This is dedicated to Travis Holappa who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered on July 25, 2004 in Northern Minnesota. This was all due to meth. I am Travis' mother and I wish to make this devastation turn into a better thing by educating and exposing the truth about meth, the dangers, and the deadly consequences it brings about to individuals and communities.

My Photo
Location: Colorado, United States

I want to do what I can to educate people about what is going on around the world with the meth problem. I want people to know about it BEFORE they even get the idea to want to try it. It is a dangerous drug and will ruin your life as well as all those who love you. I am on a mission on behalf of my only son, Travis.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Meth Meeting at hometown (USA - Virginia, Minnesota)

Meth effects, education are focus of public forum

Charles Ramsay

Editor at MMI

VIRGINIA, MN — By one estimate, St. Louis County taxpayers are already paying 10¢ of every dollar in property taxes on the methamphetamine scourge.

And, numbers underscoring the rise in meth use are startling: The number of cases relating to meth in northern St. Louis County is rising, about 72 percent higher in 2004 than in 2000, from 37 to 135.

Of 195 drug cases with charges brought by the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office in 2004, 135 were meth-related, according to figures from Sheriff Ross Litman. In Duluth and the county’s south, 215 cases with drug charges involved only 46 meth-related cases in 2003 (114 of 180 in the north, in 2003).

And, as Sixth District Court Judge Florey agreed Monday during a question-answer portion of a public forum on meth use in the area at the Miners Memorial, meth “is a drug that affects all ages,’’ with only small numbers prosecuted.

The extent of the drug’s use in northern St. Louis County, and educational efforts being planned for school districts by Iron Range Youth in Action, were food for thought at the forum organized by county Commissioner Keith Nelson, for a crowd of about 200 persons.

Meth is having a large impact on the county, “broader than any other drug we’ve encountered,’’ County Administrator Dana Frey told the audience.

The drug’s impact and cost to the county, and taxpayers, was estimated at about $8 million to $9 million in 2005, from surveying departments, Frey said: $4 million-$5 million in human services costs, including 1/3 of the out-of-home placements and 1/2 of detox treatment in meth; $550,000 in County Attorney’s Office costs; $1 million in jail costs just for inmates in meth related cases (including burglary and thefts), and about $900,000 annually in law enforcement costs just with the drug; and $1.2 million in related costs to Arrowhead Regional Corrections, including probation; and $200,000 in employee safety and education efforts.

One meth case prosecuted in Ramsey County racked up a cost of $140,000, from law enforcement and social services, to public defender, prosecution, court, probation, prison, chemical dependency treatment and environmental site cleanup, Frey said.

The county is responding with an approach involving prevention through education, enforcement with local, sheriff’s and statewide agencies, treatment, including drug court in the Duluth area, and mitigation of social impacts, among other things, he added.

St. Louis County Sheriff Ross Litman acknowledged the skyrocketing numbers of cases with meth, and that the “workload has increased dramatically in the last four-five years.’’

But he also saw some hope in enforcement: “I think we’re starting to turn the tide,’’ he told the crowd.

Two drug task forces, of 22 in the state, operate in the area, Boundary Waters in the north and Lake Superior in the south; four drug dogs have been added to the department; education and training efforts are ongoing with sheriff’s employees; and the Duluth-area drug court continues to be “an excellent, excellent option’’ and $15,000 less in costs of incarcerating a person who is in the program, in prison. The county’s Emergency Response Team is specially trained to handle meth situations and is available to cases around the region, Litman said.

Sheriff’s Lt. Tim Harkonen, of the Hibbing sheriff’s office and a commander of the response team, said that several team member who went into toxic meth-related sites suffered effects, and are “going to be dying a lot younger than they should.’’

Chris Ismil of Iron Range Youth in Action detailed educational efforts to be made in many Iron Range schools, including teacher materials and student workbooks aimed at grades 7-12 to be available by late summer or fall; a number of school assemblies are being planned as well as in-class speakers, some already who have visited school, he explained.

Youth wanting to try alcohol or marijuana can get drunk or high at a party or gathering, and then someone may offer some free “candy’’: The first time you take that, you’re toast,’’ Ismil said.

Curriculum being developed for the region probably is among the first in the state, and videos also will be available on scenarios, and testimonials from those affected, he added.

Pat Grahek, a chemical dependency counselor on the Range for 24 years, said he was “thrilled” to see the big turnout Monday, as “we need everybody in this fight.’’

Meth is made “out of junk you take from under your kitchen sink,’’ having powerful psychological, emotional and physical effects that can cause an otherwise-healthy person starting it to deteriorate quickly. “It’s a terrible thing to see someone destroyed by this drug,’’ Grahek said.

While insurance companies may not cover treatment, which is needed a lot longer for a meth addict, the good news is that there are people who’ve become hooked on it who have gotten off it, he added.

An effective method for parents to use is to greet their teen child at the door on a Friday night, see if their pupils are dilated, give them a big hug — “and when you do that, inhale,’’ Grahek said.

Groups aid recovery for meth addicts (Minnesota)

Editor's note: This is the seventh part in a series of stories about the effects of meth use.

By Adam Hammer, Tribune features reporter

Overcoming methamphetamine addiction is not an easy task. Just ask David Parnell, who spoke last week at the Albert Lea High School or many of the others who have overcome their battle with addiction.

Many recovering addicts have received help from institutions such as Fountain Centers in Albert Lea. But with meth addiction still a fairly young dependency known to the Midwest, programs to help recovering addicts stay clean outside of institutionalized treatment are slim.

The Rev. Peter Soli of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Alden has realized the need for group settings to aid recovery and has called on others from the area to join in.

“I really believe a lot of it has the phenomena of many support-type groups,” Soli said. “People who have gone through the same things bond together.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction are cognitive behavioral interventions. Institutionally, these approaches are designed to help modify the patients thinking, expectancies and behaviors and to increase skills in coping with various life stresses.

Meth recovery support groups also appear to be effective in regards to behavioral interventions, according to the NIDA, that can lead to long-term drug-free recovery.

Soli first began putting his group together when the local Meth Task Force was formed. He set out to answer the question, what can we do as a church?

“I got into it believing no one is setting off to get addicted,” Soli said.

He sought financial assistance from the Blue Earth River Conference through the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America to set up and train a group to assist people in need of help. The United Way Meth Task Force also donated to the cause.

Soli took multiple avenues to find out what kinds of interventions were working.

Local law enforcement pointed Soli in the direction of Minnesota Teen Challenge which had had some success with recovering methamphetamine users.

One more redirection pointed Soli towards Turning Point Ministries. Their Living Free materials and vice president Dan Strickland led Soli and his group in training.

Strickland's program operated on the belief that we live in an addictive culture, Soli said.

With training from Turning Point Ministries, Soli established inside groups with people from multiple denominations.

“People wouldn't have to be spiritual to benefit,” Soli said. “The idea is to support and help people with their addictions.”

The idea is to call on the resources of the church with framing around spirituality.

Now it comes to how to offer smaller groups within area communities, Soli said.

“Part of what we're going to be able to find is where our support is,” he said.

Soli believes battling meth addiction will take a concerted effort from families and communities to find instances of meth use and addiction early.

“Early intervention can be a positive thing,” Soli said. “As a consequence you're able to be more successful.”

(Contact Adam Hammer at or 379-3439.)

Abortion rights group sounds alarm at pending legislation (Wyoming)

Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- A Wyoming abortion rights group says it will try to shoot down two proposed bills in the next month's legislative session, contending both would diminish abortion rights.

One of the bills, House Bill 87, would expand the state's criminal child endangerment statute to allow prosecution of mothers whose newborns test positive for exposure to methamphetamine in the womb. The other bill, Senate File 66, would impose an additional 20-year penalty to anyone who murders a pregnant woman.
Sharon Breitweiser, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wyoming in Laramie, said Monday her group is lobbying against both bills. Although sponsors of both say they're not aimed at diminishing abortion rights, Breitweiser says her group doesn't believe it.

"It's a difficult area on bills such as this, where the sponsors insist that's not the intent," Breitweiser said. "But anytime you go into the statutes, and you start redefining 'child,' or establish that (a fetus) has competing interests to the woman who is carrying the pregnancy, you're getting on a very slippery slope."
It's a short step from such measures, Breitweiser said, to "going toward where abortion is considered murder."

Rep. Elaine Harvey, R-Lovell, is the main sponsor of the bill to extend Wyoming's existing child-endangerment law to include exposing fetuses to methamphetamine.
Harvey pledged to pursue such legislation last year after a state district judge in Lander dismissed a child endangerment case against a woman whose newborn child tested positive for methamphetamine. Only South Carolina and a few other states currently permit prosecutors to pursue charges against women they think have harmed their fetuses by taking illegal drugs.

Asked about NARAL Pro-Choice Wyoming's opposition to her bill, Harvey said Monday, "I don't know how people read things like that into it. The meth babies bill is just simply to say 'get some help."'

"It's not OK to deliver methamphetamine-addicted babies," Harvey said. "Once a mother passes the legal term for getting an abortion, then she's chosen to deliver a baby. I'm not talking about whether this baby's being born, I'm talking about a live baby being born addicted to meth. And the state has an interest in a child being born healthy."
While Breitweiser said her group intends to lobby to keep either bill from getting the two-thirds vote it needs to be heard as a non-budget matter in this year's budget session, Harvey said she's confident that the Legislature will vote to consider expanding the criminal endangerment statute.

Breitweiser said her group believes that punishing women for their behavioral and health problems during pregnancies is bad for women, their children and families.
"We believe that when you start threatening to throw women in jail, and fine them for their drug use during pregnancy, that you could be encouraging them not to have health care at all, or even having an abortion," Breitweiser said.
On the Senate bill that would set an increased penalty for killing a pregnant woman, Breitweiser said Wyoming law already allows sanctions up to the death penalty for those convicted of murder.

While Breitweiser said her group doesn't condone violence against women, she said, "We believe that Wyoming does have existing laws on the books to deal with this. We feel that adding an additional 20-year mandatory sentence for an additional crime of homicide for an unborn child would serve no real purpose. There are some concerns that you are elevating the status of a fetus without actually addressing the causes of violence against women."

Rep. Thomas E. Lubnau II, R-Gillette and one of the sponsors of the Senate bill, said he doesn't see the bill as an effort to undermine abortion rights.
"When a woman is pregnant, and somebody knows that a woman is pregnant, and she wants to carry the baby to term, there are two lives there," Lubnau said. "That choice has been made, it's a choice to carry that life to term. And if somebody takes that life, there should be an enhanced penalty for that."

Methamphetamine (meth) labs and the impact on children (Wisconsin)

Todd Priebe column: Meth labs pose special dangers to kids

This week and next I'll be discussing methamphetamine (meth) labs and the impact on children.
It is unknown exactly how many methamphetamine labs we have in Sheboygan County. What we do know is where there is meth being produced there is a potential for children being present.
As meth sweeps through the United States, law enforcement officials are serving search warrants and finding children that are testing positive for toxic levels of chemicals at a fast-growing rate. The chemicals used to make meth are harmful to everyone and particularly dangerous to children.
When parents are using and manufacturing meth, their concern for children is lost. The most important thing in the life of a meth addict is getting high. Children are exposed to toxic wastes in their bedrooms and in the bathrooms. Chemicals used to produce meth end up on the floor where infants and toddlers are crawling and we all know how often kids put their hands in their mouths.
There are several dangers for children being raised within a home manufacturing meth.
Threats to the children's welfare are physical contamination, fire, explosion and inhaling toxic chemical gases. Children become contaminated when chemicals or chemical mixtures come in contact directly or indirectly with the skin. Clothing, toys and household items eventually become contaminated and then contaminate the child.
The processing of producing meth requires the mixing of various chemicals such as white gas, lithium, red phosphorous and Red Devil Lye, just to name a few.
The meth cook will use and store mixtures in unlabeled fluid and drink containers often left on the floor or on counter tops where toddlers and infants can reach them.
Some cooks will use household baking and cookware only to reuse the contaminated cookware for actual food preparation. Once a container has been contaminated with the chemicals used to make meth, the container — no matter how much you clean it — is unsafe. Chemical waste by-products flushed down the bathtub ends up contaminating children when taking a bath. It is also not uncommon for chemical waste by-products to be dumped in play areas outside the home.
Since meth cooks are also users, additional dangers are present in the home. Razor blades, syringes and pipes are often within a child's reach. For protection, some meth cooks will have a loaded, ready-to-fire firearm.
Some will even set explosives or booby traps with the intention of either protecting the meth lab from other drug dealers or the police or for intentionally destroying the lab when discovered by law enforcement.
To help prevent detection by law enforcement, meth cooks will seal the residence, causing poor ventilation and increasing toxic fume concentrations.
When children are discovered at a meth lab, not only are the children dirty, pale and lethargic, but they also test positive for methamphetamine or chemical exposures. It's unknown what the long-term consequences are from exposures to a methamphetamine lab; however immediately identified problems are delayed verbal skills, neurological and respiratory injuries.
Next week I will continue this topic with abuse and neglect, social problems, and signs of an exposed child.

Education seen as key to meth fight (Kentucky)

By Jared Nelson

Monday, January 30, 2006
Caldwell County Drug Endangered Children Coalition members are currently pinning their hopes on education as the first step in helping free children from toxic home environments where methamphetamine and other drugs are present.

The coalition met this month and heard from two Muhlenberg County officers active in their communities’ efforts to combat the drugs’ influence on children.

Greenville Police Chief J.W. Robertson and the Rev. Curtis McGehee, chaplain with the Muhlenberg County Sheriff’s Department, briefed the local coalition about their county’s programs.

“They’re way ahead of us,” said Sheriff Stan Hudson, one of the local coalition’s organizers.

Robertson said the Muhlenberg County coalition was formed after an initial contact by Cheyenne Albro, director of the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force.

Robertson and the county’s judge/executive sent letters to representatives of various interested or pertinent organizations asking them to attend an organizational meeting.

More than 100 people attended that meeting, the chief said, and the coalition was underway.

Keeping the public educated and informed, he added, is an important step in the fight against drugs, particularly meth.

“The general public does not know about the meth problem,” he said.

The coalition has formed subcommittees to segregate its duties, including education, with help from students in the county’s schools.

“Those students are taking a big role,” he said, citing the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) group as an example.

Students are encouraged to inform teachers, officers or other authorities if a parent or guardian is manufacturing or abusing drugs.

Middle school, Robertson said, is a good age group to target.

McGehee, who heads the coalition’s faith-based efforts, discussed some of the education and prevention activities undertaken in Muhlenberg County.

“People in the community do not realize what this is doing to our rural communities,” he said. “There’s nothing in America that we face, I don’t think, more dangerous than methamphetamine.

Robertson and McGehee advised the Caldwell County coalition to form subcommittees to handle individual aspects of the effort to protect children endangered by drugs and select a coordinator for each subcommittee formed.

Some subcommittees will focus on primary response: actual on-scene care and comfort for children removed from households where meth and/or other drugs are manufactured.

Robertson and McGehee showed the coalition Muhlenberg County’s mobile response trailer, which contains decontamination equipment, clothing, toys and supplies for such situations.

The county has not yet had to use the trailer, but it is kept stocked for whenever the need arises.

Hudson said Friday that the local coalition was also seeking to obtain a trailer, through either a direct donation or with funding assistance from the narcotics task force, and supplies to make it active.

The coalition is also concentrating on education efforts.

Members are making arrangements with the county school system to have anti-drug programs in each school: primary, elementary, middle and high.

The coalition is also working to get the county’s churches and civic groups involved.

Subcommittees are now being formed. The coalition meets quarterly; its next meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 12.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Special meth units in prisons make sense

Monday, January 30, 2006

Pantagraph Editorial

A concentrated drug-treatment and job-training program aimed at convicted methamphetamine addicts offers hope for breaking the cycle of drug addiction and crime.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich has the right idea. He wants to turn the Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center into a treatment facility for convicted methamphetamine addicts and add a meth unit at Sheridan Correctional Center.

Early results from Sheridan's 2-year-old Model Drug Prison & Re-entry program look good. Officials say the recidivism rate for inmates leaving Sheridan has been cut in half since the program began.

Focusing on methamphetamine addicts makes sense because that's the fastest growing problem.

Blagojevich noted that 961 meth-manufacturing labs were discovered and dismantled in 2004 compared to only a couple dozen in 1997. About 800 Illinois inmates are serving time for meth-related crimes, compared to a half dozen a decade ago.

Other drugs destroy the lives of their users, too. But meth carries additional dangers from the manufacturing process, which can harm innocent people as a result of chemical contamination, explosions and fires.

Recent changes in state law make it more difficult to obtain ingredients needed to manufacture the drug. Combining those changes with a concentrated effort to treat those in prison could strike a major blow against both supply and demand.

Special drug courts targeting lower-level offenders, such as the one under consideration in McLean County, are another element of this multi-prong attack that deserves support.

The prison program won't be cheap.

Cost estimates for the first year are about $6.68 million, with about 70 percent coming from the federal government. But by the second year, the state's costs would rise to $16.4 million. The ongoing cost to the state after that would be about $18.1 million annually.

But allowing methamphetamine addiction to expand and doing little to break the addiction-crime-prison cycle are costly, too.

If this approach is successful “ and sufficient money is available “ a similar model might be used to attack the high recidivism rates for other drug users and even sex offenders.

But it is best to target resources in one area with the most demand and potential for success. At this point, highly addictive, highly destructive methamphetamines deserve the state's utmost attention.

Drug arrived in 1990s; its scourge continues

Local or imported, meth still top issue

Max McCoy
Globe Investigative Writer

Meth hit Joplin nearly a decade ago, according to a local detective, when Chris Haycraft — known in drug circles as The Wizard — started making the drug from commonly available ingredients and showed his friends how to do it, too.
Soon, cooking methamphetamine became a cottage industry — and law enforcement’s No. 1 challenge. Not only did meth create its own crime wave, with police linking it to nearly every category of offense, but the home labs posed significant fire risks and created a toxic mess that is expensive to clean up.

While new laws have curbed the spread of clandestine labs by limiting access to base ingredients, such as that pulled from cold pills, demand for the drug has never been higher.

“It’s getting a lot more violent,” said Detective Frank Lundien, coordinator of the Jasper County Drug Task Force. “I see more and more violent actions associated with drugs than I used to. And compared to every other drug I have seen, meth has got to be the worst.”

But Haycraft — now living in Arkansas after serving six years in federal prison — claims he wasn’t the big fish Lundien makes him out to be. Instead, Haycraft portrays himself as just an average guy trying to support his family.

“I didn’t go (to Joplin) looking to start a drug culture or anything,” he said in a recent interview. “I was hurt, I was on disability, and you know how much that pays. I was fighting for my Social Security. And that’s what got me into it.”
When he was asked why he was called The Wizard if he were not a significant player, Haycraft’s voice became playful and even a bit proud. “I did things that people thought were amazing,” he said.

Jasper County is federally designated a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. On average, one meth lab was busted for every 2,064 residents in Missouri during 2004, according to statistics gathered by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. In Jefferson County, a St. Louis suburb that reported the most lab seizures in the state in 2004, the ratio was one for every 812 residents.
In Jasper County, the ratio was even more alarming: one for every 706 people.
While lab busts are down, law-enforcement officials say another problem has been created: Organized crime has rushed to fill the meth demand in Southwest Missouri with “ice,” a particularly potent form of the drug manufactured in Mexico or Southern California and smuggled here.

The Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that 60 percent of the meth on the street in Southwest Missouri is imported, and the Jasper County Task Force has received a $100,000 federal grant to fight organized drug trafficking.

A federal investigation into the distribution of meth in Southwest Missouri, poetically called Operation Ice Storm, has resulted in the arrest of at least 19 people in Joplin and Carthage.
In August, U.S. Attorney Todd Graves described the probe as targeting “an organization based in Mexico” that distributes multi-kilogram amounts of meth throughout Southwest Missouri and Texas.

Meth appears endemic to poor, rural populations. Unlike crack cocaine, which remains the most commonly abused drug in urban areas, meth is cheap and easy to manufacture from drugstore cold remedies containing pseudoephedrine. While users initially report an increase in mental acuity and stamina, the drug is highly addictive and can lead to serious physical and mental problems.

The drug was first synthesized in 1919, and it was given to both Allied and Axis troops during World War II. Adolf Hitler received daily injections. After the war, it was commercially offered in pill form for obesity, narcolepsy and sinus problems. Meth use exploded in the 1990s with the spread of new ways to manufacture the drug.
Meth is a worldwide scourge, particularly in Asia. In the United States, the areas hit the hardest are the West, the Southwest and the Midwest.

The clandestine labs, which require little space and can be set up on a kitchen table or in the trunk of a car, pose serious fire and environmental hazards. For every pound of illegal drug produced, 5 to 6 pounds of toxic material are created. Despite the risks, many small operators are attracted by the notions of owning their source of supply and realizing a quick return on a relatively small investment.

The problem peaked in 2004, when Missouri logged a record 2,788 labs busted, the highest in the nation. Jasper County recorded 155 that year and was second in the state only to Jefferson County in the number of lab seizures, according to the state patrol.

California was second, with 764 busts. But West Coast labs tend to be larger than the mom and pop operations here, according to statistics released by the Drug Enforcement Administration. More than 1,700 pounds of meth was seized in California in 2004. In contrast, about 27 pounds of the drug was seized by federal agents in Missouri that year.
Following Oklahoma’s lead, a Missouri state law went into effect July 15, limiting the sale of cold pills containing pseudoephedrine, the precursor material for home-cooked meth.

‘Addicted to cooking’
“Meth is the No. 1 problem,” said Jasper County Sheriff Archie Dunn. “It’s serious money. There’s a lot of street value to it. Your chances of getting caught are pretty slim, but the financial benefits are great. So is it worth it? Probably. But not with my luck.”

Marijuana was the drug of choice, Dunn said, when he was a trooper several years ago for the Missouri State Highway Patrol. “In fact, I’d never seen marijuana until I joined the patrol,” he said. “I thought it was something they did in New York City.”
Now 60, Dunn retired in 2000 as the patrol’s information officer. He has been the county sheriff since 2003, when he was appointed to fill a vacancy. He later was elected to the post. In his office is a nearly full-size cardboard cutout of Roy Rogers, smiling and guns drawn. On the wall is a photo of John Wayne. “Them old boys never did let you down,” Dunn said when asked about the cowboy heroes.

Dunn deferred most questions about meth to Lundien, 42, a Joplin officer who serves as coordinator of the county drug task force. Lundien was on the street when Haycraft was showing his friends how to cook meth, and he recalls that it was hubris — along with sampling their own products — that resulted in the downfall of many meth cooks in the late 1990s.
“They would become addicted to cooking,” Lundien said.
Many of them were old-school bikers, he said, and had run a lot of low-purity crank and other amphetamines in Joplin. One of them became so proud of his batches of meth that he allowed a couple of new friends to make a video of him cooking the drug as he explained the procedure. What he didn’t know was that the new friends were undercover detectives, and the cook soon found himself in prison.

In 1990, the task force made 45 arrests on various drug charges and served one search warrant, Lundien said. No meth labs were busted, and no meth was seized from any source. In 1995, the task force served 17 search warrants, busted one meth lab and confiscated 1,783 grams (about 4 pounds) of meth.

Haycraft, the cook known as The Wizard, was released from prison in 2001. In 2004, according to court documents that assign jurisdiction for his probation, he moved to Arkansas. In a recent telephone interview, the 47-year-old described himself as a “Southern California boy” who landed in Joplin in the 1990s after he was injured on a construction job. He said he turned to cooking meth as a way of supporting his family.
But, he said, it wasn’t necessary to show anyone else how to cook it.

“It’s so damned easy that everybody and anybody can do it,” he said. “That’s what makes it so lucrative.”
Haycraft claims that he learned to cook meth from a chemist who worked at a Los Angeles crime lab — “nobody’s an angel” — and he is ready with a long list of prosecutors and police officers across the country who have made the news for being involved with drugs. The names he drops do not include any local police.

Haycraft said he became fascinated by the cooking procedure, and that he often sampled his own product. “You couldn’t get any better,” he said.
He also said he was fascinated by the people he met while dealing meth, even the police. But, he said, he took the fall for cutting into the territory of other dealers. Now, he said, he is finished with meth.

“I’ve got it made now,” he said. “I do all kinds of things. I work with my hands. I do woodworking. I built this house. I have no regrets about what happened, and I blame nobody for anything. If anyone is to blame, it’s me. But no, I wouldn’t do it again.”

Mass arrests
With the original Wizard in prison, Lundien said, there was no shortage of others who claimed the title. More and more met labs sprang up. In 2001, the task force seized 73 meth labs, and in 2002 the number was 96. There was a dip in 2003, with 77 labs busted, but in 2004 the numbers reflected the statewide trend, with a record 194 labs busted. The task force’s numbers are higher than the count released by the Highway Patrol because of the way busts are tallied.

Also, Lundien said, the 2004 statistics are “somewhat misleading,” as the increased numbers partially reflect increased enforcement from the addition of two officers to the task force. The 10-member force has four Joplin officers, three sheriff’s deputies, one highway patrolman, a Carthage officer and — as of late last year — a federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

For 2005, Lundien said, the numbers were down again. Part of the reason may have been the new state law that restricts the sale of cold remedies. By September, the task force had busted 97 labs and confiscated 2,459 grams (about 5.4 pounds) of meth.

Arrests, however, skyrocketed.
In 2003, the task force made 249 arrests. In 2004, there were 64. But as of September 2005, the task force had made 378 arrests, nearly six times more than the total for the previous year.
The numbers indicate that even though the number of meth labs is down, there is no shortage of the drug on the street. Much of it is smuggled into the area from large labs in Southern California and Mexico. Many of the smugglers are illegal immigrants.

Lundien said he is not sure whether the small-time operators the task force has caught in the Joplin and Carthage area are involved with drug cartels, but he suspects that some are. The problem, he said, is that the traffickers tend to move exclusively within the burgeoning and decidedly insular Hispanic community.
Even though the task force has officers who speak fluent Spanish, he said, it is difficult to break down the cultural barriers that discourage talking with police.
What strikes Lundien most about the meth subculture, he said, is how pervasive it is. Most serious crimes, he said, have a drug component. He ticked off a list of crimes during the past 12 months in which he believes meth was a factor, including a double murder.

The bodies of Peggy and Marvin Steverson were found in June 2005 in their Carthage home. Micah Joel Holman, a 32-year-old family acquaintance, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, and authorities said the crime appeared to have involved the theft of a coin collection. Dunn said investigators can track the murders “back to drugs or to drug activity.”
Not only does meth seriously impair judgment, Lundien said, but it also creates pressure to come up with money — through any means available — to buy more of the drug.
“People seem to lose any concern for personal hygiene,” he said. “And there are two almost for sure things in any meth house: one is a gun and the other is porno.”

Dunn said it is a “no-brainer” to conclude that, just as Prohibition of the 1920s, cracking down on the manufacture of an illegal substance did nothing to diminish the demand — and, ironically, created a climate conducive to smuggling by organized crime.
Despite the newer problem, Lundien believes the area is better off simply because there are fewer meth labs to deal with, and that means fewer safety and environmental hazards.
“At least we’ve reduced the one danger, of the ones that blow up,” he said. “We’ve taken the meth labs out of our neighborhoods, and that’s good.”
Dunn doesn’t think the current trend of Mexican ice will last, however.
“Someday,” he said, “they’ll find an alternative (home cooking) method to allow the mom and pops to get back into it.”

By the numbers
Jasper County had more meth-lab busts in 2004 than any other Missouri county except one. Jefferson County, in suburban St. Louis, logged 259 lab seizures, while Jasper County logged 155. Newton County reported 32.
Among area Missouri counties, Dade had the highest ratio of clandestine meth-lab busts to population. The county reported 20 busts in 2004, for a ratio of one lab seizure for every 391 residents. The statewide average was one bust for every 2,064 people.
Source: Missouri State Highway Patrol

methamphetamine problem is likely to get worse before it gets better!opinion&s=1037645509163

Monday, January 30, 2006
More Meth Woes

Winston-Salem Journal

The methamphetamine problem is likely to get worse before it gets better, even with a new state law that limits the availability of cold remedies at the local drug store.

States that have limited distribution of pseudophedrine, an ingredient in cold medicines that is used in the manufacture of meth, report that homemade meth manufacturing inside their borders has fallen significantly. That's the kind of expectation that prompted Attorney General Roy Cooper to push North Carolina lawmakers to make it more difficult to buy products containing pseudophedrine.

The same states report, however, that the drop in homemade meth is being offset by a rise in imports of crystal meth from Mexico. That is a purer, more expensive form of the drug that causes new problems of its own.

It will be very good news if North Carolina experiences a drastic decrease in the manufacture of homemade meth like that of other states. Without easy access to pseudophedrine, the home laboratories close.

This can help solve three of the worst problems associated with meth production. The first is the cooking of meth in the vicinity of children. The fumes alone can do them terrible physical damage. The second is the environmental impact of these renegade laboratories. The chemicals involved are extremely dangerous. Finally, when law-enforcement officers raid the illegal labs, their health is endangered, as is that of emergency-room workers dealing with meth-related cases.

The good news could be offset by bad news, however, according to The New York Times. The newspaper reported that when meth addicts switch to Mexican crystal meth, two new problems arise.

Purer in content than homemade meth, the crystal meth is much more addictive and dangerous for users. The paper reported that a number of states are seeing a rapid rise in overdoses. And, while children aren't exposed to meth fumes, a number of social-service departments reported that doped-up parents often leave their children without care for days.

The crystal meth is considerably more expensive. That means that addicts often must engage in more criminal activity to support their habits.

Law enforcement's job is far from done. America's porous border with Mexico contributes to the problem, and it must be addressed. But education programs about the deadliness of meth must also be devised, and they must be directed at those elements of the population that would get involved with this debilitating and deadly drug.

Putting the cold capsules out of reach was a good start. Now the drug dealers have found a way around that move, and that means more trouble.

Ice: love & meth

Joplin woman tells of love, addiction

Max McCoy
Globe Investigative Writer

The first time Valerie Ackerson tried methamphetamine, she thought it tasted bitter, like medicine. Eventually, she would come to love the taste.
Wrapped in a Zig-Zag cigarette paper and swallowed, the homemade drug — which resembled powdered aspirin flecked with sparkles — would take 15 or 20 minutes to kick in, but once it did, the high lasted for eight hours.
“It scared me at first,” she said. “It felt like my life was turned completely upside down. The unknown scared me. The drugs scared me. All of it did. But I liked using because it picked me up and gave me an enormous amount of energy. When I came down from it, I had the most excruciating stomach pain.”
Ackerson’s story is a snapshot of the way meth has been manufactured and sold for years in the Joplin area — a way that is changing not only because of laws that make it tougher to get the ingredients needed to manufacture it, but because of organized crime that is meeting the demand by smuggling “ice,” a more potent form of methamphetamine, from Mexico.
But more than anything else, Ackerson’s story is that of a woman desperately seeking trust but expecting disappointment. The seeds of her meth abuse may have been sown early in her family relationships, she suspects, but the match that ignited her addiction was her relationship with Butch Ackerson.
“I’ve known Butch since I was 9 years old,” she said. “It’s a weird relationship. It’s a love-hate relationship.”
Two years after that first hit of meth, Ackerson’s life was indeed upside down.
She and her husband were living in a mobile home, the utilities had been cut off, and their only

source of income was selling the batches of meth cooked in a shed behind the trailer. But their money dwindled as state laws made it more difficult to find the ingredients needed to whip up more batches, and their labor was increasingly spent in just meeting their own demand for the drug.
Their friends were other dealers, and everyone was armed.
Valerie Ackerson already had been busted twice for meth and had temporarily lost her children because of it. She was anxious, paranoid and sick all the time. When the end came, it was a relief.
“When they put the handcuffs on me the last time,” Valerie Ackerson said, “the only thing that went through my head is that I get to clean up.”
Love and hate
The 34-year-old Joplin woman knows she is lucky, but she doesn’t boast. She tells of her escape from the drug subculture with a clinical detachment, and she is quick with facts. She can tell you how long it takes to make meth using the iodine and red phosphorus method, what kind of glassware works best, and how much an 8-ball of product goes for on the street.
She’s worried, though, that she’s telling too much, that authorities will take a renewed interest in her and her husband, Butch, now serving time at the state correctional center in Moberly.
“When I went through treatment, they said I’m more addicted to my husband than to drugs,” Ackerson said. “Boy, hearing myself say some of this — just all the chaos. I’ve had dreams that I’ve had to chase Butch down and there he is with a girl. I end up feeling betrayed.”
Crack cocaine
Valerie Patton was born in Joplin but raised in Dallas.
She recalls herself as a loner who played with Barbie dolls until she was 15. She was frequently in trouble for skipping class. She quit school in ninth grade and went to work in a five-and-dime in Grand Prairie, Texas. She smoked a joint once with her older sister, who later went through rehab for LSD. Their parents divorced when Valerie was 11, and she says her father pushed her away.
“My dad cheated on my mom for 15 years,” she said. “He would come home and say, ‘You’re the third woman I’ve had today.’ Mom put up with it because she loved him. Dad is on his third wife now.”
Her father lives in Scurry, Texas. Her mother lives in Webb City.
“I remember him drunk out of his mind, with puke in his beard, calling his girlfriend,” she said.
The first time she got drunk was with her father, drinking Wild Turkey while sitting on a tailgate. She retched in a horse stall. For eight years, she attended an apostolic church. She says she was let down by a lot of preachers, including a Sunday school teacher who attempted to kiss her.
Valerie remembers when she was 11, being at her aunt’s house in Joplin, and Butch climbing on top of her and trying to take her clothes off. “He was the first one ever to kiss me, the first one ever to give me a rose,” she said. “I guess you could say he was the first one to make me feel beautiful.”
On April 13, 1991, she was reunited with Butch at a cockfight near Baxter Springs, Kan. Butch had roosters in the fight. Valerie was 20 and had been using crack cocaine for three months, courtesy of her boyfriend at the time. “I would sit around and get high for the hell of it,” she said. “I never had to pay for it. Crack went with my moods. It intensified whatever I was feeling … and I didn’t like it.”
After the cockfight, she and Butch got high together, then went to a cousin’s house and spent the night. The next day, she told Butch she was going back to Texas to live with her father, to get away from crack.
“I was there about two months before I knew I was pregnant,” she said. She didn’t know if the child belonged to Butch or to the boyfriend who had introduced her to crack. “Butch called twice a week begging me to come back.”
She eventually did, and she lived with her mother.
When the baby was born, Valerie said, there was no doubt that Butch was the father. But Butch did not see the little girl named Marcayla until she was 2 weeks old, and when he did, Valerie remembers, he had “eaten a lot of Valium.” When Valerie asked him what baby’s name was, Butch couldn’t remember.
Valerie married someone else, and she and Butch saw each other only twice during the next eight years.
During most of the 1990s, Valerie lived in towns across Oklahoma — Miami, Ardmore, Midwest City. Her husband drank and was chronically unemployed. She describes herself as a devout Pentecostal, a religious wife, a mother — a second child, Emily, was born in 1993 — and depressed. She weighed 235 pounds. She wore only dresses, and her hair, she recalls, was 3 inches past her knees.
By 1999, she was divorced and moved back to Joplin with her children. She began smoking cigarettes again and went to a doctor to lose weight. By March 2000, she was down to 125 pounds.
Butch was in prison, and they began exchanging letters.
“I asked him if he was going to clean up and what were his plans,” she said. “He said he wanted to do construction work and have a family.”
She began sending him money, between $200 and $300 a month, and racking up $600 phone bills. Butch used the money for fans, blankets and cable television. He may have used some to buy prison contraband.
“I knew he messed with it, but it didn’t seem to be a part of our lives,” she said.
Butch was released Aug. 3, 2000. He got high that night, Valerie said. They were married Sept. 23, and by November she had tried meth. She was working as an aide at Autumn Place, a residential care center in Joplin, and had brought a friend home from work to their 32nd Street apartment. When Butch got the friend high, she decided to try it, as well.
“I wanted to be a part of him, his life,” she said. “I did it just so I’d fit in.”
She would use meth continually for the next two years. It helped her concentrate, she said, and she enjoyed getting high and working at the computer. Eventually, however, the pleasant experience gave way to anxiety and paranoia.
“I didn’t like the way the dope made me feel,” she said. “I was anxious, uncomfortable. After three or four days, I would make myself go to sleep.”
By April 2001, she weighed less than 100 pounds.
“I was bone and skin,” she said. “I stayed that way for eight months, until I got busted the first time and went through treatment. I was dirty from using. My face was sunken. My family knew I was using because of the dirt beneath my nails.”
‘Black and red’
Butch and Valerie Ackerson moved to a trailer near Racine owned by Valerie’s mother, and Butch started cooking dope in the shed. Valerie started helping, she said, because Butch was “lazy” and it was difficult for him to gather all of the necessary ingredients.
“It felt good to be a part of it,” Valerie said. “At first it was just him into it, and then it was just us. Then we started selling to three people, tops.”
Soon, they became accustomed to the money. It was not unusual, she said, for them to have at least $1,000 in cash in their pockets.
They cooked according to the “black and red” method, she said, named for the iodine and red phosphorus used to reduce pseudoephedrine, obtained from cold remedies.
“Once the red and the black hit, they react,” Valerie said. “It starts bubbling and gets really hot.”
Black and red is one of five methods used across the country in clandestine meth laboratories, said Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland, and it is the most popular method in the Joplin area. It produces small quantities of high-quality dextro-methamphetamine.
It would take from two to 12 hours to achieve a successful burn, Valerie said, and the procedure yielded about 10 grams of meth. Typically, she said, they would keep 3 grams and sell 7.
An “8-ball” — an eighth of an ounce, or 3.5 grams — would sell for $200.
Valerie Ackerson was arrested three times on meth-related charges.
The first was on July 16, 2001, when she and Butch were pulled over in a rented Plymouth Neon by Brandon Stephens, a Neosho patrolman. Butch had been driving, but his license was revoked, so Valerie swapped seats with him.
“Upon stopping a vehicle in which this subject was driving prior to stopping and switching with his wife,” Stephens said in an affidavit filed in Newton County Circuit Court, “I found a metal tin with five white packages of a white powder substance which tested positive for meth. Also 10 boxes of pseudo-ephedrine, also a small white bottle with a metallic substance consistent with iodine crystals. The Ackerson subject had $446 in his pocket.”
Valerie, according to court records, had $13.
She says she never saw the 15 grams of meth until Stephens asked her to get out of the driver’s seat. When she saw the tin, she said, she dropped it between the seats.
“He jerked me out of the car and handcuffed me,” she recalled. A drug dog was summoned. A neighbor of the Ackersons, Andy Pike, a Newton County undercover drug officer, arrived on the scene. Ackerson remembers him as “stern.”
“The put me in a car with the dog, and Andy advised me just to tell where we had gotten the dope from,” she said. “We made the dope.”
Butch bonded out within hours, she said, but she spent two days in jail before being released on $25,000 bond. Both struck plea bargains and were sentenced to two years of probation.
But neither stopped using meth.
On the morning of Jan. 17, 2002, Butch left to take the two girls to school while Valerie stayed home. They had been up late the night before, cooking dope, but they had gotten in a hurry and the burn was bad. Valerie heard a bang on the trailer and saw on the surveillance monitor in the bedroom “six guys on the front porch.”
She remained in bed while a sheriff’s deputy arrested some friends in the trailer and chased two others who had run from the shed when the law arrived.
Butch was nearing home when he saw the raid in progress. He pulled his truck around and left. He called later, from a friend’s house 10 miles away. The call was traced, and Butch was arrested, too.
Valerie said the officers took a 9 mm pistol, an assault rifle and other weapons from the home, and they found a small quantity of meth and some chemicals. They missed, she said, a bag of dope she absent-mindedly had placed in a coat pocket the night before.
“They said a confidential informant came in to buy drugs and saw the red phosphorus in the shed,” Valerie said. “But the cops wouldn’t release the name of the informant to the judge or anyone else, so the case was dismissed.”
Valerie still lost her children temporarily. She also spent five days in jail before being released on bond, and she attended a four-week drug-treatment program at Lafayette House in Joplin.
The last time
The third and last time Valerie Ackerson was arrested was Oct. 10, 2002, and it also was the last day, she says, that she used meth.
They were still living in the trailer at Racine, she said, and most of the items taken in the bust nine months before had been returned, including all but one of the guns and the security cameras. But they had fallen behind on their $250 rent payments to her mother, and her mother had the utilities turned off.
“She had a right to be mad at us,” Valerie said. “Toward the end, it was harder to get pills, and red phosphorus was nearly impossible to find. So we started using white phosphorus. And I didn’t like the way the dope made me feel.”
While red phosphorus is stable, white phosphorus burns on contact with air. It is used in military incendiary devices and in fireworks.
“We were cooking to sustain our habit,” she said. “We were running everything by generator. It seemed like I was sick all the time.”
At 10 a.m., officers knocked on the door. Valerie walked out, locking the keys inside. She said she didn’t know where Butch was, and she was too sick to care.
The warrant, according to court documents, was based on “the contents of burn barrels” and “the smell from the residence.”
Valerie was charged with manufacturing and possession of a controlled substance. She lost her children again, for a time, spent 30 days in jail, and was sent once more to drug treatment at Lafayette House.
“The manufacturing (charge) was dropped, and they offered me a chance to go to drug court if I pled guilty to possession,” Valerie said. “I pled guilty to everything in the house, drug-wise. They got Butch for public nuisance. He got three years’ supervised probation, but he couldn’t stay clean — so he’s serving seven years.”
Butch was arrested March 12, 2003, in Jasper County for drug possession.
By the time he was sentenced, on July 19, 2004, he also had accumulated five charges of driving while his license was revoked, according to court documents. And, he had failed to verify his employment or residency with his probation officer, had failed to pay court costs, and had failed to keep anger-management and therapy appointments.
He also had failed all but one of his urine tests. When he was arrested, he was living at a girlfriend’s house in Joplin.
“Butch wasn’t allowed in the house because he didn’t get treatment,” Valerie said. “I had to choose him or my children.”
New life
While in prison, Butch Ackerson has received treatment for his drug addition. In a brief telephone interview, he said he is determined to beat his drug addiction and looks forward to a new life with Valerie.
That life may begin soon, Valerie said. Butch is expected to be released by April or May.
“I’m scared,” she said. “I don’t want to be left at home thinking he is out with another girl. But I’ve gone through so much with Butch, and I love him, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let him start a new life and be happy with somebody else. That would pi-- me off. I may have to hurt somebody.”
She laughed and said she was joking.
Valerie now lives in Joplin with her children. She obtained her high-school equivalency diploma in December 2004 and is now a nursing student at Missouri Southern State University. She says she is lonely, and she tried dating another man for a while, but it didn’t work. She felt guilty cheating on Butch, she said, and she has decided to wait for him to come home — even though the idea of giving up control of her environment terrifies her.
“I’ve told Butch if he uses again, we’re done,” she said. “I’m strong enough to follow through with that. Butch isn’t a bad person, he just has problems.”

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Free Rehab!

Christian Mission Center is in Enterprise, Alabama..... It is a 4 month long program and it is free... They will send you a bus ticket to and from your home........ There is a waiting list ... 1-334-393-5641, and ask to speak to Gene Warren or John.......... They will give you all of the information that you need... People from all across the United States come here for this program and It is one of the best in the nation...

They focus on recovery and faith comes second... They have group meetings daily, they meet one on one with their counselor daily, they have workbooks and study guides dealing with addiction and recovery.... The faith part of it is only a small part....... They do want them to believe in a HP and see that side of recovery as well.. They are tested on personality disorders and they also test on other things as well... Family is welcome to participate in one on one counseling sessions and group sessions too.. This particular place has a very high success rate... They are located just miles from the meth capitol of the south... They also do UA's every monday and upon entering the program so you or your loved one must be clean in order to get in and must stay clean while there also... When they are not in meetings or counseling they must work at the mission store and they receive 5 dollars per week for that... This program is totally free, meals, room and board, counseling, group sessions, you name it....Sometimes there is a waiting list but get put on it because some people don't show up on their scheduled day and they lose out of their space.... It is given to the first person on the waiting list...

They will take any drug addict and there is no age limit!

Sturgis prepares for annual parenting fair

By Maribeth Holtz
Sturgis Journal

Parents will be empowered to take charge and will learn about kindergarten, car seats, meth, the Internet, sibling rivalry and more at this year’s Kiwanis Parenting Fair.

Set for 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at Sturgis Middle School, the fair is free and open to the public.

This is the 14th annual fair and Jane Dickey, director of Sturgis Youth and Family, said about 500 people, mostly from St. Joseph County, take part each year.

Dickey organizes the fair with the help of volunteers.

This year will offer two keynote sessions with psychologist Ray Guarendi, a variety of mini-sessions with local professionals who volunteer their time, free lunch and about 65 booths relating to children and families.

Keynote speaker

Guarendi plans on empowering parents to take charge at this year’s fair.

Guarendi will give a presentation titled “You’re a Better Parent Than You Think” at 9 a.m. and another presentation titled “Back to the Family” at 2:10 p.m.

The first presentation will refute myths parents hold about parenting that experts have been telling them for years, such as there is a psychologically correct way to handle every situation and that making mistakes in parenting will damage children.

Guarendi said this speech is a way to encourage parents to take charge and be a strong parent for their child’s sake.

The second presentation is the result of a three-year analysis of 107 strong families. The presentation will give insight on their views of authority, house rules, spirituality, communication and more.

“If the parents want to laugh and come away feeling like they’re the parents, these sessions are for them,” Guarendi said.

Guarendi is a father of 10 adopted children and has a radio show in over 40 states and Canada.

Based out of Ohio, Guarendi has written several books and has been a guest on “Oprah,” “Joan Rivers,” “CBS This Morning,” “700 Club” and more.

Guarendi is a returning speaker to the Kiwanis Parenting Fair. His last presentation in Sturgis was in 2003 and Dickey said he was chosen to come back because he was so popular and funny.


Mini-sessions will be held from 11 a.m. to noon and from 1-2 p.m. Parents will be able to choose from a variety of sessions, such as “Ready to Learn About Math,” “Parenting a Spirited Child,” “Being Kind to Yourself for Your Baby’s Sake,” “Meth: What You Should Know,” “Parenting your Online Child,” and more.

“Kindergarten Today: Preparing Your Child for Success” will be given by Robert Matkin, principal of Wall Elementary School, and Wall kindergarten teachers.

The session will let parents who have children soon going into kindergarten know that kindergarten today is a lot more academic than they may think it is. Parents will walk away with a list of specific ideas on how to prepare their children for kindergarten as well as registration dates and times.

Laura Rhodes, educational outreach coordinator for WNIT Public Television, will give presentations about learning with math and early learning. She said she will show parents how to use educational TV as a tool for learning. While too much TV can be problematic, Rhodes said educational programs on TV can be very helpful — especially in teaching math, which many parents feel uncomfortable about.


Free childcare will be provided for those who can’t make other arrangements. Childcare is provided by Eastside Kiwanis members and student volunteers and will offer activities for every age group.

Children ages 4-10 may go to Creative Gymnastics for $4.

Pre-registration is required for those who want to take advantage of the free childcare.

Something for everyone

Dickey said there is something for everyone at the parenting fair, from people who are just thinking about having children to people who are pregnant, or have infants, toddlers, elementary-aged children, or teenagers. Grandparents and other relatives who raise children are also encouraged to come.

Dickey said many parents come every year to network with other parents and to have a break from parenting.

“A lot of people who have come for years and years come because it’s their day,” she said.

The day also gives kind of a mini-retreat for children, too, with activities away from parents, Dickey said.

Darlene Good, mother of an 11-year-old, has come to the parenting fair nearly every year since she became a mother. She said it gives her good ideas and lets her know that she’s in the same boat with a lot of other parents when it comes to problems with raising children.

This year she plans on going to the mini-sessions on meth and the Internet. She’s also looking forward to the keynote speaker.

Preregistration for the fair is not necessary, but is encouraged. To register, call Sturgis Youth and Family at (269) 659-3664 by Wednesday.

Cassie's mom talks to Lead-Deadwood parents about meth

BY DONNA SMITH, Black Hills Pioneer January 27, 2006

LEAD-DEADWOOD --More than 500 people gathered in the Lead-Deadwood High school auditorium on Wednesday evening to hear Cassie's mom. What they heard was not the recounting of a far-away story of drug abuse and degradation happening in a broken, dysfunctional family.

The story of Cassie Haydal is remarkable because of how easily it could happen to any one of our families. "We prayed together, went to church together and we loved each other," Cassie's mom told the crowd during her 12th session in the Northern Hills over the past three weeks.

Mary Haydal, of Miles City, Mont., buried her 18-year-old daughter, Cassie, after the teen suffered a massive heart attack attributable to her meth use. Since that time, Haydal has turned her energy toward meth education.

The auditorium was silent as the petite, polished but powerful Haydal wound her way for the umpteenth time through the horrific story of Cassie's final days on earth. The healing balm that is Haydal's life work seems to reach into her audience in some very special ways.

Lance Palmer, 11, is a student at Lead-Deadwood Elementary School. With wide eyes and a somber tone, he said, "It was really sad, and it made me really think." He also acknowledged that through this week's presentations he has been learning a lot about the use and abuse of drugs that he didn't already learn through other school-related programs.

Haydal also challenged parents and concerned adults to think twice about allowing or even sponsoring alcohol parties where teens often get into bigger trouble. "I understand some people say they'd rather have the kids drinking at home ... But that's wrong," Haydal said.

Teens at alcohol parties may suffer alcohol poisoning, date rape or even stepping up into more serious drug use - "all while you are sitting nearby in your recliner with the remote control," Haydal said. She added the alcohol is the number one killer of American teens. "When you give your children alcohol, it causes brain damage."

She also urged parents to understand the possible legal consequences to hosting teen alcohol parties even if they do not find themselves persuaded by the possible health implications.

Special agents from the Rapid City office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency also participated in Wednesday evening's presentation. The audience learned that most of the drugs coming into our area come from Denver, Salt Lake City, California, Oregon and Washington. The agents also said that marijuana is the most abused illegal drug nationally and in our area, but that it is followed closely by meth use and abuse. The "club drug" MBMA or Ecstasy comes in third.

Parents might also be surprised to learn, the drug agents said, that raves or drug parties do happen in our area and often children will ask permission to attend by explaining "it's a non-alcoholic, dance party for teens" so that parents will not object.

The evening closed with parents and kids able to talk with Haydal or the drug agents and view more information on drugs.

Young Lance's mom, Deb Palmer of Lead, said she came to the event because, "It's alarming."

©The Black Hills Pioneer, Newspapers, South Dakota, SD 2006

Cassie's mom talks to Lead-Deadwood parents about meth

BY DONNA SMITH, Black Hills Pioneer January 27, 2006

LEAD-DEADWOOD --More than 500 people gathered in the Lead-Deadwood High school auditorium on Wednesday evening to hear Cassie's mom. What they heard was not the recounting of a far-away story of drug abuse and degradation happening in a broken, dysfunctional family.

The story of Cassie Haydal is remarkable because of how easily it could happen to any one of our families. "We prayed together, went to church together and we loved each other," Cassie's mom told the crowd during her 12th session in the Northern Hills over the past three weeks.

Mary Haydal, of Miles City, Mont., buried her 18-year-old daughter, Cassie, after the teen suffered a massive heart attack attributable to her meth use. Since that time, Haydal has turned her energy toward meth education.

The auditorium was silent as the petite, polished but powerful Haydal wound her way for the umpteenth time through the horrific story of Cassie's final days on earth. The healing balm that is Haydal's life work seems to reach into her audience in some very special ways.

Lance Palmer, 11, is a student at Lead-Deadwood Elementary School. With wide eyes and a somber tone, he said, "It was really sad, and it made me really think." He also acknowledged that through this week's presentations he has been learning a lot about the use and abuse of drugs that he didn't already learn through other school-related programs.

Haydal also challenged parents and concerned adults to think twice about allowing or even sponsoring alcohol parties where teens often get into bigger trouble. "I understand some people say they'd rather have the kids drinking at home ... But that's wrong," Haydal said.

Teens at alcohol parties may suffer alcohol poisoning, date rape or even stepping up into more serious drug use - "all while you are sitting nearby in your recliner with the remote control," Haydal said. She added the alcohol is the number one killer of American teens. "When you give your children alcohol, it causes brain damage."

She also urged parents to understand the possible legal consequences to hosting teen alcohol parties even if they do not find themselves persuaded by the possible health implications.

Special agents from the Rapid City office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency also participated in Wednesday evening's presentation. The audience learned that most of the drugs coming into our area come from Denver, Salt Lake City, California, Oregon and Washington. The agents also said that marijuana is the most abused illegal drug nationally and in our area, but that it is followed closely by meth use and abuse. The "club drug" MBMA or Ecstasy comes in third.

Parents might also be surprised to learn, the drug agents said, that raves or drug parties do happen in our area and often children will ask permission to attend by explaining "it's a non-alcoholic, dance party for teens" so that parents will not object.

The evening closed with parents and kids able to talk with Haydal or the drug agents and view more information on drugs.

Young Lance's mom, Deb Palmer of Lead, said she came to the event because, "It's alarming."

©The Black Hills Pioneer, Newspapers, South Dakota, SD 2006

Meth project’s what’s needed

By The Helena IR - 01/29/06

When Tom Siebel bought his sprawling ranch north of Helena, we suspect some Montanans cringed at the thought of yet another rich outsider buying up our prime real estate.

Well, it didn’t take long to realize we’d acquired a good neighbor. We just didn’t know how good.

Siebel, it turns out, is spearheading an anti-meth campaign for his adopted state that has to be the envy of the entire country.

His Montana Meth Project is based on the idea that methamphetamine is a consumer product that just happens to be distributed in a different way. Using exhaustive market research into young peoples’ attitudes and beliefs about the drug, the project already has created a series of graphic ads designed to keep kids from trying meth, even once. The hard-hitting advertising, both print and broadcast, left some mothers worried it might traumatize their very young children.

Well, according to Siebel, we haven’t seen anything yet.

Speaking at a Chamber of Commerce banquet last week, Siebel said a new round of print, radio and television ads will start in April. “One of these series is going to shake some things up,” he said. “We sent a film crew into the sewers of Montana, and we’ve got kids on film doing things that will make you shake.”

All we can say is, great. As Siebel pointed out last week, 80 percent of Montana’s jail population is locked up because of meth-related crimes. Sixty-three percent of young people in the state say meth is readily available, and 33 percent say they have been offered meth at least once in the last year. The scourge is epidemic, and despite our best efforts, we haven’t been able to make much of a dent.

The Montana Meth Project figures the most important thing we can do is convince kids not to take meth in the first place by showing them, in an honest, kid-to-kid way, what will happen to them if they do.

Siebel is convinced that a better informed “customer audience” will make better decisions. If it takes shocking ads to effectively do that, let the shocks begin.

Tot's meth test leads to arrest of mother
Woman, 19, fails to make court appearance this week
Pioneer Press

A sick, filthy and possibly jaundiced 11-month-old West Lakeland Township baby was taken from his mother earlier this month and placed in the care of child protective services, nearly nine months after authorities found a trace of methamphetamine in his body.
Ramsey County childprotection officials had been looking for the toddler and his mother, 19-year-old Lindsey Marie Adams, since March when county officials were awarded emergency custody of the baby boy after he tested positive for meth. It's unclear what prompted that testing.
Adams, who was arrested Jan. 15 on suspicion of endangering a child, failed to appear at a hearing scheduled Thursday, court officials say, and a warrant was issued in the case.
Attempts to locate Adams for comment were unsuccessful, and the Washington County Public Defender's Office would not release the name of her attorney to comment on her behalf.
According to the criminal complaint, an informant who tipped off investigators about their location this month said the child was sick and had skin that was yellowed, a sign of possible jaundice. The informant also said Adams and the boy's father had been physically fighting over a bag of meth in front of the child on Jan. 14.
When Washington County deputies entered Adams' Stagecoach Trail residence the next day, the complaint states, they found the baby in dirty clothing with a dirty diaper. Deputy Angela Hanson saw dried yellow mucus around the boy's eyes and in his nose.
Because the child's diaper needed changing, Sgt. Cheri Dexter reached for clean diapers out of a diaper box. When she opened the box, Dexter found a glass baby bottle with what looked like meth residue, as well as tubing and small plastic baggies, according to the complaint.
They sent the boy to Gillette Children's Hospital, and he is now in protective custody.
When deputies searched the mother's purse, they allegedly found three glass marijuana pipes with burnt residue, one and a half grams of marijuana in a small bag, two packs of rolling paper and a small bag of methamphetamine, the complaint states.
The Washington County Attorney has charged Adams with two counts of child endangerment, one count of child neglect and one count of fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, all felonies. The most serious charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
The child's current condition was not available. Ramsey County officials said confidentiality laws prohibit them from releasing such information.
Washington County authorities said lab tests done after the boy was taken into protective custody did not find the drug, although they said those tests may not be conclusive.
It's also unclear how the baby was exposed to meth in March.
Deborah Durkin, who coordinates the methamphetamine program at the Minnesota Health Department, said babies can take in meth through breastfeeding if their mothers are on the drug. They also can absorb it when their mothers smoke or cook meth or when the babies crawl on surfaces where meth was once made.
Babies also can be born with meth in their bodies. The drug stays in the body for up to 48 hours after birth, but the damage could last for years.
Research on the subject still is slim. Durkin said a baby who tests positive for meth is not necessarily dependent or suffering great harm. Much depends on the dose. It also is difficult to sort out how much damage comes from meth compared to damage from alcohol and other substances that drug users often take while they're on meth, she said.
Durkin said metro-area hospitals and family agencies are seeing an increase in the number of mothers with meth-damaged children.
The problem "is not at all uncommon, and it's growing," she said.
Alex Friedrich can be reached at or 651-228-2109.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Six indicted on charges ranging from murder to drug trafficking
Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. - A federal grand jury has indicted six people, including an alleged drug ringleader, a former area American Idol finalist, and the mother of a man killed last summer, in a case involving drugs and murder.
U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley announced the indictments Friday.
Michael Petzold, 23, of Norfolk, Neb., who allegedly headed a conspiracy to bring drugs into the United States and Mexico, is accused of killing Lee Avila, 28, of East Grand Forks, Minn.
Police said they got a 911 call and found Avila shot to death at an East Grand Forks residence June 30. Authorities said Avila had earlier criminal convictions and labeled his death as drug-related.
Petzold is charged with murder in furtherance of a continuing criminal enterprise, a charge that could bring the death penalty, Wrigley said at a Fargo news conference.
"This is the first time a federal indictment has been returned in North Dakota or Minnesota - I'm not aware of any there - where a federal death penalty is a potential ... on a narcotics trafficking case," Wrigley said.
Also indicted was Avila's mother, Francisca Avila-Vargas, 44, of St. Paul, Minn., Wrigley said. Avila-Vargas, who goes by the nicknames "Poncha" and "Mama," faces a conspiracy charge in the same indictment as Petzold, though she was not charged directly in her son's death.
The charges involve a drug ring alleged to have brought large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana from Mexico and other places to the Red River Valley since 2002.
Others indicted were Soledad Ybarra, 21, a finalist for Fargo's 2002 "American Idol" competition; Anthony Valdez, 22, of Turlock, Calif; and Lacey Kathryn Johnson, 18, and Jonathan Olbay Meyer, 21, both of Fargo.
The defendants face between 10 years to life in prison if convicted on conspiracy of possessing meth, cocaine and marijuana with the intent of selling the drugs.
A seventh defendant tied to the conspiracy, Troy Gene Lorsung, 22, of Moorhead, Minn., pleaded guilty in federal court last week to selling meth. Because of previous drug convictions, Lorsung faces a mandatory life sentence unless he provides authorities with information that helps convict others involved in selling drugs.
Clay County, Minn., authorities said last fall that they found a handgun and a spiral notebook with notes detailing a drug and homicide investigation during a search of the Moorhead, Minn., apartment where Ybarra lived.
Petzold had been scheduled for trial this week on charges involving a drug conspiracy. Authorities said he had lived in Wahpeton and was convicted there for drug possession five years ago.
The latest indictment, which links two trafficking conspiracies filed last year, accuses Petzold of heading a ring that distributed at least 33 pounds of meth, with a street value topping $600,000, in the Red River Valley.
Authorities said the trafficking ring sold drugs from homes and hotels in Fargo, Wahpeton, Sanborn, and the communities of Moorhead, Hawley, Cormorant and Breckenridge in Minnesota.
"At some point, you're going to run out of folks who are going to be participating at this level of activity," Wrigley said. "We have to do everything we can to take out people who traffic."

Getting the message out about drugs in Canada

By Candace Brown
Staff Writer
Friday January 27, 2006

Fort Saskatchewan Record — On Wednesday night, Const. Helen Meinzinger spoke to parents and their children at Rudolph Hennig about drugs.
She spent half of the two-hour session talking about crystal meth.
Those who attended watched a movie dealing with meth, it brought tears to some, as well as shock and possibly anger.
The movie showed individuals talking about drugs; why they did them and the effects they have.
It also showed before and after photos of people who became meth junkies.
When a person first takes meth, their brain works faster, but then slows.
Hitler had used meth. The meth today compared to then is much more pure and potent.
Crystal meth is cheap and easy to get and the high lasts longer.
People snort, shoot, smoke, and eat crystal meth.
Speed freaks tend to have weird living conditions, displaying no standards for cleanliness.
They will develop sores, sometimes from trying to dig out the meth in their body to be re-smoked.
Meth creates an over production of brain chemicals and depletes dopamine. The brain then cannot regenerate the chemicals, causing the individual to crash.
A crash can las from one to three days and the user will do anything to get out of it. They experience paranoia and suicidal thoughts.
Meth junkies become violent and defensive because they have an abnormal perception of threat.
They also have a paranoid schizophrenic behavior.
Child abuse cases, where the parents are meth addicts are the most gruesome.
The case shown on the movie was about a girl, who lost her life to the torture that her meth addicted parents put her through.
They hung her from the closet, made her sleep in the tub, and burned her.
There are no old meth addicts. Meth affects the central nervous system and is more powerful than cocaine.
Meth is easy to produce and is usually white, but can also be tan or purple. The colour depends on its purity.
Yaba Yaba is the name for the pill form of meth. Meth is highly addictive.
In Alberta, it is usually D-meth that is used, which is more potent and has fewer adverse side effects.
People who start by smoking meth, will end up using a needle to shoot it up.
Many drugs offer a euphoric feeling to the user.
“You’d be lying if you told somebody that drugs didn’t make you feel good at first,” Const. Meinzinger says.
There are three types of meth users. They are low intensity users, binge users and high intensity users.
Low intensity users are casual users, who use it like caffeine or nicotine and function normal.
Bingers go through seven stages when they use meth; rush, high, binge, tweaking, crash, normal, and withdrawal.
Ninety-three per cent of people that do get treatment for meth use, do re-use.
Crystal meth users experience many short term and long term effects.
Meth is made with precursors, solvents and reagents.
In Fort Saskatchewan, one unactive lab was taken down. The Fort experienced a boom in meth use in 1998. Since then there has been a decrease in meth use and increase in cocaine use.
During the last few weeks, the Fort Saskatchewan RCMP have made a few seizures of cocaine.
Cocaine is pyschologically addictive.
Meinzinger also talked about crack, LSD, magic mushrooms, ectasy, marijauna, ketamine, and salvia divinorum.
She explained the effects of each drug and their different forms.
The drug that perhaps has seen the most changes is marijauna. The THC levels have increased significantly over the years.
Because of the higher THC level in todays pot, it is an addictive drug, Meinzinger claimed.
The testosterone levels in young males that smoke marijauna decreases, while it increases in young females.
There were also a large variety of hand-outs about drugs and alcohol.
As well, Const. Meinzinger had the drug kit on display, which included a pipe that looked like a police car.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Hundreds turn out for meth meeting in Meridian

10:27 AM MST on Thursday, January 26, 2006

MERIDIAN -- Methamphetamine use is an epidemic in the area, and law enforcement officers say no community is immune.

That’s the message Meridian officials were hoping to spread to the 300 people who attended a presentation last night at Meridian Middle School.

The Meridian mayor's office and police department showed how dangerous and expensive drugs can be for a community.

Those in attendance heard some sobering statistics.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Monte Stiles, from 1990 to 1996 drug use among high school students doubled.

He says meth sites can cost up to $150,000 to clean, money that could be spend in classrooms.

And Stiles says one in 10 teens have tried meth, one of the most addictive drugs on the street.

The group in charge hopes the information makes children and teens aware of the dangers of illegal drugs.

"There are a lot of drug issues and things that needed to be solved and that haven't been solved, and we are trying to help the big wheels in our district and our city know there is a problem," said Andrea Dicello, mayor's youth advisory council.

The community meeting was sponsored by the Meridian Kiwanis after a similar meeting in Kuna.

City takes on meth in visit to Las Vegas

By ELORIA NEWELL JAMES - Delta Democrat Times

GREENVILLE - City and community officials have vowed to address the rising national concerns about crystal methamphetamine on the local level.

Because of that commitment, Greenville Mayor Heather McTeer Hudson, Greenville police Chief Lester Carter, Police Sgt. Xavier Redmond, head of the department's special operations unit, investigator Anthony Ferguson and community worker Audine Haynes attended a conference last week highlighting the dangers of the drug.

Local participants say the 2006 National Summit on Methamphetamine and the Epidemic was an informative and exploring opportunity for them.

“It was something we had to go to due to us receiving the federal funds, but it also allows us to be proactive,” Hudson said. “Meth is a serious national problem and Greenville is an entry point for the drug in this area. We are the biggest city in the Mississippi Delta, and we are on the Arkansas-Mississippi Line. So, we are vulnerable to the production and trafficking of this drug and we want to take a stand against it.”

Haynes, executive director of the Washington County Anti-Drug RADAR (Regional Alcohol and Drug Resource) Center, said it was important for her to attend the meeting because of her law enforcement experience and her work with the community partnership.

Haynes is also a former member of the Greenville City Council.

“This allowed me to keep up with the latest drug abuse and prevention and any possible funding being made available to community partnership and preventon efforts,” Haynes said.

Hudson said it was important for the police chief to attend the meeting “to be aware of the different areas and how to manage the problem.” She said the narcotics agents were given an opportunity to learn how to recognize the drug and how to handle those manufacturing and using the drug.

The mayor said the conference “allowed her to learn more about policy management and where we are taking this issue as a nation, state and community.”

Officials confirmed that the drug is an issue in this area.

“It's a rural issue facing rural areas,” Redmond said. “It's a major issue that we have to address and know the health hazards involved.”

The mayor said methamphetamine “is worse than crack cocaine in some places and we have to take action against it.”

Hudson said although the city has been approved for approximately $1 million in federal funding through a combined Science, State, Justice and Commerce Department bill for its drug interdiction efforts, it's not enough.

“We got around $1 million for this project, but we learned this past week that it takes about $20,000 to clean up one meth lab,” the mayor explained. “In Mississippi in 2004, 267 labs were discoverd. So, you see the expense involved.”

All participants agree that methamphetamine “is a major, major problem.”

“It's a dangerous drug and there are a lot of people involved in using it,” Hudson said.

Others agreed.

“I've seen the results of what crystal meth has done to some people here in Washington County,” Haynes said. “During the conference, I learned more about the impact drug abuse has on children, because there's so many women who use that meth and there's no one to care for the children.”

Officials said they will now be carrying the message of “stay away from methamphetamine

Opportunity leads to a new life for father of three

PHIL ROONEY, Staff Writer

Things are looking up these days for Jason Still and his three children.

It hasn't always been this good for the 29-year-old Council Bluffs man.

Still hit bottom on Dec. 23, 2003, when his drug problems led to an arrest. His choices were a cell or drug court.

A series of bad choices had landed him in his predicament, but this time Still got it right. He chose drug court.

Still said he fell into drug use - methamphetamine was his poison of choice - after he separated from his wife. The youngest of their three children was 6 months old at the time, a little less than six years ago.

He quit the job he'd held at Wilson Concrete and started staying with his children at his mother's home. With no real home of their own, the family was part of the area's homeless statistics, which last year totaled 447 children in the Council Bluffs School District.

"I didn't care about nothing but the drugs," Still said.

Then came the arrest.

"At the time I was arrested it was 'I got caught.' By the time I was through drug court, 'I was saved,'" he said.

After first wanting to do his time so he could get out and return to his old lifestyle, drug court taught Still how to care about himself.

"When you're an active drug addict your first response is to say what they want you to say," he said.

That changed with the drug court program. He was given the tools to make himself well again and soon was on his way to recovery.

Still now chairs Narcotics Anonymous meetings on Saturdays for Family Service.

A Council Bluffs native who left high school when his then-girlfriend was pregnant with their first child, he now is a concrete worker at Lumbermen's in Millard. A promotion and raise are in the works as he learns his craft.

He spent two years in a sobriety house while his children stayed with his mother. March will mark his first year at Transitions, the Family Service program that helps people return to society from homelessness. Already there have been milestones.

"My first Christmas here with my kids," Still said with a smile.

Still and his children, Jacob, 11, Taylor, 8, and Cody, 6, made it complete with their own Christmas tree.

"Here's pretty good," Still said of their temporary home.

The children are in school, and the Council Bluffs School District has developed a program for Jacob, a special needs child who is on medication.

"Lately he's been doing pretty good," Still said.

The boys are involved in Boy Scouts and Taylor is in gymnastics and Girl Scouts.

Still's progress hasn't gone unnoticed by the Family Service's staff.

"Jason's doing really well on the program," said Joanie Spitznagle, program coordinator for the Pottawattamie County Homeless Link. "He works really hard at it."

For Still it's a second chance at a good life. The one-on-one counseling is something he appreciates, and it helps keep him clean from meth. It's once a month unless he needs more help.

He's also taking nutrition classes and learning to cook but says he has more work to do there.

In May, he'll mark his first year on the new job and is starting to plan for the future, putting away money for the time when the family will leave Transitions. They potentially have more than a year remaining in the program, but soon can be removed from the homeless rolls.

It's a long way from where he was just three years ago when, because of methamphetamine use, his children were just people he passed in the hallway. Still is appreciative.

"This place gives you a chance to get back on your feet," he said. "Life's great."

Hundreds turn out for meth meeting in Meridian

10:27 AM MST on Thursday, January 26, 2006

MERIDIAN -- Methamphetamine use is an epidemic in the area, and law enforcement officers say no community is immune.

That’s the message Meridian officials were hoping to spread to the 300 people who attended a presentation last night at Meridian Middle School.

The Meridian mayor's office and police department showed how dangerous and expensive drugs can be for a community.

Those in attendance heard some sobering statistics.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Monte Stiles, from 1990 to 1996 drug use among high school students doubled.

He says meth sites can cost up to $150,000 to clean, money that could be spend in classrooms.

And Stiles says one in 10 teens have tried meth, one of the most addictive drugs on the street.

The group in charge hopes the information makes children and teens aware of the dangers of illegal drugs.

"There are a lot of drug issues and things that needed to be solved and that haven't been solved, and we are trying to help the big wheels in our district and our city know there is a problem," said Andrea Dicello, mayor's youth advisory council.

The community meeting was sponsored by the Meridian Kiwanis after a similar meeting in Kuna

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Defendant admits on stand that he took meth, killed wife

May says he was distraught over their impending divorce
By Malaika Fraley, STAFF WRITER

REDWOOD CITY — High on methamphetamine and armed with kitchen shears, Lawrence May went to his therapist's office building to threaten suicide and prove to his estranged wife how much he loved her. Instead, he killed her, May said.
May, 50, took the stand at the close of his murder trial this week to recount the events of March 25, 2004, the night Daly City marriage-and-family therapist Sharen Sulpizio May was stabbed more than 100 times in a San Mateo office building after a meeting about the custody of the couple's three children.

Following closing arguments, the case went to the jury late Tuesday. If convicted of first-degree murder, May faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

May has testified that he doesn't remember killing his wife, doesn't remember the police who pulled him away from her lifeless body, and doesn't remember the blood all over his hands, the walls and the floor. But, May said, he knows it happened.

During the full day of testimony Monday, May at one moment would sob about the divorce he was desperate to stop and the next moment say he and his wife could have saved their 13-year marriage.

He talked about being unable to keep his family together.

He said over and over that he can neither remember nor accept his wife's murder.

"I would never do that. I wanted us to be together forever and ever and ever," May said.

"But you just told us that you did kill your wife, am I right?" prosecutor Sean Gallagher asked.

"I did," May said.

May said that on March 25, 2004, two days after the stay-at-home dad was served with divorce papers, he walked out on his second-custody mediation session a half-hour before Sulpizio May because he didn't want to sign

papers that afforded him less than equal timehis with children.

May said he went to the parking lot and sat in the family van filled with the children's toys, art supplies

Laurel policeman spells out the ravages of methamphetamine

The following message is from Officer Erin Popp of the Laurel Police Department. Popp is the School Resource Officer for Laurel Middle School and the Laurel elementary schools and serves the community of Laurel as a patrol officer.

“Kathryn Woodward from the Yellowstone City-County Health Department will give a presentation on Methamphetamine (aka: ‘meth,' ‘crank,' ‘crystal,' ‘speed') on Thursday, Jan. 26, at 6 pm., in the Laurel High School Auditorium. This presentation is open to anyone and everyone from our community and surrounding communities, and it is free. This is an excellent opportunity for members of our community to learn more about this dangerous and highly addictive drug.

“My concern is that some members of our community believe methamphetamine is not something they need to worry about. Some may believe methamphetamine is not here in the Laurel/Billings area. Some may believe it is only a concern for parents of high school age students as teenagers are the only users.

“As a police officer in Laurel, I have first hand knowledge that methamphetamine is here in Laurel. In the last several years, the Laurel Police Department has made numerous arrests for methamphetamine possession, distribution, and possession of methamphetamine paraphernalia.

“Methamphetamine trafficking and usage is on the rise in our community. This is due, in part, to its highly addictive nature and the fact it is readily available if you want it. Why is it readily available? Methamphetamine is relatively easy to produce and the ingredients needed to make it can be bought at local stores. It can be made in homes, garages, crawl spaces, cars, hotel rooms, anywhere.

“Methamphetamine is a concern for parents of high school and middle school aged youth because they are, in general, at a high risk to use drugs. Teens are more independent, engage in more unsupervised activities, are more susceptible to peer-pressure, etc. So, of course, all parents of teenagers should attend this presentation.

“You might be surprised, however, to learn that many users are not teenagers, but adults with jobs and families. Some are even grandparents. A shocking trend reported across the United States is mothers using methamphetamine to give them more energy. They find their lives are extremely busy and they use the drug to get more done in their day. Also reported are males and females, adults and teenagers, using methamphetamine to help them lose weight. Being thin is more important to them than the horrible physical, mental, and emotional side effects caused by methamphetamine use that threaten their lives.

“What about elementary school age students? Their use may not be your concern, but their health and safety should be. How do you know if your second-grade child is visiting a friend whose family member “cooks” methamphetamine in their home? It can be difficult to tell unless you educate yourself and have the type of information Mrs. Woodward will present.

“If you do not have children or have very young children, why should you be concerned?

“€ Methamphetamine ‘labs' are extremely dangerous!

“€ Methamphetamine is “cooked” using a heat source such as an open flame and flammable chemicals.

“€ Methamphetamine labs can blow at any moment, leveling a house and damaging properties near them.

“€ Methamphetamine labs are also incredibly toxic. By just being in a home with a lab, you could be exposed to harmful chemicals and toxins. Methamphetamine production also produces a large amount of toxic waste material.

“€ Many methamphetamine “cooks” dump this waste in other people's dumpsters, in alleys, or on other people's property. The scary but very real fact is, at this moment, methamphetamine may be being produced in your neighborhood. You could be in danger and not realize it.

“Another fact some Laurel citizens find surprising is that many, many crimes like theft, burglary, assault, or disorderly conduct, are directly related to methamphetamine use. So, you may not think methamphetamine will affect you, but you could be the victim of crime driven by its usage. Methamphetamine is so addictive it often drives users to steal property from others to pawn for money. Methamphetamine users can be very paranoid and violent which has lead to assaults or fights.

“Sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, and AIDS are on the rise in those who use methamphetamine. This is due to the fact some users engage in unprotected sex while high, and some share needles to inject the drug. We are also aware that some users need the drug so badly they are engaging in unprotected sex with dealers as payment for the drug, or engaging in prostitution for money to buy it. This seems to be most prevalent with young females as they cannot always afford the cost of their high.

“This message is not meant to scare anyone, just open some eyes to reality. I am so concerned about methamphetamine in our community and the destruction it causes because I see it first hand. Chances are you've seen it too.

“Law enforcement is working everyday to stop those manufacturing, selling, and using methamphetamine. You can help too. And we want your help. Educate yourself and those around you about the signs of methamphetamine production and use. Many arrests are a result of citizen tips and information. You can also educate others about the dangers of methamphetamine use. You never know when you may have the opportunity to discourage someone from using.

“Please consider attending Thursday's presentation and encourage everyone you know to attend. We all must work together to stop the production, the distribution, and the use of methamphetamine in our community.”