Tommy Farmer compares cleaning a methamphetamine lab to finding a handgun on a playground.web1_Meth-Bust4-022714

“If we were to find a gun laying out on a playground, we would render it safe and inoperable, collect all facts and evidence and investigate the crime to bring those involved to justice,” said Farmer, an agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. “With meth labs, that requires some specially-trained law enforcement that are going to have to go through certain procedures with certain equipment.”

Those procedures and that equipment are costly, and law enforcement is struggling to keep up.

Between 2000 and 2010, the federal government provided funding to state and local agencies for cleaning a house where meth was manufactured, Farmer said. He said Tennessee would receive between $2-5 million of funding each year.

“Those dollars were exhausted,” Farmer said Monday. “We stretched existing federal dollars by cutting back on services. The state has kicked in $5 million since 2010. The Drug Enforcement Administration has kicked in. We hoped that budget woes would pass, but right now it doesn’t look good.”

Farmer said without consistent, reoccurring funding, the TBI will have to make major cuts in its methamphetamine program, if not ending the program entirely, on Dec. 31.

“It’s like a three-legged stool,” Farmer said. “It’s very solid until one of the legs break, then it falls down. That’s what we’re facing right now.”

Farmer said cleaning up meth labs involves cooperation at the federal, local and state levels. Ideally, the federal government would provide funding for equipment and supplies to clear the lab, the state provides equipment and training, and local agencies quarantine the house, remove products used in the manufacture of meth and arrest those responsible for its manufacture.

“If the state tried to man every lab, there’s no way we could do it in an efficient way,” Farmer said.

Farmer said the TBI has 15 response trucks around the state specifically for loading and transporting waste from meth labs. He said a single TBI truck may be used by as many as 26 local law enforcement agencies in one day.

“That way they’re sharing equipment and not having to buy their own,” Farmer said. “We also provide training to the local agencies. It doesn’t matter if their in a small town like Mountain City or a metro area like Memphis. They’re all trained and equipped the same way.”

Tennessee implemented the Authorized Central Storage Container Program on July 1, 2011, Farmer said. The program trains law enforcement officers to safely clean up a meth lab, remove and transport the waste to one of 11 locations across the state. The state will hold the lab for no longer than a month before contacting the DEA and surrendering the content of several labs to them at the same time, Farmer said.

He said the state previously had to notify the DEA after each individual lab was emptied, but since the TBI has been able to dispose of waste themselves, they are able to save money by making fewer trips to meet the DEA.

“Prior to 2010, the waste disposal bill for the state of Tennessee was almost $4.6 million,” Farmer said. “That’s just to dispose of the lab itself. Then we started the ACS Container program, and we saved $3.2 million our first year out of the gate. Our waste cost last year was just over $250,000.”

After a law enforcement agency has confiscated equipment used to make meth and quarantined the house that contains it, the responsibility of cleaning the home falls to the property owner, Lt. Bill Doelle, narcotics officer with the Maury County Sheriff’s Department, said Tuesday. 

Most of our meth cookers are renters,” Doelle said. “The people they’re renting from are doing a lot of work to clean these houses.”

To ensure the house is fit for residents again, property owners will call upon a certified industrial hygienist like Barry Westbrook, owner of DocAir in Franklin. Paying a hygienist to clean and inspect the building falls to the property owner, although Westbrook said one of his clients charged a tenant with vandalizing the house he was renting to her so his insurance would pay for the cleaning.

“Certified industrial hygienists were written into the law,” Westbrook said. “The law says that we can go across the quarantine tape and evaluate hazards.”

He said it is the job of building hygienists to clean a surface in the house and test it to see if all contaminants and residue have been removed. The standard of cleanliness, which is set by the State of Tennessee, is so strict that sometimes it is easier to paint or remove a wall rather than give it repeated cleaning, Westbrook said.

But he said the real problem with methamphetamine is the drug itself.

“From a toxicology point of view, I think, how much of a health risk am I going to be exposed to compared to other chemicals in my environment?” Westbrook said. “What I see is, we’re going to an extreme and misinforming the public on the actual chemical dangers of meth. You’ve got one guy injecting it into his bloodstream, and we have to wear protective suits in the house it was made in.”

Westbrook, Farmer and Doelle all agreed that the face of the drug is changing, so the methods for facing it should change as well.

“Years ago, there were all kinds of dangerous chemicals used, like phosphorous and ammonia,” said Doelle, who has been with the sheriff’s department for 33 years. “Now it’s not quite the same thing. Now they make everything in two-liter drink bottles.”

According to the DEA, there were 1,585 meth-lab related incidents in Tennessee in 2012.

Farmer said there are two possible solutions to the problem.

“The solutions are to find some type of reoccurring funding or stop the meth labs,” he said. “In this day and time, drug enforcement has changed forever. We’re always going to have some type of synthetic drug made in a domestic, clandestine setting. We have to have clan lab units, I think. Now the question is, how are we going to pay for them?”




An updated study released on Sept. 23 shows a spike county wide on the growth of methamphetamine use and distribution in Kern County.

The numbers aren’t promising, according to the study released by Kern Stop Meth Now and Kern County Mental Health Department.

The number of meth-related cases have increased since the initial study in 2008, including in Tehachapi, although meth use in the Tehachapi area remains much lower than Bakersfield.

In May, Tehachapi and Stallion Springs police departments participated in the study. Officers for both departments logged what cases that were meth-related in nature.

Of 604 incidents collected from Tehachapi police officers, 84 were confirmed methamphetamine incidents, either alone or combined with alcohol or other drugs.

An additional 45 incidents noted suspected meth use, where officers might suspect an individual was under the influence of meth, but no hard evidence was available.

The total number accounts for 21.3 percent of the incidents logged for the study.

Four meth-related incidents required the removal of children from a home.

In Stallion Springs, the numbers were much lower. Of 211 logged incidents in May, six showed confirmed meth involvement and 22 showed suspected meth-related encounters.

This represented 13.3 percent of all logged encounters in May.

According to the Kern Stop Meth Now report, 50.9 percent of all felonies filed with the District Attorney’s office county-wide are meth-related. This is up from the 37.7 percent in May 2008.

The 2014 study notes that the volume of encounters for May was at 1.3 percent of all the encounters in the county, down from 2.9 percent in May 2014.

However, police officials warned the data does not show the entire picture.

Eight local police departments participated in the study, with documented methamphetamine-related cases ranging from 5.2 percent of encounters to 28.6 percent.

Only a snap shot

While the study shows disturbing trends of meth use, especially for the Tehachapi area, Stallion and Tehachapi police chiefs called it the tip of the iceberg.

“It’s just a snap shot,” said Tehachapi Police Chief Kent Kroeger. He said the data is based only on one month of information and observations collected by participating agencies.

“To say that methamphetamine use is down in Tehachapi is probably inaccurate and a stretch,” Kroeger said. “We’re still seeing a substantial number of methamphetamine-related contacts in the city.”

Kroeger called Tehachapi’s percentage of meth-related encounters disturbing.

He said his department recognizes methamphetamine as a serious issue.

“We are aggressively pursuing all narcotic-related cases, but we’re also taking an educational approach,” Kroeger said. The educational approach is aimed at middle and high school aged children and at parents.

Tehachapi Police Department has also participated in a joint operation with sheriff’s departments from Los Angeles, Riverside County, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency in September. While the department no longer participates in the Kern Narcotics Enforcement Team, it still maintains a relationship.

Stallion Springs Police Chief Mike Grant said the results of the study aren’t completely surprising.

However, he added Stallion doesn’t have nearly as a large of a methamphetamine problem as other communities.

“We don’t have as a big of an issue,” Grant said. Of all the meth-related cases this year, Stallion has not dealt with sales-related cases.

Like Kroeger, Grant called the 2014 meth impact study a snapshot.

“You are only taking a small segment of encounters,” Grant said. “But the report does give you a sense of the bigger picture.”

Indeed, the Kern Stop Meth Now report notes the shortcomings of the May snapshot study. The problems include an inability to determine estimate the prevalence of use, to calculate the impact and costs meth use has on local and county budgets, and variations of the data collected across different agencies.

The report does give a good starting point for tackling meth use in Kern County.

Mental health issues

Stallion’s police department refers people who might need help to Kern County-provided services, including mental health services.

“Meth use and mental health problems kind of co-exist,” Grant said. “People who use meth over a long period typically suffer some mental health issues.”

The 2014 report makes a strong connection between the two. Meth use accounted for 42.6 percent of all Kern County Mental Health substance abuse treatment cases between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014.

Kroeger noted that the Tehachapi area lacks significant mental health resources, but his department continues to try and identify resources it can use.

Community approach

The 2014 Kern Stop Meth Now report places a major emphasis on community outreach and prevention in addition to law enforcement techniques.

With a strain on local and county jailing facilities because of the state’s prison realignment program, education becomes more important, said Dixie King from Kern Stop Meth Now.

King presented the report to the Kern County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 23, and has been involved in a county-wide initiative combat meth use. However, not every method of outreach fits every community.

“We feel very strongly that each community should approach this problem in its own way,” King said by phone on Sept. 23. “Every community’s problem is different and I believe it can only be solved by a community coming together.”

Kroeger said Tehachapi PD is working with LAW Publications on a brochure to educate middle and high school students, and the public at large, on the dangers of drug use.

“It’s critical to get middle and high school kids engaged early and have them understand what the dangers are,” Kroeger said.



GRANGER, Indiana — Indiana State Police are getting a $567,000 federal grant to fight methamphetamine.

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly said this week that Indiana is one of only 10 states receiving the methamphetamine grant from the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

The grant program provides funds to state law enforcement agencies to investigate illicit activities related to the manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine.



LAS VEGAS — A 29-year-old man who sometimes uses the nickname “vampire” has been sentenced to 15 years in prison on drug, gun and immigration charges.

Federal prosecutors say Saul Candelorio Gastellum-Sanchez was a prolific drug trafficker who distributed large amounts of methamphetamine and had returned to the U.S. illegally after being deported in 2008.

He was sentenced Monday, after pleading guilty in May to conspiracy to distribute meth, possession of meth, possessing a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime, unlawfully re-entering the country and conspiring to launder money.

He admitted to trying to sell nearly 500 grams of methamphetamine to an undercover officer.

Authorities who served a search warrant at his Las Vegas home reported finding an AK-47 and two semi-automatic handguns.

Gastellum-Sanchez also calls himself “Vampiro,” Spanish for vampire.



A woman accused of breastfeeding her 2-year-old daughter methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana was in jail Tuesday.

Iuni Moana Malo, 34, pleaded not guilty to a charge of endangerment with a controlled substance.

She was released on her own recognizance last month, pending trial, but she failed to appear for a hearing. She scheduled another hearing and officers booked her back into the Pierce County Jail on Monday.

Court Commissioner Meagan Foley reset her bail at $25,000.

Charging papers and Tacoma police give this account:

Malo had been staying in a motel with a man she’d recently met who offered to let her and the toddler live there for free.

She left the girl alone with the man July 23, and when she came back, she smoked crack with him in the bathroom as her daughter slept. She later woke the toddler to breastfeed.

The next day, she smoked meth and crack, leaving the bathroom door open so she could see the girl, she told investigators. She also opened the front door of the motel room to give the toddler fresh air, she said.

The woman smoked “a blunt” — court documents don’t say containing what — before she left to go to the hospital, breastfeeding the girl again on the bus.

Her main reason for seeking medical attention, she said, was that she thought she had taken some bad drugs and was worried about pain in her stomach and leg after smoking them.

After she told hospital staff members she’d been smoking drugs, they checked the child, who tested positive for meth, cocaine and marijuana. Police put the child into protective custody and arrested Malo.

As part of her request to get a new attorney, she wrote a letter to the court, stating she’s a single parent of eight children, seven of whom are cared for by her mother and other family members.

The 2-year-old she cared for herself, when she could, Malo said.

“I can admit having made poor choices in my addiction regarding my role as a mother,” she wrote. “I tried, your honor, to be the best mother to my two-year-old (daughter). I was homeless for this last year, and God’s grace allowed us to be together on and off.”

She wrote that the experience was a “wake-up call,” and said she wanted to seek treatment for her addiction, pursue education, find a job, pay taxes, take part in church activities and start youth programs.

All of my children’s fathers are absent and refuse to take responsibility for their children,” she wrote. “I’ve been no better through these years, your honor, and a felony will only make things worse.”




NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Two men are busted trafficking pounds of methamphetamine to Nashville.meth3_23933

Metro police conducting a crystal meth trafficking case say they were tipped off yesterday that 31-year-old Michael Dill would be transporting crystal meth into Nashville from Atlanta. They pulled him over at I-24 West and Bell Road late Monday afternoon along with another SUV that detectives noticed followed very close to Dill.

A search of the trail vehicle driven by 25-year-old Zachary Mendenhall led to the discovery of a box containing multiple containers hidden in the floorboard with Michael Dill’s name on it, according to the affidavit. Two Tupperware containers in Mendenhall’s SUV were found to have one pound of meth per container.

Dill allegedly told police that he brought the meth and one vehicle to sell to an individual in Nashville. Mendenhall says he did not know the meth was in the car.

Dill and Mendenhall are booked into the Davidson County Jail on $100,000 bond.





LOGAN – A report of an illegal dump site on Sam’s Creek Road and a receipt for the purchase of pseudoephedrine led to the arrest of a Laurelville man Monday night on drug-related charges.

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Hocking County Sheriff’s Office received a report of the illegal dump site just off state Route 56 and responded to the scene of what they believed to be components of a methamphetamine manufacturing operation.

Members of the Major Crimes Unit and Sheriff’s Interdiction Unit also responded to the scene and confirmed the items to be from a methamphetamine laboratory.

A total of three one-pot methamphetamine manufacturing reaction vessels, nine HCL acid gas generators, and numerous other components were located and neutralized, according to HCSO.

Further investigation and the discovery of a receipt located at the scene led MCU and SIU detectives to a Laurelville residence belonging to Mark E. Shively, who was arrested and transported to Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail.


At the residence, detectives uncovered a very large methamphetamine manufacturing and narcotics distribution operation that was allegedly being operated by Shively.

Over 150 baggies of methamphetamine, most of which were weighed out and packaged for sale, were found during the search, as well as a large amount of liquid methamphetamine and some crack cocaine.

Shively also was allegedly cultivating marijuana inside the residence and detectives located and seized a large amount of marijuana packaged for sale.

Also seized were numerous firearms, including an illegal sawed-off shotgun, and $572 in currency. Detectives also located bank records that indicate that Shively has a large sum of money in his bank accounts. Due to the fact that Shively is receiving disability and has no means for the amount of money in the bank account, detectives placed a hold on all of his accounts for possible forfeiture.

Numerous tips had been received about Mr. Shively selling narcotics, however, we were unaware that he was manufacturing and distributing methamphetamine on a scale this large,” said Hocking County Sheriff Lanny North. “After last night’s operation, we feel that we have shut down one of the areas largest methamphetamine dealers.”

Shively was arraigned Tuesday and remains incarcerated in SEORJ with a split bond of $250,000 recognizance and $250,000 cash or surety.

He is charged with having weapons while under disability, a third-degree felony; illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacturing of methamphetamine, third-degree felony; two counts of possession of drugs, fifth-degree felonies; and illegal manufacture of drugs, second-degree felony.

“We want to thank the public for submitting the tips and information on Mr. Shively,” said Eric Brown, Major Crimes Unit Commander. “We feel that Mr. Shively was an upper level narcotics distributor for the area. The seized methamphetamine alone has an approximate street value of over $5,000.”

Other conditions of the bond include no drugs, alcohol or paraphernalia; must submit to all screenings; and must pay for and wear and GPS monitoring system, if released from jail.

According to HCSO, numerous additional charges are expected to be presented to the Hocking County Grand Jury at a later date.




LUBBOCK, TexasSeven Mexican cartels are operating command and control networks in Texas, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). A recent data release by the DPS reports:methCartel

Mexican cartels are the most significant organized crime threat to Texas, with seven of the eight cartels operating command and control networks in the state, moving drugs and people into the United States, and transporting cash, weapons and stolen vehicles back to Mexico. In short, an unsecure U.S.-Mexico border is a state and national security problem.

Breitbart Texas previously reported on aspects of the DPS report. A long list of crimes against individuals and property, in addition to serious instances of cartel-related public corruption along the Texas-Mexico border were detailed.

Other DPS data reveal the names of the cartels with significant operational networks in the state. The Juarez cartel, La Familia Michoacana, the Gulf cartel, the Sinaloa Federation, the Beltran Leyva organization, the Zetas, and the Knight Templar are all listed.

Texas is currently experiencing a shale oil boom, following a similar boom occurring in the Bakken region in the northern United States. That region began experiencing an increase in methamphetamine usage as oil workers poured in with expendable income. Texas’ Permian Basin Shale oil boom has seen an increase in oil workers and similar patterns in the methamphetamine market emerged. Mexican cartels retain heavy control over methamphetamine in the U.S. and the Texas market has Mexican cartels competing for dominance.




Chances are high that the local crimes you read about in the newspaper — robbery, assault, theft — have a common root in meth use.

That’s because the drug has evolved and is making a resurgence in Billings, local experts said Monday at a forum on methamphetamine held at the Billings Public Library.

“It’s making a huge, huge comeback,” said Rod Ostermiller, chief deputy for the U.S. Marshals Service.

The event, sponsored by the Montana Meth Project and Billings Gazette Communications, featured criminal justice and drug treatment officials as well as first lady Lisa Bullock and a spokesperson from the Montana Petroleum Association.

Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito called meth the top public safety threat in Billings for the way it fuels other, sometimes violent crime, reiterating comments made last month in a Gazette story on the drug.

Authorities have struggled to keep pace with the uptick in meth dealers, while the rise in use puts pressure on the criminal justice system and local drug treatment providers, panelists said.

What’s new this time around, they said, is that the meth found in Montana is being imported from out of state, from places like California and Mexico, and often trafficked into the Bakken oil region.

“It’s not the ‘trunk’ meth, it’s not the home-cooked stuff,” Twito said. “It’s the pure stuff.”

Adults more than teens are turning to the drug, known for its highly addictive properties, they said.

“We need to expand this ‘Not Even Once’ message,” said Montana Meth Project Executive Director Amy Rue, referring to the group campaign targeted at teens. “We need to extend the message to adults.”

Panelists offered a slew of statistics they said demonstrate the magnitude of meth use in Montana and Yellowstone County:

Twito, who recently began tracking crimes that are indirectly related to meth, said the drug plays a role in about half of all cases that pass through his office.

The amount of the drug seized through drug task force investigations doubled last year, Twito said. Law enforcement seized 116 guns, most of them illegal, during drug busts.

Ostermiller said federal officials can attribute more than half of the $8 million in annual detention costs for inmates in federal prison to meth-related crimes. An alarming number of federal inmates incarcerated due to meth are female, he added, saying that hasn’t been the case until the last few years.

The vast majority of individuals prosecuted by the county for meth possession are put on probation, Twito said. Nearly 2,000 individuals currently are on probation in the county, said district judge Mary Jane Knisely, the event’s moderator.

The influx of meth arrests has strained probation staff and the county’s several drug treatment courts.

But numbers alone don’t tell the whole story. Besides leading to other crimes, meth use breaks apart families, leading to a double-digit bump in Yellowstone County children referred to child protective services last year.

Even worse, it puts children of meth users at risk of using the drug themselves.

“This has a cyclical quality to it,” Ostermiller said. “I find that very disturbing.”

Malcolm Horn, clinical director at Rimrock Foundation, said her staff hears stories from patients who grew up around meth and began using at a young age.

“It’s not all that uncommon for a patient to talk about, their first time with meth was with my mom,” she said.

The panelists urged investment in prevention and treatment programs. Knisely said communities “cannot incarcerate ourselves out of the meth problem.”

Bullock, who serves on the Montana Meth Project board, emphasized the power of talking frankly with teens about meth use.

Oil companies operating in the Bakken oil fields also want to help eradicate the drug, said Montana Petroleum Assiociation spokeswoman Jessica Sena.

“This is a concern to us because our folks are employing people who have families who are living there,” she said.

Drug traffickers tend to target oil workers, who work long hours and often earn high wages, Sena said, adding that oil companies have “extremely stringent” hiring policies.

After the panel, Rue said the Montana Meth Project will remain vigilant in its messaging to Montana teens that meth can destroy their lives, families and communities. The organization screened its new commercial, which notes the drop in teen use in recent years, but says the drug has “evolved.”

“No one is above a relationship with someone who is on the drug or has been affected by it,” Rue said. “We all have a responsibility.”







A look at the effects of Methamphetamine use in Billings

Law enforcement officials and treatment providers are seeing an increase in meth use, a specter that fuels other crimes and brings devastation to the lives of addicts and those who fall victim to their sometimes violent and unpredictable behavior.

Methamphetamine is the No. 1 threat to public safety in Billings, according to Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito.

“I remember (meth) being bad in the late ’90s, but not like this,” he said.

This package of four stories looks at the far-reaching effects of methamphetamine use in Billings; how law enforcement officers, prosecutors and treatment providers are engaging the problem; and what life is like for a recovering addict.

Methamphetamine: ‘The No. 1 threat to public safety': Meth use fuels other kinds of crimes, and meth users can be violent, unpredictable and irrational, posing unique threats to officers and members of the community. According to investigators, methamphetamine appears to be a factor in several recent high-profile criminal cases.

Fighting the business of meth distribution: Meth distribution is a booming business. Law enforcement officials say breaking up dealers’ operations is critical in fighting meth use. Prosecutors and a member of Billings’ drug task force discuss battling meth dealers.

The importance and challenges of treating meth addiction: Treatment providers are seeing an increase in the number of people who need help for methamphetamine addiction — an affliction that is challenging to treat and devastating for families. Many myths persist about meth and the treatment for those addicted to meth.

Beating meth addiction: ‘All it took for me was that first time’: Recovering addict Brittney Boswell, 24, talks about the recovery process and the impact meth has had on her life.






A San Jose man was booked into the Jackson County Jail Saturday after police allegedly found more than four pounds of methamphetamine in his car outside Rogue River.

Francisco Alberto Beiza, 27, was pulled over near milepost 45 for a traffic violation just before noon Saturday, Oct. 4, according to an Oregon State Police news release. He had been heading northbound. The specific violation was not available, but OSP said the trooper searched the vehicle and found 4.5 pounds of methamphetamine concealed inside. The drugs have an estimated value of $60,000.

Beiza was arrested and lodged in the jail on charges of methamphetamine possession and distribution. He is no longer listed in the jail.




1412620627776DELTONA — Three people were arrested after an accidental 911 call over the weekend led Volusia County deputies to an active meth lab in Deltona.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office’s dispatcher who fielded the call at 12:31 a.m. Saturday started the phone call with the standard greeting: “911, where’s your emergency?”

No one on the other end responded, but the dispatcher could hear voices in the background. After some time, she realized she was hearing voices discuss drugs on the other end. The dispatcher left the phone line open for about 28 minutes as she continued to listen in on the conversation and relay what she was hearing to responding deputies.

At one point, the dispatcher noted that she could hear a bubbling sound as if something was cooking, deputies said.

Using cell phone location data, deputies were dispatched to 3281 Roland Drive. Deputies then traced the sound of the voices to a shed in the backyard. They peered through an open window in the shed and saw meth-making materials, deputies said.

Deputies reported they saw smoke billowing out of the shed, which likely indicated an active meth cook.

Deputies secured the three occupants and removed them from the shed for safety reasons while the Sheriff’s Office’s Clandestine Laboratory Response Team was dispatched to the scene to dismantle the meth lab. Narcotics agents also were dispatched to the shed to assist in the investigation.

The search of the shed turned up all of the makings of an active meth lab, including coffee filters, a butane torch, batteries, drain opener, plastic tubing, hypodermic needles, lithium strips, lighter fluid, plastic bags and numerous plastic bottles containing a white substance.

The three people who were arrested included two people who live at the house where the shed was located: Donna Knope, 55, and Jason Knope, 32. Thomas Stallings, 41, who lives elsewhere in Deltona, was also arrested.

All three were charged with manufacture of methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell or deliver. Both are felony offenses.

In addition, Thomas was charged with violating probation in connection to a prior robbery conviction.

All three defendants were transported to the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach.




The principal of the private Branson School in Ross was arrested Friday in a Sacramento-area hotel where Sacramento sheriff’s deputies found drugs and a 21-year-old woman passed out in bed.


Thomas Woodrow “Woody” Price, 54, of Ross, was arrested at the Hyatt Place Hotel in Rancho Cordova on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine for sale and possession of cocaine. He posted bail on Saturday and was released from the Sacramento County Jail, sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Ramos said. He resigned from the prep school following his arrest.

Ramos said the woman, identified as Brittney Hall of Elk Grove, also was arrested on the drug charges.

The sheriff’s office received a call shortly after noon from a man who said he was Hall’s boyfriend, Ramos said. The man asked deputies to check on his girlfriend who was at a hotel with an older man who was giving her drugs, Ramos said.

Price answered the hotel room door and deputies saw a woman unresponsive in bed, Ramos said. Price said the woman was all right but she did not respond until she was physically awakened.

Ramos said the quantity of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and prescription drugs in the room indicated they were being sold.

Price turned 54 the night before, and he told the deputies he and Hall had a “casual relationship,” Ramos said.

“He alluded to her as his girlfriend,” Ramos said.

Hall did not need medical attention and she and Price were booked in the Sacramento County Jail, Ramos said.

Officials at the Branson School in Ross did not return calls for comment late Monday afternoon. The independent, coed, college prep school has 320 students in grades 9-12.




Salton City, California – Saturday, El Centro Sector Border Patrol agents assigned to the Indio Station arrested a pair of suspected drug smugglers at a checkpoint after discovering two packages of methamphetamine hidden in the passengers clothing.

The incident occurred at approximately 6:00 p.m., when Border Patrol agents encountered a 62-year-old male driver, and his 32-year-old female passenger, in a gray 2012 Dodge Caravan at the Highway 86 checkpoint located near Salton City.

Agents referred the driver to the secondary inspection area for further inspection. During the inspection, a canine detection team alerted to the vehicle. The passenger of the vehicle admitted that she was carrying drugs hidden in her clothing. The agents searched the woman and subsequently discovered two packages of methamphetamine.

The methamphetamine had a combined weight of 1.08 pounds with an estimated street value of about $11,500.

The man, a U.S. permanent resident, the woman, a U.S. citizen, were turned over to the custody of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force (HIDTA) for further investigation.

HIDTA seized the vehicle and narcotics.



Methamphetamine may have played a role in the wreck that killed a woman and her 10-year-old son in August, according to an autopsy report released Friday by the El Paso County Coroner’s Office. w300-6477c35311397811e8c63862b017cca6

Kimberly Mears, 50, had 2090 nanograms/milliliter of methamphetamine and 180 ng/ml of amphetamine in her blood at the time of the Aug. 8 crash, according to a toxicology report by the Coroner’s Office.

The level of methamphetamine found in Mears’ blood, said Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Leon Kelly, indicates that she was impaired when she was driving.

“Any amount of methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin in a person’s system is going to be dangerous and will cause impairment,” Kelly told The Gazette on Monday. “The level of methamphetamine found in her system absolutely indicates that she had recently ingested the drug.”

Unlike marijuana and alcohol, Kelly said, there are no presumptive levels for meth, which is metabolized differently by each user.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, amphetamine can be used medically in the treatment of narcolepsy or attention deficit disorder, but Kelly said there is no way to obtain a prescription for methamphetamine.

Meth only exists in illicit form; you can’t get a prescription for it,” he said. “If it’s in your system, you did it illegally, period. Amphetamine can be prescribed for a number of conditions, but meth is an illegal substance that’s dangerous and potentially deadly.”

A small plastic bag containing white powdery residue was found inside Mears’ bra and was retained as evidence, according the report. Colorado Springs police did not provide information on whether the residue was tested and identified.

Mears and her 10-year-old son, Raley Mears, were in a Ford Mustang when it slammed into a Dodge pickup at Marksheffel and Bradley roads.


The Mustang was traveling west on Bradley Road when it ran through the intersection and T-boned the truck, which was southbound on Marksheffel Road. The collision sent the pickup careening into a signal pole.

In the days after the crash, concerns were raised about the traffic lights at the intersection, and city officials have been investigating whether the lights were operating correctly at the time.

The lights were “not operating normally around the time of the accident,” according to a preliminary review of the signal controller’s log, Kathleen Krager, Colorado Springs’ senior traffic engineer, said in August in a statement through a city spokeswoman.

The cause of the malfunction remained under investigation, the statement said, though the city did not clarify whether it happened before or after the crash.

The intersection was annexed to Colorado Springs in 2006, and traffic lights were installed at the intersection to reduce crashes, city officials said.

The traffic lights operate as “rest on red” signals, which means the lights in all four directions remain red until a car approaches the intersection, city officials said.

Despite concerns about the lights, city traffic management officials said in August that the light pattern was the best way to keep drivers safe.

Joan Lucia-Treese, vice chair of the El Paso County Highway Advisory Commission, told The Gazette in August that at least 15 people who live in the area have expressed concerns over timing issues with the intersection’s signals, as well as excessive speeds on Marksheffel Road during the last two years.

The signals on Bradley Road appear to often prematurely turn red whenever motorists approach on Marksheffel Road, Lucia-Treese said. As a result, motorists on Bradley Road often risk blowing through a red light.

There was no update available Monday from traffic management officials on the investigation in relation to the crash.





With most methamphetamine supplies entering the United States through California, authorities plan to create a task force aimed at combating the spread of the

Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris announced plans Monday to form a Los Angeles-based anti-methamphetamine team to investigate illegal activities stemming from the manufacture and distribution of the drug.

Authorities said 70% of methamphetamine enters the U.S. through the San Diego Port of Entry.

“Transnational criminal organizations have made California the largest point of entry for methamphetamine into the United States,” Harris said in a statement.

Funded by a $1-million federal grant, six special agents will work with members of the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force.

The new team is one of at least 18 California Department of Justice task forces focused on investigating major crimes, including drug trafficking.

Meth entering U.S. mainly through California, report saysLocalMeth entering U.S. mainly through California, report says.

In a 98-page report released in March by Harris, authorities found a surge of methamphetamine was being smuggled across the California-Mexico border.

Methamphetamine seizures at San Diego ports had tripled between 2009 and 2013 to more than 13,200 pounds.




A former high school youth worker was sentenced Monday in P.E.I. Supreme Court to serve 5 ½ years in a federal correctional facility for sexual offences involving girls under the age of 18, drug trafficking and breach of an undertaking.

Supreme Court Justice Gordon Campbell sentenced Arthur Francis McGuigan to terms of 1.5 years on each of two charges of sexual exploitation.

Those two sentences will run concurrently.

Campbell sentenced the accused to a further 1.5 years in prison, consecutive to all other sentences, for luring a person under 18.

Trafficking in methamphetamine earned McGuigan a further two years behind bars, again consecutive to all other sentences.

He received an additional six months, again consecutive, for breaching an undertaking by having contact with female persons under the age of 18.

The Crown had asked for a total of seven years.

Defense counsel suggested that sentence was too severe for someone with no prior criminal record.



5031101_GWORTH CO., GA (WALB) – A Worth County man is being treated for serious burns investigators say he suffered while making meth.

One other person was injured in that explosion.

Three people are in jail tonight.

Sheriff Jeff Hobby says meth is a serious problem in Worth County and now some of those contributing to that problem are behind bars.

Worth County authorities say that two people have been burned in what appears to be a Meth-making operation in the county.

Worth County Drug Investigators were called to the house at 131 Oakland Heights Road because of a explosion Friday night around 8:30 p.m.

“The call came in as a propane tank blew up,” said Sheriff Jeff Hobby.

During further investigation, it was determined it was a meth explosion. Six people who were renting the home were inside.


“They went to several drug stores here in the immediate areas, Albany, Sylvester, and Tifton and bought the precursors to make the chemicals to make the meth,”

Stephen Bedford, Terri Young and Mary Lawson were arrested and charged with manufacturing meth.

Neighbor Justin Beasley smelled the chemicals from his house. “My aunt was worried about it cause she didn’t know if they smell was going to hurt the kids’ lungs,” said Beasley.

He says he saw law enforcement shortly after the explosion. “They were lined up to about back there about halfway down the drive way,”

Beasley says he was over at the house but had no knowledge of meth being made inside the home at the time.

“They came over to question me, I guess they say I was over there. When it exploded I left. I didn’t know about it, we were over their playing cards,” said Beasley.

Two others inside the home received burns from the explosion. James Stoyle is being treated at the Augusta Burn Center for 40 percent burns on his body. Joshua Coxwell is recovering at home. Warrants are pending and they will be charged when they are well enough.


“This is a perfect example that people can get themselves hurt very bad without not counting the consequences of using the stuff” said Sheriff Hobby.

Sheriff Hobby says they are looking for one more person in connection to the meth explosion. He says the house will need to be condemned before anyone can go inside.

Lawson, Bedford, and Young traveled to Tifton where they were spotted by Tifton Police and brought back for arrest by Worth County deputies.

The Sheriff says the investigation is ongoing and right now it looks as of they meth was being made for personal use.




CLEARFIELD, CLEARFIELD COUNTY – People in one community were evacuated from their homes after a meth lab was discovered.

Suspected Meth Lab Forces Evacuations

Folks in the Leonard Grade complex at 501 East Market Street in Clearfield were evacuated after a suspected meth lab was discovered in the building.

It started Monday afternoon when parole officers identified what they thought was a meth lab. Now the attorney general’s officer and their clandestine lab are investigating.

The building has six to eight apartments and several businesses. The District Attorney says it is an ongoing investigation so they are not releasing the suspect’s name. But they believe that suspect was making methamphetamine in the building.

D. A. Bill Shaw says methamphetamine operations happen a lot in this part of the state, that’s why its crucial police can identify them and shut them down to keep people safe. He says it’s disappointing that they’re in Clearfield, but he’s glad his officers found it.

People were evacuated from the building while police are investigating. But Shaw doesn’t want to scare people in the area he says it is standard operating procedure to keep people safe.




DESPERATE meth cooks are storing their own urine and failed batches of cooked chemicals as they try to get their next hit.  662074-b71e8bf0-4a87-11e4-930e-e515789c51be

Drug detectives have told The Courier-Mail they are busting a record amount of meth labs in Queensland but rarely find drugs because addicts are getting high within hours of a cook.

The state’s synthetic drug operations team Detective Senior Sergeant Geoff Marsh said police found litres of “reaction waste”, from failed cooks, during busts.

“They don’t throw it out because as their degree of skill increases they’ll revisit that reaction waste and they’ll commence the chemical processes again to try to extract the drug from the waste,” he said.

“I have found criminals who have stored their urine to extract the methamphetamine from their urine. I have seen about a dozen labs like this.

Many times as little as a gram or two would be cooked up with a portion sold.

“A gram of speed gives you 10 hits,” Snr Sgt Marsh said.

“The majority of time we find a lab, we don’t find any drugs.

“These labs we find are addiction based.”

Despite legislative restrictions on buying chemicals and other materials, meth cooks still found ways to produce methamphetamines, with prices and availability virtually unchanged in the past decade.

Drug cooks are using everything from fuel cans, light bulbs, plumbing tape and fertiliser to make their drugs which takes about eight hours.

Snr Sgt Marsh said cooks were trying to make their own hypophosphorous acid for the cook which they could get from fertiliser (phosphate).

“They are adding to it hydrochloric acid and they are making a 30 per cent hypophosphours acid.

“They are becoming more experimental to achieve the result.”

Police busted 340 labs in 2013-14, slightly higher from the previous year. The busts continued to be much higher than other states.

Snr Sgt Marsh said almost all of the methamphetamine produced in labs in Queensland was in a form that was injected.

Crystal methamphetamine or “ice”, oh high purity up to 80 per cent and usually smoked, was seized in Queensland but rarely made here.

It is usually sourced from overseas and sent to Sydney and Melbourne ports.


“Most of our jobs, when we move far enough up the chain it always goes interstate,” he said.

Purities varied but by the time it reached Queensland it may be 19-20 per cent, Snr Sgt Marsh said.

“The purity off the home cook should be anywhere from 61 to 67 per cent to 79 per cent,” he said.

“Sometimes we make purchases that are in the single digits of purity, because people want to make money out of it.

He said some cooks cut and cooked meth with dietary supplement MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) to fool users into believing it was ice, as it still formed crystals when cooked down with acetone.

“It looks like ice and they can sell it as ice.”

He said cooks needed laboratories if they wanted to produce ice.

“You couldn’t achieve that in a garage,” he said.

“We’re talking temperature control, atmospheres, the quality of the precursor needs to be good quality.”

Drug cooks moving between locations for a batch made it harder to bust them, but more than 400 general duty police are now trained in identifying labs as a result.

“They can be put together and dismantled in a period of four to five hours,” he said.

“When I was at Nundah CIB back in the early 90s I walked over a lot of stuff, I walked over labs to get to the bong.”

Snr Sgt Marsh said strong acids and bases created fumes which were highly flammable and it was fortunate nobody had been killed in Queensland.

“The environment is saturated with methylated spirits at one time … with acetone at another time. Small spark, bang.”

Meth threat is crystal clear

Queensland meth labs are being busted almost every day, with a new warning from police the drug is a “fast mark” and the greatest threat to the state.

Police uncovered 340 labs in 2013-14 as frontline officers faced violent and erratic behaviour from drug users every day.

Detectives say new methods are being used to make the drugs and meth cooks are moving to houseboats and hinterland properties to hide their game.

“Ice” or crystal methamphetamine — a higher purity form of the drug that is smoked — is becoming a drug of choice despite it being sourced from interstate.

The Crime and Corruption Commission has warned methamphetamines are the drug causing the greatest threat to Queensland due to market size and “entrenched presence” of organized crime.

In one operation, codenamed Lithium, police smashed a Queensland-based syndicate allegedly responsible for distributing ContacNT, which can be used to extract pseudoephedrine, which is used in making methamphetamine.

In a separate case a Gold Coast man living in a seniors’ home, Robert Turnbull, 62, is facing charges relating to precursors and equipment needed to make the drug.

He was kicked out of the home but told police he underwent bowel cancer surgery this year and claimed the boxes belonged to someone else.

Detective Superintendent Jim Keogh said people saw meth as a “fast mark” because of its availability and ease of making.

“It is certainly at this stage the greatest threat we see drug-wise in the community,” he said.

“The threat based on meth is brought about by the capacity of the person to look on the internet and produce it.”

Police say they are amazed no one has died in Queensland trying to cook the drug using volatile chemicals.

In the most dangerous case in the state, a man received 80 per cent burns to his body after a meth lab explosion in a garage in Robina on the Gold Coast in September.

“The explosion blew the door straight off, it’s a wonder he didn’t blow his head off,” Supt Keogh said.

Two patients at a hospital almost died in emergency after taking a bad batch of ice, according to police.

One man was found wandering naked with tubes hanging out of him and nurses and security were unable to detain him.

He was locked in a unit but shouldered the door off a hinge and staff used a battering ram to hold him down.

Police found about 40 per cent of the nation’s labs in Queensland last year.

Drug Squad synthetic operations team Detective Senior Sergeant Geoff Marsh said almost all meth produced in Queensland labs was “addiction-based” and made in a form that was injected.

Crystal methamphetamine or “ice”, a drug of high purity up to 80 per cent and usually smoked, was seized in Queensland but rarely made here.

It is usually sourced from overseas and arrived via Sydney and Melbourne ports.

Snr Sgt Marsh said the dietary supplement MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) was sometimes cut with meth to fool users into believing it was ice.

He said cooks needed laboratories with temperature controls and quality precursors if they wanted to produce ice.

Figures released by the government show drug support services gave help on 64,800 instances — or 175 a day — relating to amphetamine use in Queensland in 2013.

Of the 29,000 who gave a specific type of drug they took, 91 per cent related to meth or crystal meth — the breakdown 50 per cent crystal meth and 41 per cent meth.

The department said an increase in the use of ice was observed in Queensland in 2013.

National trends show ice use more than doubled from 22 per cent in 2010 to 50 per cent in 2013.

Princess Alexandra Hospital emergency physician and clinical toxicologist Dr Colin Page said his unit dealt with people who had overdosed on drugs each week but meth was a lesser problem than alcohol.

“It’s probably true we are seeing a little bit more methamphetamine,” he said.

“Their whole life is often driven by their search to buy or acquire these drugs.

“Criminal activities, prostitution, they steal … to buy these drugs.”

Like dealing with the mentally ill’

Capsicum spray doesn’t work, up to eight officers need to restrain them, mothers with children “dispose” of their needles in their cars.

Frontline police say they are dealing with people high on meth who are violent, erratic and dazed every day.

“It is a drug I believe is out of control,” Rapid Action Patrol Group Constable Sean Swain said.

“I’ve seen ice users go off on it. You can’t reason with them. It’s like dealing with a mentally ill person.”

In one case a man at Broadbeach climbed around the outside of a building, moving from the 15th floor to the 10th floor.

“In his head he believed he was being chased by someone trying to hurt him,” Constable Swain said.

“Unfortunately he plunged to his death. That was witnessed by police.”


In a separate incident two officers tried to restrain a naked man “as strong as 10 men” in Broadbeach who was walking along a street.

Police tasered him and used ­capsicum spray but were unable to restrain him. “Because he was naked and sweating so profusely they couldn’t hold him,” Constable Swain said.

“He was that big we had to use two sets of handcuffs to cuff him.”

Once inside a cell they placed a sheet over him and held him like an animal in a “wildlife video”.

“That’s pretty much what we had to do when we were removing cuffs, we were all racing for the door,” he said.

In a separate case police found 29 used syringes in a mother’s car.

She was throwing those needles around like they were confetti,” Constable Swain said. “There were ­colouring-in books and toys in the car. You just shake your head in disbelief that a child is being driven around in this vehicle with this many needles.”

He said people using the drugs came from “all walks of life”.

“We find ice pipes under their driver’s seat, they come clean and say ‘my family doesn’t even know I’m on it, I was introduced to it by a friend and now I can’t get off it’.

“You just hear this hard luck story of how this person who has a normal job, normal family, nothing out of the ordinary, but somehow has got in contact with this meth and can’t get off it.”





The Washington County Juvenile Department is continuing to sponsor outings for youth offenders, according to officials, nearly three weeks after a 17-year-old boy allegedly raped a woman after slipping away during a department-sponsored trip to a Ducks game at the University of Oregon.

Speaking for the first time since the Sept. 13 incident, Juvenile Department Director Lynne Schroeder described the practice as a vital tool to help disenfranchised children overcome the problems that led them to crime in the first place.

“You have to provide opportunities for kids to gain skills, to make contributions and start being community members,” she said in an interview with The Oregonian. “Some of these kids have never been out of the communities where they live.”

Schroeder was careful not to discuss the Eugene incident specifically, citing state privacy laws and an ongoing criminal investigation. Rather, she offered more detail about the activities and goals of such trips, as well as data showing Washington County’s youth recidivism rate as lower than the statewide average.

Generally, Schroeder said, teens on outings to college campuses will visit the admissions office to learn about the process of getting into college. She wouldn’t confirm whether Jaime Tinoco, the teenager accused of sexually assaulting a 39-year-old woman, had done so the day he slipped away.

“When we do take kids to events and colleges, there’s a number of them that come away and say ‘what does it take to go it college? I want to figure this out,'” Schroeder said. “Many of them don’t have family members that have been to college. So it’s not something that’s been presented to them.”

Other activities have included trips to the coast, playing soccer and working on various community service projects, she said.

“Most juvenile departments in the state have embraced this ethics model of addressing the crime-driving behavior,” Schroeder said. “Most engage in involving kids in pro-social activities and providing other opportunities. That’s not a distinct function.”

County spokeswoman Julie McCloud said an administrative review of the incident will not begin until after court proceedings have concluded, and will evaluate whether supervisors were appropriately supervising Tinoco and other youth on the trip. The outings themselves will continue as planned, she said.

Tinoco, who is being prosecuted as an adult, pleaded not guilty to first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree sexual abuse and second-degree assault during his arraignment in Lane County Juvenile Court. He is being held in the county’s juvenile detention center, and is next scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 22.

At the time of his arrest, Tinoco had been on supervised probation in Washington County following convictions for burglary, unlawful possession of methamphetamine and harassment.

On Tuesday, Washington County Commissioners are scheduled to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the Oregon Department of Human Services, one of the first steps toward receiving as much as $2.4 million in federal reimbursement dollars to “reduce Juvenile delinquency, increase offender accountability, and rehabilitate juvenile offenders through a comprehensive, coordinated, community-based Juvenile probation system,” according to county administrative documents.

The federal entitlement program, provided under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, is aimed at helping state and local child welfare services to reduce youth incarceration and recidivism rates.

Schroeder said several counties have long been working with the state Department of Human Services to secure the funding, which reimburse county staff for time spent coaching at-risk youth.

Washington County has consistently reported a greater percentage of success with youth than the statewide average since 2002 — that is, fewer being returned for subsequent offenses — which officials cite as evidence of the department’s effectiveness. In 2011, 74 percent of Washington youth who had completed their probation programs were not referred back to the department within the next year. Oregon as a whole had a 71.5 success rate that same year.

A Multnomah County judge assembled a task force to reevaluate the state’s juvenile justice system last month in response to FBI data showing Oregon has the second highest youth drug arrest rate in the nation and 12th highest youth property arrest rate.

“These are disenfranchised kids and they’re going to continue to offend if they stay disenfranchised,” Schroeder said. “It’s the whole picture, and then that we have to keep evaluating how we’re doing.”

But, she added: “Of course we’re not 100 percent successful. There’s things we don’t know until we know them.”



A Rome woman and man were arrested at a convenience store Sunday on drug charges, according to Floyd County Jail records.


According to jail records:

Amanda Lynn Dempsey, 33, and Lawrence Lawson Carroll, 39 — both of 39 Pierce Hill Road — were arrested during a traffic stop at the Kingston Highway Quickmart, 1994 Kingston Highway, by Floyd County police officers.

Police originally stopped Carroll in his vehicle for a busted windshield, but when they searched the vehicle, officers found a bag of suspected methamphetamine.

Officers also found several needles used to administer the drug and empty bags with suspected methamphetamine residue.

Carroll and Dempsey were each charged with felony possession of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and misdemeanor possession of drug-related objects.


Carroll was also charged with a misdemeanor cracked windshield violation.

No bond was set for the duo.



Family became sick months after spending thousands of dollars remodeling home

HOUSTON – Thousands of Americans have unknowingly bought or rented homes contaminated with toxic meth, but there are some simple steps you can take to avoid an expensive and dangerous home-buying mistake.

Jennifer Nugent and her husband spent thousands of dollars remodeling a home before moving in with their three children. A few months later, they began getting sick.

“I feel like I put them in harm’s way more so than I ever could have just staying where we were. I regret moving so bad. It just got to a point where we couldn’t stay well,” Nugent said.

Nugent’s concern turned to panic when her new neighbors shared some disturbing news: The home’s former owner was a meth user.

Nugent immediately had her home tested and results confirmed high levels of contamination.

“That’s when we knew it was bad and I was so grateful we did not return,” she said.

The Nugents moved out and are now working with a certified company on the cleanup.

When making or smoking meth, nothing escapes contamination. A string of toxic chemicals saturates carpets, walls, duct work, ceilings and furniture, forcing cleanup crews to throw away just about everything. Exposure to even small amounts of those poisons can cause serious health issues.

Rick Held, a certified meth inspector, explained how his company is helping.

“If you just think mold’s bad, know meth is worse. We’re trying to put the family back together by putting the house back together,” Held said.

Law enforcement agencies discovered more than 11,000 meth labs across the country last year, but that represents only a fraction of the number of homes where meth is made or used.

Angie Hicks from Angie’s List said this is not just a rural home problem.

“You can find them in suburban lovely homes to million-dollar penthouses. So you want to be aware of the dangers of a home that’s had a meth lab in it and be sure that you’re doing all of your research before buying,” she said.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Hicks recommends you talk to neighbors before you buy.

“Knock on doors. Introduce yourself as looking at the house down the street and find out what you can. You’ll be amazed at the information they may be able to provide you,” Hicks said.

If you’re house-hunting, consider purchasing a meth test kit. It costs about $50. The cost of decontamination is much higher.

Check with the local police department for any arrests at the address and contact the health department to see if the home is listed on any reports with the agency.

The U.S. Justice Department maintains a list of known meth houses. You can search the list when you’re house-hunting. The list is limited and should not be relied on as the only source for information.


You can search the database here. Click here to view the Nationwide Methamphetamine Incidents 2014 report.





KALAMAZOO, MI — A Kalamazoo man, who federal investigators say was the leader in a crystal methamphetamine trafficking operation with ties to Mexican drug cartels, has been found guilty of multiple federal offenses.


On Thursday, a jury found Francis Damien Block, 45, guilty of one count of conspiracy to distribute at least 50 grams of methamphetamine, one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver at least 50 grams of meth and one count of possession with intent to distribute at least 50 grams of meth, according to court documents. Block was also found guilty of conspiracy to tamper with a witness through intimidation or threats and witness tampering through corrupt persuasion.

The trial began Monday at U.S. District Court in Kalamazoo, during which Block’s co-conspirators, Jeffrey Starrett and Michael Head, testified against him.

According to court documents, Kalamazoo Public Safety’s drug unit, Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team (KVET), has been investigating the methamphetamine trafficking operation for several years. In January 2013, KVET officers executed a search warrant at Block’s home in Cooper Township and seized meth lab components, $29,800 in cash and multiple firearms. Later that year, investigators learned from confidential informants that Block had ties with meth suppliers linked to Mexican cartels, according to the prosecution’s trial brief.

KVET officers then began surveillance on Block’s vehicles and saw him making brief trips to and from several venues in and around Kalamazoo, documents show.

“The brevity of the trips and the travels patterns appeared to officers to be indicative of drug trafficking,” wrote U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles Jr.

On Oct. 8, 2013, using an informant, officers conducted a controlled buy of 56 grams of crystal meth from Block, documents show. About a week later, a police informant bought another 56 grams from Block. On Oct. 23, 2013, Block was arrested, when he brought 112 grams of crystal meth in a Taco Bell bag to another controlled buy with officers.

Officers used digital audio recording devices to record the drug deals between Block and police to use as evidence against him.

Police then obtained search warrants for a home on North Arlington Street and a Stadium Drive storage unit, leased to one of Block’s co-conspirators. At the home, police found more than a pound of crystal meth, handwritten drug ledgers and about $20,000 in cash, documents show. At the storage unit, officers seized nine pounds of crystal meth and a pill bottle, bearing Block’s name.

According to the prosecution’s trial brief, Block admitted to being a meth dealer in an interview with investigators. On Nov. 7, 2013 a grand jury indicted Block, along with co-defendants Jeffrey Starrett and Michael Head. Head and Starrett both reached plea deals, which required them to testify against Block during his trial.

Court documents allege that in February 2014, officers discovered that Block was calling friends and family telling them to contact witnesses that were expected to testify against Block. Police say Block told friends and family to collect drug debts owed to Block and post bond for Block’s fellow inmate, who had agreed to intimidate and threaten potential witnesses.

These conversations from jail were recorded by police and were used as evidence against Block during trial, court documents show. During the trial, the prosecution also showed the jury more than four kilograms of seized crystal meth.

Crystal methamphetamine or ICE is high quality and extremely pure, according to KVET Captain David Boysen.

One-pot meth labs, in which people use household ingredients to produce the drug, have plagued the Kalamazoo-area for years. But recently there has been a high demand in Southwest Michigan for meth with more purity, like that which is produced in Mexican super labs, Boysen said.

“We took down a large organization that was shipping multiple pounds of ICE from Mexico. The product was moving very well, because it was in high demand,” Boysen said. “This shut down a huge source of meth in this area for years.”

Block is scheduled to be sentenced on January 20, 2015 at U.S. District Court in Kalamazoo. He faces up to life in prison and a $10 million fine.




COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, MI– Several “one potmethamphetamine labs discovered during the execution of a search warrant have led to the arrest of a Kalamazoo resident.

Several meth labs were discovered, authorities say.

At 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5 sheriff’s deputies and officers from the Portage Department of Public Safety searched a home in the 5600 block of East Michigan Avenue, and found the labs, methamphetamine and components used in its manufacture, according to a news release from the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office.

The person in the home, whose age and gender were not identified, was arrested and faces multiple charges.





PEKIN – Federal charges, and the harsher prison terms they carry, now confront two Tazewell County men who were caught allegedly running a meth-making business out of an East Peoria home in August.James Webb, Jason Begeman, Jacob

One day after James Webb of East Peoria and Jason Begeman of Pekin were charged with conspiracy to manufacture the highly addictive drug, Jacob Reagan of rural Manito pleaded guilty to the charge in a separate case last week.

In yet a third meth-related case prosecuted in federal court, Stacy Maneno was ordered Thursday to stand trial Dec. 15, nearly two years after she was charged with taking part in a methamphetamine conspiracy while working as a Pekin city custodian assigned to police headquarters.

Their cases are all the product of Operation Copperhead, now deep into its third year of assault on meth in Tazewell, Mason and Fulton counties through local and state police investigations and federal prosecutions.

While many defendants who supply meth-makers with the prime ingredient for the drug by purchasing cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) have been prosecuted in state courts, conspiracy leaders have found themselves in Peoria’s U.S. District Court.

That was the case last Tuesday with Webb, 48, and Begeman, 32, who were arrested with four others in a Copperhead raid Aug. 14 at Webb’s home at 339 Matheny Road in rural East Peoria.

Both face up to life in federal prison if convicted due to their prior drug-related convictions in state courts. Begeman’s total sentences in his state cases since 2000 totaled 22 1/2 years. Webb received 13 years in two cases.

Bryan McCoy, 29, of East Peoria, was sentenced last week to 48 months’ probation after pleading guilty to supplying PSE. State prosecutions continue against the three other people arrested in the raid at Webb’s home, where police allegedly found meth and remnants of the lab used to make it in a burn barrel outside the residence.

Reagan, 33, became the third of six people charged in his meth conspiracy case to plead guilty, joining Aaron Perkins, 26, also of rural Manito, and Kyle Sebree, 23, of Pekin.

He indicated in his court appearance that he hopes to lower the minimum 10-year term he faces when sentenced Jan. 28 by cooperating in the prosecution of the three alleged fellow conspirators in his case still awaiting trial — John Reagan and Timothy Grens, both 40 of Pekin, and Courtney Sykes, 23, of rural Manito.

Maneno, 39, of Pekin, has been permitted to remain free on bond since her federal case began in January 2013. A pretrial court appearance was set last week for Nov. 20.

She is accused of using her custodian position to obtain information within the Pekin Police Department on investigations of other Copperhead meth suspects, including her former husband, while taking part in a separate meth conspiracy.