Australia meth lab seizures hit all time high

Meth labs in Australia have hit an all time high, according to a new report by the Australian Crime Commission. According to the Commission’s report , “the number of clandestine laboratories detected nationally has increased by 245% over the last decade from 201 in 2000-01 to 694 in 2009-10″,  and 90% of them were producing methamphetamine largely in residential communities (The Illicit Drug Data Report 2009-2010, 112, 115). Residential areas accounted for 71.3 % of Australia’s meth labs,  followed by vehicles (9.6%) and its rural areas (8.6%).

Chart: ACC clan lab report

Australia, like the U.S., is now in the midst of a rapidly rising meth lab problem that threatens the health and safety of its citizens. Between 2009 and 2010, 694 meth labs were found in Australia, a significant increase over the 150 meth labs that police found in the country in 1999. Nationwide, Australia is now home to more than 4,000 meth labs, according a recent article published by WA Today. Recent news that meth labs have risen sharply is a cause for concern for the nation’s property owners, renters, and its visitors.

Living in a former meth lab home that has not been decontaminated is risky business, considering what scientists know about the chemical structure of the chemicals used to make meth. Those chemicals, which are composed of microscopic particles, are easily inhaled in to the lungs and can also be absorbed through the skin. Those who are in a former meth lab home, without adequate protection for their health, have had their health put in harm’s way.  Studies show that infants and young children, who are small in stature and who tend to spend more time on the floor (sitting, lying, playing),  are particularly at risk from becoming ill from their exposure to meth lab chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens like Benzene.  Even more troubling is the fact that doctors are not likely to associate a child’s allergies, heart problems, cancer, and respiratory problems, including asthma, to a child’s living situation, because parents may not be aware of that their home is filled with toxic meth lab chemicals. In the U.S., many home owners and renters don’t find out about the history of their home until they discuss their health problems with neighbors or talk about oddities they’ve found in their home such as weird stains, odors, strange locations for plumbing or electrical outlets, etc. New health problems can begin soon after living in a former meth lab home, but some health problems may take a decade or more to surface, some experts say. Those who had existing health problems, before they move in to a contaminated home, often find those health issues worsening as a result of their exposure to the meth lab chemicals that permeate every surface in their home.

Although, children are more vulnerable to the health issues caused by chronic exposure to meth lab chemicals,  adults are not immune to the health problems that can be caused by meth lab toxins. Professionals in the U.S. who have been called in to evaluate a meth lab home do not walk in to them unprepared: Hazmat suits that cover all of their skin and protect their respiratory systems are standard protocol in the U.S.. The protective gear, now worn in the U.S.,  is a direct result of health problems that have been suffered by its law enforcement officers, who were busting meth labs without the protection of those suits in years past. Many of those officers have become seriously ill, some terminally ill,  decades after they’d been exposed to meth lab chemicals.

Many Australians are unaware of the health dangers that meth labs have brought to their communities and that has Peter Guerrin, a former police officer  in Australia, who now owns a cleanup company, deeply concerned.

“The clandestine lab police drug squad will go in. They do their raid. They take away all their bits and pieces and say ‘yep, all done’… What is left behind is equally as toxic and invariably they’re rental premises. Sooner or later that premises is going to be re-rented, there’s going to be a six-month old baby crawling around on the carpet, go horribly green and die. If there’s enough evidence worldwide and enough counties in the US that actually list a premises that had a lab in it on the title for 99 years, that this premises was a clandestine lab and cannot be re-used or re-opened until it has been cleared, you’ve got to think perhaps there might be something in this.”  Guerrin told an ABC news reporter.

Guerrin advised one realtor who visited a former meth lab property to have her blood tested so she would have a record of her exposure in the event that she becomes ill – ten years in the future.

John Lawler, ACC’s Chief Executive Officer, also warned Australians about the chemical contamination that is being caused by meth lab chemicals and their waste products. During  an interview with WA News,  he said, “The residue of drug manufacturing can pose risks for many years including damage to the environment through soil and water contamination as well as disposal of toxic waste in public spaces.”

Australia’s meth-makers, like their American counterparts, are using pseudoephedrine (PSE)  to cook up batches of homemade methamphetamine. Efforts by the government to keep meth cooks from obtaining pseudoephedine, which includes an electronic tracking program known as Project Stop, have failed to prevent the nation’s growing meth manufacturing problem.
Only two U.S. states – Oregon and Mississippi –  have witnessed a significant reduction in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Both of those states have  passed laws that classify pseudoephedrine as a prescription-only drug.

California: Meth dealer may be deported to El Savador

FRESNO, CA—United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that, yesterday afternoon, after 30 minutes of deliberations, a federal jury in Fresno found Ricardo Enrique Vega guilty of possessing crystal methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Vega, aka Javier Martinez, aka “El Guero,” 36, is an illegal alien from El Salvador, formerly residing in Selma.

This case is the product of a Fresno Methamphetamine Task Force investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Karen Escobar and Alyson Berg prosecuted the case.

The evidence at trial established that Vega, a convicted drug felon, negotiated with an undercover detective to sell crystal methamphetamine to him for distribution in Washington State. Vega was arrested after providing two pounds of crystal methamphetamine, worth more than $35,000.

Because Vega was previously convicted in Los Angeles of a drug felony involving cocaine, he faces a mandatory minimum prison term of 20 years, a maximum prison term of life, and a fine of up to $8 million. He is also subject to deportation.

Senior District Judge Oliver W. Wanger who presided over the jury trial scheduled sentencing for September 13, 2010.

The Fresno Methamphetamine Task Force is a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area initiative (HIDTA), consisting of law enforcement agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE); California Highway Patrol (CHP); Fresno Police Department (FPD); Fresno County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO); Madera County Sheriff’s Department (UCSD); and Merced County Sheriff’s Department.

Press Release
United States Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California
July 1, 2010

U.S. Border Security and California Meth Labs

President Obama stressed greater border security in his State of the Union Address in January, an issue that is directly tied to the illegal drug trafficking of drugs in the U.S. Although, the concept of securing our borders is a good one, I don’t think it’s possible to stop illegals from entering the country, if that’s what they want to do. But, I have no doubt that our border problem is adding to our nation’s drug problem and the rate of crime and violence in our neighborhoods. Naturally, I am especially concerned about the meth problem that is being fueled by our neighboring countries, particular Mexico.

Obama said in his State of the Union Address that we need to use some “common sense” for a change, when thinking about ways to address problems. Common sense says that stopping every illegal from entering the U.S. isn’t possible. If someone wants to enter the U.S illegally, they can do it. They can climb over fences, dig under them, or make holes in them. They can come in by boat, or car, by plane, or trailer truck. Heck, they can just walk over the border in many areas. That’s creating a big problem for border states, who are witnessing an influx of criminal groups who are coming in to the country for one reason – to make money selling meth and other drugs.

Criminal groups coming in to the U.S. from Mexico,  are uppermost on the minds of law enforcement in America’s southern border states. California, in particular, reports that Mexican criminal groups are continuing to increase the number of super meth labs in their state. Drug investigators in California say they are also contributing to the increase in pseudoephedrine smurfing in their largest cities.

"California super meth labs"According to a Situation Report published by the National Drug Intelligence Center, California has been noticing an increase in pseudoephedrine smurfing and super meth labs in their state since 2007.

(picture) California Cities Where Law Enforcement Officials Reported an Increase in Pseudoephedrine Smurfing in 2008 and 2009.

Each of those super labs, which can produce 10 pounds of meth in a single cooking cycle, leaves behind  50 to 60 pounds of hazardous waste products. 50 to 60 pounds of hazardous chemicals and materials every single time they make a batch of meth!

Sometimes police find their meth lab waste and sometimes they don’t.

Producing 10 pounds of meth takes alot of pseudoephedrine, but the Mexican criminal groups have been able to get it. How are they getting people to buy that much pseudoephedrine for them? The government report says they’re getting the homeless in California neighborhoods to help them.

A 2007 incident mentioned in the report describes how one Fresno County couple was paying homeless people $30 to buy pseudoephedrine for them. In some cases, the couple said they paid the homeless shoppers with alcohol. When police seized the couple’s vehicle, they reported finding pseudoephedrine packages and several cell phones. They also found pharmacy listings that had been ripped out of an area phone book.

Smurfing operations in California continued to increase in 2008 and in 2009, according to  law enforcement agencies. In fact, police reported that 21 large California cities reported a rise in smurfing activity, resulting in an increase in super labs and meth lab dump sites.

Fresno and Stanislaus San Joaquin Methamphetamine Task Forces reported about the evidence they’ve been finding about meth labs in their area. Their list includes:

  • pseudoephedrine product price lists
  • store receipts
  • coupons for pseudoephedrine products
  • pseudoephedrine product packaging
  • paper shredders
  • gallon-size freezer bags
  • 5-gallon plastic buckets filled with various commercial brands of pseudoephedrine tablets.
  • trash bags full of pseudoephedrine blister packs
  • empty bags containing residue from pseudoephedrine tablets at laboratory dumpsites

Last year, the report says that smurfing became so prevalent in the Los Angeles area that pseudoephedrine was being transported back over the border to Mexico.

The pseudoephedrine problem, like the one they’re having in California, appears to add more kindling to the fire that’s being started by legislators and law enforcement in several states,  who believe the “common sense” answer is turning pseudoephedrine in to a prescription drug. Without pseudoephedrine, they feel, most meth lab cooks, will be out of business, creating safer communities and allowing law enforcement to devote their efforts to other community needs.

Here’s a scary  prediction about the future of meth labs in California, that is excerpted from the government’s report:

“The number of superlabs in California will remain relatively high in the near term as criminal groups and individuals supply laboratory operators with bulk pseudoephedrine acquired through smurfing. There is no indication that pseudoephedrine smurfing will decline in the near term. Smurfing is widespread, well organized, and increasing throughout California. The continued ban on pseudoephedrine imports into Mexico will most likely limit the availability of the chemical in that country, thereby limiting any incentive for Mexican methamphetamine producers to move their operations back to Mexico. In fact, evidence of California smurfers supplying pseudoephedrine to methamphetamine producers in Mexico in 2009 illustrates the continued difficulty that producers in that country are experiencing in acquiring the chemical.”

Mesa meth bust: Illegal mexicans used vacant homes to cut and distribute meth

vacant_home_azA crime tip received by the Mesa Police Department last month helped police to seize 16 pounds of methamphetamine and $31,000 in cash on Wednesday.  The street value of the meth is estimated to be over $300,000. Mesa police say it was their largest meth bust ever. On April 28, police arrested a man in a west Mesa residence; a man they believe was part of the same drug ring. More arrests are expected.

Police found most of the meth involved in Wednesday bust, inside of two vacant homes in west Phoenix. Lt. John Pruitt, who conducted the investigation, said the homes were being used to cut and distribute the drugs. Mesa Police also found two more pounds of meth hidden in vehicles, during traffic stops they conducted in west Phoenix late on Wednesday.

All four suspects are being held in Maricopa County jail without bond. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has also placed a hold on them.

Source: East Valley Tribune, “4 arrested in Mesa’s largest meth bust”, 5/509, http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/138927

Terrorist said he used amphetamines to prolong attack in India

Ajmal Amir Kasab, who dropped out of school in fourth grade, told police that he and the other terrorists who were responsible for killing 171 people in India, used amphetamines to prolong their attack on innocent people. His confession sheds light about how amphetamine and methamphetamine is being used as a tool by terrorists to murder innocent men, women, and children.  The recent and tragic events in India have added further justification about why meth is typically referred to as “the devil”.

  • In 2000, India reported making 930 seizures of ephedrine. China reported 10,150 ephedrine seizures, and Burma reported 3,922.
  • Burma (Myanmar) does not produce any chemicals but obtains precursors needed to make meth from India, China, and Thailand, according to a 2003 report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. With easy access to ephedrine, Burma has produced over 800 million methamphetamine pills, called Ya-Ba, annually.
  • The insurgent group, the United Way State Army, are cited as the primary manufacturers of the meth tablets.
  • Along with India, China is a major producer of ephedra and a leading exporter of bulk ephedra (U.S. DEA, 2004c). These precursors are used in the manufacture of crystal methamphetamine, which is trafficked by organized crime groups based in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan.
  • China is the primary producer and consumer of crystal methamphetamine; smaller quantities are produced in Philippines, Taiwan, and South Korea.

Mexico drug dealer ships crystal meth to 54 year old man in PA

Over 6 million dollars worth of crystal meth won’t make it to dealers and meth addicts in Pennsylvania, since investigators discovered why 54 year-old Christopher McDaniel kept picking up boxes of porcelain dolls at a local shoe store called Ben’s Shoes – a store he didn’t own or work in.  Inside the dolls, that were being shipped to him from Mexico, was at least $6.6 million dollars worth of crystal meth, according to investigators.  Meth that would be sold to thousands of meth addicted customers in [Read more…]

The First Global Meth Conference will be held September 2008

On Monday, September 15th and Tuesday, September 16th, 2008, the world’s first global conference on Methamphetamine will take place in the Czech Republic in Prague’s Historic City Hall. The Conference will gather together experts from the USA, China, Australia, Thailand, Russia, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, New Zealand, Indonesia, Poland, Iran, Serbia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Great Britain and the United Nations in an effort to find ways to [Read more…]