Story published at magicvalley.com on Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Last modified on Tuesday, September 4, 2007 3:07 PM MDT
Anti-drug group plans incentive campaign for students
By Nate Poppino
TWIN FALLS – Pledges and media campaigns haven’t always worked.
But Pattie Hansen is hoping the power of capitalism will be enough to keep southern Idaho students off of methamphetamine.
Hansen, the executive director of United Way South Central Idaho, is wearing two hats these days. As the chair of the youth committee for Southern Idaho Partners Against Drugs, she’s helping construct an ambitious incentive program meant to keep students of all ages off of methamphetamine.
The goal, organizers say, is to reward students who stay off drugs, not punish those who try them.
“We don’t think punitive works very well with kids,” said John Hathaway, the Region 5 director for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and an adviser for SIPAD.
Under the plan, students – high-school students at first, expanding to middle-school and elementary schools in subsequent years – would voluntarily sign a pledge at the beginning of the school year to not use drugs. Those students would be randomly tested throughout the year in a program similar to what some districts have in place for testing athletes and others who participate in extracurricular events.
Students who test clean will have their names added to a list for random drawings, and could win everything from iPods to a brand-new car. Those who test positive for drugs will be referred for counseling, and their parents and school will be informed.
Students already randomly tested could still participate in the drawings, Hansen said, and SIPAD is hanging all its hopes for the program on the lure of the prizes. The ultimate focus, should the program work, will be on students in grades four through six – a time when habits that lead to drug use are formed, Hansen said.
“If they can just say no for that long, then it’s so much easier for them,” Hansen said.
Organizers hope to launch the program in October and time it with a visit from Dr. Mary F. Holley, the founder of Mothers Against Meth-Amphetamine. But first, they have to figure out how to fund it – especially the drug tests, the prices of which Hathaway said vary widely. He said the group plans to approach Kiwanis and Rotary clubs in the region and local businesses for help.
College of Southern Idaho spokesman Doug Maughan said Wednesday the college would likely support the program in some way, and the Minidoka County School District has donated a former driver’s education car for use as a prize.
Friday, state Rep. Sharon Block, R-Twin Falls, said she thinks the project will benefit more than just school districts. Drugs were a factor in the convictions of as many as 85 percent of people in Idaho prisons, she said, and 70 to 80 percent of children in foster care are there because their parents were drug users.
“It’s a huge burden on our state,” Block said of the prison population.
SIPAD doesn’t know how well the program will work, Hathaway said. But a study is already planned for after the first year of operation, and organizers are optimistic – after all, he said, everyone who has a job relies on some sort of incentive. Success could just mean the program avoids the fate of previous anti-drug efforts, he said: “A lot of hoopla, a lot of rah-rah and then nothing.”
Nate Poppino can be reached at 735-3237 or email@example.com.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
Workshop informs property managers about meth use, production
By Joshua Palmer
TWIN FALLS – The Idaho Housing and Finance Association hosted a workshop Wednesday morning with the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s office to inform property managers and landlords about methamphetamine use and production.
The workshop was organized to help property managers identify illegal drug activity, as well as its possible impact on residential property.
“It’s a major problem for everyone from the people who use it to the people who invest money into the property that it’s used in,”said Kelly Wilson, senior specialist investigator with the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s office.
Methamphetamine production, he said, creates dangerous toxins that seep into walls and carpets – a hazard to future tenants or homeowners.
The cost of properly cleaning up a home or apartment where methamphetamine was manufactured can cost up to $500,000.
“If you put down $60,000 on a property to rent, you might as well kiss that money goodbye if that property gets contaminated,”Wilson said. “Furthermore, what you might not know is that if we (law enforcement) catch someone making meth on your property a second time then we have the authority to seize your property.”
He said property managers need to recognize the signs of meth use and production.
“Use common sense,”he said. “If someone has a bunch of cans of acetone laying around but they don’t refinish furniture, that person might be making meth.”
He added that meth production often creates a pungent odor.
However, none of the property owners attending the workshop said they knew what meth smelled like, which Wilson described as an “unrecognizable odor.”
He said property managers should contact law enforcement officials if they suspect illegal drug activity on their properties.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Temporary release denied in case
Posted: Wednesday, Aug 22, 2007 – 09:23:45 am PDT
By KEITH KINNAIRD
Manslaughter trial set for Sept. 10
SANDPOINT — An Oldtown man awaiting trial on vehicular manslaughter and drug possession charges is being denied a furlough to attend an in-patient treatment program in southern Idaho.
District Judge Lansing Haynes denied Jason Charles Miller’s request on Friday to postpone his manslaughter case so he could enter the treatment program.
Miller’s four-day trial on a charge of felony vehicular manslaughter is scheduled to start on Sept. 10 in 1st District Court. He is also awaiting trial on a meth possession charge resulting from the deadly crash and another possession charge stemming from a more recent arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Miller’s defense attorneys asked the court earlier this month to postpone the manslaughter trial because it conflicted with their client’s enrollment in a treatment program in Gooding. Attorneys Peter Jones and Doug Phelps contend Miller has been diagnosed as bipolar and a meth addict.
The attorneys told the court on Friday the program would address Miller’s health issues, which would put him in a better position to assist in his own defense or contemplate potential plea agreements.
Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Jim Stow objected to Miller’s temporary release, citing the timing of the defense request.
Haynes, ruling from the bench in Coeur d’Alene, said he saw no verification of the dual diagnosis in documents the defense submitted to backstop its request. The defense motion was denied.
Miller, 26, was charged following a deadly July 2006 crash on Highway 57 north of Priest River. The state alleges Miller caused the wreck by passing vehicles as a car ahead of him turned into a waste collection site.
Richard Martin Boge, a 78-year-old resident of Spokane, Wash., died after Miller’s Ford Ranger pickup truck plowed into the side of his Cadillac sedan. Boge was the father of Sandpoint Councilman Michael Boge.
Miller is accused of being high on meth and possessing the stimulant at the time of the crash. The other pending charges were the product of a May 5 traffic stop in Priest River.
Miller was free on bond in the manslaughter case when he was arrested last spring.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Edition Date: 08/20/07
An invitation to lunch at Life’s Kitchen from Chef Rouchelle Abrahamson took me to the cute café at 1025 S. Capitol Blvd. to get an update on this nonprofit, which teaches young adults skills for work and life.Sipping gazpacho, I conversed with Congressman Mike Simpson and Roger Jones, 23, who graduated from the Kitchen’s first class in May 2004. Like others who’ve found their way there, Roger had had a run-in with meth.
“When I was arrested, I was dying,” he said. “I’m 6-foot-3 and I weighed just 147 pounds; now I weigh 240. But I had a burning desire to be someone, and once I became part of the Life’s Kitchen program, I felt accepted in society. The biggest payoff is knowing that now I’m an asset to society, not a liability.” “What can we do as a society to get to kids before they hit rock bottom?” the congressman asked.
“The justice system isn’t doing a half-bad job,” Roger said. “It came to a head for me when I was arrested for possession. But it also takes a willingness by the individual … somehow, you’ve got to figure out how to get into someone’s mind and tell them they could make a change. And you need to reach out to parents — sometimes they’re the ones who give kids drugs.”
“Someone like you talking to high school students would make more impact than me, parents or teachers,” Simpson said.
“Oh, yeah?” Roger laughed. “Is there a way to make money doing that?”
Life’s Kitchen serves lunch 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and offers frozen take-home meals, and catering for large and small events. Information: http://www.lifeskitchen.org.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
BOISE, Idaho — When she started using methamphetamine, Julie Saxton was a typical 36-year-old Boise mother. She lived on the Bench with her husband and daughters Maribeth, 8, and Jennifer, 15. She worked as housing programs coordinator for the city. She battled to keep the house clean, stay thin and get her errands done. In 1997, her husband brought home meth to help her lose weight.
“He was always calling me fat and belittling me,” Saxton said. “Of course, the first time I used it I liked the energy, and then the weight started coming off.”
Unwittingly, Saxton, joined a growing number of Treasure Valley women many of them “supermoms” who turn to meth for help, only to end up in the state’s criminal-justice system.
Treasure Valley drug experts say more local women are using meth, and overworked and stressed-out mothers are increasingly turning to the drug to lose weight and gain energy. They are crowding the Ada County Drug Court and women’s prisons. Their children are flooding the foster care system.
“Meth is definitely a women’s drug,” said Marreen Baker Burton, program coordinator of the drug court. “The numbing of the pain, the energy and the weight loss is huge.”
For Saxton, now 46, meth was like a miracle drug. It gave her the energy she needed to keep her house spotless, help her girls with their homework and produce more at the office.
At first, it worked. As she lost weight, Saxton got more comfortable spending time with friends and hosting parties, and her husband started spending more time with her. Her counters gleamed. Because she didn’t sleep much, she had time to bake, cook and decorate her home.
She made a rule never to use meth after noon. Though most people close to her knew her husband was a meth addict, Saxton hid her own use from her girls, her bosses, her landlord and her mother.
But after about a year, she started needing meth just to function. Her husband had late-night parties and cheated on her with other addicts.
In September 2002, a caller tipped police that Saxton and her husband had meth, and the two were arrested. By then, 20-year-old Jennifer was using with her parents. Saxton told police the meth found at her home was her husband’s. She pleaded not guilty. Her landlord bailed her out of jail. Her employer, a furniture store owner, kept her at work.
Saxton was eventually found guilty and served 90 days in a work-release center. She stopped using the drug for a while, then resumed it. She was chugging gallons of water so meth couldn’t be detected in tests required for her probation, making her urine too diluted to test. That’s a common ruse, and authorities were onto it.
Facing prison for violating her probation, Saxton agreed to go to drug court to kick the habit she had been lying about for so long.
“My 14-year-old was just in shock,” Saxton said. “My nickname was Betty Crocker. Nobody would have believed it in a million years.”
Saxton’s story is not uncommon in the Treasure Valley, say coordinators and counselors at Ada County Drug Court, a program that gives addicts intensive treatment and monitoring and clears felony convictions related to drug addiction.
Between 1998 and 2003 the Ada County Drug Court program was less than 45 percent women, said Burton, the program coordinator. Now it’s 57 percent women, and the first phase of the four-phase program is more than two-thirds female. Nearly 85 percent of the women in drug court are addicted to meth, Burton said, and more than two-thirds of them are mothers.
Those numbers are echoed at Idaho’s Department of Correction, where the women’s prison population has grown at more than twice the rate of the men over the past five years.
From 2000 to 2005, the female population jumped nearly 70 percent. According to department research, nearly 90 percent of women inmates assessed with a substance abuse problem listed meth as their drug of choice. A 2005 Idaho State Police survey found that 76 percent of all female inmates had used meth.
Boise drug counselor Sam Hadley said the women meth addicts he sees in the Treasure Valley often fit a mold he calls “supermom.”
“I’ve worked with many women who had large families, and they used methamphetamine to help get the work done, and it worked for a while,” Hadley said. “These women raise their kids well at the beginning because they have a lot of energy, and they look good for their husbands and their boyfriends. But then the addiction kicks in, and they can’t feel anything without meth.”
Because it affects the brain’s release of dopamine, meth robs people of the ability to feel pleasure without the drug, Hadley said. Women lose their emotional connection to their children and no longer feel joy or satisfaction in caring for them.
Former addict Janel Norris said meth let her keep up the public image she always wanted for herself. A mother of three boys, Norris said meth helped her become a thin soccer mom and forget the pain of being raped and molested as a child.
“My house was spotless. I’d stay up all night and clean my house and bake cookies,” said Norris, now 37. “It erased all emotion, and I could be anything I wanted.”
Norris thought meth made her a better mother to sons Adrian, now 17, Adam, now 14, and Kord, now 4. Looking back, she says that maybe it did in the beginning, when she was focused and productive. But now she realizes that after the first year, she was mentally absent when she was with her boys. She often left them with her mother overnight while she was out partying. She’s ashamed of some things, like teaching Adam to hide in the bushes and bark if anyone was coming so she wouldn’t get caught buying meth.
“He was my road dog, and I ruined him that way,” Norris said. “I missed so much with my big boys that I’m not missing with Kord.”
Women who think meth helps them be better mothers don’t realize until they’re sober the damage they’ve done to their kids, local experts say. At first, they do have more energy and are more present in their kids’ lives, Hadley said. But once the addiction kicks in, they are absent and can be neglectful.
“I hate meth because it has destroyed my family and my children,” said 32-year-old Jessica Fitzke, a mother of three who used meth for more than 10 years.
Like many Treasure Valley women who use meth, Fitzke was caught when her newborn twins tested positive for the drug. Kameron and Cody, now 1, were born a month and a half early and went into foster care with Fitzke’s mother. Fitzke got the twins and 3-year-old Henna back when she graduated from drug court Wednesday.
She said it’s hard not to spoil her kids now, thinking of what she put them through, like making Henna nap with her for 10 hours in the middle of the day when she crashed after a being high for days.
“Until they’ve been clean from meth about a year, two years, they’d still argue with me about being a good mother,” said Janet Guerin, head of women’s programs at the Idaho Department of Correction.
From 2002 to 2006, the number of children in foster care has increased by more than one-third in Ada, Elmore, Boise and Valley counties and by 70 percent in Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Adams and Washington counties. State government spending on foster care more than doubled over the same period.
Mothers using meth is the cause, said Susan Hazleton, the retiring director of the Family Advocate Program, which provides court-appointed advocates for children in foster care. Its caseload has gone up 78 percent since 2000.
Charity Hagen said one of the hardest parts of recovering from her addiction has been realizing the time she lost with her son, Calvin. Hagen, now 37, found out on her honeymoon that her husband, her college sweetheart, was a heroin addict. She started using meth with her husband when Cal was 3. She ended up leaving her husband soon after, but stayed with meth.
At first, she was getting praise and promotions in her work as an escrow officer. But within a few years, she lost her job and spent her time getting high with friends and stealing merchandise to pay for drugs, food and the rent.
“I thought it would be a bonding thing between my husband and me, absolutely not realizing the death grip it would have on me,” Hagen said. “I didn’t use it in front of my son, but so what? I locked myself up in my room with my friends for hours on end.”
Cal, 12, said he knew what was going on with his mother and once walked in on her using meth. His house was clean enough, and he was never hurt.
“It looked normal, but it wasn’t normal,” Cal Hagen said. “I used to ask her for some juice, and she’d say OK, and three hours later I still wouldn’t have my juice.”
Hagen has been clean for 15 months. Cal said he trusts his mother again and is happy to have her back.
Most mothers get treatment only when they face a felony charge or when their children have been taken away by child protective services.
Local drug counselors and experts say many women addicted to meth don’t think the addiction can be overcome. Hadley said part of the problem is that anti-meth efforts are focused so heavily on scaring people away from using meth — not on getting help for those already addicted.
“We’re not saying also that people recover from methamphetamine use,” Hadley said. “There’s all this focus on brain damage.”
And the treatment money and programs aren’t targeted at women, experts say.
Idaho is one of the few states without a residential drug treatment program where mothers and their children can stay together, said Bethany Gadzinski, head of the substance abuse program at the Department of Health and Welfare.
Gadzinski said the department is trying to get federal money to expand to the Treasure Valley a pilot program started in Pocatello in January.
Idaho lawmakers voted to expand the drug court last year, and are devoting more money to treatment in Idaho prisons.
Saxton, Norris, Hagen and Fitzke all graduated from Ada County Drug Court and have been clean for at least a year without relapse. They are all employed and have their children in stable homes.
Hagen made the dean’s list last semester at Boise State University. But she will be on probation for seven years for stealing to get drugs.
She said she lost eight years of her life but is relieved the nightmare is over.
“I’ll take the repercussions,” Hagen said. “I’m a little embarrassed that I let meth get ahold of me. I’m an intelligent woman.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
NAMPA — Police arrested a Nampa man after they found marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and several weapons in his home.
Dustin L. Edison, 26, of Nampa was taken to the Canyon County jail and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver and two counts of possession of stolen property.
Officers found large amounts of marijuana, as well as cocaine, methamphetamine and miscellaneous paraphernalia in Davis’ home, located in the 100 block of North Venice Street after a search Tuesday evening. Officers also located and seized two stolen firearms, an altered rifle, and numerous other firearms and edged weapons. Officers also seized more than $1,600 in cash from the location. Nampa Police responded to Davis’ home after getting a call for assistance from Probation and Parole at 10 p.m. Tuesday to Davis’ residence. Officers detected the strong scent of burnt marijuana inside the home upon arrival and obtained a search warrant from the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
7/16/2007, 7:29 p.m. EDT
By E. EDUARDO CASTILLO
The Associated PressMEXICO CITY (AP) — President Felipe Calderon on Monday dismissed as “pure fiction” the allegations by a Chinese-Mexican businessman that Mexico’s ruling party forced him to hide tens of millions of dollars in campaign cash at his home.
In his first public statements about the accusations by Zhenli Ye Gon, Calderon said they “are not only false, they are ridiculous.”
Ye Gon claimed this month that he was threatened with death by the ruling party unless he stored at least $150 million in his Mexico City mansion. It was the first major accusation that Calderon’s administration has links to Mexico’s drug underworld.
But key details in Ye Gon’s version of events seem contradictory, unclear or unverifiable, and a senior U.S. anti-drug official said he knew of no evidence that the Calderon administration — which has sent troops into the streets to fight drug cartels — has any links to organized crime.
Ye Gon is charged in Mexico with drug trafficking, money laundering and weapons possession for allegedly importing 19 tons of a pseudoephedrine compound used to make methamphetamine — charges he denies. He is thought to be in the United States; Mexico considers him a fugitive.
In all, police found more than $207 million hidden inside the mansion’s walls, suitcases and closets. Calderon said the March 15 cash seizure was a blow to the “backbone of methamphetamine trafficking in our country and probably in the continent.”
Calderon’s administration and former campaign officials have denied any links to the seized money, and have accused him of trying to blackmail the Mexican government into dropping or reducing the charges against him.
“It’s just a clumsy, foolish strategy, which will not have success but that attempts to evade Mexican police action,” Calderon said at a joint news conference with visiting Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
Ye Gon claimed in a letter from his lawyers to the Mexican government that “a substantial part of these cash deposits” consisted of National Action Party campaign funds delivered to his home by Calderon campaign officials.
Mexican laws limited total campaign spending in last year’s presidential election to $60 million per party.
On Monday, El Universal newspaper quoted Ye Gon as saying he has been the victim of a “sinister political conspiracy.”
Mexico’s electoral watchdog has said it will investigate Ye Gon’s allegations.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Crime: Nampa officers started investigation last year that progressed
over time into ‘bigger and bigger fish’
By Kendel Murrant CANYON COUNTY — With nearly 50 arrests this week alone, law officers have taken a total of 164 suspects into custody during the past 18 months in a multi-agency, multi-state meth sting called Operation Mountain Lion.
The operation, a cooperative effort on the part of agencies at the local, state and federal level, was meant to take out illegal dealers and traffickers of methamphetamine along a “pipeline” route from Mexico through several U.S. states, including Idaho.
Locally, police have made more Canyon County area arrests since police announced their multi-state meth sting publicly on Wednesday.
Authorities said Friday there have been 58 arrests made since Tuesday evening, 48 of which took place in Canyon County. Police have seized 15 pounds of crystal meth, 77 guns, 20 vehicles and more than $100,000 in U.S. currency.
But since the start of the operation, officials said they have arrested 164 people and have confiscated more than 61 pounds of meth across Idaho, Oregon, Nevada and California. They have also seized 95 guns and
49 vehicles. Nampa Police Chief Bill Augsburger said he was proud of the work his special investigations unit accomplished during the last several months of the operation.
“Our guys started this op with hand-to-hand buys and they really developed this case into something bigger,” the chief said, adding that through hard work and long hours put in by his officers, the operation grew large enough to call in the help of other local, state and federal agencies. “(Nampa Police) kept working it and getting bigger and bigger fish.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
By Kendel Murrant
firstname.lastname@example.org NAMPA — In the largest drug bust Nampa has seen in decades, local, state and federal agencies arrested more than 50 people Tuesday night and Wednesday on charges related to smuggling and distributing methamphetamine.
Authorities said the sting, dubbed Operation Mountain Lion, was the culmination of intense work and research during the past 18 months. In all, 51 people had been arrested at 27 different locations as of Wednesday afternoon.
Forty-three of the arrests were local, and the rest occurred in Nevada, Oregon and California.
Police also confiscated 11 pounds of methamphetamine, 77 firearms, 14 vehicles and more than $97,000 in cash.
“It has been a busy 24 hours,” Marc Haws, first assistant U.S. attorney, said.
Officials expect additional arrests to continue for several days. “This is a massive operation that will go on for some time,” Haws said. Nampa Police officials said they expect to continue to make arrests at least through the weekend.
The sting took place in 10 states across the western U.S., but Nampa Police Chief Bill Augsburger said the bulk of the arrests have been in Nampa.
The chief said that of the 11 pounds of methamphetamine seized in the sting, 4 1/2 pounds were taken from just one Nampa location. Eleven search warrants were issued in Nampa as of Wednesday afternoon, along with six in unincorporated Canyon County and two in Caldwell.
“This is the biggest drug bust we’re had in 25 years of law enforcement locally,” Augsburger said, adding that this sting even outsized a major Nampa cocaine bust 16 years ago. He noted that the large-scale sting was made possible by combining the manpower of numerous agencies.
“With cooperation from federal and states (agencies), we can do a lot more than we could have on our own,” Augsburger said.
Other officials said they were pleased with the caliber of interagency cooperation, noting that it contributed to the success of the sting.
“There’s been a high level of cooperation between agencies, and we’re proud of working together,” Haws said.
Canyon County Sheriff Chris Smith called the arrests “an amazingly coordinated effort.”
Augsburger said that the arrests will go a long way toward making the community safer.
“This has a great impact,” he said, adding that although “you can’t expect that people will quit using drugs or selling them, this will disrupt them for a while.”
Authorities realize these type of efforts will have to continue to have a long-term effect.
“We’re not na•ve and thinking that this is the end of everything,” Drug Enforcement Administration Resident Agent Keith Weis said.
However, Augsburger sent a warning to potential new drug leaders:
“To the people who think they will step in and fill the shoes of those who have been arrested, we’re coming after you, too. Good luck.”
Check idahopress.com for updates on the anti-meth operation and today’s court proceedings.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Officers from numerous local, state, and federal agencies executed a multi-state meth bust last night and this morning that has so far resulted in 51 arrests in 27 locations throughout Idaho, Nevada and other states.
Officers said the sting has been in the works over the last 18 months and that arrests will probably continue over the next several days. The sting, dubbed Operation Mountain Lion, was created to trace shipments of crystal methamphetamine from Mexican factories through their intermediate locations in southwestern states to their final destinations in the hands of dealers in the Treasure Valley, according to a press release.
Nampa Police Chief Bill Augsburger said search warrants were served at least 11 locations in Nampa alone. Canyon County Sheriff Chris Smith said eight were served in the rest of Canyon County, two of which were served within Caldwell city limits, according to Caldwell Police Chief Bob Sobba. Several dozen people were arrested as a result of the sting, many of whom will appear in federal court and the Canyon County courthouse tomorrow.
Officials said over 11 pounds of crystal meth was recovered in the sting, along with 66 firearms, 14 vehicles and over $97,000 in cash.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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