Man found guilty after largest Meth bust in Arkansas history

Arkansas Drug Bust

A federal jury found a California truck driver guilty Thursday after he was found with millions of dollars worth of meth during a traffic stop in Arkansas in 2015.  A federal jury found Javier Leon, 56, of Moreno Valley, Calif., guilty of Possessing With the Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine in a case that involved the largest amount of methamphetamine ever seized in Arkansas.  Law enforcement found more than 260 pounds of meth — worth millions of dollars — in the back of Leon’s tractor-trailer while he was traveling through Lonoke in 2015.  Leon will be sentenced at a later date.  “This seizure had enough methamphetamine to supply every man, woman, and child in Little Rock,” Patrick C. Harris, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, said.  “Thanks to the efforts of several law enforcement agencies and agents, this significant amount of methamphetamine will never hit the streets, and never poison our communities.  This jury verdict makes clear that whatever level of involvement you have with this drug—as a seller, user, or courier—there will be justice served and punishment delivered.”  Testimony during the trial established that the 260 pounds of methamphetamine -- which was broken into smaller, individual-size portions -- could have been enough to serve more than 300,000 people, with a potential street value of $7 to $8 million.  Leon owned his own 18-wheel tractor-trailer and drove for California furniture shipping company American West.  On March 30, 2015, while heading east on Interstate 40, Leon pulled over and parked illegally on an exit ramp in Lonoke.  Now-retired Arkansas State Police Corporal Olen Craig made contact with Leon, and the state police then searched the trailer after a drug-detection dog signaled drugs were present.  Arkansas State Police Corporal Chase Melder located the meth, which included more than 22 pounds of powder meth and more than 240 pounds of liquid meth, amongst a load of furniture destined for Alabama and the Atlanta area.  The liquid meth was contained in multiple five-gallon plastic jugs, similar to the type of jugs used with water coolers.  “Stopping drug traffickers traveling across Arkansas highways is a priority for state troopers, particularly the department’s criminal interdiction unit,” Colonel William J. Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police, said.  “This case represents a major victory in stopping illegal drugs from getting to a destination and our troopers are committed to staying in the fight.”  The DEA became involved in the case following the seizure and continued to investigate Leon. In addition to the guilty verdict, the jury found that the 18-wheel tractor-trailer is to be forfeited.  “The federal conviction of Javier Leon sends a strong message to criminals that we take methamphetamine trafficking very seriously in the Eastern District of Arkansas,” Matthew Barden, Assistant Special Agent in Charge with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), said.  “The DEA will continue working with our law enforcement partners and pursue those who threaten our communities with the distribution of methamphetamine and other illegal and dangerous drugs.”  The statutory penalty for possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine is not less than 10 years’ imprisonment, not more than life, a $10,000,000 fine, or both.  The investigation was conducted by the DEA, Arkansas State Police, Little Rock Police Department, and Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office.

5/5/17

Line

Drugged driving more fatal than drunk driving, report says

drug impaired crashes

For the first time, data shows that drivers killed in car crashes in the United States were more likely to be on drugs than drunk, according a new report.  The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) released a study that found 43 percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes had drugs of any kind – prescription or illegal – in their system, compared to 37 percent who showed alcohol levels above the legal limit.  The organizations say that concerns about drug-impaired driving have escalated recently, with more states legalizing marijuana and record numbers of people dying from drug overdoses amid the opioid epidemic.  "Drugged driving has increased dramatically and many of today's impaired drivers are combining two or more substances, which has a multiplicative effect on driver impairment," Ralph. S. Blackman, president and CEO of Responsibility.org, a nonprofit funded by alcohol distillers, said in a statement.  Of drivers killed in crashes who tested positive for drugs, 36.5 percent had used marijuana, followed by amphetamines at 9.3 percent, the report found.  Researchers used the most recent U.S. state data available from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).  The report calls for increased training for law enforcement to detect drivers who are on drugs – something that is complicated, police say.  Unlike a Breathalyzer test to detect alcohol-impaired drivers, there is no standard roadside test to detect most drugs.  "As states across the country continue to struggle with drug-impaired driving, it's critical that we help them understand the current landscape and provide examples of best practices so they can craft the most effective countermeasures," said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of GHSA.  The report has several limitations, including that states vary greatly in how many and which drivers are tested, what tests are used, and how test results are reported.  Furthermore, the records only record drug presence, not drug concentrations that can be compared to blood-alcohol levels.  "Drugged driving is a complicated issue," said the report's author, Dr. Jim Hedlund, a former senior NHTSA official.  "The more we can synthesize the latest research and share what's going on around the country to address drug-impaired driving, the better positioned states will be to prevent it."

5/4/17

Line

Ceremony remembers fallen state troopers

PSP remembers fallen state troopers

George Nowakowski of Duryea retired from the Pennsylvania State Police in 1991, but as he watched the Pennsylvania State Police Memorial Day ceremony at his old barracks, he tearfully said he wished he were back in the line of duty.  “I wish I was back,” he said, looking out over the current troop in their uniforms.  “These guys are fabulous.  They look beautiful and they do their job.”  The annual ceremony honored state troopers, specifically those from Troop P, killed in the line of duty throughout the state police’s history.  Troop P held their ceremony at its barracks on Wyoming Avenue, one of many held at state police barracks throughout the Commonwealth.  Troop P covers Wyoming, Bradford, Sullivan and northern Luzerne counties.  In addition to the fallen, the ceremony also honors active and retired members of the state police.  “It’s a very nice ceremony.  It makes me proud to be working for the Pennsylvania State Police,” said Christine Brewer, a clerk typist at the barracks.  “You don’t realize day-to-day what they go through and it’s nice that we have these to honor the current and also our retired members.”  The ceremony featured a roll call of the 10 members of Troop P who have fallen in the line of duty over the years, speakers and the laying of a wreath to commemorate the day.  The ceremony allows active and retired troopers to remember those before them who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.  For Nowakowski, coming back to recognize and remember those troopers often feels like a reunion with his old troop and fellow retired troopers.  “It’s the greatest day in the world,” Nowakowski said.  State police continue to mourn the loss of Trooper Landon Eugene Weaver, who was killed in December and honored statewide at Tuesday ceremonies. Weaver served with the state police for one year with Troop G in Bedford.  He was the 97th member of the Pennsylvania State Police killed in the line of duty in the force’s 112 year history.  “That memory is always in the back of our minds, we never really forget it,” Trooper Tom Kelly said.  “Every day we go into work, we do our job, but a day like today brings that from the back of our mind to the forefront of our mind,”  Kelly said the annual ceremony serves as a necessary reminder of the difficulties state troopers often face.  “It’s good to keep that memory alive and not let what happened be forgotten,” Kelly said.

5/4/17

Line

New Jersey State Police's 2016 Trooper of the Year

NJSP 2016 Trooper of the Year

The New Jersey State Police is proud to announce that Tpr. I James Agens, of the Mobile Safe Freight Unit, is the 2016 Trooper of the Year as a result of his year-long patrol efforts, which led to the seizure of 79 kilograms of heroin and 10 kilograms of cocaine with a total estimated street value of $6.7 million.  As a result of the nationwide heroin epidemic, Colonel Rick Fuentes directed State Police command to initiate a plan to detect and dismantle the bulk amount of heroin being transported to and through New Jersey.  As part of this effort, Tpr. I Agens distinguished himself as a result of his diligent criminal patrol, bulk drug seizures, and unwavering dedication.  On May 15, 2016, Tpr. I Agens stopped a tractor-trailer in Warren County for a safety inspection.  During the stop, Tpr. I Agens detected evidence of criminal activity, which led to a search and subsequent seizure of 15 kilograms of heroin.  On August 23, 2016, Tpr. I Agens was conducting a commercial vehicle safety inspection in Warren County when he once again detected evidence of criminal activity.  As a result of his investigation, 64 kilograms of heroin and 10 kilograms of cocaine were seized.  This is the largest cold-stop heroin seizure to date in U.S. history.  Tpr. I Agens’ investigative efforts and skills are extraordinary.  His efforts have brought great pride and distinction to himself and the Division of State Police. Tpr. I Agens’ commitment and dedication exemplify the core values of the New Jersey State Police: Honor, Duty, and Fidelity.

5/3/17

Line

Oberle Elementary thanks state troopers with giant heart formation

Deleware State Troopers receives thanks

Students and staff members at Oberle Elementary School in Bear gathered in the school parking lot on Monday to form a heart shape and say "thank you" to Delaware State Police troopers.  The ceremony was part of a statewide outpouring of support in honor of Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard, who was killed in the line of duty last week.  After the students arranged themselves in the shape of a heart, a teacher used a drone to photograph the formation from above.  Students later delivered video from the event and handmade cards to troopers at Troop 2.  Oberle is the second Christina School District school to pay tribute to Ballard.  Last week, 600 Keene Elementary students walked to Troop 2 to lay flowers and thank troopers.

5/2/17

Line