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Entries in Meth Lab (5)

Monday
Dec052011

Elderly Math Professor Charged in Meth Bust

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- An elderly math professor who sought refuge in the U.S. as a former Soviet dissident has been charged with turning her Massachusetts home into a meth lab.

Irina Kristy, 74, an adjunct math professor at Suffolk University and lecturer at Boston University, was charged this week with conspiracy to violate drug laws, drug violation near a school and distribution of methamphetamine. Her son, Grigory Genkin, 29, was charged with the same crimes in November.

Police found numerous empty boxes of pseudoephedrine, as well as cans of solvents and chemicals known to be used in methamphetamine production, according to the police report.

Documents from the DEA show that authorities also found soda bottles filled with cloudy liquids, presumed to be by-products of the cooking process, according to the Somerville Journal.

Kristy, the owner of the home, told the Journal she did not know anything about the operation following the drug bust.

The police report, however, stated that police believed Kristy was at least somewhat involved in the crime.

Neither Kristy nor her son responded to calls from ABC News Monday.

Following the search, an arrest warrant for Kristy's husband, Sergei Genkin was issued, and he soon turned himself in to police. He was released on $1,000 bail and will have a preliminary hearing in Somerville District Court this month.

Kristy was charged this week. Officials at Suffolk University, where she has been an adjunct professor since 1985, said she has been placed on administrative leave through the end of the semester, and was not reappointed for the spring semester. A spokesman for Boston University, where she has lectured since 1987, did not want to comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec012011

ABC's 'Nightline' Investigates Rampant Meth Abuse in Kentucky

Courtesy of Operation UNITE(LONDON, Ky.) -- Methamphetamine abuse is exploding across rural America now that cooks with the right elements can set up shop virtually anywhere, and in Kentucky, meth labs have nearly tripled in the past three years.

Fighting methamphetamine production has become an all-consuming battle for deputy director Dan Smoot, who leads a taskforce in London, Ky., called Operation Unite.  ABC's Nightline was granted access, cameras rolling, as a team of 30 police officers, most of whom were undercover and in unmarked vehicles, set out at 9 a.m. one morning, targeting local drug stores, including a Walgreens, a CVS and a Wal-Mart.

"The one single ingredient they must have to produce methamphetamine is pseudoephedrine," Smoot said.

Pseudoephedrine is found in over-the-counter cold medicines such as Sudafed.  While these pills may provide relief to cold sufferers, to criminals who are in the business of making meth, these pills are gold.  Meth-makers legally buy as much of the raw product as they can at local pharmacies and drug stores.

A federal law designed to crack down on methamphetamine abuse sets a hard limit on pseudoephedrine: No more than nine grams, or about seven packs, per customer each month.  But to get around that limit, which is electronically tracked by drug stores in certain states, meth users will team up so that each can buy the maximum at once.  Smoot explained that it's a practice known as "smurfing," named after the little blue cartoon characters, Smurfs, who are small, but mighty as a team.

Inside a Walgreens, an undercover cop tracked three women who arrived together in a red Monte Carlo.  The officer reported back to Smoot that all three purchased pseudoephedrine and he believes one of them shoplifted before they crowded into the women's bathroom.

When confronted, the three women's stories didn't add up.  One of them was arrested on drug charges and another was arrested for the possession of meth and driving under the influence, but her case was eventually dismissed.  The third woman in the car was not charged, but police arrested a fourth woman at a trailer park residence for outstanding warrants.

"The classic case of 'smurfing,'" Smoot said.  "The one lady had recruited two of the younger girls to go around to the pharmacies and purchase pseudo, and that's what we saw in the store.  She gave the one girl money."

Smoot added that this sort of situation is an "everyday occurrence" in Kentucky.

"We're now number three in the United States of America for production," he said.

One new and difficult problem for police is the portable one-pot meth labs that the task force called "shake and bakes."  Joel Cunigan, an Operation Unite taskforce detective, said this method is so popular because the products needed to quickly make a small batch of meth are readily available with a few visits to local stores.

By mid-afternoon, the task force found that the Walgreens pharmacy was so crowded with people buying cold medicines with psuedoephedrine that the store actually sold out.  Smoot speculated that about 70 percent of the people legally purchasing the pseudoephedrine that day would probably use it to illegally manufacture methamphetamine.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr042011

Meth Labs Multiply as Cleanup Dollars Shrink

Hermera Technologies/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Last year, Sheriff Joe Guy's department busted 161 meth labs in McMinn County in eastern Tennessee -- at an average cost to the federal government of $3,250 per lab. This year, he's expecting at least as many labs as in 2010, but there's no federal cleanup money this time around.

Just as it's getting easier for users to make methamphetamine, federal budget cuts are making it harder for authorities to dispose of meth labs' toxic leftovers.

After losing the millions of dollars they once used to clean up the battery acid, starting fluid, anhydrous ammonia and other hazardous chemicals used in meth's manufacture, local law enforcement agencies across the country are scrambling to find money for lab disposal.

Until the end of February, the Drug Enforcement Administration paid for lab cleanup through a large grant from the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services. The DEA provided $19.2 million to states and local agencies for the disposal of more than 10,000 labs last year. But now, the grant is exhausted, and the proposed federal budget doesn't include any funding to replenish it.

With no wiggle room in their budgets, agencies around the country are begging legislators and county commissioners for money for lab cleanup. But with budget pressures at every level of government, local law officers said they realize they may have to fill the funding void with money from their own departments' budgets. They're just wondering how they're going to do it.

Because the "one-pot" or "shake-and-bake" method makes it easier -- and more dangerous -- for individual abusers to make the drug themselves, the number of labs is climbing. The 10,393 labs that DEA paid to dispose of last year was a 38-percent increase from the year before, and 12,500 or more are expected in 2011.

To combat the growing number of labs, at least 10 states have considered legislation this year that would make pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in meth and cold and allergy medications, harder to get, either by tracking purchases so individuals can't buy in bulk or by making the medication prescription only. But the prescription-only laws have met stiff resistance from lobbying groups who say the legislation would be burdensome for innocent allergy sufferers, and the measures have already failed in several states.

For now, even amid the financial concerns, law enforcement officers say cutting back on lab busts is not an option. But law enforcement can't afford to pay for lab cleanup and continue to conduct business as usual, said Chuck Lange, executive director of the Arkansas Sheriffs Association. Departments "might have to lay people off," he said.

There may be help from the Environmental Protection Agency, which has a program to reimburse local governments for responding to environmental hazards, meth labs included. But they must meet certain eligibility requirements, and funding is limited.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov302010

$44.6 Million in Meth Seized from Home

Photo Courtesy - Gwinnett County Police(NORCROSS, Ga.) -- Investigators in Georgia have uncovered nearly 1,000 pounds of methamphetamine in what is believed to be one of the largest meth busts in U.S. history.
 
The Gwinnett County Police Department announced Tuesday that the amount of meth confiscated had an estimated street value of over $44.6 million. 
 
Law enforcement searched the home, which is believed to be abandoned, after they received information that a large amount of the drug was being produced inside.

Thirty-three-year-old Jose Galvez-Vela, of Weslaco, Texas, was taken into custody and charged with the trafficking of methamphetamine.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Oct232010

Drug Lab Found in Georgetown University Dorm

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department has arrested three individuals in connection with a drug lab found in a freshman dorm room at Georgetown University.

Harbin Hall was evacuated early this morning after campus police received a call about a “funny smell.” When they arrived, police found what they suspected to be a meth lab. Officials say that upon further investigation, they determined that the lab was meant to produce dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, a hallucinogenic drug.

Three individuals have been placed under arrest for possession of drug paraphernalia – two Georgetown students and another who does not attend the university.

The first two officers to respond underwent a medical evaluation, but had no injuries.

In an e-mail to students, the school said the investigation is ongoing.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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