With a telltale, noxious
chemical stink, the illicit drug methamphetamine announced
its arrival in New Cumberland last week. Borough Police
Chief Oren "Bud" Kauffman was disappointed but far from
surprised. "We know it's coming this way," Kauffman said
after Wednesday's arrest of two men accused of trying to
make the drug in a borough apartment building. "Had I hoped
in my heart of hearts that it wouldn't? Of course."
Law enforcement officials
rank meth as the No. 1 drug problem in the country. The
addictive stimulant is dangerous to make but provides a
euphoric high for hours. Already a scourge across middle
America, its tendrils are snaking with some regularity into
the midstate. It doesn't take long for meth to take hold.
It's said that every meth
"cook" teaches another 10 users how to make the drug. Most
make only enough for themselves and a few friends, making it
far more difficult for law enforcement to infiltrate than
typical drug hierarchies. Virtually everything needed to
make the drug can be found at the store, under the kitchen
sink or in the garage.
"I can make meth, or a meth
cook can make meth, in a 2-foot-by-2-foot space," state
police Cpl. Scott Heatley said. "It's scarily simple, which
again adds to our
NEWS GOT A METH SCENE? CALL THE CLAN AB
Whether cleaning up an
illegal methamphetamine laboratory or containing an anthrax
terror attack, they'll be the crew in the moon suits. First,
the formal name: the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of
Criminal Investigation Clandestine Laboratory/Weapons of
Mass Destruction Response Team. The clan lab team, as
members call it, was formed in 2001.
Sgt. Craig M. Summers, the
team's current eastern section supervisor, said the team was
the idea of a few state police officers who noticed the
approaching meth scourge and decided that the state police
needed a team of experts capable of defusing the dangers
involved in meth production. Six full-time troopers, nine
chemists and 36 part-timers make up the team. All are
trained to handle the chemicals used to make meth and to
decontaminate the potentially explosive environments found
in homemade labs.
The chemists call the shots,
determining what's inside a lab and how unstable the
situation might be, Summers said. "They go right with us,"
Summers said. "We're going in there, really, helping them."
Because of the training required, the team is equally adept
at handling a biological or chemical weapons disaster.
"The bulk of our work is
methamphetamine," Summers said. "We cover pretty much the
NEWS CV BOARD STANDS
FIRM ON DRUG
Despite opposition from some parents, Cumberland
Valley School Board has no plans to back away from its
decision to conduct random drug testing of high school
students this year. "The board stands firm," President Karen
Christie said after a meeting last week at which a parent
challenged the policy as violating students' privacy rights
under state and federal constitutions.
Parent Kim Mayfath urged the
board to make the policy voluntary so parents can "opt in or
out." The policy the board approved in June allows random
testing of all high school students who want to participate
in extra- and co-curricular activities, including sports.
The policy also covers students who want parking privileges
to drive to school. The school district estimates the policy
will cover nearly 90 percent of 2,560 students enrolled in
grades nine through 12.
Other midstate school
districts with random drug-testing policies include Lower
Dauphin, Middletown, South Middleton, Upper Dauphin,
Susquenita and Halifax. The policies vary in scope; South
Middleton, for instance, tests only student athletes, while
the Halifax policy is similar to Cumberland Valley's.
METH MURDER VERDICT VOIDED
On appeal, the Riverside County conviction of a mother is
blamed on judge's error
A state appeals court on Wednesday overturned the
second-degree murder conviction of a Riverside County mother
whose infant son died of a lethal dose of methamphetamine he
may have ingested through her breast milk.The state's 4th
District Court of Appeal also reversed three felony child
endangerment convictions involving Amy Leanne Prien's
treatment of her three surviving children and instructed the
trial court to acquit Prien on those counts.
The court said such convictions meant there was actual harm
to the children, whereas prosecutors argued only
hypothetical harm. Riverside County Dist. Atty. Grover Trask
said he was disappointed by the ruling but that he had the
option to appeal to the state Supreme Court or retry Prien
Trask had decided on aggressive prosecution of Prien, whose
case drew national attention, as a deterrent for other drug
users. The prosecution was part of his larger effort to
crack down on methamphetamine-related crime in the county,
which has a reputation among law enforcement as the nation's
If Prien is retried on the murder count, prosecutors will
have to prove there was implied malice, meaning that Prien
knew her meth habit would cause her child's death and
continued using the drug regardless, the appeals court said.
AS LAWS DRY UP HOME METH LABS, MEXICAN CARTELS FLOOD U.S.
As members of Congress consider restrictions on the sale of
cold pills used to make methamphetamine, they might want to
look at what's happened in Oklahoma, which has slashed the
number of home meth labs yet failed to curb meth
use. Oklahoma last year became the first state to make
consumers visit a pharmacy counter to buy cold medicine
containing the meth ingredient pseudoephedrine. Lab seizures
plunged from 90 a month in 2003 to nine in June, state
officials say. Fires and chemical hazards pose a smaller
threat to neighborhoods and children of meth cooks.
But police say a massive influx of meth made by Mexican "superlabs,"
which can obtain tons of pseudoephedrine in Mexico, has kept
meth plentiful and potent. The number of Oklahoma users
shows no sign of falling, and property crime still keeps the
Oklahoma County Jail at capacity.
"We took away their production," said Tom Cunningham, task
force coordinator for the Oklahoma District Attorneys
Council. "That didn't do anything for their addiction." Two
decades of government effort have failed to curb the
availability of meth. A new analysis of federal data by The
Oregonian shows that the drug's potency has hit levels not
seen in a decade. Rising purity indicates the supply of meth
is growing, and it means a $25 bag of meth will last a user
Congress is weighing competing proposals for how to respond.
CASPER STAR TRIBUNE (WY)
JUDGE DROPS 'METH BABY' CHARGE
Ruling state law does not protect unborn children from drugs
taken by expectant mothers, a judge dismissed a child
endangerment case against a woman whose newborn child tested
positive for methamphetamine.
In a written Sept. 20 decision, District Judge Norman Young
said Michelle Ann Foust, 31, of Lander could not be charged
with endangering her child by using meth during pregnancy
because the state law does not apply to fetuses.
Foust could have been imprisoned for up to five years and
fined up to $5,000 if she had been convicted under a new
state law to punish women who endanger their children by
The law, which took effect July 2004, states: "No person
shall knowingly and willingly cause or permit any child to
absorb, inhale or otherwise ingest any amount of
According to Lander police reports, Foust gave birth to a
son on Oct. 31, 2004, at Lander Valley Medical Center, and
police, responding to an anonymous tip that Foust had been
using meth during her pregnancy, immediately tested her and
her newborn son for the drug.
LEGISLATOR CLAIMS HE HAS IMMUNITY FROM DUI CHARGE
After Rep. David Graves was charged with drunken driving for
a second time, he and his lawyer offered a surprising
As a lawmaker, Graves cannot break the law — at least not
while the Legislature is at work.
The Macon Republican is using an obscure provision in the
state constitution to argue that he should not be prosecuted
for a DUI he received in Cobb County in February, during the
2005 session of the General Assembly.
The centuries-old provision holds that a lawmaker cannot be
arrested during sessions of the General Assembly,
legislative committee meetings or while they're "in
transit," except in cases of "treason, felony, or breach of
the peace." Such provisions were generally written to
protect lawmakers from political intimidation.
Cobb State Court Judge Irma B. Glover is expected to make
public her ruling today on Graves' "legislative immunity"
defense. His trial is set for today.
Graves — chairman of the House committee overseeing laws
governing the alcohol industry — has said that on Feb. 15,
he and other committee chairmen went from the Capitol to a
dinner meeting, where they conferred about the status of
legislation and plans for the next legislative day. His
lawyer, William C. "Bubba" Head, argues Graves should have
been granted immunity from arrest because he was leaving a
gathering that was tantamount to a committee meeting,
according to legal filings.
CITY SEEKS EXPANDED ANTI-OVERDOSE TRAINING
The city Health Department is seeking funding to expand a
program that distributes anti-overdose medication to heroin
addicts by introducing training on how to use the medication
at prisons and jails as well as to more sites around the
Since April 2004, the city has trained about 800 people,
mostly addicts, in how to recognize heroin overdoses in
others and administer the medication naloxone, an opiate
antagonist used by emergency medical technicians to revive
overdosed users. After completing the training session, the
users are given several doses of the medication - which goes
by the trade name Narcan - as well as syringes with which to
The program, called "Staying Alive" and funded by the Open
Society Institute, drew scattered criticism when it began,
but has since been credited with helping lower the rate of
overdose deaths in the city. Last year, the city recorded
261 fatal overdoses, its lowest rate in five years. City
health officials say graduates of the training program have
reported more than 100 "saves" using Narcan and say they
suspect there are other successful interventions they don't
BUCKS COUNTY COURIER
BRADFORD COUNTY METH SITUATION PAINTS SCARY
About 18 months ago, Phil Cusano was starting a
community task force to combat his county's growing
methamphetamine crisis. Cusano decided to start calling
human services officials in counties throughout the state to
see if they were interested in forming similar groups.
"Everybody said the same
thing: 'We don't have a problem,' " said Cusano, director of
Bradford County's drug and alcohol programs. "Well, now we
say that if you don't think you have a meth problem, you
just don't know about it."
Just three years ago, meth
was seemingly nonexistent in Bradford County. Since then,
the problem has erupted in this northeast Pennsylvania
county of about 62,500, a population about 1/10th the size
of Bucks, according to 2004 U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
Bradford County, which is
about a four-hour drive from Lower Bucks, has seen the
number of meth laboratories seized by police jump from six
in 2003 to 20 in 2004 and 40 so far this year, according to
A WARNING FLAG AGAINST LATEST FAD'HIGH' FOR TEENS
Dust-Off can prove fatal, authorities say. Generations of
teenagers have sniffed common household products -- from
glue to Whiteout to the propane in cigarette lighters -- for
a cheap, easy route to intoxication. But the danger posed by
the latest inhalant of choice, a common computer keyboard
cleaner called ''Dust-Off," has prompted area police to warn
parents and teens that the ''high" could be fatal.
Inhaling the compressed gas can cause
brain damage and heart failure by robbing the lungs of
oxygen, authorities say. In March, a 14-year-old boy from
Ohio was found dead in his bed with a canister beside him.
His death has received wide attention after his father, a
police sergeant, posted a cautionary letter on the Internet
that has caught the notice of police, educators, and
Last summer, three California
teenagers died in a car crash, and a can of Dust-Off was
found inside the vehicle. In July, a teenager passed out in
a West Hartford, Conn., drugstore after inhaling Dust-Off,
then arose moments later to do it again, according to
newspaper reports.In response, Falcon Safety Products, the
maker of Dust-Off, released a statement citing the dangers
of inhalant abuse and highlighting its efforts to combat the
problem. Many stores, including
Wal-Mart, have banned
sales of the product to minors.
''One beer is not going to kill you
under almost any circumstances, but with sniffing, you never
know," said Patrolman Timothy O'Leary, the Foxborough Police
Department's juvenile officer.
THE NEW YORK
A SPORTS DRINK FOR CHILDREN IS JANGLING SOME
The company's marketing materials describe the drink as a
way to kick-start the morning for children as young as 4.
The company Web site, adorned with a picture of an
elementary school wrestler and a gymnast, says its drink can
help a child "develop fully as a high-performance athlete"
and fill nutritional gaps "in a sport that is physically and
The drink, called Spark,
contains several stimulants and is sold in two formulations:
one for children 4 to 11 years old that includes roughly the
amount of caffeine found in a cup and a half of coffee, and
one containing twice that amount for teenagers and adults.
Despite the promotional materials, Sidney Stohs and Rick
Loy, executives with AdvoCare International of Texas, which
makes the products, said Spark was not devised or marketed
for children's athletic performance but rather for their
overall good health.
"It's not just a caffeine
delivery system; it has many more nutritional properties,"
said Stohs, senior vice president for research and
development at AdvoCare, the nation's leading company in
direct marketing of
dietary supplements for
IN COLOMBIA, 'FORBIDDEN RHYTHMS' DEPICT COUNTRY'S VELVET
Singers decked out in glitzy Western suits sing of the lives
and violent deaths of this country's drug kingpins, paying
homage to some of the most infamous killers in a land
scarred by bloodshed.
The country's "forbidden rhythms" music — sometimes called "narco-rhythms"
— is a fast-growing genre that draws inspiration from the
cocaine trade, a five-decade civil war and Colombia's high
One popular tune is The Toad, slang for an informer.
It's the musical lament of a drug lord who enjoys money,
respect and women before he's ratted out and goes to jail.
"Watch out, because when I get out, I'll be looking for
you," singer Rey Fonseca croons.
ACLU WILL JOIN LAWSUIT OVER RAVE BUST IN UTAH COUNTY
The American Civil Liberties Union announced Monday that it
would join in the lawsuit filed against the Utah County
Sheriff by a Salt Lake City-based rave promoter whose party
was busted on Aug. 20. The ACLU's Margaret Plane said
the sheriff's decision to raid the event with 90 officers,
automatic weapons, dogs and a helicopter raises concerns
about the First Amendment rights of those in attendance.
Law enforcement has singled
out the often clandestine, DJ-driven dance parties as events
with the singular intent of distributing and using illegal
narcotics. Plane said that view is a generalization that is
not fair to those who attend the shows with no intent of
breaking the law.
"Raves are a legitimate
form of artistic and cultural _expression," Plane said. "It
looks like this is the targeting of a specific culture."
"The association with raves and club drugs and the approach
[the sheriff has taken] is tantamount to shutting down a
Rolling Stones concert based on the fact that some
concertgoers might be using illegal drugs," said
CHANGES ON TAP FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAW
Oregon is on the verge of having its medical marijuana law
revised to make it easier for police to interpret and harder
for criminals to exploit.
To date, more than 11,000 Oregonians have medical marijuana
cards, issued by their doctors. The card allows them to grow
the marijuana themselves, or else designate a caregiver to
grow it for them. But the law as written is full of
ambiguities and a bill passed by the 2005 Legislature
attempts to make it easier for police, growers and patients
to know what's legal.
The new law, which takes effect in January, specifies limits
on how many plants a patient can own and stricter
requirements for registering a grow site. Lawmakers also
approved a hefty increase in the amount of marijuana a
registered patient or caregiver can possess. The purpose of
that was to bring the limits in line with the typical yield
of a marijuana plant, which can produce multiple ounces of
usable marijuana at a time, said Rep. Jeff Kruse,
R-Roseburg, the bill's co-sponsor.
U.S. DRUG CZAR, AIDE FACE METH CRITICISM
The chairman of a House panel that oversees drug policy on
Wednesday called for the resignation of a top aide to White
House drug czar John Walters, and he came close to demanding
that Walters step down as well.
Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., spoke after a closed-door briefing
in which Bush administration officials described their
efforts to halt the spread of methamphetamine abuse.
Souder, chairman of the House committee that authorizes the
activities of Walters' office, called the presentation
"pathetic" and "an embarrassment." He said officials seemed
more interested in defending the status quo than developing
a meaningful national meth strategy.
ALBANY DEMOCRAT-HERALD (NY)
OP/ED: METH, WE NEED TO GAIN SOME
By Angela Eckhardt
Oregonians will be feeling added pain when the next cold and
flu season hits. The state is now the first in the country
to require prescriptions for medicine containing
pseudoephedrine, the primary ingredient in popular
It's easy to jump on the meth-bustin' bandwagon. The drug
can wreak such havoc in people's lives that having just one
addict in your family or community might seem like an
Lately there has been a flurry of activity in state
legislatures, Congress — even in the Canadian parliament —
to get tough on meth. Including Oregon, 40 states have
considered legislation to limit access to "precursor"
ingredients. Oregon has also heightened penalties for meth-related
offenses and defined meth-cooking as child abuse or neglect.
This drug "epidemic" needs to be put in perspective and meth
policy needs a strong dose of sanity before policymakers
exacerbate the problem.
PROPOSAL FOR METH SENTENCES DRAWS FIRE
House Democrats on Tuesday sharply criticized a bill
designed to curb the availability of methamphetamine in the
United States, singling out a provision that would impose
tougher prison sentences for trafficking.
At a hearing in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime,
the Democratic lawmakers said incarcerating drug dealers for
longer terms has failed to stop drug addiction over the past
two decades, while ruining lives in poor communities.
The opposition is unlikely to derail House Resolution 3889,
which enjoys the support of House Republican leaders and the
bipartisan Congressional Meth Caucus. The chairman of the
crime subcommittee, Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., is a
co-sponsor, and spokesman Ed McDonald said Coble hopes to
schedule a vote soon.
Still, Tuesday's hearing made clear that any vote in
committee or on the floor likely would be far from
unanimous. Supporters had hoped to design a meth bill free
of controversial elements that would slow its progress.
MORE FAIL WORKPLACE
Job applicants and workers already on the job are failing
drug tests at a sharply higher rate this year, officials at
Oregon's largest drug-testing labs say.While marijuana
remains the most frequently detected drug, showing up in
more than half of all positive tests, methamphetamine
appears to be the fastest-growing illegal drug of choice
among workers. Johnson said positive test rates for
amphetamines increased 15 percent between 2003 and 2004
among his lab's samples. Meth is the most widely used type
Methamphetamine is likely a bigger problem for employers in
Oregon than other parts of the nation, experts say. In
Oregon, amphetamines top cocaine as the second-most detected
illicit substance, laboratory officials say. They rank third
highest nationally behind cocaine, according to Quest
Diagnostics, the nation's largest provider of employment
FORT MASON DAILY DEMOCRAT (IA)
METH NUMBERS CLIMB DESPITE TOUGHER LAWS
Fewer clandestine meth labs has not translated into fewer
meth convictions, according to officials with the Lee County
Narcotics Task Force.
Task force spokesman Sgt. Dave Hinton said that the numbers
in Lee County are even inching upwards despite Iowa having
some of the toughest anti-meth laws on the books.
"We do see somewhat of an increase," Hinton said, "but not a
huge increase, and the increase that we see is nothing as to
what we see when they have easy availability."
Hinton said that the slight increase of meth arrests comes
after the initial drop following the enactment of the new
meth laws. Still, Hinton said, Lee County's increase in meth
use is not so much Iowa's fault as it is that of the
NAPA DAILY NEWS (CA)
THE IMPACT OF METH GOES FAR BEYOND THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
The little ones feel the biggest impact. That is true no
matter what causes a family to fall apart, and children are
the most vulnerable when it comes to the growing use of
methamphetamine in Napa County.
For children, living with a parent addicted to meth can be
like walking in a mine field.
"Many of these kids live in dangerous, dirty homes. Many
suffer from neglect," said Nancy Schulz, behavioral health
manager for the Napa County's Child Protective Services
department. Schulz said CPS often gets calls from concerned
family members or neighbors who suspect drug abuse is
ravaging the home of someone they know.
"We have seen some very filthy homes -- disgusting. There is
garbage on the floor, sometimes feces. There is very little
food in the cupboards and refrigerator, and often what is in
there has gone bad. We have come upon homes where the parent
is passed out and there are toddlers and even infants in the
RALEIGH NEWS & OBSERVER (NC)
LAW LIMITS SALE OF COLD MEDICINES
Come Jan. 15, it's going to be harder to pick up all those
nasal decongestants that come in handy during cold and flu
season. Gov. Mike Easley on Tuesday signed into law a
measure that restricts the sale of Sudafed and other cold
medicines in an effort to stop the cooking of the illegal
Under the new law, buyers will have to go to a pharmacy
counter, show identification and sign a log in order to buy
any tablets containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. Gel
and liquid capsules would not be affected.
Buyers also must be at least 18 years old. They cannot
purchase more than two packages at a time, and no more than
three within 30 days without a prescription. Stores without
pharmacies, such as convenience stores and some groceries,
won't be able to sell the medications at all.
KANSAS CITY STAR
KANSAS CRIMPING METH LABS
Now it is Kansas' turn to celebrate. Last week, Missouri
Gov. Matt Blunt said a new anti-methamphetamine law was
largely responsible for a 55 percent drop in the number of
meth labs shut down in August.
In Kansas, raids are down nearly 64 percent from June
through August, compared with the same period last year.
This year there were 49 labs discovered in that period, down
from 135 last year.
Laws in both states have put pseudoephedrine and ephedrine,
ingredients used to make meth, behind pharmacy counters.
LAWMAKER TO APPEAL DENIAL OF IMMUNITY IN DUI CASE
State Rep. David Graves failed Tuesday to convince a Cobb
County judge that he should be immune from prosecution for
DUI because he's a lawmaker. Now he plans to take his
argument to the Georgia Supreme Court. Graves (R-Macon) has
two pending DUI cases in Cobb, but is trying to avoid
prosecution on one of them by relying on a centuries-old and
rarely used provision of the state Constitution.
That provision holds that state lawmakers cannot be arrested
during sessions of the General Assembly or its committees or
while lawmakers are traveling to either one. Exceptions are
made for "treason, felony, or breach of the peace."
Cobb State Court Judge Irma Glover on Tuesday rejected
Graves' argument that he should have been granted immunity
from arrest because lawmakers were in session and he was
leaving a dinner meeting with other legislators when he was
stopped Feb. 15 at a police roadblock in Vinings. He was
arrested after refusing a sobriety test, authorities said.
Glover ruled that there was no evidence that the dinner,
where Graves admitted to drinking two to four glasses of
wine, was either a committee meeting or part of any
PERU'S HIGH COURT RULES AGAINST REGIONAL LEGALIZATION OF
Peru's highest court overturned two regional laws promoting
expanded cultivation of coca - the raw material for
cocaine. The Constitutional Tribunal ruled unanimously
Tuesday that the regional governments of Huanuco and Cuzco
did not have the authority to declare the laurel-shaped leaf
"cultural patrimony" earlier this year.
"In this case, the ordinances by the governments of Cuzco
and Huanuco assumed attributes that are exclusive ... to the
central government," Constitutional Tribunal President
Javier Alva Orlandini told Radioprogramas radio.
But the 54-page court ruling also called on President
Alejandro Toledo to reevaluate Peru's national counter-drug
policy, saying drug interdiction and development of
alternative crops to steer farmers away from the drug trade
are not working.
More than 90 percent of Peru's coca winds up being used for
cocaine production, experts say.