August 4, 2015

Georgia man talks about son’s death at Iowa synthetic drug conference

Synthetic drugs come in various packages designed to attract teens.

Synthetic drugs come in various packages designed to attract teens.

A Georgia man whose son died after using synthetic marijuana was the keynote speaker Thursday at a conference on synthetic drugs in Sergeant Bluff. Lynn Dyer’s 14-year-old son Dakota took his own life three years ago.

“He tried it once. He tried it and went through what they call a psychotic break, took his handgun and shot himself in the head,” Dyer says. “He made an extremely bad decision over a very shot amount of time — and it cost him his life.” Dyer’s wife is a health care professional and he says they had no idea that K-2, Spice and other such synthetic drugs existed, or that their son knew about them.

“We’d had all the talks with our sons — the alcohol, the sex talk, the drug talk — we had them all. We didn’t know what synthetic drugs were, she didn’t and she dealt with drugs every day in the hospital. And when we found out what facilitated our son’s death, we became self-educated,” Dyer explains.

The Bremen, Georgia resident established a foundation in his son’s name and travels the country speaking about the dangers of synthetic drugs. He has three goals. “Education of our young people and parents. Two is to facilitate and help law enforcement, first responders and EMS with education, awareness and information on where this stuff is coming from. And third, is hopefully, prevent a parent from going through what we went through,” Dyer says.

He says the substances are packaged in pouches designed to appeal to teens. “They market these products strictly to our young people. You see flashy little bags, you see one that has Scooby Doo on it called Scooby Snacks, you see on that has the smiley face on it,” Dyer says. “There’s just countless different kinds and they are all in flashy little bags geared to our young people.” You can find out more about the danges of the drug at the Dakota Dyer Foundation(

The conference on synthetic drugs wraps up at Sergeant Bluff High School today (Friday)

(Photo and story by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)

Western Iowa conference focuses on synthetic drugs

SYNTHETIC-DRUGS-A conference in Sergeant Bluff in western Iowa today and tomorrow will discuss the dangers of synthetic drugs. Lieutenant Terry Ragaller with the Sergeant Bluff Emergency Services says people from the tri-state area are attending.

“We’re going to be covering topics such as: bath salts and spice and the new drugs that are really hurting our people,” Ragaller says. He says there are sessions for law enforcement, medical personnel and the public.

“Looking at medical aspects, legal aspects, social workers, addiction and therapy, and then we are also going to have a public information session for parents or just the general public to come to. And we’ll have Heartland therapists there from 6 to 8 p.m., as well as a father whose son killed himself while he was on these drugs.”

Ragaller says he’s seen an increase in the use of synthetic drugs in his daily calls. “There are a lot of instances of people overdosing — not even just overdosing — but just the natural use of it just drives people insane. They just go crazy,” Ragaller says. “We’re seeing it more and more of it since last fall, it really has picked up steam. I also work full-time in Sioux City, and we’re seeing more and more of it.”

He says many of the synthetic drugs are made in China and aren’t regulated there. Speakers are coming in from as far away as Georgia and Michigan.

(Reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)



Appeals Court: open alcohol containers allowed in private parking lots

GavelThe Iowa Court of Appeals rules you can have an open container of alcohol if your car is parked in a private lot. Des Moines police searched Lacey Brown’s car in 2013 after noticing an open container of alcohol inside.

Officers found a half-smoked marijuana cigar under Brown’s seat and she was found guilty of possession of a controlled substance. Brown says officers lacked probable cause to search the car because she was parked in private parking lot.

The district court denied her motion to throw out evidence from the search, but the Iowa Court of Appeals  reversed that ruling. The court says the privately-owned parking lot does not fall within the definition of “public street” or “highway” in the Iowa Code section that prohibits open containers of alcohol, so the officers did not have probable cause to search Brown’s car.

Here’s the full ruling: Lacey Brown ruling PDF


Sentences handed out to 5 in Mason City meth distribution ring

GavelFive men have been sentenced to federal prison for their involvement in a long-running Mason City-area methamphetamine distribution conspiracy.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says 31-year-old Billy Huerta of Mason City and 32-year-old Steven Davis of Stockton California were bringing or mailing pound quantities of meth from California to the Mason City area with Huerta, 25-year-old Michael Moreno and 29-year-old Francisco Mora Martinez of Stockton California and 27-year-old David Huerta of Mason City also being involved in the conspiracy.

All pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute meth, with David Huerta and Davis also pleading guilty to distributing a controlled substance. Billy Huerta was previously convicted of a drug felony and sentenced to 20 years, David Huerta was sentenced to 11-and-a-quarter years, Davis to 121 months, while Mora-Martinez and Moreno each were sentenced to 10 years in prison

The meth ring operated from August 2010 to October of last year.

(Reporting by Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)


Law officers report heroin seizures up in Iowa

Crime Scene TapeLaw enforcement officers around Iowa are reporting a dramatic rise in the use and distribution of one of the most dangerous and addictive illegal drugs – heroin.

Paul Feddersen, assistant director of the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement (DNE), says heroin seizures rose from less than 500 grams in 2013 to over 200,000 grams in 2014. DNE agents believe much of the heroin is coming to Iowa from Chicago.

“Most of the seizures are in eastern Iowa,” Feddersen said. “The main counties are Johnson, Linn and Scott Counties. So, heroin is coming to Iowa, it is here.” The rise in the abuse of prescription painkillers is tied to the rise in heroin use, according to Feddersen.

“Many people start out with prescription drugs, then eventually move on to heroin because heroin is cheaper, more available and it’s a better high,” Feddersen said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reports there were 20 heroin-related overdose deaths in the state last year. That’s more than double the amount in any previous year over the past decade. Overdose deaths from prescription pain relievers, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, have also been rising in Iowa – with 77 such deaths in 2014.


Fake letter doesn’t help Waterloo man beat a parole violation

gavel-thumbnailA Waterloo man and woman who conspired to try to help the man avoid a parole violation have pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.

Court documents show 26-year-old Asa Adams was on parole for a firearms charge and had failed a drug test in December of last year. Adams and his co-worker, 36-year-old Nicole Wells, concocted a letter claiming to be from the supervisor at the restaurant where they worked that said Adams unknowingly ate marijuana-laced brownies brought to the establishment by another worker.

Adams’ lawyer submitted the letter as evidence, but the plot fell through when the supervisor and the employee who allegedly brought in the brownies showed up to testify that it never happened. Adams was sentenced in U.S. District Court to one year in prison for violating his parole. He and Wells will be sentenced at a later date on the obstruction charges.


State trooper honored for efforts to find impaired drivers

Trooper Marc Griggs.

Trooper Marc Griggs.

An Iowa State Patrol trooper was recognized today for his efforts over the past two decades in getting drivers under the influence of drugs off of roadways. The chief of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, Patrick Hoye says Trooper Marc Griggs has completed more than 500 drug evaluations.

“Since the inception of the program in Iowa, our records indicate that he is the first officer to reach this impressive plateau,” Hoye said. Griggs, one of 125 certified Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) in Iowa, is a 22-year veteran of the Iowa State Patrol.

“Anytime we do take an impaired driver off the road — whether it be drugs or alcohol — we have saved a life,” Griggs said. According to Hoye, 30-percent of traffic fatalities in Iowa involve impaired drivers. Griggs said as he began his career with the patrol in the late 1990s, he knew many of the drunk drivers he encountered were possibly under the influence of drugs. But, at the time, law enforcement officers were not trained to assess a motorist for “drugged” driving.

Now, officers can receiver specialized training to determine if a driver might be under the influence of illegal or even legal drugs that might pose a threat to highway safety. “So, that is helping to get the word out that drugs and alcohol don’t mix…or strictly drugs cause impairment also,” Griggs said.

In 2014, according to the state Department of Public Safety, there were 47 drug-related traffic fatalities in Iowa. The 43-year-old Griggs lives in Ankeny with his wife and two children. He’s a native of Harcourt in Webster County.