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.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

New Zealand names suspects in record meth bust

Wellington - New Zealand police have named seven Chinese men accused of importing New Zealand's biggest shipment of the illegal drug crystal methamphetamine - known as ice or P - and are seeking at least three more suspects, a media report said Tuesday.

Three are Chinese nationals visiting on short term visas, including a tour guide, one is from Taiwan and two are Chinese-born residents of New Zealand, while the name of the seventh accused has been suppressed by the court, the New Zealand Herald reported.

It said that police knew the names of at least three other suspects in a gang that was believed to have run drugs from China to New Zealand for more than a year.

The arrests were made last week after Customs officials seized 95 kilograms of P and 150 kilograms of pseudoephedrine - a medical ingredient widely used to make the illicit drug - in containers shipped from China.

With an estimated street value of about 135 million New Zealand dollars (84 million US dollars), it was the country's biggest haul of the drug which, has been blamed by police for a number of murders and other violent crimes.

The paper said the P alone was enough to supply every fourth New Zealander with a 'point bag,' the standard individual dose of the drug.

The Chinese nationals arrested were named as Guo Wei Deng, 43, Kin Kwok Leung, 66, and tour guide Kai Lok Fung, 41. The others were Ming Chin Chen, 42, from Taiwan and Chinese-born New Zealand residents Li Fan, 28, and Weifeng Pan, 35. All except Kai were unemployed.

Woman tries to pass meth, fake cash through doors of justice (Oregon)

By Kurt Eckert
The Argus

A woman in a wheelchair was in the wrong place at the wrong time Monday, May 22, when she tried to roll through security at the Washington County Courthouse carrying drug paraphernaiia, methamphetamine, $10,000 in counterfeit cash, and some suspicious McDonald's gift cards.

Susan Leslee Parker, 59, was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and criminal possession of forged currency, said Washington County Sheriff's Office Sgt. David Thompson.

She is lodged in Washington County Jail on $20,000 bail.

Security workers became almost immediately suspicious when Parker came through the east doors of the Justice Service Center at about 8:53 a.m. Because she was in the wheelchair, they asked for permission to search her backpack.

They noticed some suspicious items, including a glass pipe, but also saw a number of plastic baggies that appeared to contain drug residues. As per procedure, the security officers detained her until law enforcement arrived.

After a WCSO deputy was called to the scene, Parker consented to a further search of her belongings. The deputy found what appeared to be $10,000 in $100 bills. After one of the bills tested as counterfeit, the entire amount was turned over to the Secret Service, Thompson said. The Secret Service investigates all crime involving counterfeit money, he said.

The McDonald's gift cards were either seized because the officer believed they were forged, or believed they were purchased with counterfeit money, Thompson said.


Tuesday, 30 May 2006

Technology and Easy Credit Give Identity Thieves an Edge

In a Scottsdale police station last December, a 23-year-old methamphetamine user showed officers a new way to steal identities.

His arrest had been unremarkable. This metropolitan area, which includes Scottsdale and Phoenix, has the highest rate of identity theft complaints in the nation, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Even members of the Scottsdale police force have had their identities stolen.

But the suspect showed officers something they had not seen before. Browsing a government Web site, he pulled up a local divorce document listing the parties' names, addresses and bank account numbers, along with scans of their signatures. With a common software program and some check stationery, the document provided all he needed to print checks in his victims' names — and it was all made available, with some fanfare, by the county recorder's office. The site had thousands of them.

The data were not as rich as some found in stolen mail or trash bins. But for law enforcement officials here, this was another turn in a cat-and-mouse game in which criminals have outpaced most efforts to stop them.

"We're trying to keep up with the technology," said Lt. Craig Chrzanowski, who runs Scottsdale's property crimes division, including a computer crimes unit started two years ago. "But they're getting a lot better."

In an economy that runs increasingly on the instantaneous flow of information and credit — aggressively promoted by banks and credit card companies despite the risks — Phoenix and its surrounding area provide a window on one of the system's unintended consequences.

According to a Federal Trade Commission survey in 2003, about 10 million Americans — 1 in 30 — had their identities stolen in the previous year, with losses to the economy of $48 billion. Subsequent surveys, by Javelin Strategy and Research, a private research company, found that the number of victims had declined to nine million last year but that the losses had risen to $56.6 billion.

In Arizona, one in six adults had their identities stolen in the last five years, about twice the national rate, according to the Javelin survey.

Arizona officials have responded with a preventive mantra: shred all documents and avoid giving Social Security numbers or bank account numbers to strangers over the telephone or the Internet. The State Legislature has passed tougher penalties for people caught stealing or trafficking in stolen identities.

But the real problem, many officials and consumer advocates say, lies elsewhere. In recent years banks have campaigned energetically to extend more credit to more people with fewer hassles, and retailers and consumers have embraced instant, near-anonymous access to credit.

Last year a group of prosecutors, law enforcement officers and security executives from banks and credit card associations met to discuss ways of curbing identity theft. The group had plenty of ideas, including PIN numbers or fingerprint verification for all credit card purchases and a ban on mailings that include blank checks.

But all ran counter to the promotional campaigns of banks and, banks say, to the desires of consumers.

"There's a disconnect between corporate leadership at financial institutions and their security departments," said Brad H. Astrowsky, a former prosecutor who was part of the group. "Marketing people are ruling the day in banking. They can do things to fix the problem, but they have no incentive and motivation to do it. Preventing something from happening is a cost. What's the benefit? It's hard to quantify."

MORE at:

The drug that causes incredible devastation (Missouri)

Man struggles with addiction to meth
By TERESA RESSEL\Daily Journal Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a five-part series dealing with the growing number of meth labs and meth use in the county. On Wednesday, read about how the use and manufacturing of meth is harming children.

He was a good student who could have graduated high school at the top of his class.

Blair, who lived in Kansas City at the time, said none of his teachers or classmates at school knew he had an addiction.

Blair said the first drug he experimented with was cocaine when he was 13 years old. He stole it from his father.

“My whole family did it,” he said. He saw it as a way of life — a way to get by.

One day, when the cocaine wasn’t available, he tried a cheaper drug that has a longer high — meth. He got it from one of his dad’s friends.

“When I snorted it, I thought ‘Oh my God it hurts so bad,’” Blair said. “But from that first time on, I couldn’t stop.”

He said there’s no feeling like it.

“I was on top of the world,” he said. “My confidence level was soaring.”

In the beginning, that high lasted two or three days.

When he turned 14, he began shooting it up. After that, he said, there was no coming down. Blair said he would be up 10-12 days at a time and then sleep a day and a half.

He said he was never a bad student. In fact, he said he was in the top five percent of his class all throughout high school. He was set to get a couple of scholarships.

“I was obsessed with my grades,” he said.

He was kicked out of school his senior year for a drug charge and ended up getting his GED.

Looking back, he thinks people around him probably knew something was wrong. He didn’t run around with the people he went to school with.

“I was really skinny, real thin,” he said.

The first time Blair sought treatment was when he was 16 years old.

“I told my parents I needed to go,” he said. “I went over Christmas break of my sophomore year.”

He was able to stay clean for three months.

“Everyone in my life was doing it,” he said. “I thought I could get out and still hang around with the same people.”

He also had trouble adjusting to normal sleeping and eating habits.

“I wasn’t ready to live normal again,” Blair said.

Blair has relapsed a couple times but is still fighting the battle. When this reporter spoke to him, he was in a short-term residential treatment program for a fourth time.

He said the last time, he was clean for nine months before he relapsed.

“It’s really hard to stay away,” he said. “It’s everywhere.”

He said one of the hardest thing has been cutting ties with everyone from his old lifestyle. He said he still talks to his family but he broken all ties with his old friends.

He said it has helped to move away from Kansas City. He is currently living in Cuba where he has a job, and is active with a church and a narcotics anonymous group.

Read much more at:

Baby's death adds to meth term

By Peter Shinkle

The sentence of James G. Hayes for making methamphetamine at his home in Fenton was extended to 27 years Tuesday by a federal judge who heard prosecutors link the illicit lab to the death of Hayes' four-week-old daughter.

Hayes, 28, pleaded guilty in December of carrying out a conspiracy to make more than 500 grams of meth. He faced a sentence of up to 16 years, but prosecutors asked for life in prison on grounds that Hayes had endangered his four children, including the one who died.

The sentencing comes amid increasing concern over the harm to children from meth manufacturing and use. Officials say the drug causes devastating addiction, and its production releases toxic chemicals. Missouri officials have said that 12 percent of children in the state foster care system at the end of last year were there for a meth-related reason.

Detective Damon Kunneman of the St. Louis County police, who investigated Hayes' drug ring, voiced concern Tuesday about the impact on children. "It's going on in a lot of homes. The problem is getting the evidence," he said.

The 4-week-old girl, Jersie N. Hayes, was in a mobile home occupied by Hayes and her mother, Kristy Toczylowski, when she was reported unresponsive on Jan. 21, 2003.

Toczylowski, Hayes' girlfriend and the mother of four of his children, told authorities she found the baby dead at 6 a.m. in a bed at their residence on Treeview Lane in Fenton, prosecutors said.

Hayes later acknowledged making meth there in the days before the infant's death. Laboratory tests found traces of meth on a pillowcase from the bed where the child was found, U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said Tuesday.

A government expert found that Jersie's condition was consistent with dying by exposure to hydrochloric acid, a hazardous chemical released during meth production, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sirena Wissler said.

But defense attorney Douglas Forsyth pointed out in court that an autopsy found no signs of meth in the infant's blood, and was unable to determine the cause of death.

In Tuesday's sentencing hearing, Forsyth urged U.S. District Judge Charles Shaw to consider that another member of the drug ring received probation, even though he helped transport tanks of chemicals to Hayes' home.

Shaw noted that Hayes was proved to have risked the lives of his children.

"You're going to be out of commission," the judge said, and then he handed down the 27-year sentence.

Hayes snarled a slur at the prosecutor as he turned to leave court.

Forsyth said he could not comment on whether Hayes will appeal, saying that decision would be up to Hayes.

Toczylowski has not been charged with a crime. "At this point in time, we have no evidence to suggest she either knew or participated in the manufacturing that was going on in the residence," Wissler said.

The three surviving children are in state custody, Wissler said.

Seven other men indicted with Hayes also pleaded guilty. One man, who cooperated with investigators, received probation. The others received prison sentences ranging from one to 10 years. 314-621-5804

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Early Drug Addiction (Nebraska)

The Faces of Meth
Meth being used by teens

A new effort is under way that sheds a new light on "faces of meth" and the faces of death. The new push targets children.

Angela Fatino of Iowa died at the age of 15 after using meth for less than three years. At 15, Angela's face had already deteriorated and her life had done the same.

By showing teens the effects that meth has on someone's appearance, people involved with an anti-meth campaign hope that children will not choose a life involving the deadly and ugly drug.

"You don't even realize what you're doing when you're in what I call, I call it a game, because you're playing Russian Roulette with your life," said Caryn Cunningham, recovering meth addict.

The effects of meth really hit home for Caryn and she knew the game all too well.

"A horrible person, I'd lie, cheat, steal," said Cunningham. "I didn't want to face reality; I didn't want to deal with my problems."

A new anti-meth campaign in Iowa and Nebraska is targeting teens and is trying to reach them before they try the drug at a young age like Caryn had done. This campaign is all about showing teens what meth will do to your appearance as well as your body.

"I would say the youngest I've heard is 11, and then I would say more 13, frequently by the age 13 they have started to experiment with it," said Marilyn Starke, Heartland Family Services.

Starke says parents need to talk to their children at an early age and they need to make sure they get all the facts included.

"If I'm only hearing on the street with my friends the benefits to a drug, and I'm never really being able to experience that negative, then that becomes a problem."

Caryn is still working to conquer after years of problems. She knows what meth will do to you where it will take you.

"Just imagine everything you've got now, your friends, your family, any possession you've got, any money you have, any life you think you're going to lead, imagine that it's not going to be there," said Cunningham. "Picture yourself in a box, in a room, with nothing."

Experts say simply talking to children about drugs and what they do will reduce their chances of using those drugs by 50 percent.

CBS sends crew to visit meth support group (Iowa)

By JOHN MOLSEED Messenger Staff Writer

When Zoey Montgomery and Toddy Svoboda met after school Wednesday, they talked about things most junior high school students wouldn’t know. They also had a network television crew waiting for them.

The two 11-year-olds founded a support group ‘‘Kids Supporting Kids of Addicted Parents.’’

A crew from CBS news came to Fort Dodge from New York to sit in on their meeting at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Wednesday afternoon.

At the meeting, the girls, joined by their third member, Annabel Rosburg, 11, read letters describing how meth tore apart their lives. They talked about how the drug made people around them violent, and described how their parents’ addictions left them alone and hungry for days — all while the news crew’s camera rolled.

They started the meeting reading letters to their parents and to the drug that crippled their family.

‘‘Dear meth, why did you have to ruin my life?’’ Svoboda read and signed the letter as meth’s ‘‘worst enemy.’’

Rosburg talked about how the drug impacted her mother.

‘‘You have taken her children away from her,’’ she read. ‘‘I wish my mom had never found out about you.’’

After Rosburg read, photographer Armando Cantu spoke up for the only time the crew made its presence known in the church basement room.

‘‘I’m having a hard time here,’’ he said, having Svoboda move onto the couch.

She talked about the violence that meth brought between her mom and her mom’s boyfriends.

‘‘I always tried to get in the middle and protect my mom,’’ she said.

The girls talked about finding needles and other drug paraphernalia and making excuses to miss school.

The three were thrilled their group will be thrust into the national spotlight and hope the story reaches the right viewers.

‘‘I want them to know kids can come here and talk and let out stress,’’ said Svoboda.

Rosburg hopes the story might inspire some kids in similar situations to do what she and Montgomery did.

‘‘I hope they say that it’s a good thing and that if their parents are in drugs, they can do something,’’ Rosburg said.

‘‘Hopefully we’ll touch their hearts so that they won’t want to do drugs,’’ said Montgomery.

CBS Correspondent Tracy Smith said the three girls’ stories should be shared.

‘‘These young girls are empowered and took something that could have been devastating and turned it into something positive,’’ Smith said. ‘‘That’s a good story.

‘‘Meth is obviously a problem across the country,’’ said Smith. ‘‘We know children are victims of this crisis, but we rarely hear from them.’’

Group facilitator Dixie Lovain, who is associated with the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center, said the girls have taken a bad situation and created something that can help others.

‘‘These girls had the courage to stand up and have their voices heard and overcome the shame of being the kid of someone who’s addicted.’’

Anyone wishing to join the group needs to have a parent’s permission, which often means the first in a series of long steps on the road to recovery for a parent. While three members represents a small segment of an affected population, Lovain said everything needs to start somewhere.

What started with two frustrated daughters became nationwide news.
Contact John Molseed at (515) 573-2141 or

Meth hits small towns, too (Oregon)

Gazette-Times reporter

Drug dog might sniff through school next year

MONROE — Methamphetamine doesn’t skip small towns.

Family nurse practitioner Susan Keister said she sees clients at the Monroe Health Center who were involved in meth, and even some suffering through withdrawal symptoms.

Monroe schools counselor Christina Walker notices the family instability of younger students whose parents may be on the drug — the days of school missed, the uncombed hair or other problems.

“You see the little signs of neglect,” she added.

Older students “talk about people around them using meth,” Walker said. “I hear more about marijuana and drinking than meth, but it exists.”

On Tuesday night, local officials talked about the drug during a forum in the Monroe High School gym. About 40 people attended the event.

Benton County sheriff’s deputy Jim Weikel and drug dog Bus (pronounced boose) gave a demonstration of a canine’s keen sense of smell.

Bus quickly found a stash of synthetic drugs that Weikel hid in the gym. The dog might become more familiar with the school soon.

Next school year, the German shepherd and Weikel will sniff for meth and other illegal substances stashed in hallway lockers and vehicles in the parking lot, said Superintendent Randy Crowson.

“We’re certainly going to use the drug dog. There’s no question about it. (The school) needs to be a place that’s clean,” he said.

Alsea School also is interested in the possibility of having Bus search for drugs, Weikel said.

According to the deputy, meth has become the drug of choice, and is found by local law enforcement more commonly than marijuana.

“It’s definitely a problem. It’s getting worse,” he said.

While Keister shared information about the health problems meth creates, representatives of the Benton County drug and alcohol program and juvenile court called the drug highly addictive.

“It’s not something you play with,” said Jim Gouveia, of the Benton County Health Department.

Gouveia said parents should look for changes in their children’s behavior and friends.

Andrew Abblitt, juvenile court councilor, said suspicious parents should ask their children if they are using drugs and gauge the response.

With adults, hyperactivity and sores on the face and arms can be signs of meth use. The drug also causes agitation and aggression.

Weikel urged residents not to ignore signs of meth.

“You are our eyes and ears in the community. … Let us know,” added Undersheriff Diana Simpson.

After the presentation, a few Monroe teens said that they didn’t think meth was that big of a problem in south Benton County.

“I really don’t hear anything or see anybody who uses it,” said Ellen Keas, 18, a Monroe High School junior.

Still, she thought the presentation was well done.

“We got a lot of information about it, the way people looked after they used it,” Keas added.

County task force uncovers meth lab Two children found living on premises may have been exposed (California)

STOCKTON — The San Joaquin County Metropolitan Task Force arrested two people Tuesday in an unincorporated area east of Stockton for operating what police called a clandestine drug lab.
During a probation search of a home on the 1700 block of North Golden Gate Avenue, the task force uncovered the lab.

Investigators found a pound of methamphetamine, half a pound of marijuana, nearly $12,000 in cash and more than a dozen handguns and rifles on the property.

Dana Scott Mcintire , 48, and Robin Lynn Cunningham, 42, were booked into county jail on drug possession and transportation charges, being a felon in possession of a firearm and child endangerment.

Two children, ages 13 and 7, were living on the premises and possibly exposed to toxic chemicals, police said. The children were placed in custody of Child Protective Services.

METRO is a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force comprised of officers from every police agency in San Joaquin County, the California Highway Patrol, and the San Joaquin County District Attorneys office.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Heartland Investigators Make Substantial Meth Bust (Missouri)

By: Ryan Tate

New Madrid County Sheriff Terry Stevens calls Friday's methamphetamine bust the "biggest ever" in his county.

Crews with the sheriff's department and the Southeast Missouri Drug Task Force raided the New Madrid One Stop Friday, arrested five people, confiscated two pounds of meth and an undisclosed amount of cash. Investigators then raided a home in New Madrid, and confiscated another three pounds of meth.

Deputies arrested Mary Lawrence, Harold Lawrence, Darin Allen, Candice Allen and Mark Townsend. Prosecutors charge all five with possession of meth, and four got an additional charge.

Sheriff Stevens says his investigators got tips about drug activity at the convenient store in downtown New Madrid, and kept an eye on the place for months before the raid.

"We had some suspicions right away after seeing the traffic, and the place didn't sell gas," Sheriff Stevens said.

The New Madrid One Stop is located only about 25 yards from the Sheriff's Department.

"It's highly unusual for someone to be that brazen in close proximity to a sheriff's department," Sheriff Stevens added.

Investigators put the street value of the Meth confiscated at about three-quarters of a million dollars.

Man gets 90 years for murder in meth deal (California)

Man gets 90 years for murder in meth deal
-- Mike Cruz

SAN BERNARDINO - A street gangster will spend decades in state prison for the brutal robbery and shooting death of a Rialto man that a Superior Court judge described as "target practice."
Jonathan Kent Main walked outside of a San Bernardino apartment about 4 a.m. in September 2002 to sell drugs to Johnnie Benjamin Chagolla and Daniel Encino Martinez, according to authorities.

Instead, Chagolla pulled out a 9 mm handgun and robbed Main of methamphetamine, money and whatever else he had. But the loot wasn't enough - Chagolla also took Main's life.

"I was frankly appalled, shocked, at conduct so vicious, so cowardly," said Judge Michael Welch before reading Chagolla's sentence Tuesday in San Bernardino Superior Court.

A jury in February 2005 convicted Chagolla of robbery and first-degree murder, with special enhancements for the use of a firearm and street gang activity. On Tuesday, Chagolla learned the outcome of that verdict: 90 years to life in state prison.

Chagolla will be back in court for a restitution hearing on June 27.

Task force to address methamphetamine use in Coolidge, Pinal County (Arizona)


Crystal methamphetamine is a drug like no other, and the only way to treat its effect on the community is to convince people never to try it at all - and to lock away those who are addicted.
Those were the conclusions of a 17-person group which assembled May 4 in the Coolidge City Council chambers for a two-hour discussion on meth use in Coolidge and how to combat it. While none said the effort was hopeless, all agreed that meth is a more addictive and destructive drug than any other they have seen, and that traditional treatment approaches appear virtually useless in helping users to quit.

"We have to face the fact that we've probably lost a whole generation," said Jon Thompson, a Pinal County Probation supervisor and one of several Coolidge City Council members who attended the meeting. Thompson said the meth addicts he meets have no desire to quit and are unaffected by mandatory treatment.

"We'll bring them in to test (for drug use) and they have the stuff in their wallet," Thompson said. "They just don't care."

Coolidge Police Chief Jim Palmer said meth had the effect of alienating users from their families, to the extent that parents and grandparents frequently call on police to remove addicts from their homes.

"They finally have to give up on them," Palmer said. "They can't help them, and they (users) continue to victimize their families."

Susan Price, currently principal of the Success Center, said in her 17-year career in Coolidge schools she has seen nothing to compare with meth in its rapidly addicting and mind-destroying effects.

"I have one young man in mind right now who between the ages of 3 and 12 has had a 30-point drop in his IQ," Price said. "That normally means a brain tumor or some systematic problem, but he has all the signs of meth use - the sores and rotten teeth - and you didn't see that with the other (drugs)."

Coolidge Unified School District truant officer Gary Gudgeon said the problem takes deep root as soon as young people get involved in meth - and unfortunately there isn't a sufficient social stigma to deter certain kids from getting in trouble.

"It's like a rite of passage these days," Gudgeon said. "It's a mark of prestige for kids to get caught with meth on their person and spend time in detention."

There is also a culture of excitement that goes along with defiantly bringing the drugs into school, to the point where students who don't even take drugs will become involved in helping users and dealers avoid getting caught.

"They'll hand a baggie from one kid to the next, and pretty soon there are 15, 20 kids involved where there was only one to begin with," Gudgeon said.

Price spoke up in support of the DARE program, as did all others at the meeting, but said an unfortunate side effect of DARE was that some parents had begun deliberately addicting their children to narcotics.

"When we started the DARE program some people were upset because kids were narking on their parents," Price said. "So some people decided if they started their kids on it earlier, they were less likely to rat their folks out. It's hard to believe that people would do that to their kids, but it's reality that they know kids are being educated in the schools about drugs."

See the rest of this story at:

Meth compounds troubles of N.C. foster children

Steve Hartsoe, The Associated Press
RUTHERFORDTON - In five years as foster parents, Betsy Lane and Rodrigo Hernandez have cared for many neglected children in need of a safe place to call home. But the brother and sister who arrived on a rainy night last year had troubles far worse than most.
The children had nothing. No games, no photos, no favorite blanket or stuffed animal. All their possessions were contaminated, and therefore all were destroyed. The elementary-school-aged siblings were even hosed down by emergency workers to wash away the toxic remnants of their home in rural Western North Carolina, a home that doubled as a methamphetamine lab.

"When I opened the door I was just sort of startled, because they looked so tired and so beaten down by the whole thing," Lane said. "They came in their socks."

The children were among the about 200 North Carolina youngsters found in the past two years living in homes where parents were cooking meth. While children from such homes make up a tiny fraction of those removed by the state, experts say they have scars deeper than those of other foster children, including exposure to the toxic chemicals used to make the highly addictive drug.

"These kids literally come with nothing," said Stacey Darbee, president of the N.C. Foster and Adoptive Parent Association. "They have some other problems that other kids won't have. They'll have asthma from breathing chemicals in."

Meth addiction often leads to psychotic or violent behavior as well as brain damage. People high on meth will often stay awake for days at a time, and if they're parents, that can mean children are left to feed, bathe and clothe themselves, as well as watch out for one other.

"I mean, some of these kids have never even brushed their teeth," said Hernandez, 50, who runs a recycling business. "The first thing to do is you have to set rules, because most of these kids come from homes where they have no rules. None. Zero."

The children of meth addicts also bring unwanted topics such as sex, drugs, and coarse language into foster homes, forcing parents to take extra precautions to protect their other children.

The rest of the story follows:

Meth summit’ also in talks at commissioners’ session (Colorado)

By Kate Martin
The Daily Reporter-Herald

at the commissioners’ Tuesday session:

Commissioner Kathay Rennels proposed that the county host a “meth summit,” where community leaders, business owners, members of the media, schools, parents and children get together to talk about the growing problem of methamphetamines in today’s society.

Other commissioners agreed to the idea. The summit would probably last a half-day. Instead of focusing on treating the problem, Rennels said, the summit would look at ways to prevent people, especially teens, from trying meth in the first place.

Rennels mentioned the Montana Meth Project and said, while it is a great marketing program to prevent teens from taking the drug, it might not be applicable to Larimer County or Northern Colorado. Commissioners said they would have staff draw up a budget for the summit and present it in a month or so for possible funding from the commissioners’ special projects fund.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

More foster families, birth parents cooperating (Iowa)

Ties that bind

By JESSE HELLING, Messenger Staff Writer

Though only 5 months old, Jacey Steinkuehler is already something of a trend setter.

Before Jacey was born, her mother, Jennifer Steinkuehler, a recovering meth addict, knew that she needed to get her life together before bringing up a new baby.

Upon entering the hospital, ‘‘I told them my whole story,’’ said Steinkuehler.

As a result, Baby Jacey became one of the more than 4,300 children in the Iowa foster care system.

Enter the Kraayenbrinks of Fort Dodge.

Around the time Jacey was born, Tim and Sally Kraayenbrink received licensure as foster parents.

‘‘We both love children and are interested in the needs of children,’’ said Sally Kraayenbrink, an educator and former principal of St. Paul Lutheran School in Fort Dodge.

Both of the Kraayenbrinks have siblings who are foster parents, she said.

‘‘It was never unusual at family gatherings to have foster children present,’’ Sally Kraayenbrink said.

Ultimately, it was the Kraayenbrink children — Jacy, Taylor and Ben — who encouraged their parents to open their home to foster children.

‘‘We all love babies,’’ said Taylor Kraayenbrink, a student at St. Edmond High School.

Jacey Steinkuehler became the Kraayenbrinks’ first foster daughter soon after her birth.

Even while Jacey lived with her foster family, her mother remained

See the rest of the story at:

Residents differ on men's meth facility (Alabama)

By Jared Felkins
The Reporter

Proponents of a men’s transitional living facility and members of the Union Grove community where the facility is to be located clashed Monday morning during the Marshall County Commission’s regular meeting.

According to Dr. Mary Holley, director of Stepping Ahead facility that will house recovering methamphetamine addicts, the house and the 11 surrounding acres will serve as a transition house. Holley said the men staying at the house will be from a certified rehabilitation program and will be supervised 24 hours a day. She said it will be a Christian environment with security measures and background checks and regular drug tests will be performed on everyone staying there.

Gazette Opinion: Communities must act to reduce meth (Montana)

Rande Four Bear, left, reads the program as Crossroads High School students prepare for their graduation ceremony at the College of Technology Monday evening.Meth remains Montana's No. 1 illegal drug menace, but its grip is being strongly challenged by citizens all across our great state.

Legislation enacted last year at the urging of law enforcement leaders has already reduced the number of meth labs in Montana by restricting access to large quantities of ephedrine, a key ingredient in concocting the addictive poison, Attorney General Mike McGrath reported at a meth conference in Helena last week.

A massive anti-meth media campaign initiated by businessman Tom Siebel has in just seven months raised awareness of this drug problem so that most of us are seeing memorable anti-drug messages almost daily. The Montana Meth Project is succeeding in putting a hauntingly realistic face on this drug problem -- the scarred, scared, toothless faces of young meth addicts.

Eighty-five percent of Montana teens surveyed and 97 percent of parents reported having a discussion about meth in the previous six months, according to Montana Meth Project research. Moreover, research reveals that 70 percent of Montana teens are seeing or hearing an anti-meth ad an average of three times a week.

Rally in Lame Deer
A moving example of community anti-meth action occurred on May 12 in Lame Deer. Several hundred people -- including students, adults and tots in strollers -- marched through the streets of that small reservation community to take a stand against meth. Tribal leaders and elders exhorted people to work with law enforcement to defeat the drug that is harming their community as well as other towns all over Montana.

Every Montana community should rally against meth. Not just in the streets but in homes and schools where the importance of a drug-free lifestyle must be taught to youngsters and modeled by adults. Montanans must rally against meth by supporting law enforcement and ensuring adequate resources are available for fighting drug-related crimes despite federal cuts in anti-drug funds.

Law enforcement professionals, including McGrath, also have recognized that access to effective treatment is a necessary component of fighting meth. Armed with years of data from drug treatment courts in several Montana communities, Rep. John Parker of Great Falls last week called for the state to allocate $2 million in the next biennium to help sustain treatment courts in Billings, Butte, Bozeman, Great Falls, Lewistown, Missoula and Miles City. Parker, a deputy county attorney, said the effective rehabilitation that drug treatment courts provide will reduce crime and cut incarceration costs. Drug courts hold addicted offenders accountable by requiring that they stay in drug treatment and get jobs.

None of us are immune from this menace. Meth is the major contributor to Montana prison overcrowding, a factor in a large percentage of all violent and property crimes and the No. 1 reason why abused or neglected Montana children are placed in foster care.

Knowledge is power. Now that Montanans know what meth is doing to us, we have the power to fight back. As Tribal President Eugene Little Coyote told the Lame Deer anti-meth rally: "We have declared war on meth. ... We have now arrived at a time to turn our words into action."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Jury indicts 23 on meth charges

Of 44 people indicted by a Kanawha County grand jury this week, 23 face at least one charge related to methamphetamines.

Kanawha County Prosecutor Bill Charnock and the Metro Drug Unit announced during a news conference Thursday that 130 people have been indicted on felony meth charges since January 2005.

"We're getting good pleas -- not dismissing any," Charnock said. "We're also getting a lot of pre-indictment pleas."

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. It only means that the grand jury believes there is enough evidence of a crime to merit a jury trial.

Those charged by the grand jury will be arraigned in the Kanawha County Judicial Annex in downtown Charleston in front of the following judges at the following times:

Judge Jennifer Bailey Walker, 1:30 p.m. on May 31:
Brandon Lawrence Cantrell, 20, of Charleston, burglary and grand larceny; Jeremy C. Hughes, 28, of Hurricane, conspiracy to operate a clandestine drug laboratory and operating clandestine drug laboratory; Kellie J. Tippie, 39, of Sissonville, conspiracy to operate a clandestine drug laboratory and operating a clandestine drug laboratory.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Shared parenting pairs foster parents with birth parents (Arizona)

After using heroin and meth throughout her pregnancy, 20-year-old Jolie Phelps was forced to give up her baby.

A year later, Phelps had turned her life around. She is off drugs and now has her little girl back. She's also made a friend for life in the woman who fostered her child while she recovered.

The scenario is rare for children placed into Arizona's Child Protective Services. But the agency has launched a new mandatory training program for foster parents so they can learn how to interact with their foster child's birth parents.

The "shared parenting" is in line with Gov. Janet Napolitano's 2003 Action Plan for Reform of Arizona's Child Protection System.

Shared parenting can be as simple as a note placed in the diaper bag that goes with a baby on a supervised visit with his or her birth parents. It can mean periodic phone calls or meeting for lunch, sometimes in the foster home.

The concept is sometimes out of the question, particularly if a child has been severely abused or neglected. And it's always up to the foster parents to decide how much they want to interact with the birth family.

Barbara Snell of Tucson has fostered 15 children over the past four years and always tries to have some contact with a foster child's birth parents.

She was the foster mother of Phelps's child before Phelps got her life back together.

It is painful still for Phelps to recall the day her daughter, Aryana, was born.

"When I saw her, I couldn't believe I made such a beautiful baby," she said. "And I couldn't believe how stupid I was to be losing her."

Snell took Aryana home from the hospital, and Phelps went back to life on drugs. She used for three months, she said, before coming to grips with what she had to do to get Aryana back.

Her caseworker got her into a residential treatment center, the first step in her difficult journey to recovery. She's been drug-free since January 2004.

She got Aryana back that October, one week before the child's first birthday.

"I look at her now, and I'm so grateful I worked so hard to get her back," said Phelps, now 23 and married to Aryana's father, Jon Phelps, who is also drug free. Their second daughter, Justice, was born in March.

Snell said some foster parents are nervous about CPS' push toward shared parenting.

"What they really would like is to have birth parents visit us in our homes," Snell said. "But when the birth parents are on drugs, that's not an option. You can't trust a person who's using. You don't want them to know where you live."

Kris Jacober, president of the Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents, said no one expects foster parents to welcome a drug addict into their homes.

But such interaction can be best for the foster child when the birth parent is off drugs and working on recovery, said Jacober, who with her husband has fostered seven children over the past five years.

"It shows the child that everyone's working together," she said. "If you respect the child's past, if you respect their families, it helps them feel better about being with you. And it helps them to feel better about going home."

Cox unveils public safety agenda (Georgia)

First television ad begins running statewide
By Shannon McCaffrey

ATLANTA - Secretary of State Cathy Cox said Monday that if elected governor she would appoint a state drug czar to crack down on the spread of methamphetamine and other illegal substances.

Cox unveiled a public safety platform at a speech to prosecutors. The Democrat said she would also expand the role of the state's drug courts and work to put more police on the streets.

The speech came on the same day that Cox took the wraps off her first television advertisement of the campaign. The folksy 30-second spot, which began running statewide on Monday, shows Cox sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of her family's home in tiny Bainbridge.

"I wouldn't trade growing up in Bainbridge for anything in the world," Cox said.

As Cox talks, highlights from her resume - Sunday school teacher, legislator, Mercer Law School graduate - flash on the screen.

"Every single Georgian, everyone deserves their shot in life," Cox says in the ad. "Everyone deserves an opportunity to succeed."

Cox is the last of the three major gubernatorial candidates to hit the airwaves. Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, a Democrat, and Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue have had ads running for several weeks now. While Taylor and Cox have paid for their own ads from campaign funds, Perdue's have been paid for by the state Republican Party.

In her speech to the District Attorneys Law Enforcement Appreciation luncheon in Camilla, Cox said Perdue has made election-year speeches about "the meth crisis" but has done little to address the problem. Perdue has failed to act on most of the recommendations from a statewide meth summit two years ago, she said.

The Perdue camp disputed that.

"Gov. Perdue has been combatting the spread of meth since he took office, and we welcome a discussion of his leadership on this issue after the Democrats decide who will speak for them," spokesman Derrick Dickey said.

Cox said a cabinet-level drug czar would help coordinate the disjointed efforts of dozens of state agencies. She said drug courts have been shown to reduce recidivism rates for offenders and should be used more. The courts give addicts the option of seeking treatment or going to jail.

Cox also endorsed an initiative popular with state law enforcement to add salary steps and other incentives to keep troopers with the Georgia State Patrol and agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on the job.

Georgia law enforcement officials have complained that they are paid less than their counterparts in other states and in some local police departments. They succeeded earlier this year in getting legislators to push through a 7 percent raise, but say some of the largest pay disparities emerge for veterans, who do not see large enough increases as they rise in the ranks.

On the hot topic of sex offenders, Cox said the bill that passed in the state Legislature this year would only apply to a few dozen of the worst offenders. Cox said she would create a special probation and parole force to monitor released offenders who do not qualify for the state's tough new electronic monitoring program.

The Taylor camp said that while Cox is making promises to fight crime, the lieutenant governor has already delivered. Spokesman Rick Dent said Taylor helped pass the two strikes law - which supporters say is the toughest crime laws in the nation - and has worked to crack down on sex offenders who prey on children.

"We support those same ideas, but candidates for governor should be judged on what they've done about crime, not what they say about crime," Dent said.

Cox did not provide a price tag for the initiatives she endorsed in her speech but a spokesman said they could be paid for with existing revenues and money from the state surplus.

Spokane man held in Idaho probe of meth-related killings (Idaho)


BOISE, Idaho -- A young man has been arrested on an accessory charge that could lead to more answers in the killing of a woman in Boise County, apparently by her son, State Police said.

Jacob W. Larson, 21, of Spokane, Wash., was arrested last Wednesday in the Spokane area on a warrant from Boise county and has admitted helping John Albert Schmeichel to bury the body of Schmeichel's mother, Crystal Ann Nelson, 47, in the remote Harris Creek area in 2004, police Officer Rick Ohnsman said.

Nelson's partially buried remains were found by two hunters April 29 and were identified with the aid of a forensic dentist a few days later.

She and her son were both reported missing in July 2004. Schmeichel was located in Valley County in January 2005 and told police his mother was fine but had moved to a different part of the country.

Two months later, Schmeichel was shot to death, apparently over suspicions that he had stolen drugs and money. Ronald Huntsman was convicted of first-degree murder in that killing earlier this year and faces sentencing this summer.

Ohnsman said Larson and many others who knew Schmeichel said he had talked of killing his mother and burying her in the back country.

"We don't suspect (Larson) is the killer," Ohnsman said. "The theory is that Schmeichel probably killed his mother somewhere in Ada County and had Larson help him bury the body."

Detectives have yet to determine cause of death of motive for the killing of Nelson, but Ohnsman said some of Schmeichel's associates were involved with methamphetamine.


Information from: The Idaho Statesman,

Community leaders from across state meet to seek meth solutions (Montana)

Tribune Staff Writer

HELENA — Meth destroys lives. It hurts families. It leads to crime. And it drains community and state resources.

With those facts in mind, more than 240 elected officials, treatment professionals, community leaders and former addicts are in Helena to lay out statewide solutions to the problem. The conference opened Monday and continues today.

"Over the next two days, I believe we have the opportunity to set a course that will make a substantial difference — both in people's lives and to Montana's future," Attorney General Mike McGrath said.

He kicked off the conference, sponsored by Montana State University's Burton K. Wheeler Center, with a challenge to share ideas that work and tell government what laws and resources are needed to expand those ideas.

"We've been talking about it for five years," said Ron Clem, a former police officer whose daughter got hooked on meth. "It's time we got off the pot."

Carren Clem began using meth as a teenager in 2000 and was soon living on the streets, doing whatever it took to get more meth. To get clean, her parents paid $130,000 to send her to an 18-month program in Jamaica.

"People ask me 'why not go to treatment here in Montana?' because Montana doesn't have any," Clem said.

Thirty days into her treatment program — the length of some of the longest residential treatment programs in the state — she was calling her friends and dealers trying to get meth.

Montana has three residential meth treatment programs for women in Billings, Missoula and Great Falls. All have long waiting lists to get in and scrape funds together each year to keep the programs going.

In addition to more and longer treatment, speakers suggested expanding after-school programs. Rather than filling the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. with drinking or drugs, kids could be drawing, learning how to design computer graphics, fishing or hiking.

Kirk Astroth, director of the Montana 4-H Center for Youth Development, noted that 16 Montana counties don't have after-school programs, and roughly one in seven students participate in current programs.

He called on adults to invite students to the table, both in community task forces and through a "children's cabinet" to be consulted with about legislation and other government issues affecting children.

"We would not only address the meth issue, but we'd give our young people a chance to succeed in our state," he said.

Rather than create new programs, the state needs to fund current ones that work.

"I have watched these prevention programs spend 60 percent of their time searching for funds instead of executing programs," said Kris Dunn, head of the Great Falls Weed and Seed program.

Kathryn Woodward, a meth prevention specialist with the Yellowstone City-County Health Department, called on government and nonprofit programs to document results, good and bad. She studied 152 Billings addicts for UCLA, tracking them for three years.

The study was one of the country's longest. But it still doesn't answer what long-term health problems addicts have and what happens to children of addicts as they grow into adults.

Several speakers talked about programs they pushed through the Legislature that later were rejected because elected officials didn't want to back a tax hike. One audience member suggested taking the issue to the public, saying that like the tobacco tax, voters will support an alcohol tax to fund addiction treatment.

With the Montana Meth Project putting the topic on the table, parents need to educate themselves about meth so they can thoroughly answer questions. Adults need to realize that telling kids to reject meth rings hollow if they endorse drinking or turn a blind eye to other drugs like marijuana, said Casey Molloy, the Safe and Drug Free Schools coordinator for Helena.

There kids spearheaded a campaign that included flyers in grocery bags, radio ads and billboards. High school seniors' parents were invited to sign contracts agreeing not to host or encourage drinking parties. Those who signed were congratulated with their names in the newspaper.

"We're at the point of no longer saying we have a problem, but now saying we have solutions," said Executive Director of the Montana Meth Project Peg Shea.

Reach Tribune Staff Writer Kim Skornogoski at 791-6574, (800) 438-6600 or

Monday, May 15, 2006

: Riding with a Probation Officer: Officers blend law, social work (Utah)

Their firearms, Tasers, handcuffs and bullet-proof vests prove there is nothing easy about being a probation officer.

They blend law enforcement and social work to tackle issues -- and sometimes people -- to keep the community safe and probationers and parolees out of trouble.

"You'd be surprised what was in your neighborhood and what goes on," Randy Hall, a Utah County Adult Probation and Parole officer, said Wednesday night while driving on Interstate 15 on his way to stop by probationers' and parolees' homes with his partner, Julie Varoz.

Staking out a probation violator's Payson apartment, Tasers -- their best weapon -- strapped to their waists, Varoz and Hall drove by the building once to scope things out.

Are they home?

There are a lot cars in the parking; how many people could be in there?

What if she is spun out (slang for someone under the influence of drugs)?

To catch violators in "their natural state," Hall parks his car away from the residence and leaves it running, in case someone bolts. Varoz approaches the apartment first, standing off to the side of the door.

Banging and yelling for the probation violator to unlock the door and let her in, Varoz says if the woman is home she will immediately arrest her for violating her probation.

Placing the woman in handcuffs, Varoz stands guard while Hall checks the five-room apartment for other people.

Probation officers, or POs, do not arrest everyone who is using drugs "because there is not enough room in jail," Varoz said. "We can't lock them all up."

Instead, POs -- who are law-enforcement certified -- gauge how severe the situation is and determine whether violators are a risk to the community, Hall said.

POs draw on their social worker skills to find a balance between enforcing the law and helping their probationers and parolees find treatment, Varoz said.

In Wednesday's late night bust, the Payson woman violated her probation by testing positive for methamphetamine and missing an appointment with her PO.

Always in pairs, Hall left Varoz to watch the handcuffed woman as he searched the main bedroom for drugs and/or drug paraphernalia.

The woman's apartment, covered with scattered knic-knacs and piles of prescription bottles, clothes and papers, presented one major obstacle for Hall -- there were too many places to stash small amounts of drugs.

Solution -- K-9 backup.

The K-9, who is trained to search for drugs and other materials, scampered through the apartment, occasionally barking. Rapidly rummaging through every room, the 7-year-old dog sniffed around the apartment several times over and pointed out where drugs may be.

Hall was able to find trace evidence of cocaine on a broken piece of mirror, hidden underneath the bed, and meth crystals inside a plastic bag.

"Meth is a really big problem," in the county, Varoz said.

More than 90 percent of the crime in Utah County is associated with some sort of substance abuse, Hall said. Offenders, once sentenced to probation or released from jail or prison, must check in with AP&P and follow the rules the courts and Utah Board of Pardons lay out.

With a high number of probationers and parolees in Utah County -- more than 2,000 are assigned to AP&P agents -- being a PO is anything but a 9 to 5 job doing paperwork behind a desk.

Probation officers not only put their lives on the line almost daily -- potentially entering dangerous situations while visiting offenders -- but the career puts a strain on having a normal social life.

Working overtime every week, there are too many nights that leave Hall and Varoz clocking off work at 1 a.m. Even with categorizing each offender as a low, medium or high risk, each visit can turn serious in a split second.

"You could have a low that's totally out of control because they think they are flying under the radar," Hall said.

From criminal history to substance abuse and mental health to employment history, POs take dozens of things into consideration when classifying offenders. They take so much information into consideration to increase the effectiveness of AP&P services. POs work to help offenders become functioning members of society.

Besides having officers check up on probationers and parolees, AP&P offers free treatment services for those probationers and parolees who qualify. The Day Reporting Center, 150 E. Center St. in Provo, offers multiple classes, ranging from topics involving parenting to beating substance abuse.

During an AP&P open house Wednesday night, the center featured a presentation highlighting three success stories.

After completing her GED with the help of the center, Lisa Taylor said she is thankful for the staff that helped her find a positive path in life. Taylor will graduate May 19 as a certified nurse assistant.

"I hit rock bottom last September and ended up getting sent off to Utah State Prison," Tyler Patten, a center client said to a handful of people. "The more I stayed doing the right thing, the easier it gets."

The center's free programs are good because most offenders have fines and restitution to pay, said Martene Mackie, center supervisor.

But not every story ends with a happily-ever-after. Two-thirds of the people participating in the center's programs fail, Mackie said.

"Substance abuse is a rough road," she said. "We will not let anybody slide through. If they can't clean up, they're done."

Mackie said she is looking at revamping the center's programs to make them more individualized. For now, most of offenders are required to complete an 18-week course.

Katie Ashton can be reached at 344-2548 or

The Utah County AP&P region employs 63 people, with 36 probation officers and eight supervisors. Each probation officer balances between 60 and 70 cases at a time.

Drug Control Officials Are Warned of Growing Threat From 'Meth'

Written by Brianna Blake

Different types of meth
I’m Steve Ember with IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

Among illegal drugs, methamphetamine now has more users worldwide than cocaine and heroin combined. That statement comes from the chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration in the United States.

Karen Tandy spoke this week at the International Drug Enforcement Conference, held by the D.E.A. and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. More than three hundred high-level officials from eighty countries gathered in Montreal.

Karen Tandy says marijuana is still the most widely used illegal drug, with an estimated one hundred sixty million users. But she said more than twenty-six million people use amphetamines, largely methamphetamine.

Meth is relatively easy to make and low cost. Users become highly dependent. And they can become violent or depressed. The drug is destructive to the body and the environment. The chemicals used to make it are poisonous and explosive. Even small laboratories in homes can require costly cleanup.

Last year the National Sheriffs' Association said: "The war on drugs in America is currently facing its most difficult and most dangerous challenge to date as a result of methamphetamines."

The increase in production is of growing concern to law enforcement officials around the world.

Officials say they have made some progress over the past year. Miz Tandy said officials last November raided a major methamphetamine laboratory in Indonesia. The seizure was a joint effort of the D.E.A. and agencies in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore.

Also, Afghanistan cooperated with the United States to surrender two accused drug leaders who supported the former Taliban government. And Israel surrendered one of its citizens to face American charges of being a major trafficker of the drug ecstasy.

Among Arab governments, the New York Times reported this week that Dubai is moving aggressively to fight drugs. Efforts include educational campaigns and drug treatment programs. United Nations officials estimate that Arab countries have at least five hundred thousand users of illegal drugs.

The United Nations estimates that users worldwide spend more than three hundred twenty thousand million dollars each year. Miz Tandy noted that the amount is bigger than the economies of almost ninety percent of all countries.

She told the officials that cooperation and information-sharing are more important than ever. This is because drug intelligence can also aid terrorism investigators.

Opponents of criminal drug laws held their own meeting near the conference. They argue that United States policy has not been successful. Karen Tandy, however, said the number of adults, including young adults, who use illegal drugs has dropped.

Next year, the twenty-fifth anniversary International Drug Enforcement Conference will take place in Spain.

IN THE NEWS, in VOA Special English was written by Brianna Blake. I’m Steve Ember.

Proposed Law Aims To Secure Credit Card Receipts (California)

There's a new effort to protect your identity from scam artists. A viewer from Oceanside wrote to tell us a local restaurant printed his full credit card number on his receipt -- a violation of state law.

The restaurant says he mistakenly took the merchant copy of the receipt, which is allowed to have the full number, but that could soon change.

A proposed state law would make it a crime to print a complete credit card number on either copy of the receipt.

Jay Foley with the Identity Theft Resource Center says it's about time.

"It's absolutely essential we start thinking of better ways to process transactions without exposing the full number all the way through," Foley said.

Credit card receipts are a favorite tool of methamphetamine users who rely on identity theft to support their habit.

The County Meth Strike Force wants to know if you get a receipt with the full number on it. You can report a business by calling (877) NO-2-METH.

Session focuses on identifying meth use (Nebraska)

By DIANE WETZEL, The North Platte Telegraph

Among the topics presented at a dentistry "continuing education caravan'' in North Platte this week was a session on how to identify problems caused by methamphetamine use.
"Not everyone with bombed out teeth is a meth user," said Jim Jenkins, dentist and faculty member at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry. "Meth mouths will turn up in your practice, and it is important to known what to watch for."
The scourge of methamphetamine fills courts and jails, fills the foster care system, and places a heavy burden on Medicaid.
It can also lead to serious dental problems.
Jenkins was in North Platte Tuesday as part of the Continuing Education Caravan, sponsored by the dental college.
"Meth use leads to incredibly large caries on every tooth, along with periodontal problems, and dry mouth," Jenkins said. "Lack of care is the number one reason for meth mouth, plus the fact that meth users want to prolong the high and tend to drink large amounts of soda pop. They want the sugar and caffeine buzz."
Often in the case of meth mouth, full dentures are the only remedy, Jenkins said.
"And Medicaid pays for it," Jenkins said.
Area dentists and dental hygienists attending the workshop received continuing education hours as part of the dental college's public service program.
"We do this every year," said John Reinhardt, dead of the college. "It's an opportunity to provide updates on what is new."
The caravan moved on to Scottsbluff and Grand Island later in the week.
"We reach between 300 and 400 dentists and dental hygienists," Reinhardt said.
Lack of access to care is a problem in rural Nebraska, Reinhardt said. Medicaid patients often have trouble finding a dentist.
"Our graduating class this year has graduates who plan to practice in Cozad, Alma and Overton," Reinhardt said.
Twice a year, students at the college participate in Children's Dental Day, which provides free dental care to children in the western part of the state.
"Our students are going to have lucrative practices," Reinhardt said. "It is also important that we instill a new ethic, stressing the importance of giving back."
Students will participate in the second Mission of Mercy to be held in September in Grand Island.
"We didn't participate in the first one," Reinhardt said. "We wanted to see how it went."
The first Mission of Mercy held in North Platte in October 2005, sponsored by the Nebraska Dental Association, provided an estimated $356,750 in dental care to 900 patients.
In addition to Jenkins, Fouad Salama of the dental college spoke on pediatric dentistry.
"We are seeing 3-year olds with teeth destroyed," Reinhardt said. "Now we are recommending parents bring in their child for their first examination between the ages of 1 to 2."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Children at Clandestine Methamphetamine Labs: Helping Meth’s Youngest Victims

Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

Message From the Director

Children who live at or visit home-based meth labs face acute health and safety risks, including the hazards of fires, explosions, abuse, and medical neglect. Increasingly, child protection workers find that these children suffer from physical harm, including burns, bruises, untreated skin disorders, bites, and infections. The “meth home” lifestyle is characterized by chaos, emotional and physical deprivation, the presence of firearms, and filthy surroundings. Parents are engaged in criminal behavior and may exhibit paranoia. Young children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of chemical exposure.

Collaboration among federal, state, and local agencies is critical to ensure the adequate care and protection of these children. Law enforcement agencies at the state and federal levels and child protection agencies in every jurisdiction should establish protocols for their collaboration and for documenting conditions of child endangerment when a laboratory is seized. Victim service providers, public health and medical professionals, law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, child protection workers, and judges must understand the special needs of meth’s youngest victims.

See the latest bulletin with tons of information at:

Meth baby gets second chance (New Mexico)

At first glance, you would think that three-year-old Taylor Salazar has lived a wonderful life. She has not.

“Taylor came out of a meth home,” says Cassondra Salazar, who adopted Taylor. “She tested positive for meth in her system when she was born.

“Her mother and dad were both meth users and meth distributors and makers of meth and she was in that home and that environment,” Cassondra added.

When police found Taylor, she was in the arms of her mother who was high on meth. Taylor spent the first six months of her life in that environment.

“She was inhaling all this because, right by the meth pipe and the gun, is her swinger,” said Cassondra. “I didn’t know children could live like that.”

Many children do. A sampling of children currently in the custody of the state because their parents use meth is eye opening. In San Juan County, 101 children out of 204 are in state custody because of parental meth use. That’s 49 percent. The figure goes up to 57 percent in Lea County and 59 percent in Valencia County.

Since Cassondra adopted Taylor, she believes both of their lives have changed for the better. “This little girl is my heart and everyone thinks she is so spoiled,” she says.

“Are you spoiled?” Cassondra asks Taylor.

“No,” the little girl says.

When Cassondra is asked what the future will hold for Taylor, she doesn’t hesitate when she says Taylor will be the president of the United States. When Taylor is asked whether she’ll be president she nods her head yes.

Cassondra says that she hopes telling Taylor’s story will inspire others to put aside their fears and adopt meth babies. She says with a little love and lots of work they too can grow up to live normal lives.

Methamphetamine a growing global concern: RCMP

Canadian Press

MONTREAL -- Marijuana remains the drug of choice around the world but the surge in clandestine methamphetamine production is a growing concern, an international conference on fighting drugs heard Tuesday.

"Synthetic drugs are really one of the key threats that we have to look at over the next few years," Derek Ogden, the RCMP's director general, drugs and organized crime, told the 24th International Drug Enforcement Conference.

The production of these drugs is easy but its toll on users and environmental harm to communities are severe, he told nearly 300 delegates from 76 countries.

Synthetic drugs are a growing portion of the estimated $322 billion US spent annually around the world on illicit drugs. That exceeds the gross domestic product of 88 per cent of countries in the world.

Karen Tandy, administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said an estimated 26 million people worldwide use ecstasy and methamphetamines, which she added still ranks well behind the 161 million users of various forms of cannabis.

Addiction to ecstasy and meth leaves users physically battered by the potent chemicals.

Criminals are attempting to avoid law enforcement by rerouting precursor drugs like ephedrine through various countries, particularly in Africa.

Canada is increasingly becoming a destination of choice. Canadian police dismantled 30 clandestine labs last year, up from 14 a year earlier, said RCMP deputy commissioner Pierre-Yves Bourduas.

"We've seen clearly across the country a resurgence of these types of labs," Bourduas said, noting new police efforts to combat this activity.

Tandy said disrupting the shipment of these and other drugs require a high degree of international co-operation.

Such sensitive matters are being discussed behind closed doors for much of the conference.

See the rest of the story at:

METH: One Hit, One Death (South Dakota)

She had just started high school and looked to have a promising future, but Chantel Wilson never finished her freshmen year. She died after trying meth just once, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Over the years, methamphetamine has taken ahold of communities across the reservation.

Whether learning how to fish, having fun in front of the camera, or hanging out with friends...Chantel Smith was always full of energy.

Mother Connie Wilson said, "She was active in basketball and volleyball."

Older Sister Alicia Wilson said, "I have a daughter and she's her auntie. She just did everything for her. She was a good auntie."

But on November 18th, 2005, this vivacious daughter, sister and aunt faced a dangerous situation. She was home alone when a familiar visitor stopped by.

Connie Wilson said, "She was driving by and had no where to go to do her meth and I was not home so she pulled in to my house."

What the woman did next changed the family forever.

Connie Wilson said, "Smoked it on a tin foil with my daughter. My daughter had taken one hit of meth."

It was Chantel's first time. But instead of getting a high—

Alicia Wilson said, "She said my head hurts. My head hurts. I'm going to go outside and get some fresh air."

Older sister Alicia Wilson was down the street when relatives came knocking on her door.

Alicia Wilson said, "She was on her trampoline when I got there."

Chantel had collapsed.

Connie Wilson said, "She had a brain aneurism. She died within seconds after she took a hit of meth. My daughter was 15, just turned 15."

Her family is still trying to understand why she tried meth that day.

Connie Wilson said, "You know my daughter was a teenager and they're curious and they are going to try things for the first time."

While they may never know why, the family is using Chantel's story to warn others about the dangers of Meth.

Connie Wilson said, "I would like to spread it and share it with others. I'm a hurting mother right now and I wouldn't like anyone else to feel the way I feel."

Alicia Wilson said, "People are just in awe. I've even seen a couple people start crying. Hearing it from her sister probably hits home than more than just another speaker."

They aren't alone in their efforts. Georgine Looks Twice started the Oglala Lakota Methamphetamine Prevention Task Force more than a year ago; she was concerned the meth problem on the reservation was being overlooked.

See the rest of the story at:,47918

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Players in meth ring get prison terms (Georgia)

By Becky Purser

PERRY - The seven major players in a large methamphetamine ring busted by Warner Robins police last spring have all been dealt significant prison time, authorities said.

"It basically wiped them out," George H. Hartwig III, Houston County senior Assistant District Attorney, said Monday.

Of the seven defendants, the last, who authorities said was a major distributor of crystal methamphetamine in Houston County, was sentenced last week, Hartwig said.

John Francis Ebersole II, 27, of Warner Robins, was sentenced late Thursday in Houston County Superior Court to 15 years in prison for conspiracy to traffic in methamphetamines and violation of the RICO Act, the federal racketeering law, the prosecutor said.

Ebersole was also ordered to pay $500,000 in fines and court fees and banished from Houston County for 15 years after whenever he is released from prison, Hartwig said.

In the meth ring, which was broken up March 18, 2005, by the Warner Robins Police Department's narcotics unit with the help of other law enforcement agencies, Ebersole distributed methamphetamine for a couple who lived in Warner Robins, Hartwig said. The couple was supplied by four men from the metro Atlanta area, Hartwig said.

When Ebersole's house was raided, police confiscated more than 500 grams of crystal meth, cash and two stolen handguns, Hartwig said. It was Ebersole's house where the drugs were stored for distribution, he said.

"All of them were basically handling and dealing in pound-plus quantities at a time," Hartwig said. "It was a big operation and a major investigation."

The Houston County prosecutor credited police for nailing down information during a six-month investigation that led to the arrest and conviction of the drug ring leaders. He said it took nearly a year to prosecute the major players.

In all, about 30 people were arrested, including street-level dealers. All but a dozen have been prosecuted, and they are awaiting trial, Hartwig said.

The other major players in the drug ring as identified by authorities are:

nAnthony Rudy Cebada, 37, of 300 Sunshine Way in Centerville, now serving a 20-year prison sentence for trafficking in methamphetamine.

His girlfriend, Mary Shannon, 27, of the same Centerville address, is serving a 10-year prison sentence for trafficking in methamphetamine.

The couple would get the drugs from the four Atlanta-area suppliers and deal them to Ebersole, who in turn would sell the drugs throughout the county, Hartwig said.

n Jose Martinez-Gloria, 47, of Norcross, is serving an 18-year prison sentence for conspiracy to trafficking in methamphetamines.

n Ivan Santiago-Melesa, 35, of Gwinnett County, is serving 22 years in prison for conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine.

n Martin Maldonado-Gonzalez, 39, of Lawrenceville, is serving a 10-year sentence for conspiracy to traffic in methamphetamine.

n Mario Espinoso-Torres, 41, of Norcross, is serving 15 years in prison for conspiracy to traffic in methamphetamines.

The Gwinnett County men were the four suppliers, the prosecutor said.

Warner Robins police Lt. Lance Watson, who heads the narcotics unit, said the dismantling of the drug ring was made possible in part by changes made by Police Chief Brett Evans when he took command in December 2003.

"He wanted us working large investigations," Watson said. "We hadn't been turned loose to do that. We'd get complaints of street-level stuff. But he freed us up to work a case like this."

Watson said he was encouraged by the stiff prison terms dealt to leaders of the drug ring.

"It shows you can work the higher-up part of an organization and make an impact on the street-level drugs," he said.

In the war on illegal drugs, the officer said, a case like this one gives narcotics investigators a boost. "When you see results like that, it's like dangling a carrot in front of you," he said.

The investigation, which was headed by Warner Robins police investigator Meredith Edwards, was assisted by Centerville police, the Houston County and Bibb County district attorney's offices, Bibb County sheriff's deputies and Byron police.

"We're going to continue in Houston County to catch and prosecute folks who are trafficking in crystal meth," Hartwig said. "It's a horrible drug that's becoming more and more prevalent every day. The only way we're going to have a chance of slowing it down is to try and get those who are distributing it and send them to prison."

Meth in the eye of county crime storm (California)

Phil Hayworth
Tracy Press

Most people who seek addiction treatment in San Joaquin County do so for heroin.

That news came as a surprise to Congressman Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, who was in Stockton on Monday for a closed-door roundtable discussion with city, county and regional law enforcement and treatment professionals about another drug: methamphetamine.

“We know that meth addiction is a nationwide problem,” Pombo said. “We also know that it affects towns in the Central Valley and Tracy.”

But what was really surprising, he said, was learning that 35 percent of those who seek treatment in San Joaquin County do so for heroin addiction, followed by meth at 25 percent and alcohol at 24 percent.

But those numbers are skewed, said Frances Hutchins of the San Joaquin County Substance Abuse Services, who suspects there are more methamphetamine addicts than heroin addicts here. Fewer meth addicts actually seek treatment than heroin addicts, according to Hutchins.

Meth is also a bigger problem in the eyes of some law enforcement officials, who say the drug seems to have greater links to crime and social ills. The Central Valley’s meth problem affects the whole country because at one time nearly 80 percent of the country’s meth originated in the area, Pombo said, and the area still leads the nation in meth production.

“It drives so many issues,” Pombo said.

A good deal of San Joaquin County’s methamphetamine also comes from Mexico, agreed the Drug Enforcement Agency and local law enforcement officers at Monday’s roundtable.

Unlike the pure Mexican heroin that hits county streets, however, the methamphetamine from Mexico is less pure and therefore more dangerous, said law enforcement agents.

It burns holes in users’ brains, say health professionals, and drives users to act in ways that opiates don’t.
“San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties are the nation’s capitol for car theft,” Pombo said. “The crimes are directly related to meth use.”

That’s why Pombo said he’ll do what’s needed to keep federal dollars flowing to California’s methamphetamine treatment programs and efforts to stop the drug before it comes in from Mexico.

“The first thing you have to do to combat the problem is maintain your funding,” he said.

Of the country’s $12.6 billion drug treatment and interdiction budget, $1.1 billion is dedicated for prevention and treatment, Pombo said.

About $300,000 of that goes to San Joaquin County. About $3 million is spent on treatment of all addictions in the county, Hutchins said.

But methamphetamine should get more funding, she said.

“I think the issue of meth in our community is much more widespread in terms of social ills,” Hutchins said.
Child Protective Services figures show that 80 percent of children newly admitted to its system have the drug in their bodies, Hutchins said.

“Meth use impacts your health care. They end up in emergency rooms,” she said. “Meth especially is responsible for risky sexual behavior and correlates with sexually transmitted diseases like hepatitis and HIV.”

• To reach reporter Phil Hayworth, call 830-4221 or e-mail

Hospital donates $20,000 to fight meth (Illinois)

by ashley wiehle, the southern

MARION - The war against methamphetamine devastation received a boost from a major ally on Monday afternoon.

Heartland Regional Medical Center presented $20,000 to the Williamson County Coalition Against Methamphetamine Abuse, a group created in 2004 to bolster public awareness about the dangers of meth.

State Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, said the donation would go a long way toward beginning to fight some of the crippling effects meth has had on his district.

"We're all soldiers in this war, and we're receiving a lot of ammunition today," Bradley said.

Although meth is a widely acknowledged destroyer of Southern Illinois, many don't realize that it crosses all demographic lines, Williamson County Sheriff Tom Cundiff said.

"Meth has transcended any boundaries," Cundiff said. "We've recognized this as a dreaded disease we're trying to stamp out."

Cundiff said Williamson County is looking into the possibility of implementing a drug court, similar to the one in Saline County.

For now, the Williamson County meth coalition is working with area entities to try and fight the epidemic before it spreads, said Michelle Hamilton, chairwoman of the coalition.

"Not only has Heartland made this contribution, they have encouraged us and provided staff," Hamilton said. "With help like this, we can continue to fight this epidemic that is taking away the lives and futures of our citizens and devastating our children and families."

Tim Schmidt, Heartland CEO, said the hospital has always considered itself a strong partner in the fight against meth.

"I can think of no greater threat to the youth of America, because methamphetamine is so addictive and so destructive," Schmidt said. "Heartland Regional Medical Center and all hospitals are strong proponents in eradicating meth."

(618) 997-3356 ext. 5807

Meth lab in home yields 'hospital room' (California)

- Diana Walsh, Chronicle Staff Writer

(05-09) 13:40 PDT EAST PALO ALTO - A home where police found a "super" drug lab last week also housed an elaborate hospital-like operation -- stocked with thousands of dollars in medical equipment, surgical tools and supplies -- that authorities believe was to be used to treat injured criminals.

The top floor of the Runnymede Street home was filled with "boxes upon boxes upon boxes" of medical supplies and contained a room equipped with a hospital bed, fresh linens, scalpels, IV stands and surgical tools, according to Lt. Tom Alipio of the East Palo Alto police department.

"It was set up just like a hospital room,'' said Alipio, who said a second room was in the process of being set up. "We found a kit that a surgeon would use to reassemble a joint -- like a hip or a shoulder."

The room also contained hospital gowns for patients, surgical scrubs and baby carriers for infants -- but apparently no medicines routinely used during surgical procedures.

The owner of the home, Benjamin C. Ruezga, was among six men police arrested in the raid where they found a fortified lab with five pounds of methamphetamine and nearly 70,000 cold tablets that contain the key ingredient for making methamphetamines.

Ruezga, an employee at Stanford Hospital, was wearing his hospital identification around his neck when police raided his home on Friday. Alipio said Ruezega worked in a warehouse at the hospital but police also found documents showing he had been a nurse in Mexico.

Authorities are investigating whether the items were taken from Stanford Hospital. Andrea Smith, communications manager for the hospital, said officials are cooperating with police, but declined to comment further on the investigation.

Police also found several books on how to treat the human body.

Alipio, who said the items appeared to have been stockpiled to treat gunshot or chemical wounds, said everything appeared brand new, but he couldn't be sure if the room had been used to treat any patients.

Alipio said he was stunned by the sheer volume of the items, which he said would fill a semi-trailer truck.

"This goes above and beyond the taking of a garbage bag or a bottle of soap,'' said Alipio.

Investigators said wounded criminals could use such a place to avoid going to regular hospitals, which are required to report suspected criminals to authorities.

The room and supplies were discovered in the upstairs front unit of a house that had been divided into three units and also contained a drug lab that had been fortified with concrete cinder blocks, steel doors and metal bars. The entire property had been wired with an elaborate security camera system that police said was not being monitored at the time of the raid.

A single mother of five young children had been living in the back of the home at the time of the raid, police said.

East Palo Alto police said they do not know how long the lab had been operating. The raid was the result of a monthlong investigation that began in Soledad after a pharmacist there told police a customer had asked to buy 10 bottles of Sudafed. The common cold medicine contains pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient used to make methamphetamines.

Authorities confiscated five pounds of methamphetamines valued at $225,000; 70,000 pseudoephedrine pills, which can yield 12 pounds of methamphetamines and as much as $550,000 on the street; a pound of cocaine worth $45,000, several assault weapons and handguns; and $25,000 in cash.

Ruezga is scheduled to appear, along with five other suspects, on drug and weapons charges in a Redwood City courtroom this afternoon.

E-mail Diana Walsh at

Meth use, child abuse not cheap thrill combination (Minnesota)

by Jennifer Kivioja
Staff writer
ABC Newspapers

The Anoka County Child Abuse Prevention Council sponsored two workshops last month to deal with the growing problems associated with methamphetamine use.

“We are aware that there is a rise in meth use and the number of child abuse cases nationwide and in Anoka County,” said Judy Rath, co-chairwoman of the council.

To that effect, the goal of the council is to create greater community awareness so that child abuse and neglect can be prevented.

Because April was Child Abuse Prevention Month in Minnesota, it was the perfect time for the council to host events bringing awareness to a growing problem.

According to the council, the use of methamphetamine in the community has resulted in more children experiencing significant related trauma, ranging from prenatal exposure to toxic environmental exposure to severe neglect and abuse.

“The council is concerned with the safety and well-being of children and families,” said Donna McDonald, member of the council. “And we know that meth is destructive to families and that child protection agencies are seeing more cases because of the use of meth.”

About 300 people attended the two workshops. One was geared toward the community (and was attended by parents, youth and concerned citizens) and the other was attended by professionals.

“The focus of the workshops was to talk about what our community can do for prevention and to bring awareness and education of meth use,” Rath said.

During the workshops several qualified speakers spoke about the drug and its effects on the community, especially children.

Michele Fallon, a social worker at the Harris Programs, Center for Early Education and Development at the University of Minnesota, spoke about the physical and emotional effects on child development and how to craft therapeutic interventions to be as helpful as possible.

“Meth can have a devastating affect on kids and families, but there are resources out there,” said Fallon.

She talked about how meth addiction is treatable and families dealing with this drug problem should also seek mental health intervention.

“Caregivers also need training because of the trauma involved,” she said.

As for advice on the drug, “never use it, not even once. Meth is extremely addictive and causes brain damage,” Fallon said.

Sara Hejny, a former methamphetamine addict, shared the same advice.

“Don’t try this drug, not even once,” she said.

Hejny was 17 years old when she first tried meth. “I started because it was something to do with my friends,” she said.

It was also back in 1998, a time when the drug and the devastating effects weren’t as well known as they are today, Hejny said.

“We knew nothing of the dangers back then,” she said. “If I would have seen the before and after pictures of people I would have never tried meth.”

Hejny was addicted just after one use and remained an addict for the next three years, she said.

Because of meth she lost everything, including her husband and custody of her daughter, Hejny said.

Hejny has now been clean for 16 months and has been working with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s methamphetamine education program telling her story.

“I’ve had to deal with so much from coming home from rehab, to dealing with a divorce to losing my daughter, to functioning normally again with meth,” Hejny said.

“Telling my story helps remind of a place I never want to go back to.”

Hejny also offered some advice to parents.

“Always know where you child is going, know who their friends are and talk with their parents and if you suspect your child is using, reach out and get help for them right away,” Hejny said.

Monday, May 08, 2006

When Dale met Tina: a tale of one meth dealer's rise and fall (Massachusetts)

By David Abel, Globe Staff

By the time the law caught up with Dale Bernard, the paunchy addict was on the brink of homelessness -- far from the days when he spent weekends at the Four Seasons hotel and hoarded cash as a dealer of the potent, highly addictive drug he called ''Tina."

This is a story of how the 43-year-old from Boston, whom a federal judge late last month sentenced to seven years in prison, managed an illicit connection long feared by local officials: While high much of the time, he built a bridge between California and Boston, importing a steady flow of crystal meth and feeding a growing problem here -- made visible in last month's bust of an alleged meth laboratory in Dorchester.

''He was a significant meth dealer selling substantial quantities," says Nancy Rue, an assistant US attorney, at his sentencing hearing at the US District Court in South Boston. ''He was a meth addict who spread his addiction."

Over the past decade, methamphetamine has been mainly a West Coast phenomenon, but in recent years it has pushed across the Midwest and is increasingly competing with heroin on the East Coast.

In Boston, 75 people last fiscal year sought treatment for meth in local hospitals, up from 53 the year before, and compared with just five who sought treatment in 2001, according to the Boston Public Health Commission.

But while federal officials say more than 1.4 million people across the country used the drug last year, meth remains a relatively small problem in the Boston area. The euphoria-producing stimulant, which increases libido, still accounts for fewer than 1 percent of those seeking treatment in Greater Boston hospitals.

''We may not see it quite as severe in our area yet; nationally, it is a huge, huge problem," Tina Murphy, a special agent from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration's New England Field Division, said at a conference in February on the dangers of meth that city officials organized for local advocates. ''In Massachusetts, the greatest threat is meth being shipped in from the West Coast."

Before finding himself the target of federal drug agents in 2004, before what he describes as years of sleepless nights, unprotected sex with too many gay men he met online, nearly being killed in a drug-fueled car wreck and being robbed at gunpoint in California, he graduated from Essex Agricultural & Technical High in Danvers and headed to Penn. State in 1981, according to school records.

Raised in an upper-middle-class family in Andover, Bernard got along well with his family, who accepted his homosexuality when he came out at age 16. His mother says he regularly attended church, never got in trouble, and stayed away from drugs, aside from trying pot once.

''He was a good kid," says his mother, Carole Bernard, who still lives in Andover. ''I didn't really know what was going on."

His drug problems started, he says, when he stopped believing in God. A few years after he dropped out of Penn. State, a robber armed with a .22-caliber handgun burst into the Brighton leather store Bernard managed and shot him in the stomach. The bullet shattered Bernard's faith as well.

He spent about a week recovering at Brigham and Women's Hospital, he and his mother say, much of it on morphine. When he left, he yearned for something to kill the pain. ''The morphine felt so good," he says. ''I needed something to replace it."

In a world where God no longer existed, he figured: ''I might as well enjoy myself."

Shortly after, a friend introduced him to cocaine. ''It didn't take the pain away," he says, ''but it made it so I didn't care about it."

For a decade, Bernard balanced work with a low-level addiction to White Russians and cocaine, he says, but his real problems didn't start until 2000, when he fled the local drug scene and landed in that of Los Angeles.

Two weeks after arriving, Bernard met someone on the Internet looking to ''party-n-play," and he had his first experience with the little crystals. His new friend taught him how to ignite the crystals with a blowtorch lighter and suck the vapor from a glass pipe.

Euphoria washed over him. ''I felt amazing, invincible, like the most attractive person in the world," he says.

The benefits, to his mind, included reduced appetite -- the 6-foot-3-inch addict says he dropped from 250 to 180 pounds -- needing little sleep, and having increased sexual energy.

A few months later, Bernard lost his job and found a new way to pay his rent and feed his addiction: He bought larger quantities of meth and sold what he didn't use for a profit.

Then one day, Bernard says, he came home and found himself face-to-face with a 9mm gun, held by one of his initial suppliers. He says they tied him up, ransacked his apartment, and carted off all his possessions in his Dodge Ram pickup.

The experience, nearly two years after moving to LA, provided enough incentive to return home, where his parents took him in and he made an effort to stay clean. The effort lasted about a month, until a friend in LA sent him his clothes. Bernard found an ''eight ball" -- an eighth of an ounce -- of meth in a pants pocket. He stared at it, and let a day go by.

Lonely, empty, and sick of having little energy, he couldn't resist. ''It was right there in my hand," he says. ''I missed the money, the fast pace, the sex."

The rush lasted an entire day, and soon after, he moved out of his parents' home to an apartment near Boston Medical Center, where it all started again.

He contacted his old suppliers on the West Coast, he says, and they shipped him packages filled with coffee bags, the meth hidden inside, wrapped in cellophane. He bought by the ounce, which he says cost him a minimum of $1,400. He would sell an ounce for as much as $3,500.

He says he bought digital scales, special safes, and a stash of Slurpee straws from 7-Eleven, which he used to separate the crystals. His business quickly grew to about 50 clients, he says, most of whom he met online. ''Sex was my marketing tool," he says. ''If they smoked with me and had sex with me, then they weren't a cop."

Aside from his fillings falling out (meth rots teeth) and the need to stay high constantly -- he says he smoked an eight ball a day -- he was living large. He says he bought an Infiniti I-30, rented a new three-bedroom apartment, bought his live-in partner a car, and took him on a cruise to the Caribbean.

Then some of Bernard's associates were arrested. Business slowed, money got tight, and Bernard felt he was being watched. He chalked it up to paranoia.

But DEA agents had been following him for nearly a year. They collected Federal Express receipts and meth-lined plastic bags from his trash, recorded his calls, and discovered the CD cases and shrink-wrapped jewelry boxes where he hid his meth, according to a sworn statement by the lead DEA agent. They had informants record his conversations, in which he described his Malden apartment as ''the crystal palace, the house that Tina built."

With enough evidence, and Bernard on the brink of homelessness, federal agents arrested him in Malden on June 2, 2004.

''I observed there was no electricity or power at the residence," wrote Michael P. Cashman, the DEA special agent who investigated the case, in his report on Bernard's arrest. ''I spoke to the landlord, who stated that he was in the process of evicting Bernard for nonpayment of rent."

Before Bernard pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to distribute meth and six counts of distribution, he spent about a month at the Norfolk County House of Correction in Dedham. A judge sent him to a Cape Cod detox facility, and after five months there authorities allowed him to move to the first of three sober houses in Malden, where addicts are tested for drugs every week.

In the time between his arrest and sentencing -- when authorities sought information from him to implicate other dealers -- Bernard struggled to overcome his addiction. ''The strongest pills I take now are ibuprofen," he says.

He restored ties with his family, church, and to the idea that he could live without drugs. He went to therapy, readily acknowledged his addiction, and for the past year managed to hold on to a job as a travel agent.

''He's come a long way," says Billy Maragiogilo, executive director of New England Transitions, who runs the sober house where Bernard lives. ''He's complied with all the rules -- three drug tests a week, a house meeting a week, and three AA meetings a week. He's helped out other guys in the house. We have no complaints about him."

Still, Bernard would hear Tina's call, in his dreams or when someone recognized him on the street and offered him a hit.

''My addiction is still there," he says. ''I still feel it, the desire to get back into the lifestyle. . . . But I know if I kept going the way I was going, I'd probably be dead by now."

Last month, after US District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro sentenced Bernard to 87 months in prison and five years of probation, Bernard dropped his head, and his eyes reddened with tears. Though he had faced a potential $4 million fine and as much as life in prison, he had hoped, as his lawyers argued, that his efforts to pull his life together might keep him from going back to prison.

He starts serving his sentence next week.

David Abel can be reached at