Posts tagged "Meth"

Ripped from the Headlines

Musings from a Crime Writer

Cousins, 8-year-old Elizabeth Collins and 10-year-old Lyric Cook-Morrissey were last seen on July 13, riding their bikes near a lake in Evansdale, Iowa. An extensive search has been conducted and police recently announced this is now an abduction case. As normal, investigations into the families has started. And disturbing information is coming out.

Missing Iowa Girls

Misty and Daniel Morrissey, the estranged parents of Lyric Cook both have criminal records that appear to be causing concern for police.

Misty was just released from federal prison on May 30 after being convicted of nine crimes, including illegal drug use, association with persons involved in criminal activity, excessive alcohol use, and failure to comply with drug testing. Eight years earlier, in 2003, she was sentenced to four years behind bars for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine.

Dan has recently been charged with assaulting his estranged wife and possessing, manufacturing and distributing methamphetamine. Morrissey had been expected to accept a plea agreement July 12, the day before the girls vanished, but decided not to do so because he was not ready to go jail. Prosecutors had cut his sentence from more than 45 years to 10 years, because he has cooperated and given investigators information on other meth makers in the area. Since the early 1990s, Daniel Morrissey has been convicted of burglary, theft, drug possession, intoxicated driving, parole and probation violations and interference with official acts.

Could Lyric’s parents drug connections have caused their abduction? Could the girls have been taken by a rival meth maker out of revenge for cooperating with police? Or could the girls have been taken by a family member to keep them safe from Lyric’s parents?

To me, these don’t sound like the people who deserve to care for a child and I only hope that the girls are found safe soon. When found, I hope the state can place Lyric in a safer home environment.

*Not fact or fiction, these are just my musings.

Have you read STRANGER?

The e-book, STRANGER: A DEATH VALLEY MYSTERY by Melissa M. Garcia is currently on sale for only .99 this summer at, iTunes store, and the Sony Reader Store.

Just read some of the reviews so far:

Sometimes the road to ruin is often paved with good intentions. That is the motto of most of the characters in Stranger: A Death Valley Mystery. The good intentions of Police Detective Will Stellar leads him down a path he will never recover from, and the good intentions of sibling Ric and Alex Delgado makes their quiet life more frantic. Stranger, the second novel by Melissa M. Garcia, starts off with a dead body in a motel, and the book twist and turns until it is full of more red herrings than a Seattle fish market. Garcia uses a unique blend of movement and dialogue from each person in the book and gives everyone a personality, a soul, and a hint of life.That realness helps in making almost anyone a killer, and it left me guessing until the very end.

Another intriguing device used by Garcia is the use of the “whydoit?” Many times, a crime novel cares more about the mysterious “who” and the killer’s identity. In Stranger, we get a refreshing new outlook on how important the motive is to a crime. Any two-bit hood with a gun can be a killer, because murder is an effect. The book wants you to care about the cause, and the importance of each character. With the skill of a painter, Garcia creates beautiful and soulful players for her play. At the end, I was as conflicted about the real killer as was Detective Stellar. Another thing that worked was the theme and how each person was dealing with the same problem in different ways. Everyone had a similar conflict of family over duty. This is a mystery novel done right and is as enjoyable as a cool drink on those hot desert nights.

*Originally published for San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review*

Every mystery has its dark secrets, but the best ones reveal them with a kind of perverse, teasing finesse. And author Melissa M. Garcia does so deftly in Stranger, her second mystery.

Ex-con Alex Delgado and her brother Ric have fled Los Angeles for a new start in the small, gritty town of Lake City, Nevada, safely removed from the disturbing memories and unhealed wounds of their past. Their sanctuary is the Death Valley Motel, the dog-eared roadside motel they run together, comfortable in their anonymity at the edge of civilization.

So when an aging ex-L.A. gang-banger’s corpse is found on the bloody floor of Room 110 at their hard-luck desert motel, a fresh dead guy is the last thing the Delgados need. And their anxiety proves to be caused by something deeper and darker than expensive carpet cleaning and bad press.

They’re not alone. Soon it appears that everyone in Lake City is hiding something – even the squared-away detective who catches the case. And in the closed room of a small town, everybody is a suspect – including the Delgados, whose entangled pasts prove to be both a curse and a blessing.

This sinister mix of secrets, longing and murder underlies Garcia’s tightly crafted story. You can taste the dust and feel the prickle of desert heat as a nicely tangled plot propels you deeper into the case.

Stranger evokes some of the best elements of Rick Riordan’s popular Tres Navarre mystery series before he abandoned crime writing for young-adult mythologizing. Garcia has delivered well-developed characters, strong dialogue and a scrupulously plotted yarn that propels the reader forward without too many distracting detours. The plentiful plot twists are never befuddling and readers are likely to keep guessing right up to the last page.

*Originally published for Blue Ink Reviews*

Strangerby Melissa M. Garcia is the fictional story of Ric and Alex Delgado, a brother and sister duo who manage a motel in “the middle of nowhere.” Escaping their former lives they settle where there is likely to be no trouble, but a dead body interrupts their new quiet life. A stranger’s death is just the type of crime that never happens in this small town, and everyone has a theory.

Detective Stellar and his team of officers work to solve the murder while Alex and Ric have their own ideas. Crossing paths with each other, additional lives are put in jeopardy.

Strangeris a good book. I really enjoyed reading it. The murder isn’t too intense. There aren’t too many characters. There isn’t too much intrigue with twists and turns. However, the characters are well-crafted and likable. Alex is a tough, damaged young woman, but she’s smart, and I found myself rooting for her even as a suspect. Ric is the protective older brother, and as is often true in real life, they both underestimate each other. Detective Stellar plays a pivotal role as the small town police officer whose personal life interferes with the investigation.

The plot contained in “Stranger” is enough to keep the reader guessing until the end. I wanted to read to the end, and I cared about the characters. I hope Ms. Garcia will continue to write as her stories are engaging and entertaining.

*Originally published for Reader Views*



There is a dead body in room 110 of the Death Valley Motel, and the evidence points to murder. Managers Ric and Alex Delgado, siblings with police work in their blood, chose this small Death Valley city specifically because it appeared to be a quiet place in which Alex could heal from the violent traumas of her past. Now a killer has struck too close to Alex, opening old wounds and threatening her new life.

The situation gets more complicated when Detective Will Stellar trains his observant eye on the siblings and ascertains they have something to hide. Murder seems to follow Alex Delgado, and Detective Stellar is certain she is a dangerous woman. Racing against time and against each other, the Delgados and Detective Stellar risk their lives to uncover the truth, which is ever more complicated and dangerous than any of them have imagined.

Bath Salts: PCP on Crack

The latest drug on the streets, nicknamed Bath Salts or Bath Powder, first began appearing in 2009 among teens and young adults. Originally sold legally over the counter, the synthetic stimulant products sold as Bath Salts are know by brand names include energy-1, Ivory Wave, Red Dove, Purple Wave, Blue Silk, Zoom, Bloom, Cloud 9, Vanilla Sky, White Lightning, Scarface, and Hurricane Charlie, etc.

Bath salts contain amphetamine-like chemicals such as methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and are sold as “cocaine substitutes” or “synthetic LSD.” Its effects include paranoia, confusion, combative/violent behavior, hallucinations, convulsions and psychotic episodes. Police say suspects on Bath Salts appear to have super-human strength due to the fact that they feel no pain. It’s being described as “PCP on Crack.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s forensic monitoring system found two reports of MDPV in 2009. In 2010 that figure jumped to 338 cases. Between January through September 2011, the numbers skyrocketed to 911 MDPV cases, spanning 34 states.

Just recently, the brand Cloud 9 of bath salts has been linked to zombie-like and cannibalistic behavior, including a horrific attack in Miami, where a naked man chewed the face off a homeless man.

What’s worse, is the drug dealers on the street are trying to stay a step ahead of the law. As certain chemicals become illegal, the makers are exchanging for other chemicals making their brand legal and also more and more dangerous.

"Clan" Labs

Known simply as “Clan Labs,” clandestine drug facilities or chemical labs where methamphetamine or other drugs are manufactured have seen a slight decrease in several US States according to the DEA. But not all states are seeing a decrease. And many people would be surprised on which states are leading the pack.

Based on the most current map of Meth lab incidents above, the Southwest, known for drug smuggling are keeping their numbers low, while the midwest is still struggling with ways to fight the growing epidemic of meth. And the problem is spreading South into Tennessee and Kentucky where clan labs are thriving.

In fact, Tennessee is expected to surpass Missouri for the overall lead in meth lab busts this year. For the first time in ten years, the Show Me State won’t be number one!

Maps of Meth Clan Labs as reported by the DEA.

The War on Meth

In Stranger: A Death Valley Mystery, many characters are caught in the whirlwind of drugs. Ric Delgado, once a narcotics detective in Los Angeles, is all too familiar with the problems that arise with drug abuse. When he moved to Lake City, Nevada, a small desert community near Death Valley, he had hoped to rid himself of the dangers of drugs. Unfortunately, like many small communities around the US, Lake City is not immune to the rising dangers of drugs. When the stakes are raised, Ric Delgado decides to fight the war on drugs in a big way.

For the past fifteen years, illicit or clandestine methamphetamine labs (“clan labs”) in the United States have declined since laws were put into place to limit the availability of the ingredients required to manufacture methamphetamines. Due to the restrictions, large-scale productions in Mexico thrived as drug cartels added meth to their already booming business of moving heroin, cocaine, and marijuana across the border.

But the landscape changed again in 2005. With the help of the United States, the Mexican government began fighting the meth problem. The government banned imports of pseudo-ephedrine (one of the main ingredients in meth). Current trends show that meth production is now making it’s reemergence in many California desert counties.

American meth makers have found a way around many of the laws created to prevent meth production, including a technique called “smurfing” where groups of people go to pharmacies to purchase small quantities of pseudoephedrine and then pool the score together.

But law enforcement isn’t just seeing a rise in small clan labs. Larger “super labs,” once only seen south of the border are now popping up in the United States. Last September a super lab was discovered in Riverside County, California. It wasn’t a traditional meth production facility, but was producing a refined liquid meth into crystal form.

We are far from winning the war on drugs, but Ric Delgado knows the dangers of a meth lab extend to more than the drug abusers.  Anyone living in or near a clan lab is exposed to immediate dangers and chemical contamination. The toxic nature of the ingredients leaves behind a hazardous waste. When the ingredients are combined, then can ignite, causing explosions, fires and the release of toxic fumes. Many times the waste material is dumped outdoors, causing damage to the environment and drinking water.

Learn the signs of a potential Meth lab, including a strong smells, residents never putting their trash out, lab materials surrounding the property, and laboratory glassware or rubber tubing being carried into the residence. If you see signs of a meth lab in your neighborhood, please report it immediately. For more information visit the following sites:

Stop Meth Addiction

Drug Abuse Information on Meth

Meth Lab Overview

What is Meth

This post first published in March 2011

Drugs at Home

With over 13 million Americans having used or tried Methamphetamine, it’s no wonder drug trafficking is a worry in the US. But unlike other drugs, the main source of meth is actually within our own borders. It is produced in clandestine meth labs, which can be found in a variety of locations, including garages, apartment rentals, trailers, motel rooms, houseboats, motor homes, and mini-storage units. Meth production is increasing all across the country. Recipes for making meth can be simple but extremely dangerous and toxic.

In my novel, STRANGER: A DEATH VALLEY MYSTERY a businessman learns how lucrative the illegal meth business can be. He also learns how dangerous it can become.

For more information on Meth visit

For more information on STRANGER visit

-This post first published in August 2010

Born in La Mirada, California, Melissa M. Garcia has lived most of her life in the sometimes gritty, but always entertaining landscape that is Southern California. She graduated from California State University in Long Beach with a degree in English/Literature. Garcia is the author of the Luc Actar crime series (including Falling Angels and Chasing Demons) and the Death Valley Mystery series (Stranger: A Death Valley Mystery). She has also published an e-book collection, Faith Departed: Short Stories of Mystery, Crime, and Despair.

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