeswoman for the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office, whose Rapid City attorneys use the lab.

Field tests, which are basic drug tests conducted by law enforcement agents, are generally not enough to get a conviction. Scores of incidents around the U.S. have shown they can produce false positives and wrongful convictions.

“In order to go to trial, we’ve got to have a lab result,” said Gregg Peterman, supervisory assistant at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Rapid City, which also uses the police lab. “I can’t imagine federal prosecutors elsewhere going to court without a first-rate lab result.”

People may think of lab tests as routine, but lab director Brendan Matthew said that’s not the case with drug analyses. Wold receives some powders or liquids that start out being completely unknown, or gets quantities so small they’re barely enough to test. This requires time, experience and creative problem solving, said Matthew, a forensic chemist himself.

After a steady rise over four years, Wold’s output dipped in 2015. That summer the lab was accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board, which required more testing documentation.

It was a notable year for another reason. For the first time since the lab began tracking comparative data in 2003, methamphetamine overtook marijuana as the facility’s most tested drug with 914 versus 813 analyses. Both drugs took up almost 70 percent of Wold’s lab time in 2015. Cocaine and the painkiller oxycodone, combined, made up less than 2 percent.

The influx of meth has changed the landscape of local crime, according to authorities. In the past two years, Rapid City has seen 13 homicides, as well as three officer-involved shootings that resulted in civilian deaths. Last year saw some new crime highs: 315 aggravated assaults, 223 stolen motor vehicles, 76 robberies, 52 police pursuits and 1,349 drug arrests.

And meth’s supremacy in Wold’s lab seems to be holding up. As of Aug. 15, analyses of the drug were ahead of marijuana, 432 to 304.

The specimens Wold tests come from about a dozen counties in western South Dakota, but most are from Pennington County. Last year, close to 90 percent of his analyses was for Pennington County clients, the majority of them for the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office. But the items the office submits for testing are just a fraction of the drug evidence it has.

Long line for service

Twenty years ago, Pennington County prosecutors asked the lab to test all the evidence in a drug case, said Vargo, who was a deputy state’s attorney here in the ‘90s.

Now, Vargo said, prosecutors have to limit their testing requests per case knowing the drug lab is overloaded.

The Evidence Building is the repository of items seized by Rapid City police and Pennington County sheriff’s deputies. The building’s warehouse, a bit bigger than a basketball court and filled with rows of 12-foot high shelves, is on the floor just below Wold’s lab. But to optimize his time, Wold doesn’t begin testing — drugs, paraphernalia or anything that may hold drug traces — unless he gets a written request from the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The office’s prosecutors, meanwhile, prioritize their requests based on the big-picture impact of a drug charge. For instance, Vargo said, the analysis of evidence against people in jail takes precedence over that of suspects out on bond. On the other hand, prosecutors don’t need to rush testing if a suspect is facing other charges, such as assault or burglary, which don’t rely on drug analyses.

If lab reports are not yet ready within a certain point in the court proceedings — and cases cannot move forward without them — prosecutors need to dismiss suspects’ charges. The charges can be re-filed if the lab tests later yield positive results.

The re-filing sometimes happens when a suspect gets arrested on a new charge, since an older case will get lab results sooner, or the old charge won’t be re-filed in favor of the new one.

“The number of cases that actually gets dismissed because we didn’t have the drug testing and then never re-filed are more limited,” Vargo said. “There are a lot more things leaving the Evidence Section without being tested, but usually something in each case is going to get tested.”

It happens that some evidence never gets tested. That is when a drug charge is dismissed because of a defendant’s plea agreement on non-drug charges, Vargo said.

But some cases do not move forward, even after the lab testing is completed. By that time, the suspects, or witnesses, are gone.

Authorities can’t say what the rate of case dismissals or re-filings are. The State’s Attorney’s Office doesn’t keep track of this data.

Challenges of policing

On July 11, 27-year-old Cole Younger was arrested after Rapid City police found him with a gunshot wound in his left foot, a stolen firearm and a substance that field-tested positive for meth. He was charged with three felonies: commission of a felony with a firearm, possession of a controlled substance and grand theft by receiving stolen property.

If found guilty of the charges, he could spend as much as three decades in prison.

A week and a half later, the court granted him release from jail since the drug-testing results in his case were not yet ready. Later that day, the state’s attorney’s office dismissed all his charges after discovering Texas also wanted him on a felony.

Younger’s Rapid City charges will be re-filed once he resolves his Texas case, the prosecutor’s office said, and by that time his lab results and case witnesses should be waiting for him.

Police chief Jegeris admitted law enforcement officers get frustrated when they see suspects back on the streets because of bottlenecks in the system. Offenders need to see swift punishment or the cycle of crime will continue, he said.

“Unfortunately, some of them are getting caught but they’re not being held accountable because of delays in the drug testing and therefore, delays in the prosecution,” he said. “It does take the wind out of your sails at times, but that’s why you maintain focus and you just continue trying to do your job to the best of your ability.”

Jegeris said he is not putting any blame on the state’s attorney’s office, just as much as the office isn’t blaming the police department for the drug lab’s limitations. Local prosecutors, he said, are doing a commendable job despite the system’s constraints.

The situation at the police lab isn’t unique to Pennington County. Many other publicly funded laboratories around the country are experiencing a need for more personnel due to a surge in workload, said Matthew Gamette, a member of the board of directors at the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors. The organization, headquartered in North Carolina, has some 600 members throughout the U.S.

There has been an increase in lab analyses requests across various disciplines, said Gamette, but noted a spike in crimes involving new types of drugs, as well as heroin and fentanyl.

The crime lab society supports the hiring of additional lab staff since people are more prone to mistakes when they’re overworked, said Gamette, head of the Idaho State Police Forensic Services. Its members have also seen how the lack of lab personnel has resulted in court delays.

The upcoming vote

In his proposed 2017 budget of $160 million, Rapid City Mayor Allender has allotted $84,503 for a second drug analyst. The police department will find out by Sept. 30, or possibly as early as Tuesday, if Wold will soon be sharing his lab with another chemist.

In the summer of 2014, Wold scaled back his hours to 45 a week.

“You get worn out, you get tired,” he said. “You come to a realization that you don’t have a life because of work.” Now, he spends his weekends playing with his grandchildren, ages 1, 3 and 4.

He is looking forward to mentoring a new drug analyst, but the clock is ticking. After 15 years at the lab, he plans to retire in two years when he turns 65.

 

 

http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/drug-analyst-can-t-keep-up-with-rise-in-meth/article_46f83771-2e19-513b-bc94-c93f0a7a0168.html