Comments Off on Melissa Lynn Woolley, 35, of East Bangor, a mother of 2, found with handgun, Methamphetamine, heroin and prescription drugs during raid

A Slate Belt mother of two is facing drug charges after police seized methamphetamine, heroin and prescription pills in a drug raid at her home.

Charged is 35-year-old Melissa Lynn Woolley, of the 300 block of South Broad Street in East Bangor. Court records indicate Woolley is the mother of 2-year-old and 9-year-old boys. It’s unclear if the children were home at the time of the raid.

Police said people in the past were using drugs in Woolley’s home where the boys live.

Members of the Northampton County Drug Task Force and East Bangor police at 7:24 p.m. Monday called out, “search warrant” three times over a loudspeaker as they approached Woolley’s home.

Seized from Woolley’s bedroom were an undisclosed quantity of heroin, methamphetamine, hundreds of glassine packets, numerous plastic bags in various colors, empty capsules, 600 rubber bands, cut straws, syringes and a rubber ink stamp.

Police also found a Ruger 22-caliber pistol registered to a man, six cellphones, three bottles of prescription pills used to treat nerve pain, and a notebook listing prices for full and half bricks of heroin.

Woolley is charged with three counts heroin possession, three counts methamphetamine possession, eight counts possession of drug paraphernalia and two counts reckless endangerment.

Woolley was arraigned before District Judge Roy Manwaring, who set bail at $50,000. In lieu of bail, Woolley was taken to Northampton County Prison.


Comments Off on Springfield Police stop 14 pounds of Methamphetamine mailed to southwest Missouri in protein jugs; Matthew G. Winfrey and Adam J. Bogema, arrested

Two men are facing federal charges in California for allegedly mailing large quantities of meth to southwest Missouri disguised as workout supplements.

Matthew G. Winfrey and Adam J. Bogema were indicted on Sept. 21 for conspiracy to distribute meth after authorities say they put at least 24 pounds of meth into the mail in California this year, a portion of which was bound for Missouri.

The indictment says Winfrey, who goes by “Dice,” and Bogema, who goes by “Cadillac,” would mail the meth from California to Missouri or Arkansas, where Winfrey would then collect it and distribute it.

The indictment lists six different times in the month of February that the men tried to mail meth from post offices in southern California.

Don Ledford, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, said Winfrey was at the federal courthouse in Springfield last week where a judge transferred his case to a district in California.

A March search warrant from the Springfield Police Department provides additional details about the case.

The warrant gave police access to Winfrey’s home in the 600 block of South Long Drive in west Springfield where they allegedly found meth, cash and a gun.

On Feb. 19, according to the warrant application, a Springfield police officer found a suspicious package at a commercial parcel sorting complex.

The package, which was being sent from Riverside, California to a home in the 100 block of West Cline Street in Aurora, had clear tape covering all the seams, according to the warrant.

Authorities allegedly tried to deliver the package to the address in Aurora, but no one was home.

Investigators then opened the package and found a plastic whey protein bottle that was “filled to the top” with 4 pounds of meth, the warrant says.

Police connected the address in Aurora and a home in the 600 South Long Drive to Winfrey, the warrant says.

On Feb. 25, a postal inspector in California allegedly stopped two more packages — one bound for the address on Cline Street in Aurora, and the other bound for the address on Long Drive in Springfield.

The warrant says each of those packages contained whey protein bottles filled with 5 pounds of meth.

Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for the Springfield Police Department, said the department’s narcotics investigators have been seizing more drugs in the mail this year than in years past, although the department does not have specific numbers for how much product has been found by searching packages in the mail.

Police declined to comment on why they are finding more drugs in the mail.

Cox said Springfield Police Department investigators seized more than 41 pounds of meth this year through Aug. 31, and a portion of that total was found in the mail.

Last year, Springfield police seized a total of 73 pounds of meth — which is more than they found in the previous three years combined.


Comments Off on Gatot Brajamusti admits to having sex party with a number of women simultaneously in Jakarta, arrested for Methamphetamine possession at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Mataram

Jakarta Police claim that Gatot Brajamusti, who has been accused of being involved in a number of crimes, admitted to investigators that he had a sex party with a number of women.

“He (Gatot) told the police that he used to have sex with a number of women who one by one entered his room,” said Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Corm. Awi Setiyono said in Jakarta on Thursday as reported by

Alwi did not explain when the sex party occurred.2016_08_28_10653_1472369300__large

Alwi said Gatot also confirmed a statement made by his wife, who claimed he used to have a sex with a number of women simultaneously.

Gatot was arrested during a raid at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, on Aug. 28 for possession of crystal methamphetamine. Four other people were inside the room at the time of arrest, including Gatot’s wife, DA.

Awi also claimed Gatot made another confession about consuming crystal methamphetamine, locally known as sabu sabu, before he had sex with the women.

The case started when a woman reported Gatot to Jakarta Police, claiming she was raped by Gatot when she was 16 years old. Another woman was reported to have made a similar accusation. She allegedly told the police she was forced to consume crystal meth before she was raped.

Awi said the police had questioned nine women, including entertainers Elma Theana and Reza Artamevia, in connection with the case.


Comments Off on Guelph’s Methamphetamine, crack, and heroin problem

Illegal drugs that provide an ecstatic rush, at least on the first try, have been growing in popularity in Guelph in recent years, as they have in many communities in southwestern Ontario, the leader of the Guelph Police drug unit said this week.

Enhanced drug enforcement last year helped stem the tide of mounting crystal methamphetamine and crack cocaine use, said Det. Sgt. Ben Bair.

Well over 20 arrests of traffickers – most of them convicted – disrupted the crystal meth supply chain, he indicated. But demand remains high, and other dealers have swooped in to meet it.

Bair said there are no known crystal meth labs manufacturing the drug in Guelph, although there have been rumors of them. Those rumors didn’t pan out upon investigation.

Typically, when the supply of one drug is hampered, prices go up and users will seek alternative drugs to get high on. Bair said there has been an increase in heroin use in the city. The drug is noted for being unpredictable, and sometimes lethal.

“We’ve had a significant increase in crystal meth in the city,” Bair said, adding that London, Kitchener, and Hamilton also have a high incidence rate for crystal meth use.

“It has significantly hit Guelph over the last three years, and I would say peaked in 2015,” Bair said.

Project Ice was an enforcement initiative last year primarily to reduce the distribution of crystal meth in Guelph.

“I think law enforcement efforts can help reduce supply, which is always our goal,” Bair said. “If you can reduce supply then the price goes up and the availability goes down. And, therefore, it is less likely that as many people will either use and become addicted to it.”

But while Project Ice was successful in that way, it had an unintended consequence.

“You essentially create both a drug, and a hierarchy vacuum,” he explained. “What happens is, other people step up and become higher level meth traffickers then they were. What’s also happened is there’s been a resurgence of crack cocaine in the city, and most of that is supplied from cities mostly to our east.”

Crystal meth, he said, is reputed to give an intense high in the very early stages of use, often characterized as the equivalent of ten times the feeling of an orgasm. With crack cocaine the effect is somewhat less.

“Meth and crack are essentially stimulants,” Bair said. “Meth has more delusional aspect to it than crack does, and lasts longer.”

He said meth and crack users will transition back and forth between the two drugs, depending on availability and price.

Bair said drug use is like other activities that give pleasure, they provide “a chemical drop in your brain.” Pleasure enhances dopamine and serotonin levels. Drugs spark an intense rush of those chemicals, especially the first use. Users will continue to use in pursuit of a repeat of that initial experience.

“While the high is extreme initially, the flip side of that, that rarely gets talked about, is the low,” Bair said, explaining that coming down from a meth or crack high drops a person well below equilibrium.

The highs typically diminish over time, while the lows intensify. Drug users will use multiple drugs – alcohol, opiates, marijuana among them – to manage those lows.

While Bair was reluctant to weigh in on the many societal issues that contribute to drug use, he did say that when people don’t feel good about their lives they “seek escapism of various sorts.”

“I think in general we don’t have a terribly resilient population,” he said. “And unfortunately they’re less able to tolerate the realities that we see.”

The topography of the current drug scene is shifting. There was a spike in meth use that has receded somewhat, and a subsequent rise in crack use. Along with these trends, heroin has made a resurgence.

“The other trend, not just in Guelph but across the province and across Canada, is the use of heroin, and with the use of heroin comes the use of fentanyl,” Bair said. Fentanyl is a heroin-like narcotic. “We’re seeing more seizures of heroin and fentanyl.”

These drugs, or a combination of them, can be extremely dangerous, Bair indicated.

“You literally are playing Russian roulette,” he said.


Comments Off on Benjamin Scott Brewer’s Methamphetamine use, fatigue, led to fiery truck crash on the Chattanooga stretch of Interstate 75 that killed six people

After six people died in a fiery crash on Interstate 75, investigators asked the truck driver who plowed through eight vehicles a question: Did you brake?

“I hope I did,” driver Ben Brewer told them.

He didn’t.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board found no evidence that Brewer thet4h35yagefgaqapplied the brakes or took any evasive action during the June 25, 2015, crash, when the tractor-trailer he drove smashed into slowed traffic near Exit 11. The truck was traveling between 78 and 82 mph in a 55 mph zone when it hit the first car; the rig rammed into seven more vehicles before finally coming to a stop 453 feet later. Six people died; six others were injured.

On Tuesday, the NTSB ruled that Brewer’s fatigue and drug use led to the crash. The 40-year-old was using methamphetamine and likely had gone without sustained rest for the 40 hours before the crash, investigators testified during a hearing in Washington, D.C.

The NTSB report also notes several failings in federal and state regulations that are designed to catch unfit truck drivers before they get behind the wheel, including inadequate background checks and limits to drug testing.

Brewer had crashed seven times in the five years before the June 2015 crash and had been fired from a previous trucking company for testing positive for methamphetamine in 2013. A month before the fatal June crash, he again tested positive for methamphetamine, although that test was not related to his commercial driving.1435374348_062715a01-i75-wreck-3_t1070_h7b46523bda43769d423390890423a2659a7f9b39

Despite those red flags, Brewer was still hired by Cool Runnings Express, a small London, Ky., trucking company — in part because the owner, Billy Sizemore, didn’t know about Brewer’s past.

Trucking companies are required to run a background check on a potential hire’s driving history, and in nearly all states, that check includes a list of past crashes.

However, in Kentucky and Idaho the background check does not automatically include crash data, according to the NTSB. So, even though Brewer had crashed four times in the previous three years, those crashes were not included on the background check that Cool Runnings Express reviewed.7ije5e5ujrswyeuseu

Brewer also passed a drug test when he was hired, three days before the fatal crash in Chattanooga. The fact that no drugs were detected in his system — despite his history of methamphetamine use — prompted NTSB investigators to review the effectiveness of the test itself.

“In this case, we had someone who had received the normal, pre-employment drug screen, who had a long history of drug use, and for whatever reason that drug did not show up during the pre-employment test,” Robert Molloy, director of the NTSB’s Office of Highway Safety, said during the hearing.

Standard urine drug tests can detect some drugs only within a couple of days after the substances were used. Investigators recommended that trucking companies start using hair drug testing instead, because illegal drugs can be detected for a much longer window of time.

“Had the carrier in the crash used a hair drug test, the driver’s drug use would have likely been identified,” investigator Kenny Bragg said.ki5eu5uw5ehwshgh

Investigators also examined how Brewer was able to be hired even though he’d been fired from a previous trucking company for failing a drug test in 2013. Now, there is no easy way for one company to know another company fired a driver for failing a drug test, Molloy said.

“Right now, a motor carrier might hire somebody, and they would say, ‘For a year I was working as an apprentice carpenter,’ when they had [actually] been working as a truck driver and were fired for using a substance — and the prospective employer would have no way of knowing and checking,” Molloy said.

However, a new national database that lists commercial driver’s license holders who have failed drug or alcohol tests is expected to be created before the end of the year by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which should make it easier for trucking companies to check a driver’s background.

In addition to using methamphetamine, Brewer also drove much longer than allowed by federal regulations and faked his logbooks to make it look like he was following the rules. He worked for 50 hours straight in the days before the crash in Chattanooga, records show.

Brewer logged a 12-hour break the night before the fatal crash, but NTSB investigators believe that despite that potential break, he’d likely gone without “significant rest” for the 40 hours leading up to the crash.

Investigators made seven safety recommendations because of the crash, including improving the pre-employment screening process, requiring employers to check a new hire’s crash record and requiring employers to give heavy weight to driving violations such as speeding or reckless driving.

They also recommended that more be done to address the issue of fatal trucking crashes in construction zones — large trucks were involved in about 30 percent of all fatal crashes in work zones during 2014.

“The driver in this crash should not have been behind the wheel of a large truck,” NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said. “As long as human beings drive trucks, they must be rested and unimpaired.”

Brewer is now in custody on a $500,000 bond at the Hamilton County Jail, awaiting trial on six counts of vehicular homicide.


Standing amid the carnage of the nine-vehicle crash that killed six people on I-75 Thursday night, James Gillis smelled the gas and thick black smoke, heard the airbags popping as they burned and the poof that the seats made when the flames licked through the fabric.

Then he saw the dead woman, lying on her right side, eyes wide open.

“It was horrific,” Gillis said. “That lady’s blue eyes looking at me like that. She was so white.”

Six people, including two children, died in the wreck, which happened around 7:10 p.m. Thursday just north of Exit 11 on Interstate 75 northbound.



  1. Tiffany Watts, 31, from Tennessee, in 2010 Toyota Scion
  2. Sandra Anderson, 50, from Tennessee, in 2010 Toyota Scion
  3. Unidentified child, 8, from California, in 2010 Toyota Scion
  4. Unidentified child, 10 or 11, from California, in 2010 Toyota Scion
  5. Brian Gallaher, 37, from Tennessee, in 2010 Toyota Prius
  6. Jason Ramos, 36, from Georgia/Ohio, in 2003 Mazda SW





  1. Marty Tumbleson, 30, from Tennessee, in 2005 Savana Van
  2. Charles Allen Daniels, Jr., 41, from Tennessee, in 2005 Savana Van
  3. John Stanley, 57, from Mississippi, in 2007 Chevy Uplander Minivan
  4. Nancy Stanley, 55, from Mississippi, in 2007 Chevy Uplander Minivan
  5. Ryan Humphries, 24, from Tennessee, in 2001 Ford F150
  6. Justin Lnox, 60, from Mississippi, in 2015 Cadillac CTS


  1. Benjamin Scott Brewer, 39, from Kentucky – driver of the semi-truck
  2. Charity Dawn Pennington, 38, from Kentucky, passenger in the semi-truck
  3. Travis Close, 40, from Tennessee, in 2015 Toyota Tundra
  4. Tina Close, 39, from Tennessee, in 2015 Toyota Tundra
  5. Unidentified child, 2, from Tennessee, in 2015 Toyota Tundra
  6. Unidentified child, 6, from Tennessee in 2015, Toyota Tundra

Eight vehicles were stopped in the road because of construction when a tractor trailer coming from behind plowed into them, according to Chattanooga police.

Gillis was just ahead of the wreck. He watched it all happen in his rear-view mirror.

“That truck was mowing cars down,” he said. “I know that for sure. I saw them get hit.”

He pulled his car over and rushed back to try to help. A total of 18 people were involved — six dead, six injured and taken to area hospitals, six who did not require medical attention.

The death toll is the highest for a single crash in Hamilton County in at least the last 21 years, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Between 2005 and 2009, only 29 of the state’s 1.7 million crashes involved nine or more vehicles.

Before Thursday, only one person had been killed on the Chattanooga stretch of Interstate 75 during the last five years, according to police.

“I’ve been involved in traffic fatalities for 27 years and this is by far one of the worst I’ve seen,” said Chattanooga Police Lt. Adrian Gibb.

The truck driver, 39-year-old Benjamin Scott Brewer, survived. He is under investigation and has been trucking-022interviewed by police, although wouldn’t say why he — or the woman who was with him in the cab of the truck — failed to stop.

Brewer was driving from Florida, police said. He lives in Kentucky. Police could not say on Friday what he was hauling or what company he works for.

Investigators said Brewer was evaluated by drug recognition experts at the scene, and police took a blood sample to test for drugs and alcohol. Those results are pending, and Brewer was not in custody Friday afternoon, Gibb said.

Four of the people killed — including the two children — were in the same vehicle, the only vehicle that caught fire. One woman was ejected from that car, police said, but the other three died inside.

Witnesses said people tried to put out the flames with fire extinguishers and pull the children from the car, but the fire was too hot and too fast.

“We saw dolls coming out of the trunk,” said Suzanne Cornell, another driver who was just ahead of the crash. “I was praying to God that maybe they weren’t in there.”

The remaining two victims, locals Brian Gallaher, 37, and Jason Ramos, 36, died in separate vehicles.

The crash scene stretched for 100 yards, said Chattanooga Police Chief of Staff David Roddy.

Cornell said she was seconds away from being hit by the truck.

“There was one car behind me and then the truck,” she said, voice shaky with emotion. “And you know, for the grace of God, 15 seconds earlier, 10 seconds earlier it would have been me, too.”


A team from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived in Chattanooga on Friday to investigate the crash, spokesman Nicholas Worrell confirmed.

The NTSB doesn’t investigate all highway crashes, Worrell added.

“A lot of factors go into what makes us decide to investigate,” he said. “Is this something that has happened before? Is this something we’re seeing is a trend? Is this something we could issue recommendations on to prevent something like this in the future?”

The wreck happened just before a Tennessee Department of Transportation construction zone, in an area where lanes were tapered down to make room for the work zone, said Jennifer Flynn, spokeswoman for TDOT.

Workers are in the middle of a resurfacing project, she said, and the work zone stretches from mile marker 13 to mile marker 19 in the northbound lanes. The work happens overnight, she said, from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The crash happened at mile marker 11.

Flynn was not sure how many lanes were open at the spot the crash occurred. She added that TDOT had multiple warnings up about the work zone and said the department followed all federal guidelines on how to set up the lane closures.

“Every message board from the [Interstate] 24 split to there was warning about this,” she said. “We had a highway patrolman there in the taper with flashing lights on.”

Police emphasized the investigation was in the earliest stages Friday and that the cause of the crash — why the tractor trailer failed to stop — is still unknown.


Friends and family of Brian Gallaher gathered at Ocoee Middle School on Friday night for a candlelight vigil. Gallaher was the school’s band director and was very respected, his friends said.

“He was incredibly well-liked,” said Alex Sturgill. “He was just so well-liked and such a figure in the community of Cleveland.”

Gallaher was planning a trip to the Northeast to tour several Major League Baseball stadiums, said Sturgill, who lives in Connecticut. The two had exchanged Facebook messages about the trip just hours before Gallaher died.

The Dalton State College community also rallied, with many former students taking to social media to remember Jason Ramos, assistant director of residential life at the North Georgia college.

“He brought a lot of fun and humor to our office,” said Natalie Bates, director of residential life. “And it was incredibly evident that he loved working with students and took pride in his job. This is a great loss to our Roadrunner community and he will be sorely missed.”

Chattanooga police brought social workers and chaplains to the crash scene Thursday night to help officers, witnesses and victims deal with the trauma.

“As any officer can tell you, when a child is involved, that’s what makes it the toughest,” Gibb said.

After escaping the mayhem without a scratch, Cornell said she stayed at the scene for a while, until authorities told her she was free to go home.

She got back into her car — her unscathed car — and drove north up I-75, away from the crash scene and the miles of backed up traffic behind it.

“And the strangest thing was, driving on the I-75, there was no other cars,” Cornell said. “And it hit me. I was the only car left.”


Rick Watts was waiting for his sandwich at a Subway in Morristown, Tenn., when his wife called him for the last time.

He didn’t know it was her last call and he dismissed it, trying to be polite and stay off the phone at the register.

His cellphone rang at 7:06 p.m. that day, as Tiffany Watts drove home from the Atlanta airport with her two daughters and her mother. The girls, 9 and 11, had just flown in from their dad’s home in California to spend the summer with mom in Tennessee, like always.

Rick Watts knew his family, driving up Interstate 75 in Tiffany’s 2010 Scion, still had hours left to travel. So he paid for his sandwich, took his food to the car and called Tiffany back at 7:09 p.m.

She didn’t answer.

Just then, a tractor-trailer going 77 mph on I-75 in Chattanooga slammed into his wife’s car and seven other vehicles, killing six people, including Tiffany, the girls and Tiffany’s mother — the most deadly crash in Hamilton County in at least 21 years.

At first, Watts didn’t worry when Tiffany failed to answer. He drove to the sleep disorder center in Morristown where he monitors patients overnight and called Tiffany, a nursing student, again.

And then he called again.

Worry crept in. Tiffany rarely went long without checking in or calling back. At a co-worker’s suggestion, Watts looked up online traffic reports and learned about a wreck in Chattanooga.

He picked up the phone and called the police in Morristown. He called the police in Chattanooga. He called the hospitals. A sick feeling grew in his stomach.

But no one could tell him anything.

Around 10 p.m., he ran a quick online search using “Chattanooga” and “wreck” and “I-75” as keywords. And there, in a resulting photo — posted somewhere he can’t remember now — was Tiffany’s black Scion, crumpled.

He pulled up a stock image of a Toyota Scion and put it side-by-side with the photo of the wreck. He reasoned that maybe they were just hurt. He debated driving to Chattanooga. He called and called and called. Hours ticked by during the worst night of his life. He knew, but he didn’t know.

He was angry by the time the officers showed up at the clinic at 6 a.m. and told him Tiffany was dead.

“What about the rest of them?” he asked. “Where are they at?”

The officers just shook their heads.

Rick Watts becomes emotional while looking at photos and speaking about the day he lost his wife Tiffany, his two step-daughters, Kelsie and Savannah, and his mother-in-law, Sandra Anderson, after a semi-truck driver killed a total of six people on I-75 in June of 2015.

Six people died and six were injured in that June 25 crash, a crash that veteran officers later described as the most horrific they’d ever seen. The crash ignited an intense investigation from local and federal authorities about how it happened.

But how it happened is a complex mix of factors, factors that are present in almost every city and in almost every truck. A pressure to drive farther, faster. An aging, crowded interstate system. A growing need to move freight and a growing shortage of truck drivers.

Those factors routinely end in fatal crashes. In 2013, 289 people died in crashes with large trucks in Tennessee and Georgia alone. Over 10 years that rises to 3,405 deaths. Nationally, more than 48,000 people died in 10 years.

But in Chattanooga, all the factors that lead to fatal crashes are magnified.

Three major interstates run through the city, and more truck traffic passes through Chattanooga than any other metro area in the United States.

A national shortage of truck drivers is putting more inexperienced drivers behind the wheel, and those drivers must navigate a mess of congestion in Chattanooga, plus a complicated interstate system. Interstates here narrow from six to two lanes, climb Missionary Ridge, curve through downtown and wind around Moccasin Bend.

All it takes for a fatal trucking crash is one extra factor, like a careless driver, to tip the scales.

That’s what happened on June 25.

And the city is perfectly primed for it to happen again.

Gary Helms, a master trainer for Covenant Transport, drives an empty trailer back to Chattanooga after dropping off a load of soda ash in Atlanta on Oct., 26, 2015.

The Ben Brewer problem

Stop at any trucking establishment in the rural interstate town of London, Ky., and somebody will know Ben Brewer’s name.

The 39-year-old Brewer drove trucks out of London for years, hauling for a local company called Hilltop Transportation.

Hilltop won’t comment on when or why Brewer left, but records show Brewer was hired at another, smaller London trucking company — Cool Runnings Express — on June 22. On that same day, Brewer started a run from London to Haines City, Fla., and back — the trip that ended tragically in Chattanooga on June 25.

A blue collar town of 8,000 people where the median income is $30,000, London is nestled against I-75 about 100 miles north of Knoxville in eastern Kentucky. It’s coal mining country — many pickup trucks are still adorned with pro-coal bumper stickers — and it’s the kind of place where GPS units lose signal and families have eaten at the same Main Street restaurant for 70 years.

Here, just off Exit 41, Chris Sanders manages the London Auto Truck Stop, which he boasts is “known far and wide for its good food and treating you like family.”

The truck stop is the largest in London, and it holds Cool Runnings’ fuel account.

“This is their main stop,” Sanders said.

Cool Runnings’ owner, Billy Sizemore, is respected in town, Sanders said. He and his wife are good people, Sanders said, honest, upstanding folk.

But on Ben Brewer, Sanders had little to say — and nothing good.

Ben Brewer appears before Judge T. Bruce Bell on charges of trafficking methamphetamine and criminal mischief during a preliminary hearing at Fayetteville County District Court in Lexington, Ky., on Aug. 19, 2015.

Cool Runnings Express is a small operation. Sizemore runs just three trucks. Including the wreck in Chattanooga, Cool Runnings has had two serious crashes during the last two years, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The company’s safety record is mixed. Of 19 random truck inspections during the last 24 months, inspectors found problems in 12 cases.

“It’s been bad news for us,” Sizemore said of Brewer’s wreck, “but for the families who lost their loved ones — we just hated to hear something like that.”

He declined to speak further with the Times Free Press, citing the three lawsuits filed against him after the wreck for a combined $33.5 million.

The day he was hired, Brewer passed a drug and alcohol test for Cool Runnings and hit the road. But he ran into trouble from the start.

His truck broke down as he picked up his load in Kentucky and he was forced to return to London for repairs. Mechanics fixed his air compressor — it had been unable to generate sufficient air supply to properly operate his brake system — then sent him on his way.

But shortly after leaving the repair shop, Brewer returned, complaining that the truck was behaving abnormally. This time, the shop employees fixed his fuel delivery system. After the second repair, Brewer finally began the trip to Florida.

He reached Florida on June 24 after being on-duty for about 45 consecutive hours — well beyond limits set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Federal regulations only allow truck drivers to be on duty for a maximum of 14 consecutive hours. And of that 14-hour shift, drivers can be behind the wheel only for 11 hours before they must take a minimum 10-hour break, according to the federal agency.

The extra non-driving, on duty hours are often spent loading and unloading, when the driver is working but not actually driving.

About 75 miles away from his drop-off point in Florida on June 24, Brewer tried to pass a delivery truck in Wildwood, Fla., but instead sideswiped the vehicle, forcing both trucks off the road. Florida Highway Patrol officers determined that Brewer was at fault, wrote him a ticket for $166 and sent him on his way.

There wasn’t much else they could do. Federal regulations don’t require law enforcement officers to drug test truck drivers after a wreck — that’s the responsibility of the truck driver’s employer, and even employers are only required to test when a crash results in disabling damage and the truck must be towed away.

When two trucks crash on the side of a busy highway in the middle of the morning traffic rush, troopers just want to get the road cleared as quickly as possible.

“The trooper has to have some sort of probable cause to enforce anything else or go any further,” said Sgt. Steve Gaskins, spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol. “There’s got to be slurred speech, or some sort of behavior that sets me off and tells me I need to dig deeper.”

Brewer repaired his truck himself on the side of the road — which took between three and four hours — then continued to his drop-off point in Haines City. By the time he arrived at 4:30 p.m. and logged himself as ‘off duty,’ he’d been working for 50 hours straight.

He took a 12-hour break, then got back behind the wheel for the 769-mile trip back to Kentucky. He faked his paper logbooks to make it look like he was following federal regulations.

And after 15 hours on the road, Brewer reached Chattanooga just after 7 p.m. on June 25.

Gary Helms, a master trainer for Covenant Transport, prepares to transport a load of soda ash from Chattanooga to Atlanta during the early morning hours of Oct., 26, 2015.

June 25, ‘This was no accident’

A construction zone tapered traffic down to a crawl heading north on I-75 just past Ooltewah that night. Vehicles in the left lane were stopped all together, while the center and right lanes only inched along.

Caught in the slowdown, Brian Gallaher, a 37-year-old band teacher at Ocoee Middle School, drove a Prius, headed toward home, toward his wife and two children.

Jason Ramos, 36, the assistant director of residential life at Dalton State College, sat in his 2003 Mazda nearby.

And the Watts family filled the Toyota Scion. Savannah Garrigues, 9, sat in the back seat with her 11-year-old sister Kelsie. Tiffany drove and her mother, Sandra Anderson, 50, sat in the front passenger seat.

Tiffany called her husband at 7:06 p.m. and he didn’t answer.

And then from behind came Ben Brewer, going 77 miles per hour.

His truck slammed into Gallaher’s Prius first, then the Watts’ Scion, throwing Tiffany out of the car. The tractor-trailer hit Ramos’ Mazda, which lodged into the truck’s grill and was carried along as the truck smashed into two Ford pickups, two vans and a Cadillac.

Brewer drove for 453 feet — longer than the length of a football field — before the truck finally came to a stop.

The Watts’ car burst into flames. Witnesses tried to pull the girls out, but the fire was too hot and too fast. The smell of gasoline and smoke filled the air. The nine-vehicle pileup shut down the interstate for hours and included 18 people — six dead, six injured and six unhurt.

The Hamilton County medical examiner would later conclude each of the six who died were killed by blunt force trauma, not the flames.

In an instant, the dedicated band teacher and the fun-loving college staffer were gone. The nursing student who’d practice her speeches in front of the chickens in the backyard was gone. The sisters who loved building forts, dancing and reading were gone. The grandmother who dished out sloppy, wet kisses was gone.

Ben Brewer walked away.

Chattanooga police took Brewer and his fiancée — who was riding in the truck with him during the crash — to the Police Services Center on Amnicola Highway for interviews. Brewer seemed a little off, investigators would say later, but everyone reacts differently to trauma. Police brought in a drug recognition expert to check his behavior.

And after the interviews, they let Brewer and Charity Pennington leave. Investigators still had reams of data and evidence to sift through and didn’t have enough evidence to charge Brewer for any crimes at that time.

They couldn’t hold him without charging him, so Brewer and Pennington went back to Kentucky.

Families and friends of the victims began organizing vigils and funerals. Obituaries ran in newspapers. Well-wishers donated thousands of dollars to GoFundMe accounts for the families of the victims.

A private investigator showed up at Rick Watts’ home, encouraging him to sue. You should be mad as hell, he told Watts. I don’t know what happened yet, Watts told him, standing in the garden Tiffany loved. I’m still praying it was an accident. Accidents can happen.

Forty days later, a Hamilton County Grand Jury indicted Brewer on six counts of vehicular homicide, four counts of reckless aggravated assault, driving under the influence of narcotics, speeding and making false reports about his duty status. In addition to driving far longer than legally allowed, Brewer also tested positive for methamphetamine after the crash.

“This was no accident,” Watts said in October.

After the warrant for Brewer’s arrest, nobody could find Brewer for a week. Authorities in Kentucky searched his home and checked in with his family but came up empty. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation added Brewer to its list of Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitives. After five days on the run, he was arrested in Lexington, Ky.

Lexington police found Brewer and Pennington in a vehicle outside a shopping center on Aug. 7. Pennington had $3,067 in cash in her purse, and Brewer had three grams of methamphetamine in a bag in his pocket, as well as half a bar of the prescription drug Xanax.

He kicked out a police cruiser window during the arrest.

Shortly after Brewer was caught, authorities in Lexington dropped local charges against him — charges related to the meth found during the arrest and the cruiser vandalism — and he was extradited to Chattanooga, where he is being held in the Hamilton County Jail. His case is just beginning to wind through the court system here.

Brewer keeps his head down and says as little as possible during his appearances.

And while Chattanooga police have handed their criminal investigation over to the district attorney, the National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the crash. That investigation could easily stretch into 2016.

The federal safety agency doesn’t investigate every traffic accident. It only sends teams to accidents that have a broad implication — a wreck that is part of a trend or could spark nationwide changes. If a wreck meets that threshold, the NTSB typically sends five investigators.

They sent 11 to Chattanooga.

A cannonball run

Chattanooga is a trucking town.

It’s not an identity that city leaders often herald — not like Volkswagen or the Riverwalk or the outdoor recreation scene — but the city’s trucking heritage is undeniable.

Covenant Transport and U.S. Xpress — two of the top 25 truckload carrier companies in the United States — are both headquartered in Chattanooga. Together, the companies put 9,700 trucks and 25,700 trailers on the nation’s roads and employ 1,700 people in Chattanooga. The companies — started by step-brothers David Parker and Max Fuller — are the descendants of long-haul pioneer Clyde Fuller’s company, Southwest Motor Freight.

Another younger Chattanooga trucking logistics company — a start-up formerly called Access America Transport — sold last year to Coyote Logistics for hundreds of millions of dollars, merging to create a powerhouse in the industry and making millionaires of Access America’s three Chattanooga founders. Coyote Logistics then sold to UPS for $1.8 billion in July 2015.

The city also sits at a major crossroads, at the intersection of three interstates — I-75, I-24 and I-59 — which makes it a key location for truckers with routes along the East Coast, for anyone running freight between the Canadian border and the Florida Keys.

But while the interstates drive much of Chattanooga’s trucking industry, they also set the stage for trouble on the region’s roads. The sheer number of trucks passing through Chattanooga on the way to somewhere else adds thousands of tiny moving parts to an already volatile scenario.

On average, more than 208,000 vehicles traveled Chattanooga’s three interstates each day in 2014, according to statistics kept by the Georgia and Tennessee departments of transportation.

Thrive 2055, a local, long-term planning group, found that 80 percent of trucks traveling through Chattanooga never stop in the city. That’s the highest amount of through truck traffic of all major metro areas in the United States.

And those truckers often arrive in Chattanooga in a bad state of mind, said Chuck Clowdis, managing director and transportation consultant with IHS Economics, an international industrial consultant firm.

“Once you get out of the congestion in Atlanta, you’re trying to make up some lost time, so you’re running just as fast as you can and as hard as you can in the left lane,” he said. “And then all of sudden you get into this congestion, starting in Dalton. And you’re frustrated.”

It’s not just I-75. Drivers coming into Chattanooga on I-24 out of Middle Tennessee are coming off Monteagle Mountain’s steep slopes, while drivers on the way up from Alabama and Georgia on I-59 are leaving a long, lonely stretch of mostly straight highway.

“You could absolutely mesmerize yourself as a truck driver from Birmingham to the [24-59] split, because there is nothing happening,” Clowdis said.

Conditions on the roads around Chattanooga amplify the pressure on trucks to quickly get through and around the city, meaning drivers are more likely to go too fast or pay too little attention as they pass through.

“These truckers are not looking for an exit,” said Clowdis. “They’re looking for a way through.”

Like Ben Brewer, some truckers who pass through Chattanooga are traveling I-75, which narrows from three to two lanes at Ooltewah and heads up a steep incline, cutting through White Oak Mountain and snarling traffic headed toward Cleveland and Knoxville.

That stretch of I-75 between Chattanooga and Cleveland is prone to accidents — there were 16 fatal truck-involved crashes there between 2003 and 2013, according to the most recent data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Gary Helms, a master trainer for Covenant Transport, approaches the I-24 / I-75 split while transporting an empty trailer to McKee Foods in Collegedale, Tenn., on October, 26, 2015.

“I’m not sure what to say, other than it’s [a] cannonball-run stretch through there; everyone wants to be first,” said Robyn Young, a truck driver from Cleveland, Tenn.

Chattanooga is due for infrastructure upgrades. Gov. Bill Haslam and TDOT Director John Schroer visited the city in November, stumping for road funding to fix problems like the I-75 and I-24 split, where the road narrows. But aging and crowded interstates are by no means exclusive to the city.

The nation’s sprawling interstate system — once the envy of the developed world and widely credited with making the U.S. a world economic power — is at every corner strained under its current burden.

When construction started on the interstate network in 1956, the population of the country was 169 million. Today, there are 320 million people in America. And there are more than 1 million trucking companies registered currently in the United States, with more than 3 million commercial drivers working for them.

Interstates that initially opened unprecedented lines of commerce across the country and sped the delivery of goods are now, in many areas, too small and unable to accommodate traffic.

Widening the interstates is a dream solution for many transportation experts and business leaders, but funding isn’t there to support it.

Federal highway funding shortfalls have loomed over the country for years, and as recently as the end of October, the Highway Trust Fund — which helps provide up to 50 percent of the nation’s funding for transportation — was in jeopardy. Congress has continually failed to agree on long-term solutions.

The situation angers Parker, president of Chattanooga-based Covenant Transportation Group and board member of the American Trucking Associations. He said commercial trucking firms are agreeable to paying higher diesel taxes to improve the interstates.

Carriers are reliant on free and easy movement around the country to make their money, and when that movement is restricted because of failing or overcrowded highways, it hits them in the wallet, he said.

“Now, our supply chain and load inventory are absolutely dependent upon an interstate system that works, and it doesn’t work,” Parker said.

Moving trucks make money

The fact that a resident of Chattanooga can order a sweater from Seattle on a Monday and wear that sweater to work on Thursday is a testament to the efficiency of the U.S. freight system.

Every year, 10 billion tons of goods roll across bridges, pass through tunnels, and crisscross state lines. Trucks carry laptops, chairs, carpet, wires, books — Chattanooga’s homes and businesses are filled with goods hauled on trucks.

And those goods are inexpensive, all things considered.

They’re inexpensive because truckers can get goods where they need to be, and fast. Truck drivers like Robert Perez haul 44,000 pounds of limes from Texas to New York day in and day out, full-time, for years.

They’re inexpensive because large trucking companies are pushing out smaller companies, delivering goods safer and faster than one-man bands like Billy Sizemore and Ben Brewer who struggle to turn a profit and might be more likely to shirk safety regulations to stay afloat.

“The little guys are finding it harder and harder to exist,” Clowdis said. “The pressure on shippers to get the best bang for their buck is more intense than ever. It’s a good thing. I’m all for efficient supply chains and getting the best service for the right price. People need to eat. The freight will move.”

But that pressure, that efficiency, that only-moving-trucks-make-money reality pushes drivers to go farther, faster, longer. And it limits the ability of federal regulators to make the roads safer. If the trucks slow down, the cost of goods goes up. If the cost of goods goes up, consumers spend less. If consumers spend less, the economy falters.

“Every time someone in Washington says ‘This will stop it’ — it’s like train speed,” Clowdis said. “Someone will say, ‘I’m going to slow down all the trains.’ Well, yeah, you are, but you won’t have any fresh cabbage or fresh tomatoes coming out of Florida.”

But that hasn’t stopped federal regulators from trying. Congress created the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 1999 and tasked the new agency with preventing commercial vehicle-related accidents and injuries.

Federal officials first introduced new hours of service regulations in 2003, and have since tweaked the regulations several times. Parker and other industry leaders say the shifting federal regulations create confusion among drivers and make the job more difficult for trucking companies.

And the federal regulations haven’t done much to stymie the pace of fatal truck crashes — between 1982 and 2008, the number of people killed annually in crashes involving large trucks hovered at or near 5,000 each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The numbers show that the consumer drives the trucking industry. The need for goods — inexpensive, fast, goods — keeps truckers on the road.

But the modern convenience of fast and inexpensive delivery comes with sacrifice and compromise. Something has to give. Some piece of the system has to bow out, take a back seat, make way for the burning efficiency of the supply chain.

Right now, the compromise is safety.

And the sacrifice is lives.

“I look at trucks like a cocked gun,” Watts said. “They are ready to strike.”

He spent the morning of June 25 cleaning out the backyard pool so it’d be ready for the girls when they got in from the airport. Savannah and Kelsie used to be afraid of the water, but they’d both grown to love the pool, the splashing summertime tradition.

The pool was ready by the time Watts left for work that day.

But no one ever came home.

This four-part series was reported over five months by Shelly Bradbury and Alex Green and is based on interviews with Chattanooga police; Lexington, Ky., police; and officials at the National Transportation Safety Board, American Trucking Associations, Florida Highway Patrol, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Thrive 2055 and Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The project also relies on data and records from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; the National Transportation Safety Board; the Janesville, Wis., police department; the Federal Highway Safety Administration; the Congressional Budget Office; the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; U.S. Department of Transportation; Tennessee Department of Transportation; Fayette County District Court; Hamilton County Sessions Court; and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Officials and drivers at Covenant Transport, including Chairman, CEO and President David Parker; Senior Vice President of Risk Management Rick Reinoehl; and driver Gary Helms provided information for this project.

The families of Brian Gallaher and Jason Ramos declined to comment.

Ben Brewer declined to comment.


Comments Off on Rophy Bishop, 66, of Oklahoma City, arrested on sexual battery, kidnapping, possession of Methamphetamine charges

Oklahoma City Police arrested a man who they say held a transgender person captive and tried to force her to have sex with him.

According to court documents, on September 30, police responded to an unidentified location in the metro in regards to a rape. There they met the victim, a male who identifies as a female.14374887-3cac-439d-bc65-f53f7f2888a3-large16x9_bishop

She told police she met 66-year-old Rophy Bishop at around 1 a.m. at the Shell gas station on Meridian. Bishop reportedly asked the victim if she wanted a ride on his motorcycle and she said yes.

The victim told police she and Bishop had a few beers at a bar before riding around on the motorcycle most of the morning. The pair then returned to Bishop’s house where the victim took a nap.

When the victim awoke, she reportedly found herself in a house with the windows screwed shut and something blocking the front door. Bishop then, according to documents, forced the victim to smoke methamphetamine before taking her phone and telling her she’s never going to leave.

Bishop eventually demanded the victim pleasure him orally. When she refused, he reportedly attacked her in the kitchen, punching her and trying to slam her head into the ground. Court documents show the victim then blacked out.

The victim said when she came to, she got a hold of a phone, ran from the home and called police.

A CSI team was brought in to search the house and found evidence to corroborate the victim’s story, including DNA evidence in the bathroom where the victim reportedly showered and methamphetamine present in the home.

Bishop was arrested and booked into the Oklahoma County jail, charged with kidnapping, sexual battery and possession of a controlled, dangerous substance.

A prior offender, Bishop was convicted in 1993 of rape and indecent lewd acts with a child under 16.


Comments Off on U.S. Customs and Border Protection: 14-year-old Arizona girl tried to smuggle over a pound of Methamphetamine under her clothing strapped to her groin at the pedestrian border crossing in Nogales

NOGALES, AZ – Federal authorities say they caught a 14-year-old Arizona girl trying to smuggle over a pound of methamphetamine into the country.knxv%20meth_1457017315349_33012286_ver1_0_640_480

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers say the girl tried going through a pedestrian border crossing in Nogales with the meth strapped to her groin under her clothing.

The girl is from Nogales, Arizona, although it’s unclear if she’s a U.S. citizen.

The meth was worth about $3,200.



Comments Off on Shawna Fleshman, 46, of Worthington, faces Methamphetamine drug charges

WORTHINGTON — Shawna Fleshman, 46, of Worthington, made her initial appearance in Nobles County District Court on Tuesday morning to face a felony count of fifth-degree drug possession and a petty misdemeanor count of drug possession.

According to court records, Worthington Police Department officers found Fleshman in a residence with drug-related items and two individuals with active felony warrants.

Officers responded to a Sept. 18 call informing a welfare concern of Rore Kallemeyn, who was several months pregnant. Officers then learned Kallemeyn had an active felony warrant. Once officers arrived at the residence, they looked through the windows and saw several people, one of them being Fleshman.

David Durst, the apartment’s renter, opened the door and led officers where to Kallemeyn’s location. One of the officers noticed Kallemeyn had closed a closet door, and when the officer proceeded to open the door, he found Ethan Duffy — who also had an active felony warrant — inside the closet. Kallemeyn and Duffy were arrested immediately.

Fleshman was subsequently found in one of the bedrooms, and she told the officers that she was temporarily staying at the house until she could find another place. Police then discovered a black scale with white powder in Fleshman’s room, which tested positive for methamphetamine. She argued the scale did not belong to her, and Durst told the officer that he was not aware of the arrest warrants or the use of drugs in his home.

Duffy, Kallemeyn and Fleshman were transported to Prairie Justice Center

Fleshman has been previously convicted of two drug-related crimes. In 2011, she was convicted for storing methamphetamine paraphernalia in the presence of a child, and she was convicted for fifth-degree controlled substance possession in 2014.

Fifth-degree drug possession carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail, a $10,000 fine or both. The petty misdemeanor charge carries a maximum sentence of a $300 fine.

Fleshman will appear again in court Oct. 31 for a contested omnibus hearing.


Comments Off on Eric Floyd, 31, Reginald Dodd, 40, and Tarence Evans, 42, All Of Texarkana, Arrested In Caddo Parish On Methamphetamine Drug Charges

The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office has put three Texarkana, Arkansas men behind bars on various drug charges. It all stems from an investigation into drug activity in Mira, LA.

A press release from the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office details how the men were found.evand

On Thursday, agents went to 16724 Old Atlanta Mira Road where they contacted Eric Floyd, Reginald Dodd, and Tarence Evans, all of Texarkana, Arkansas. Agents found Floyd attempting to hide a large amount of methamphetamine in a container filled floydwith liquid. Agents also discovered Dodd and Evans in possession of small amounts of marijuana. Approximately 58 grams of methamphetamine and five grams of marijuana were seized.


All three men were arrested and transported to the Caddo Correctional Center. Floyd, 31, was charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Dodd, 40, was charged with possession of marijuana, second offense, and Evans, 42, was charged with possession of marijuana.

Read More: Three Texarkana Men Arrested In Caddo On Drug Charges |


Comments Off on Indiana Police Round Up Methamphetamine “Smurfs” Across Southeast Indiana

According to prosecutors, the following individuals were arrested during Tuesday’s warrant sweep tied to a multi-county methamphetamine investigation:

Randy Ahaus, Virginia Baird, Sean Berry, Rodney Burke, Anthony Carey, Emily Carey, Donald Clark Jr., Britt King, Caleb Ludwick, Nicholas Riley, Andy Schnebelt, Brian Sechrest, Erica Sechrest, Billy Shaw, Chailley Shaw, Eugene Taylor, Ralph Taylor III, Sylvia Taylor, Scott Wilson,  and Brandon Withers.meth-arrests-1-10042016

A total of 27 warrants were issued. Some suspects could not be located Tuesday, but their arrest warrants will remain active.

“Of course, these individuals are innocent until proven guilty,” said Dearborn-Ohio County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard.

Negangard added that four children were living inside the Switzerland County home where a meth lab was located Tuesday. The Indiana Department of Child Services was asked to investigate.


(Versailles, Ind.) – More than a dozen people were arrested as several area law enforcement agencies broke up an expansive methamphetamine ring Tuesday.

A total of 27 warrants were issued out of Ripley County court on Tuesday morning. Most of the warrants were for Transfer of Meth Precursor to a Person with the Intent to Manufacture Methamphetamine (level 6 felony), but two were wanted for Dealing in Methamphetamine, a far more serious level 2 felony in Indiana.

Officers spent the late morning and afternoon arresting people in Dearborn, Ripley, Switzerland and Decatur counties. Agencies involved include the Ripley County Sheriff’s Office, Dearborn County Sheriff’s Department, Dearborn County Special Crimes Unit, Indiana State Police, Switzerland County Sheriff’s Office, Decatur County Sheriff’s Department, Versailles Police Department, and others.meth-arrests-4-10042016

One suspect is a Ripley County Highway Department employee who was on a job site at the time the individual was handcuffed. A meth lab was discovered as a warrant was being served in Switzerland County.

Ripley County Prosecutor Ric Hertel said Tuesday’s roundup was the largest in the county in at least 20 years.

“There is a lot of talk about the war on drugs and how we lost and we failed,” said Hertel. “I don’t see any white flags in this room being waved around at this point in time. We don’t believe that the war on drugs is over.”

The investigation started in March when eight people were arrested, Hertel said. The investigation included the review of pseudoephedrine purchasing logs kept by pharmacists and police putting in a lot of surveillance time.

Negangard described the operation as one which utilized a method called “smurfing”. That’s where a meth cooks provide the drug or money to addicts – the “smurfs” – if they purchase and provide to the cook cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine is a crucial ingredient in the meth making process.

“Essentially, they are co-conspirators int he manufacture of methamphetamine,” said Negangard. “Without these individuals, there can’t be the meth. So they’re a significant part of that process and need to be prosecuted.”

While heroin gets a lot of attention in the news headlines these days, Hertel says Indiana’s meth problem never went away. As recently as 2014, the state ranked number one in the nation for meth lab seizures.

Hertel added that there are two main sources of meth in Ripley County and the surrounding area. Some of the meth is made by local cooks, those targeted in Tuesday’s roundup. Much of the rest, crystal meth, is trafficked in by cartels.

Each of the suspects arrested Tuesday, regardless of where they were located, were taken to the Ripley County Jail to face charges there. When asked if there was room in the county jail, Sheriff Jeff Cumberworth quipped, “We’ll squeeze them in.”



UPDATE: Police Round Up Meth “Smurfs” Across Southeast Indiana


Comments Off on Pedro Suarez-Rangel, 23, and Juan Perez-Garcia, 28, Mexican Nationals, arrested in ‘significant’ DeKalb County Methamphetamine drug bust

ATLANTA – Federal and DeKalb County authorities busted a fully functional drug lab across from an elementary school, uncovering $13 million worth of heroin, cocaine and meth, and nearly $150,000 in cash.juan%20perez-garcia_pedro%20suarez-rangel%20final_1475613146006_2128422_ver1_0_640_360

The DEA Atlanta Office, the DeKalb Police Department and the DeKalb District Attorney’s Office announced the “significant” discovery at a press conference Tuesday. The conference began at 10:30 a.m. at the Richard B. Russell Federal Building.

“I’m especially disturbed that this meth lab was operating directly across the street from a school,” DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James said. “There’s no telling how the hundreds of students there could have been impacted by the proximity of such dangerous drugs to a school. We do this to make sure that the type of terrible drugs found at this house don’t destroy families and people’s lives. Our partnership with the DEA and with DeKalb County Police only scratches the surface of our fight to remove these drugs from our community.”

During the raid on September 26, authorities arrested 23-year-old Pedro Suarez-Rangel and 28-year-old Juan Perez-Garcia, who they say were purchasing materials for the purpose of cooking methamphetamine at a residence in Stone Mountain.
Garcia and Rangel, who are described as Mexican Nationals, are charged with trafficking methamphetamine, trafficking cocaine, trafficking heroin and manufacturing, distributing or possessing a controlled substance within a school zone.
Authorities seized 13.5 pounds of crystal methamphetamine (ICE), 300 pounds of liquid methamphetamine, 20 pounds of finished crystal methamphetamine (ICE) and a quantity of heroin and cocaine from the home.
Based on the amount of items seized, authorities determined that the laboratory was capable of producing 500 plus pounds of methamphetamine, and that it had been in operation for some time. eadyeay3wetgretq
Authorities say the men were operating the meth lab inside the home, which is located directly across the street from Pine Ridge Elementary with a high school and middle school nearby.
Comments Off on 15 women and men face charges of bringing Methamphetamine to Springfield from Mexico, Southwest U.S.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A federal grand jury recently indicted eight people from Springfield, two people from Willard, and five people from out of the state for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Greene County. The 37-count indictment replaces a previous indictment against several people in this group, and adds more charges and more defendants.

This case shows how, in recent years, a network of people delivers most of the meth consumed in Springfield from Mexico and the southwestern United States.

The indicted people are Patrick Brigaudin, 54; Timothy Hall, 55; Jennifer Minor, 41; Amber Vantuyl, 35; Gary Driggers, 64; William Eft, 66; Leah Binney, 55; and William Watts, 58, all of Springfield; Gayla Phillips, 41; and Richard Sherwood, 58, both of Willard; Adrian Ortiz-Corrales, 41, and Eduardo Diaz, 52, both of Las Vegas, Nev., and Carlos Luna, 42, Federico Herrera-Preciado, 51, and Maria Zetina-Ortega, 28, all who have no known address.

According to affidavits used as the basis of the charges, law enforcement officers in Texas intercepted a shipment of approximately 15 pounds of meth, of which nine pounds was allegedly being delivered to Brigaudin, in March 2015. Brigaudin was arrested with Hall, Diaz and Ortiz-Corrales last Feb. 29 when law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at his home at 1720 E. McDaniel St. in Springfield. The raid and arrests followed a two-and-a-half year investigation.

According to the affidavits, Diaz and Ortiz-Corrales were in the garage and were in the process of accessing a hidden compartment underneath the bed of a 1994 Dodge pickup. Officers arrested Brigaudin as he tried to flee out the back door of his home. Officers found about 12 pounds of meth and 6.5 pounds of heroin inside the truck’s hidden compartment. While officers were at Brigaudin’s home, Hall arrived on a motorcycle, and was arrested.

The federal indictment alleges that all of the defendants participated in conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Greene County from October 2013 to Feb. 29, 2016. The federal indictment also alleges that Brigaudin, Ortiz-Corrales, Phillips, Luna, Herrera-Preciado and Zetina-Ortega participated in a money-laundering conspiracy during that time by conspiring to conduct financial transactions that involved the proceeds of illegal drug trafficking.

Ortiz-Corrales and Diaz are also charged together in one count of possessing one kilogram or more of heroin with the intent to distribute. Investigators believe Ortiz-Corrales came to Springfield at least three times this year for “drug-related business” with Brigaudin. They say Ortiz-Corrales and Brigaudin went to banks in Springfield and money in quantities just below amounts that would trigger mandatory reporting requirements from the banks.

Investigators believe Diaz crossed the U.S. – Mexico border at border control checkpoints at least nine times between mid-2015 and March of this year.

In addition to the drug-trafficking and money-laundering conspiracies, Brigaudin is charged with four counts of distributing methamphetamine and one count of attempting to possess methamphetamine with the intent to distribute. Brigaudin, Ortiz-Corrales and Diaz are charged together in one count of possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.

Brigaudin and Phillips are charged together in one count of money laundering. Ortiz-Corrales and Luna are charged together in two counts of money laundering. Ortiz-Corrales and Herrera-Preciado are charged together in two counts of money laundering. Ortiz-Corrales, Herrera-Preciado and Zetina-Ortega are charged together in two counts of money laundering.

Vantuyl, Hall, Binney, Eft and Sherwood are each also charged with one count of possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.

Minor is also charged with two counts of distributing methamphetamine. Phillips is charged with one count of distributing methamphetamine.

Driggers is also charged with four counts of using a telephone to facilitate the drug-trafficking conspiracy. Binney is charged with two counts of using a telephone to facilitate the drug-trafficking conspiracy. Minor, Eft, Hall, Phillips, Watts and Sherwood are each charged with one count of using a telephone to facilitate the drug-trafficking conspiracy.

Watts is also charged with maintaining a premises that he made available for unlawfully storing, distributing, and using methamphetamine.

The indictment also contains forfeiture allegations that would require Brigaudin to forfeit to the government any property derived from the proceeds of the alleged drug-trafficking conspiracy, including $5,603, a 2006 Lincoln Mark LT and a 1998 Harley Davidson motorcycle, all of which were seized by law enforcement officers. A forfeiture allegation would require Phillips to forfeit $18,000, which was seized by law enforcement officers. A forfeiture allegation would require Ortiz-Corrales to forfeit $880 that was seized by law enforcement officers.

Documents previously filed in court said Brigaudin liked to spend time at Downstream Casino in Quapaw, Okla. Between January 2009 and April 2015, officers found out, he put more than $10 million into its slot machines and gained $8.4 million in winnings.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, IRS-Criminal Investigation, Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Springfield Police Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Ozark Police Department, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the COMET (Combined Ozarks Multijurisdictional Enforcement Team) Task Force and the South Central Drug Task Force all worked together on this case.



Comments Off on Police seize $17m of Methamphetamine in Bandidos gang sting

About $17 million of methamphetamine – 17 kilograms – has been seized following a seven-month police and Customs sting.1475621832436

Three people have been arrested and charged with importing methamphetamine, supplying methamphetamine and money laundering.

About $150,000 worth of jewelry and $200,000 cash were also recovered.

The sting, dubbed Operation Cossack, was an investigation into the alleged importing of methamphetamine by a member of the Thailand Chapter of the Bandidos Motor Cycle Gang.

Detective Senior Sergeant Albie Alexander of the Counties Manukau Organized Crime Unit said the methamphetamine was destined for the New Zealand market.1475621832436a

“Methamphetamine is a significant driver of crime in New Zealand,” he said.

“It ruins lives, destroys families and does enormous damage to our communities.”

Venkant Raman, a member of the Counties Manukau police South Asian Advisory Board, said Customs and the police had carried out a “meticulous” investigation.

“The impact of drugs on our communities can be devastating, and we as a community need to all stand up and say that we will not accept it,” he said.

Three men aged 54, 31 and 28 will appear in court this month in relation to the operation.

Police said further charges could be laid as the investigation continued.


Police describe the Bandidos as a worldwide organized crime syndicate.

The gang’s first chapter was started in Texas in the 1960s and there are now chapters throughout the United States, Europe, Australia and Southeast Asia.

It was established in New Zealand in 2012 and now has chapters in south Auckland and Christchurch, as well as prospect chapters in Dunedin and Invercargill.

The gang’s motto is “We are the people your parents warned you about.”

In Australia, the gang has clashed violently with fierce rivals The Rebels Motorcycle Club.

Gang expert Dr Jarrod Gilbert has previously said that it was unclear whether those conflicts would emerge in New Zealand.

“I do feel that in a growing scene gang violence becomes somewhat inevitable,” he said.

“In a crowded room, somebody is always going to get elbowed.”


Comments Off on University of Central Oklahoma professor Rashi Shukla examines Methamphetamine problem

Oklahoma was reaching an unprecedented height in the use of methamphetamine when Edmond author Rashi Shukla began her study on the impact of the illicit drug.

State legislators passed House Bill 2176 in 2004 to deal with the use of pseudoephedrine and meth labs in the state.

“That’s when we put pseudoephedrine behind the counter,” said Shukla, a professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Shukla will do a book signing of “Methamphetamine: A Love Story” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Full Circle Bookstore, 1900 N.W. Expressway in Oklahoma City.

“What motivated me to write the book was after coming back to Oklahoma after doing my Ph.D. in 2004, I needed to find something to research,” Shukla said.

She received her Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University and has served as lead investigator of a multi-method study of the methamphetamine problem for more than a decade. Her research, which focuses on offender decision-making and the evolution of drug problems, has been presented in numerous forums, both nationally and internationally.

“Methamphetamine: A Love Story” presents an insider’s view of the world of methamphetamine based on the life stories of 33 adults linked to the drug in Oklahoma

She designed a method of study and UCO supported her four-year effort that reveals different aspects of the meth problem. She interviewed former methamphetamine cooks. Some of them were directly involved in supplying the drug or using it.

These personal stories reveal how and why people with limited economic means and inadequate resources become entrapped in the drug epidemic, while challenging long-standing societal views about addiction, drugs, drug policy and public health, she said.

“We worked with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics to plot where the labs were being seized,” Shukla said. “We did a survey of all the law enforcement across the state to find out what was happening with methamphetamine after House Bill 2176 was passed.”

The highly profitable drug would sell for $100 a gram, and the manufacturers could spend $200 and make thousands of dollars, Shukla added.

HB 2176 was considered a victory because meth use began to decline in Oklahoma, she said. However, when she conducted a survey  in 2007-08, law enforcement agencies told her that while labs were declining, they began seeing cheaper and purer methamphetamine being trafficked on the streets from out-of-state sources.

“The cartels were bringing it in,” Shukla said.

Federal reports note the increase of trafficking mostly came from across the Mexican border. Drug cartels have always been involved in trafficking drugs from other places, notably cocaine and heroin, she said.

“Meth just became something that became trafficked into Oklahoma more,” she said.

After making public the revelations that have occurred subsequently since her study was done, law enforcement continues to struggle for a solution to the problem.

“We’ve actually seen an increase in meth arrests and possession in the last couple of years,” said Jenny Wagnon, Edmond Police spokeswoman. “We’re seeing more of it coming from drug cartels in Mexico — yes.”

What needs to be done next is a good question, Shukla said.

“It’s something that I, myself, have struggled with for 10 years since I’ve studied it,” she said. “I’ve worked with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and different law enforcement agencies. Really, it’s going to take a multi-faceted approach as we target prevention and treatment and trying to help people who are already immersed in it.

“We want a simple solution to a complex problem and there isn’t one.”

Available in hardback and paperback, “Methamphetamine: A Love Story” was published in July. The book will be available for sale at Full Circle Books and is also available online at the University of California Press website (see link in signature below) and on

A short audio podcast on the “story behind the story” of the book is available under Shukla Productions on YouTube or via the following link: Additional details about Shukla’s research and the project are available at


Comments Off on Melinda R. Bell, 34, of Seymour, faces four counts of dealing in Methamphetamine

A Seymour woman was arrested early Sunday morning on four Level 3 felony charges of dealing in methamphetamine near a school.57f2622340558_hires_-240x300

The charges against Melinda R. Bell, 34, were enhanced to Level 3 felonies because she sold methamphetamine to an undercover officer on at least four occasions from her residence near St. Ambrose Catholic School in Seymour, said Detective Cpl. Brian Moore with the Seymour Police Department.

Moore said Bell, who lives in the 300 block of South Chestnut Street, was getting the methamphetamine she was selling from the Louisville, Kentucky, area.

“She wasn’t going to Louisville,” he said. “Someone was getting it and delivering it to her.”

The investigation into Bell’s activities began just a little more than a year ago when police received information she was selling methamphetamine, Moore said.

He said Bell wasn’t selling large quantities of methamphetamine, but the charges were enhanced because she was selling methamphetamine near a school and when classes were in session.

Moore said the investigation is ongoing with other arrests possible.

Bell was booked into the Jackson County Jail in Brownstown at 1:20 a.m. Sunday and was being held without bond pending her initial hearing.

A Level 3 felony is punishable by three to 16 years in prison upon conviction.


Comments Off on Jason Robert Wilchinski, 36, leads Winona police on high-speed chase, is caught with Methamphetamine, hiding under porch clad only in his underwear

A string of obscenities and lack of a seatbelt triggered a far-from-merry chase for Winona police and a jail cell for an Onalaska man.photo184118width150

According to the criminal complaint filed Monday in Winona County District Court, the incident began at 5:17 p.m. Sunday when a vehicle driven by Jason Robert Wilchinski, 36, made a left turn in front of a Winona police officer stopped for the stop sign at Fourth Street and Mankato Avenue.

As Wilchinski pulled onto Fourth Street, he yelled a pair of unprovoked f-bombs at the officer, whose attention was drawn to Wilchinski’s lack of a seatbelt, court documents state.

The officer made a U-turn and Wilchinski accelerated sharply hitting speeds between 75 and 90 mph as he raced past Hamilton Street, then fishtailed left onto Franklin, where the officer terminated his pursuit, radioing in a description of Wilchinski.

The officer turned onto Franklin Street and was promptly flagged down by a passing bicyclist who pointed to Wabasha Street, where he soon spotted the vehicle he had been pursuing abandoned between Laird and Chestnut streets in the middle of the street, engine running, window down, doors unlocked.

Neighbors told the officer they heard the vehicle come to a screeching stop, then saw a man hopping fences through back yards. At the same time, dispatch was receiving numerous citizen reports of a man running through backyards near the 400 block of East Sanborn Street, with one caller reporting a man only in his underwear.

Officers approached, spotted Wilchinski’s head peering around a corner, then found him hiding under a porch, clad only in underwear and socks, the complaint said.

Officers pulled him out from under the porch, and once out, he immediately attempted to run and resisted efforts to handcuff him. Once subdued, a search turned up a baggie containing 0.07 gram of methamphetamine concealed in his sock. As he was wrestled toward a squad car he repeatedly yelled “Help!” and “I have a dead guy who follows me!”

He was taken to Winona Health for evaluation, and was then no more cooperative as he was booked into the jail. When his handcuffs were removed he grabbed cash off the booking room counter, ripped it up and ate a portion, and then pulled off his underwear, the complaint states.

Wilchinski made his initial court appearance Monday, charged with fleeing police in a motor vehicle, fifth degree possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine), obstructing the legal process with force, fleeing police on foot, and disorderly conduct. He remains in custody in the Winona County Jail in lieu of $50,000 unconditional bond or $10,000 bond with conditions.


Comments Off on California Department of Justice Special Agents Assist in 5-Month Methamphetamine Investigation – Guillermo Rea, 27, and Victor Ruvalcaba-Romero, 36, both of Goleta, arrested, 20 pounds of Methamphetamine seized

GOLETA -On October 1, 2016, The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of two men following a five-month undercover investigation in to the trafficking of methamphetamine. The investigation was conducted by investigators and special agents from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Special Investigations Bureau, Santa Barbara Regional Crime Abatement Team and the California Department of Justice.


During the investigation, undercover law enforcement officers negotiated to buy and have delivered 20 pounds of methamphetamine to a location within the City of Goleta. The two men who delivered the methamphetamine to the officers were identified as Guillermo Rea, 27, and Victor Ruvalcaba-Romero, 36, both of Goleta. The officers seized more than 20 pounds of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of over $729,600.

Rea and Ruvalcaba-Romero were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on drug possession and sales charges.10011601

“Drug dealers make their money by feeding the addictions of drug users who wreak havoc in our communities,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “I commend the investigators and agents who worked this case and I am thankful this investigation was conducted, and concluded with no injuries to any involved.  Undercover drug investigations are very dangerous operations.”


Comments Off on Natchitoches Sheriff: Richard Wayne Smith, 50, of Campti, found with syringe of Methamphetamine whilst being arrested

A Campti man being taken into custody on outstanding warrants tried to hide a syringe filled with meth in the back of a patrol car, according to a release.

On Saturday, Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s deputies went to the 200 block of Cloud Crossing Road near Campti to arrest Richard Wayne Smith, 50, on warrants 636110997203227646-ani-richard-wayne-smithcharging him with illegal possession of stolen things and simple criminal damage to property.

They found him in the front yard of a residence, where there also was a child, reads the release. Once the deputies told Smith why they were there, Smith yelled that he wasn’t going back to jail and ran away.

The deputies chased Smith through the house and onto a back porch, where he was caught. But Smith again began yelling that he wasn’t going to jail and “began swinging his arms, resisting arrest,” it reads.

“While attempting to place Smith in the rear of a patrol unit, a relative began walking towards deputies, screaming,” it continues. “A back-up unit arrived on scene, informing the relative to refrain from their actions.”

After Smith had been placed into the rear seat of the car, they saw him moving around and decided to search the area. The search produced the syringe with suspected meth, reads the release.

Smith was booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center, charged with the warrants, possession of meth, second or subsequent offense possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting an officer, illegal possession of a controlled dangerous substance in the presence of a minor and criminal obstruction of justice.

He remains in jail, awaiting bond.



SARASOTA COUNTY (WWSB) – A Nokomis man was arrested Friday after deputies discovered a large amount of methamphetamine on his person.

According to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO), detectives received 57f2992334e05_imageinformation that 36-year-old Johnathon Whitford would be traveling to Bradenton to pick up a large quantity of methamphetamine. Detectives were advised that Whitford would be driving in a 2003 gray, Chevrolet pickup.

Around 3:20 p.m., Whitford’s vehicle was observed by deputies, exiting I-75 southbound and continuing westbound on Laurel Road. During an investigative stop in the parking lot of 2348 Laurel Road in Venice, deputies performed a search of both Whitford’s person and his vehicle.

Reports say, deputies discovered a plastic baggy concealed in Whitford’s crotch area. The bag was tested and confirmed by the SCSO to contain 23.1 grams of methamphetamine.


Comments Off on Robby Lee Washington, 48, now a former Kuna assistant football coach, had his briefcase test positive for Methamphetamine, marijuana and cocaine

KUNA — The Kuna assistant football coach who was fired Friday after he was arrested for drug charges has posted bond.

Robby Lee Washington, 48, bonded out of the Canyon County jail after his personal possessions tested positive for meth, weed and cocaine.57ede0798c8b6_image

According to a probable cause affidavit obtained from the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office, Washington was pulled over by Nampa Police officers at 2 p.m. Thursday in downtown Nampa.

According to the affidavit, Nampa police received a call around 12:40 p.m. from a woman who said she was Washington’s ex-girlfriend and was pregnant with his child. She told police that Washington was dealing drugs out of his office and his home. She also informed police that Washington often carried drugs with him in his 2007 white Ford Edge. She told the police that Washington was dealing marijuana, cocaine, pills and methamphetamine.

A Nampa police officer saw Washington’s car pull into a loan office on 12th Avenue and Seventh Street South in Nampa around 1:45 p.m. Thursday, according to the affidavit. The reporting officer watched Washington enter the loan office with a black briefcase and walk out 15 minutes later with the same briefcase. When Washington pulled out of the parking lot onto Seventh Street South, he did not stop fully or use his blinker, the affidavit stated. The Nampa officer proceeded with a traffic stop.

Once the police officer made contact with Washington, another Nampa Police officer arrived to the scene with a police drug dog, the affidavit stated. The drug dog alerted the officers to the driver’s side window of Washington’s car. Once officers searched the car, the officers found a glass pipe with white crystal residue, a pen cap with white crystal residue and a baggie with white powdery substance.

Officers also located in a green cooler a digital scale with green leafy substance, rolling papers and a red container with green leafy substance. The second officer used a narcotics identification kit on scene for methamphetamine and tested some of the white crystal substance in the glass pipe. He said the result of that test was presumptive positive for methamphetamine, according to the affidavit.

Washington was arrested and transported to the Canyon County jail. The reporting officer later and weighed and tested the green leafy substance that had a total package weight of 17.6 grams and that tested presumptive positive for marijuana using a narcotics identification kit. He also tested the white powder in the baggie with a narcotics identification kit for cocaine. It tested presumptive positive for cocaine. The small amount of white crystal substance on the blue pen cap also tested presumptive positive for methamphetamine.




Washington made his first court appearance Friday. According to court documents, Judge Bradly Ford set Washington’s bond for $10,000, which Washington posted that day.

Washington is charged with two felony counts of possession of a controlled substance, one felony count of a persistent violator, one misdemeanor of possession of a controlled substance and one misdemeanor of drug paraphernalia with the intent to use.

He now faces up to a maximum sentence of life in prison. The maximum penalty for Washington’s felony drug charges is seven years in prison, but prosecutors told Ford on Sept. 30 that Washington’s past criminal history shows he is a “persistent violator” which can increase the maximum penalty to life in prison.

The Kuna school district has released a statement that said Washington would never have been hired had proper procedures been followed. The district is also making counselors available to students.



Comments Off on Florence County Sheriff’s deputies discover Methamphetamine lab in Suburban Extended Stay hotel on West Lucas Street

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – The Florence County Sheriff’s Office says they discovered a meth lab at a Florence hotel.wryh46yh4w4e5tq

According to Mike Nunn with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office, the meth lab was discovered at the Suburban Extended Stay on West Lucas Street.

Nunn also says one person was transported to an area hospital for treatment.

Officials say the investigation is ongoing.





Florence deputies discover meth lab in hotel


Comments Off on Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department: Keith M. Isaacs, 47, of Seymour, under influence of Methamphetamine when Mercedes hit teen, left the scene

BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY, Ind. – Police in Bartholomew County say a man was under the influence of methamphetamine when he struck a teen with his Mercedes and left the scene.tgrbhthswhwt

The crash happened around 9:30 p.m. Saturday on South Jonesville Road near Spears Street. A caller said a Mercedes struck a pedestrian and continued southbound.

4 Fast Facts

  • Police arrest man after hit-and-run crash in Bartholomew County
  • Witness said Mercedes was “all over the road” before hitting teen
  • Driver arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene
  • Police said the man had methamphetamine in his possession

Sgt. Kris Weisner with the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department saw the car and pulled it over. Weisner identified the driver as Keith M. Isaacs, 47, Seymour, who told the deputy that he didn’t realize he’d hit anyone with his car.

The deputy observed that Isaacs’ pupils were constricted, his eyes were droopy and his speech was slurred.

The witness who originally reported the crash said they were following Isaacs’ Mercedes and said the car was “all over the road” before hitting the pedestrian.

A 16-year-old was hit; the teen complained of pain in his hip and went to Columbus Regional Hospital, where he was treated and released.

Police found four baggies in Isaacs’ wallet that contained a crystalline substance; the substance tested positive for methamphetamine, police said.

Isaacs was arrested on preliminary charges of operating while intoxicated with a prior, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and possession of methamphetamine.




Police: Man under influence of meth when car hit teen, left the scene


Comments Off on Are Methamphetamine labs becoming more common in mid-Michigan?

Carolyn Disbrow lives in Leslie, a town she describes as quiet, but she says it felt like a cop show on Sunday afternoon as a mobile meth lab was busted outside of her house by Michigan State Police.wefwfwfww

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she says.

But D/Lt. Brian Bahlau of the Tri-County Metro Narcotics Squad says busts like these aren’t all that uncommon right now.

“I think it’s just as bad as ever,” Bahlau claims.

What MSP is noticing is that meth labs are moving.

“I think over the last year it’s become more prevalent in different locations,” Bahlau explains, “whereas some years back it was more prevalent in outlying county areas, maybe rural areas, not so much the city, but what we are seeing now is a lot of that coming into this city.”

This comes off a massive meth lab bust in south Lansing about a week ago that detectives described as the biggest they’ve seen in the area.

Bahlau points out: “just the fact that they’re cooking that much just shows how prevalent meth is.”

The lab had around 80 one-pots of meth, which Bahlau says is concerning for MSP:

“It is troubling, because the amount of pseudoephedrine necessary to do that many one pots would be significant. So it’s troubling in the sense that they’re able to get that much and cook that much.”

But Bahlau says investigations and busts like these two will hopefully put an end to meth in the area.



Comments Off on Organized Crime Dominates in Mexico’s Most Violent Cities

Many of Mexico‘s most violent cities are home to competing criminal groups and drug-fueled conflicts, a clear sign of how organized crime is contributing to the country’s worsening security situation.

The seven most violent cities in Mexico with a population of more than 100,000 are all in the states of either Colima or Guerrero, according to official figures collated by Animal Politico. Both of these states currently serve as battlegrounds between rival cartels.

Cities in states like Michoacán (Apatzingán, Zamora, Lázaro Cárdenas), Veracruz (Tierra Blanca, Papantla, Poza Rica de Hidalgo), Tamaulipas (Ciudad Victoria), Baja California (Playas de Rosarito, Tijuana, Tecate) and Sinaloa (Culiacán, Navolato, Mazatlán), which also have a high presence of criminal groups and illicit activity, are included as well in Animal Politico’s list of the country’s 50 most violent cities.

Some of the the worst-offending cities, however, share a state with Mexico’s least violent cities — Metepec and San Felipe de Progreso in the state of Mexico, for example, and San Andres Tuxtla in Veracruz.2016-09-30-mex_violent_cities

Despite claims by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to the contrary, homicides in Mexico have been on the rise since early 2016 and are now back to highs not seen since 2012.

More homicides were officially reported in July this year than during any other month of Peña Nieto’s term. There were 2,073 homicides that month, according to the National Public Security System (Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública – SNSP). July’s homicides bring the 2016 total to 12,376, a 16 percent increase over the same period a year earlier.

InSight Crime Analysis

Animal Politico’s ranking is further evidence that the Mexican government is losing in its battle against organized crime, with the country’s security institutions incapable of reining in violence perpetrated by and between criminal groups.

Tecoman and Manzanillo in Colima, two of the three most violent cities in Mexico, are both battlegrounds likely due to the port of Manzanillo, an important arrival point for the precursors needed for the production of methamphetamine. Violence in the state of Colima as a whole has soared this year, and according to security analyst Alejandro Hope, is currently the front line of a war for control between the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels. The tiny state is sandwiched between two other violent entities — Jalisco and Michoacán, where only recently a state police helicopter was shot down by a criminal group, possibly the Knights Templar.

Mexican authorities have made significant advances in battling the Knights Templar in Michoacán, as well as neutralizing a vigilante uprising turned nasty by transforming them into a Rural Defense Force. But that force has since been disbanded, and recent events point to an uptick in violence and a possible comeback for the Knights Templar.

As for Acapulco, Guerrero — one of the most violent cities in the world, not just Mexico — rivalries between dozens of gangs has for years seen murders happen on the beaches and boardwalks of one of Mexico’s tourism jewels. Criminal groups in Acapulco have fragmented, in part due to the weakening of the Beltran Leyva Organization. Authorities think that there could be as many as 50 different criminal groups operating across the state, which is the epicenter of poppy production in Mexico.

This list also shows how violence in Mexico isn’t generalized, but rather focused in specific regions and even sub-regions, which explains why in the same state — such as Veracruz and the state of Mexico — some cities can be plagued by violence while others are considered to be among the safest in the country.


Comments Off on El Chapo Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel vs Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG): War Erupts

Posted by Chuck B Almada  published from Inquisitr By Elizabeth Gail (Inquisitr)

Sunday 2 October, 2016

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has done a great job of growing the influence of his cartel over the years, with its operations extending to overseas markets such as Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, right, is escorted by soldiers and marines to a waiting helicopter, at a federal hangar in Mexico City, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016. The world's most wanted drug lord was recaptured by Mexican marines Friday, six months after he fled through a tunnel from a maximum security prison in an escape that deeply embarrassed the government and strained ties with the United States.(AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)Europe and the Philippines. But since he’s currently in prison, he has left a power vacuum that is problematic to fill. This has made rival cartels bolder in attempts to take over territories controlled by the Sinaloa Cartel, his organization.

And just recently, one of the fastest growing drug trafficking outfits in Mexico, the Jalisco New  Generation Cartel (CJNG), kidnapped one of El Chapo Guzman’s son, Jesus Alfredo Guzman. The move was believed to have been undertaken as a warning to the Sinaloa Cartel’s leadership, and a way to demonstrate that the CJNG had the means to intimidate the top brass.

Although Alfredo was released about a week after the kidnapping, it has been speculated that he was used as a bargaining chip to gain more narco-trafficking routes to the United States. The following is an excerpt on this from Fox News.

“Seven gunmen swept into La Leche restaurant in Puerto Vallarta’s hotel district early Monday, taking the 16 people gathered there by surprise. Without firing a shot, they marched six men out.
“In a flash, 29-year-old Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar became a valuable potential bargaining chip — or a high-profile casualty — in the cartel turf battles that are wreaking havoc in large swaths of Mexico. Analysts say Jalisco New Generation could try to use him as leverage to win territory or other gains from what has been the country’s dominant gang.”

And now, just a month after the incident, the two most dominant cartels in Mexico, The Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Sinaloa cartel are reported to be entangled in a war to dominate the American heroin market.

They have also been involved in violent conflicts in narco-trafficking corridors in Mexico such as Colima, Michoacan, Baja California Sur, and Baja California. According to Russell K. Baer, spokesperson for the Drug Enforcement Administration, the two have recently conflicted over smuggling routes and areas of influence within the United States.

One of the main indicators of the move to increase heroin supplies in the US is the recent drug bust that led to the discovery of a drug trafficking ring that moved the drug from Mexico to the East Coast via Arizona. The following is an excerpt of the report by Insight Crime on this.

“On September 23, law enforcement agencies in New York and Massachusetts announced a major bust of a nationwide heroin trafficking ring that allegedly moved drugs from Mexico to Arizona and on to East Coast markets. The same day, the Treasury Department blacklisted several individuals linked to the Sinaloa Cartel, including Eliseo Imperial Castro, the nephew of Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada Garcia.”

The number of heroin seizures has also gone up, indicating a shift in the market towards heroin. The drug has for a long time has been supplied to the East Coast by the Colombians. But according to the report, the Colombians are slowly losing their influence in the heroin trade game as they no longer control the streets. However, they are still the main suppliers of cocaine to the Mexicans who in turn have extensive drug distribution networks in America.

In other news, El Chapo Guzman’s sons are believed to have been behind a recent attack on a military convoy. The incident happened in Culiacan, Sinaloa, El Chapo Guzman’s territory, and was apparently to rescue one of the Sinaloa cartel’s operatives who was being escorted by the authorities. The convoy was apparently attacked using high powered guns and grenades leading to the death of five soldiers; while 10 ten others were wounded.

The suspect, Julio Oscar Ortiz Vega was said to have been rescued. He is believed to be a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa cartel. According to the Defense Department, the man had been picked up by the soldiers after a shootout in Badiraguato. He was apprehended while his accomplices fled.