August 23, 2014

Conference focuses on preventing human trafficking and abuse

The “Iowa Preventing Abuse” conference opens tomorrow in Cedar Rapids. Preventing Abuse Foundation president, Tony Nassif, says they will focus on several points. “One, the human trafficking, child abduction/exploitation, drug cartels, the border crisis and basically protecting women, children and families,” Nassif says.

He says the conference has a couple of goals: “We’re going to focus on educating the people, motivating them to act, and showing them what they can do to be part of the solution,” according the Nassif. Nassif has been conducting the conferences for more than 10 years and has held several in Iowa. “The first thing that we focused on was child abduction, the single abductor. Because at that time I didn’t know about human trafficking — this goes back 10-15 years,” Nassif says. “Then I started getting connections of information about what is called human trafficking. Then I got connected to the White House, State Department.” He says they continued adding on connections to federal agencies and other organizations as their scope grew.

Nassif says the southern border crisis has become an issue too, as he says the open border is a pipeline for the drug cartels to conduct drug and human trafficking. “And so there’s a very vast connection to the opens borders, human trafficking, the drug cartels, and now they are linking into the gangs,” Nassif says.

A variety of state and national speakers will make presentations at the conference. Nassif says Iowa may not seem like it has any connection to the big city drug cartels and gangs, but he says “People who think the drug cartels are operating in big cities, the human trafficking is in big cities, let me tell you something. At my last conference in Cedar Rapids, my experts — not opinions, we don’t deal with opinions — my expects showed maps of the activities of the drug cartels in Iowa, Iowa. And we are going to expound on that at this conference,” Nassif says.

The interstate highways that run across Iowa are a link to the trafficking. “One of the biggest problems have been the truck stops. Now there are groups that are fighting it, but the thing is, this country is a sinkhole 10 minutes before it is going to collapse,” according to Nassif. “And our call, our clarion call, is to trumpet the warning that — yes there’s a problem — but we’ve got the solution.”

Nassif says there are still a few spots open at the conference and you can register by going to


California men arrested on drug charges after traffic stop in Cass County

Two people from California were arrested on drug charges after a stop by police in western Iowa’s Cass County. Authorities say a vehicle occupied by Saul Muro and Bianca Azucena Muro, of Los Angeles, was pulled over at around 10 p.m. Monday during a routine traffic stop.

After questioning the driver and passenger, the vehicle was searched, resulting in the discovery of 4 kilos of cocaine and 5 pounds of marijuana that was hidden in a compartment under the driver’s and passenger side seats.

The pair faces charges that include possession with the intent to deliver cocaine, and marijuana. Saul Muro was also wanted on a federal warrant with the U.S. Marshal’s Service for amphetamine sales. The Muros were seen by a magistrate, who set their bond at $22,000.

By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic


Large amount of pot found in railcar in Oelwein

A  large amount of pot was discovered on a train in Oelwein. Oelwein police say workers with Transco Railway called Friday morning after finding the suspicious packages while preparing to perform maintenance on a railcar.

Investigators say the packages will hidden in the wall of the railcar and contained marijuana. Police say there were a total of 45 packages that weighed approximately 61 pounds. The street value of the pot is estimated at $90,000.

Oelwein police don’t believe the pot was headed for their city as the car was diverted for maintenance. They are trying to determine the source and destination of the shipment.

(Reporting by Roger King, KOEL, Oelwein)


Dubuque man sentenced for involvement in meth fire

An eastern Iowa man will spend time in a federal prison after his apartment building caught fire in a meth-making operation. Forty-seven-year-old Donald Sheldon pled guilty to aiding and abetting the manufacture of meth within one-thousand yards of a school.

Court records show Sheldon allowed Joshuah Tiesman to use his apartment to make meth and the meth lab exploded, starting the apartment building and an adjoining building on fire. Sheldon was sentenced to 87 months in prison and ordered to make nearly 95-thousand dollars in restitution to the fire victims.


Eastern Iowa man sentenced on drug charges

An eastern Iowa man will spend more than 10 years in prison on drug charges. A U.S. District Court judge sentenced 28-year-old Luis Chavez Preciado to 151 months in prison for charges related to distributing methamphetamine.

Court records show between May and September of 2013 he conspired with others to distribute ice methamphetamine in the Iowa City and Muscatine areas. Undercover officers made several purchases of the ice meth from a person who was being supervised by Preciado. Police seized a large amount of meth, digital scales, a shotgun and other items after searching Preciado’s Iowa City residence.


Mother of slain Evansdale girl sentenced to prison

Misty Cook-Morrissey

Misty Cook-Morrissey

The mother of one of two girls who were kidnapped in Evansdale in 2012 and later found dead is going to prison on drug charges. Misty Cook-Morrissey pled guilty this week to two counts of delivery of methamphetamine in Fayette County District Court. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Fayette County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Morrissey in November for selling drugs out of her West Union home. Morrissey is the mother of Lyric Cook, who disappeared with her cousin, Elizabeth Collins, in July 2012. Their bodies were found five months later in a rural area of Bremer County.

No arrests have been made in their deaths. Lyric Cook’s father, Daniel Morrissey, was sentenced in September to up to 90 years in prison on drug charges.


State wins grant to continue substance abuse recovery program

The Iowa Department of Public Health has won a three-year grant of nearly $8 million for a program to help people overcome substance abuse. Kevin Gabbert is the project director for what’s called Access to Recovery or ATR. “Because every person in the recovery is different, a key component to our program is choice,” Gabbert explains. “And so with ATR, the individual receiving the service chooses what services they want to be involved in from a variety of our providers.”

Gabbert says providing support services to those in recovery can be key to helping them succeed. “Basic things like transportation — so gas cards and bus passes. Child care so an individual can go to treatment services in the evening or go to a 12-step meeting. Some of those basic things that might have been barriers otherwise if they had not had access to ATR,” Gabbert says.

The program has been running since 2010, but its grant money was running out. “There was a new grant application process that was initiated in 2014. We applied and were one of six grantees out of 30 applicants,” Gabbert says. Gabbert says they’ve seen success with the percentage of individuals not using alcohol or drugs six months after admission increasing from over 73.3 percent to 82.3 percent from 2010 to this year.

He says they expect to serve 7,000 people with the new grant. “Individuals can come to us from a variety of different referral sources. It could be from the Department of Corrections, it could be from a primary care provider, it could be from the Department of Human Services, the list just goes on and on,” Gabbert says. “Individuals can just walk into one of our care coordination providers which we have across the state.”

For more information about Access to Recovery, visit the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website.