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Entries in Methamphetamine (10)

Thursday
May022013

Rescued California Teen Hiker Charged With Meth Possession

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- Nicolas Cendoya, one of the teenage hikers lost for days in the California wilderness after becoming disoriented on a hike, has been charged with possession of methamphetamine.

Cendoya, 19, and Kyndall Jack, 18, went hiking near Trabuco Canyon, Calif., on March 31. When they failed to return, officials launched a massive search effort. They were both found separately several days later.

At a news conference following his rescue and release from the hospital, Cendoya said he and Jack wanted to touch the clouds and misjudged how long it would take when they were hiking. It was their first date.

He said he was disoriented and hallucinated while he was lost, at one point believing tigers were stalking him.

Police found 497 mg of meth in Cendoya's car, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
"It was found on April 2 when deputies were looking in the car for any information that might help them find the missing hikers," Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, told ABCNews.com.

Cendoya was charged with one felony count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine. If convicted, his sentence could range from probation to three years in jail, according to Emami. He could also be eligible for a drug diversion program.

Jack has not been charged with anything at this time, the district attorney's office said. Investigators did not ask Cendoya or Jack to take drug tests after their rescues, according to ABC News' Los Angeles station KABC.

Cendoya did not respond to requests for comment and the district attorney's office did not know if he has retained an attorney. His arraignment is scheduled for May 22.

Cendoya was barefoot, shirtless and disoriented when he was found on the evening of April 3 and taken to the hospital for treatment for dehydration and other injuries. Jack, 18, was found the morning of April 4. She was shoeless and clinging to a ledge.

When the pair got lost, they tried to call 911 but their cell phone battery died. Cendoya said he and Jack tried to find their way down the mountain, fell and got separated.

"I just remember going into a lucid dream, I fell and I was unconscious," he said at an April 7 news conference.

His physician, Dr. Stephen Desantis, said Cendoya showed signs of blunt-force trauma to a lung, likely from the fall, causing amnesia and an injury that allowed air to escape from his lungs and sit in the middle of his chest, KABC also reported.

Cendoya said he didn't remember much after the fall, but added that for the five days he was lost, he ate plants to stay alive and hallucinated about being stalked by tigers.

Cendoya and Jack are believed to have gone off the trail near Holy Jim Trail, a tree-lined dirt path along a creek that leads to a waterfall and is popular with day hikers.

In the 911 call, they said they were about a mile from Jack's car, which was parked at a trailhead, but rescuers expanded the search when they weren't found nearby.

The area is in a section of the national forest in the Santa Ana Mountains, which lie along the border of Orange and Riverside counties southeast of Los Angeles. The trail ranges in elevation from about 2,000 feet to about 4,000 feet.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug172012

Real-Life Walter White (Not "Breaking Bad") Wanted for Meth

Tuscaloosa County Sheriffs Office(TUSCALOOSA COUNTY, Ala.) -- Walter White is wanted for cooking methamphetamine and he’s at the top of the most wanted list. The real Walter White, that is.

TV fans know Walter White as Bryan Cranston‘s character on the hit AMC series Breaking Bad. On the show, the high school chemistry teacher turns to cooking meth in order to provide for his family, and winds up producing the highest quality meth in New Mexico.

But there is a real Walter White out there in Alabama and he’s been placed on the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office most wanted list for violating his probation from a 2008 charge of making methamphetamine, according to the Tuscaloosa County Sherriff. Breaking Bad is not based on him.

White, 55, of Alabama, was on probation when he was arrested on similar charges in January. He is labeled as a “top priority” on the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office website. White’s last known address was in McCalla, Ala.

Investigators do not currently have any leads on White’s whereabouts, according to Sgt. Andy Morris.

“Anyone involved in illegal narcotics, we want to get those people off the street,” Morris told ABC News. “Mainly the reason we put him on the most wanted list is for his probation violation, and we want to get him back in jail.”

The deputies on Breaking Bad could take a few notes from the ones in Tuscaloosa County. They have locked up more than 250 people on meth charges in the last year, according to Sgt. Morris.

“We’ve got some deputies that that’s their specialty of putting those offenders in jail,” Morris said.

Although he says catching drug dealers is “probably not as dramatic” as trying to catch the fictional Walter White on Breaking Bad.

Breaking Bad premiered on AMC in 2008. Cranston won the Emmy for “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series” three years in a row for his role as Walter White. He is also nominated for another Emmy this year.  The show is currently in its fifth and final season.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug012012

California Man in Custody After Meth Found in Fake Snickers Bars

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- A California man is in custody after authorities said they found $250,000-worth of meth hidden inside 45 individually-wrapped candy bars in his checked bags.

Rogelio Mauricio Harris, 34, was arrested Friday by ICE agents at Los Angeles International Airport as he prepared to board a flight to Japan.

During a routine baggage inspection, agents with Customs and Border Protection found a cellophane-wrapped box of nearly four dozen candy bars, according to authorities.  The candy bars, which were disguised as Snickers, were filled with approximately 1,600 grams, or a little over 4 pounds, of methamphetamine.  Officials with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) said they believe the contraband would have sold for as much as $250,000 in Japan.

"The box appeared to be professionally wrapped," said Lee Harty, a CBP spokesperson.

Harty said CBP officers noticed something was off when the box of candy bars seemed to weigh more than normal.  When officials applied pressure to one of the candy bars, "it did not budge," she said.  Once cracked in half, authorities found the chocolate-like exterior was filled with a white substance, which was later determined to be methamphetamine.

Harris is charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.  If he is found guilty, he faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison.

"This seizure is a great example of the enforcement work that CBP officers perform every day at our ports of entry, to not only keep illegal contraband and illegal criminal proceeds from entering the country, but from leaving the country as well," said Todd Owen, CBP director of field operations in Los Angeles.  

Other recent smuggling attempts have involved concealing contraband in Easter eggs, snack food bags, and cans of refried beans.

"The fact that this ruse was detected should serve as a deterrent for others who might be considering trying similar tactics to conceal dangerous contraband," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of HSI Los Angeles.

Businessweek has ranked Snickers as the fourth most popular candy bar by sales in the U.S., and the manufacturer of the candy bar, Mars Inc., calls it the best-selling candy bar in the world on its website.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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

Thursday
Dec012011

Former Colorado Sheriff Arrested, Held in Jail Named After Him

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LITTLETON, Colo.) -- Patrick Sullivan was such a popular sheriff that Arapahoe County renamed the jail after him when he retired. In an ironic twist, however, Sullivan was arrested on drug charges this week, and is now an inmate at the the Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Facility.

The former top cop in Arapahoe County, which includes Littleton, Colo., is facing charges that he planned to distribute methamphetamine after police found him allegedly offering to trade the drug for sex with a man.

Sullivan, 68, who served as sheriff from 1984 to 2002, was arrested on Tuesday.

“I was saddened by the allegations and very disappointed,” Grayson Robinson, the current Arapahoe County sheriff, told ABC News.  “First and foremost we have a greater purpose here and that is to be able to serve our community.  No one, including a law enforcement officer, is above the law.”

During his time as sheriff, Sullivan won the distinction of being the 2001 National Sheriff’s Deputy of the Year and took on a role in a methamphetamine policy-making task force that provided recommendations to the state legislature.

Former Arapahoe County District Attorney Jim Peters, who worked with Sullivan, told the Denver Post the allegations against Sullivan are “totally out of character.”

“He was completely ethical, upright and honest,” Peters told the newspaper.  “He just oozed honesty and integrity.  He was an outstanding sheriff.”

After retiring from law enforcement in 2002, the jail was renamed after him and Sullivan went on to become the director of safety and security for Cherry Creek Schools.  He retired from the school district in 2008.

Sullivan is being held on $500,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 5.

There is no word yet from the City Commissioner whether there are plans to rename the jail.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug042011

California Mom Faces Murder Charges for Alleged Meth-Laced Breast Milk

BananaStock/Thinkstock(HUMBOLDT, Calif) -- The Humboldt County District Attorneys Office has filed a murder charge against 26-year old Maggie Jean Wortman on allegations she killed her 6-week-old son by feeding him methamphetamine-laced breast milk.

The Times Standard reports Wortman was originally facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and felony child endangerment on July 20, but the DA’s office recently decided to file a murder charge in light of evidence presented during the hearing.

Detectives originally arrested Wortman after a two month investigation determined her son died in November due to “methamphetamine toxicity.” Wortman's 19-month-old daughter is reportedly in protective custody after she also tested positive for methamphetamine.

Wortman is currently being held in the Humboldt County jail without bail.

Reacting to the DA’s decision Tuesday, Wortman’s attorney M.C. Bruce says the facts of the case don’t support the charge.

She faces a maximum prison sentence of nine years if convicted on all counts.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul262011

West Virginia School Shut Down after Meth Residue Found

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(BOONE COUNTY, W.Va.) -- A West Virginia school where the principal and a teacher were arrested for allegedly smoking meth has been shut down because meth residue was found in the building's duct system.

Boone County officials shut down Boone County Career and Technical Center on July 22.

"There were positive tests that came back for the residue of methamphetamines," West Virginia Department of Education Spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro told ABC News. "What we had were micrograms, a very small amount, but nonetheless we're being very proactive...until we absolutely know that this is cleaned up and the health and safety of the students is number one."

The vocational school will reopen once the residue is cleaned up.

Cordeiro said that this is the first school in West Virginia to be shut down because of methamphetamine contamination.

Exposure to low levels of meth residue can cause headaches, dizziness and nausea, a spokeswoman for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources said.

Individuals might get sick from inhaling toxic substances at a site where meth ingredients were used or from inhaling second hand smoke from individuals using the drug, according to the state's Department of Health and Human Resources. It also warned that if someone's skin is exposed to a surface contaminated with meth, that can pose a health risk too.

Meth residue was found in the school's duct system and the main office, WCHS reported.

"As the smoke would raise it gets in the duct work and it's spread throughout the school system," West Virginia State Police Sgt. A.S. Perdue told ABC News affiliate WCHS.

It was recommended, not required, that the school shut down. School officials do not believe the school was used as a meth lab where the meth was both cooked and smoked.

The testing of the school was prompted after West Virginia State Police alerted the Department of Health and Human Resources in June that methamphetamines may have been smoked by a teacher and a principal at the school.

In May, Principal Keith Phipps and teacher Jack Turley were arrested as part of a months long investigation that alleges they smoked meth on the school's campus, WCHS reported. They were both suspended by district officials.

Turley confessed to state police that he bought Sudafed pills from a man, converted them to methamphetamine, and smoked it at the school, WCHS reported.

The vocational school teaches 450 students during the school year. This summer, about 20 students were attending classes, Cordeiro said.

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







ABC News Radio