First of Four Letters to a Young Man

For Pie Town people, it seems
No hallucinations, no dreams
Can give them the rise
They get from their pies
and methamphetamines.

The following entry is the first of 4 letters Jack wrote to someone who contacted him on the internet about, I think, firearms. He sent me copies of the letters. He wrote this first letter to clarify some things he thought the young man needed to consider. He continued to write the entire story because it helped him try to make sense of the events and their conclusion. These entries are long, but readable, and give more insight into what Jack’s living conditions were and how he tried to help a friend as well as help himself.

Sent: Wednesday, January 22, 2003 12:45 PM

I’m assuming the part that interests you is the explosion, though I
imagine there are other aspects of it all you might profit from.
The operation was a big one (maybe still is, minus Dan). He believed he
was turning out the highest quality crystal that could be attained, short of
an actual pharmaceutical plant. His last cook was his largest, roughly 8000 grams of pure.

I was an outsider to the whole operation. Dan and I became acquainted
because he bought a CD book I’d written about a lost gold mine I’d spent
20 years searching for. I knew almost nothing about meth when we met. When,
a few moments after we met, he told me he was the “biggest meth cook in the
Albuquerque area,” I quipped that the others were probably eating a lot of
chocolate in trying to catch up. Dan was a big man. I knew meth was
illegal, but figured it was about on a par with LSD or marijuana.

We went prospecting together that weekend, and while we were camped, Dan
told me a long, outrageous story about how his life had been running for
the past few years. I only half believed it. In part, he was being held
captive by the meth infrastructure of the area he lived in because of the
product he turned out. He’d tried on numerous occasions to run away, but
a warrant for his arrest would appear like magic in the records, and he’d be
snagged in North Carolina or Texas and brought back and released into the
custody of his wife. He was making too many people too much money to let
him get away.

Dan had tried to teach other people to do what he did the way he did it,
but they could never get the quality, for some reason. His product had the
longest “legs” anyone had ever seen. When we met he was desperate to make
another try at getting loose from them. All the years he had been
cooking, he wasn’t getting any money from the cooks. His wife did all the peddling and trickled money back to him when he asked.

At the time we met, Dan had begun to hold back half of each cook for
himself, brokering it himself. He had a sizeable sum set back that he
believed was “his own” money. During the same time period, his wife began
an intensified attempt to train several other people to his method of
cooking.

During the time from September 2001 until March last year I spent a lot of
time with Dan, either prospecting, or hanging out at the lab. I was the
only person he knew, including himself, who wasn’t a user and wasn’t a
dealer. Because of that, he trusted me.

From September onward, Dan had me trying to locate a place in a remote
area 100 miles away from his current lab where he could go and hide and turn
out a few big cooks, then quit entirely. He had me searching for sources of
crystal iodine, pills, and phosphorus, as well because he’d have to cut
the ties with his current sources when he went into hiding.

Meanwhile, things were becoming increasingly disjointed back in the east
mountains. The crowd that constantly encircled him there were subtly hostile. His wife kept the entire lab bugged with baby monitors and (Dan believed) other surveillance devices so there could be no private conversations there. She also had some hangers on and cook trainees
loitering around to keep an eye on things.

Dan had me, and his addicted mom, who lived in a house on the property out
50 yards from the main house and 75 from the lab. He’d hired me to build
some webpages to execute some ideas he had for the two of us to do some
non-drug related business on the internet. He saw the internet as one
means to escape the meth cooking business.

The money he kept in the desk in his lab grew into a 4-inch-thick roll of
bills, and product was lying around all over the place in quart sized
freezer bags. There was constant traffic of dangerous people coming in to
buy, share a pipe, trade, or just talk. In retrospect, I think the reason
Dan wanted me around was to guard his back. He spent most of his time
with his back to the whole scene playing a computer game called Tribes. I hung around with a 9 mm barely concealed in my pocket or waistband wondering
what the hell I was doing there; wondering when, what I saw as almost
inevitable, was going to erupt.

The lab was a nightmare in its own right. It was heated by a large wood
stove. On one wall was a giant fan that could be opened to ventilate the
place, but everyone hated to do that until it as absolutely necessary
because of the subzero temperatures outside. The odor of iodine and
acetone pervaded the place. Every surface was coated and discolored by iodine. I believe I’m probably still carrying iodine in my body from that time.

There was a lot of open flame around during the cooks and preludes to the
cooks. Dan believed he could gauge exactly when the acetone fumes were
about to reach the combustion point in the closed area, and then he’d
raise the vent cover, kick on the fan, and open the large doors on the opposite end of the room to let out some of the fumes, but letting in the cold outside air, as well. Not a moment before his internal monitors sensed it was “time,” despite the gentle suggestions or loud protests, mainly from
me.

I don’t recall why, but I wasn’t there for the last cook. Half the county
was over there popping pills out of cards for some while before the cook,
and maybe that’s why. Dan had been off the stuff for a couple of weeks,
but he went back on for the cook because he was going to have to be busy night and day for a while. It wasn’t unusual for him to go without sleep for a 5-day period when a cook in preparation or in progress.

The first I knew about the accident was a cryptic phone call from Dan,
asking me to come over that way, saying he had had “a little explosion.”
It turned out a pressurized tube of acetone, maybe in solution with iodine,
had burst in his face. I never really got all the details, except that he was covered with it, soaked, from his hair to his toes.

The next two weeks were fairly strange, with Dan and I negotiating with a
programmer in Albuquerque to work up a database system for one of the web
pages, him becoming increasingly certain his wife was setting him up for a
bust, or worse, and an increasingly deteriorating situation on the
mountain.

Dan was preparing to run, but also preparing for a “raid” by police from the
adjoining county. Occasionally in the past they’d donned their ninja
suits and M16s and crossed over for an “unofficial” raid. They’d load up all
the lab equipment, the money, the product, guns, and anything else that wasn’t tied down, and then sit down for a cup of coffee and discussions about
methodology, praising his techniques and asking for particulars.
Naturally, when Dan thought one of these raids (which he believed his wife arranged) was about to happen, he’d hide everything he could and try to keep the loss down as much as possible.

Dan bought a motor home without his wife knowing it, and put it in an RV
park in a town 50 miles away. He also rented a separate apartment in the
same town. One night we headed into Albuquerque to meet with the comp
programmer there, and a lot of strange things about his wife’s behavior
caused him to be suspicious. She wanted to make certain he had product
with him, along with some other things. She was supposed to meet us at the
motel, and everyone was going to stay there that night.
As we approached the motel where the meeting was to take place, both of us
sensed that something was awry. We stopped at a hamburger joint before
reaching the motel to think things over. As we discussed what we’d both noticed, and compared notes, but both became certain the meeting was a setup for a bust.

We drove past the motel and stopped about a block further on at a
convenience store where there was a pay phone outside. I waited in the
truck while Dan called his mother in the east mountains and told her to
get everything ready to make a run for it. While he was on the phone, an
unmarked carload of plain clothes cops did a u turn out on the street and
came through the parking lot, craning their necks to look at him, then
drove out of the parking lot and turned in at the motel.

After a hair-raising run back to the east mountains, I stood guard on one
of the hangers-on while Dan gathered every cell phone he could find and
disconnected all the phone lines to the house. He didn’t want Jesse, the
hanger-on, to call town and let the wife know what was happening. Then he
spent an hour gathering everything he could pack into his truck and his
mom’s car, and we got the hell out of Dodge by separate routes. Along a
dark back road he stopped the truck and had me bury 5000 grams beside a
telephone pole. At that point he was carrying $60,000 in cash, as well.

We headed across the mountains, picked up the RV, and went south. We
stayed in a motel so Dan could check the internet to see if there’d been a
warrant issued for him. There hadn’t.

The next day we moved again, and we tried to make plans for what to do
next. We were uncertain what the hell was happening, and equally uncertain who
all was looking for us (and with what intentions), though a lot could be
assumed. I left them late at night with plans for him to call me the next
morning on the cell phone and do something, though we were uncertain what.

Next day he didn’t call. I tried repeatedly to reach him on the cell
phone and went to the RV, which was empty and had evidently been hastily
ransacked. The door was unlocked, and nothing of Dan’s nor his mom’s was
inside. The wall clock was partially disassembled, along with a scanner
his wife had sent with him on the earlier trip to Albuquerque that night.
Even the carpets had been pulled up.

Eventually I got his mom on the phone, and she was cagy with me. She
finally admitted he was in jail in Albuquerque, and that she was waiting
to get him out by posting bond. She told me he’d gone to the FBI, and that
they’d arrested him. I went down to wait with her, but she obviously
didn’t want me there. She told me that he’d told the FBI “everything.” I wasn’t sure what “everything” was, but I was appalled. At one point earlier he’d done a cook in the garage of a DEA agent. (His wife was a close friend of the agent’s sister, and the agent was gone somewhere). That, along with
all this other stuff, wasn’t the sort of thing a person would want to walk
into an FBI office with and expect to come out with your life all patched up,
everything rosy.

Over the next few days after his release, Dan refused to see me, but he
made a lot of accusations on the cell phone. Accusations that I’d been fucking his wife; that I’d been working with her and her faction the entire time we’d been friends. He called me by a number of different names I’d never heard before, believing I was those people, too, and part of a conspiracy against him. He told me the FBI “knew all about me.” Claimed I’d tried to set his mother up to be killed.

I continued to work on the webpage, assuming he’d eventually get his head
on straight. He was my friend, and I wanted things to go well for him, as
well as for me. About a week after all this, I saw his truck in the parking
lot outside Comp USA in Albuquerque. I drove toward it, and he immediately
drove away, trying to avoid me. He pulled into an overhang in front of a
big motel and I pulled in beside him. He pointed a .40 automatic at me
while I pleaded with him to just sit down with me and talk about all this
shit, try to clear it up (his mom sitting in the passenger seat screaming
incoherence in my direction). He muttered more accusations and I drove
away. He spent the next week or so leaving messages of craziness on my
telephone, filled with threats and accusations. The incident pissed me
off pretty badly.

All that happened in March. I didn’t hear from him again until June, and
he was still obviously insane. He was living back on the place in the east
mountains, his wife somewhere else, and he said he had no intention of
leaving. By that time the web pages had been up for a while, and they
weren’t fulfilling his (or my) expectations. The whole thing was a
financial disaster, and the ideas he contracted with me to execute on the
internet turned out to be a violation of Federal law.

FBI agents came to the town where I live and began asking questions about
me, sometime during that period. Eventually they arranged an interview.

In November I got an email from his (now ex) wife telling me she was
remarried; that Dan and his “mommy” were “gone.” She wanted me to copy
the software we’d bought for the business for her. I never answered the
request.

I wrote the next part up in an email to a friend a while back. I’ll spare
myself the typing by just pasting it below.

I probably should have elaborated on why I thought he might be dead.
1) He knew too damned much. When Dan went to the FBI making all those
claims about me, he also told him the TRUTH about his wife and that
network of Valencia County meth freaks. The police there on the take… the ones who raided him, confiscated everything unofficially, then sat down at his table and told him how much they admired his product and talked about
cooking techniques… the judge, the whole ball of wax. When he was in
jail that day, that’s what his mom told me he was doing.

2) Snitches. Even the lowbrow meth gangsters don’t cotton much to
snitches. Dan was in a position to know so damned much that if the cops
hadn’t been so corrupt, the whole county would have been in jail. 7 miles
down the road from his place there was a multiple murder just a few years
ago over meth… killed the mom and dad and left the kids locked in the
back room to starve to death or die of thirst… pre schoolers. That’s a rough crowd he was messing with.

3) Value. He was no use to them crazy, and he was no use to them if he
didn’t cook anymore, which he was determined not to do, as of the last
time I saw him.

4) His mom. Both Dan and his mom were confident Tammy had made several
attempts on his mom’s life, well before March, 02. One of those included
replacing a container of something she put in her bathwater with lye.
Another involved getting one of Tammy’s customers to kill her. There was
A brief flurry of activity that way back about the time Dan and I met.
Jesse I think it was, lured her on a drive to “town,” pulled off somewhere on a dark road and claimed the car died. He got out and started walking, and
some guy came out of the bushes and up to the car. She locked the door
and dug out an extra set of keys she kept under the floormat… drove the hell out of there, left Jesse on foot too. Went back home, and that night
someone tried to break into the mother-in-law house she lived in 100 yards
from the main house. The dog (inside) started raising so much hell the
guy left, but he left tracks outside the house and jimmying marks on the
window and door. Dan’s mom was a piece of work, herself. A major user of Dan’s products, and a fairly hard to take woman. Had a constant feud going on with Tammy. Dan used her house to hide the money at times.

5) Dan was scared to death to leave his mom in the apartment we rented by
Dean’s store as a refuge for the two of them. He was sure they would kill
her… when he was crazy he accused me of wanting to “get her killed,” by
renting the apartment. By that time, it mightn’t mean anything because he
was completely looney tunes.

6) Dan always swore he wouldn’t leave his daughter in the hands of Tammy
and her crowd. A bunch of those folks were Satanists, and old time
Valencia County witch folk. That was the only thing that kept him in his marriage at all, for several years. When I exchanged emails about the webpage with him in late May, or June, he was living on the place and had no intention of leaving. I can’t imagine how they’d have gotten him out of there without the use of force, if only because of his daughter and the constant litany of expressions of determination not to leave her with Tammy. Tammy, according to the ICQ details she has up, has the daughter with her.

7) Dean has always thought all that weirdness right after Dan went away,
and continuing until recently, had something to do with Dan. I really
never agreed with that until I considered: if Dan and his mom are buried on the property out there, I’m the only person in the universe who might give a
damn. I doubt that bunch over there knew what he’d done to me with the
FBI, threats, accusations and whatnot. They knew we were close; knew we were
trying to start the web business together; knew we spent all the time we
could together and that I was helping him try to get something established
that would allow him to make a decent living without cooking meth. I was
his only friend, he always said. The only person he could trust. They’d
have wanted to make sure I didn’t do any snooping or prowling, trying to
get questions asked about what happened to the two of them. Someone was
watching my movements REALLY closely for a long time. Putting a lot of
energy into it. That might be the source. Tammy had a lot of connections
with that meth bunch south of here you and I know a lot about, too. Maybe
they had a shared interest.

8) Life’s cheap in the drug community. Tammy had connections with
Mexican Mafia. Hell, I met one of them at their house a dozen times. Dan was a liability once he started talking to the officials, and there was nothing at all in his favor, once he quit cooking.

9) The email I got from Tammy in November never made any sense to me. No
sense at all, her wanting me to make copies of the business software, nor any reason to think I would. But if Dan and his mom are dead, I can
imagine how she’d want to try to get a feel for whether I was wondering about
them; whether I was in danger of stirring anything up. Also, maybe she wanted to be sure I knew Dan and his mom weren’t out there so I didn’t come over there and see any one of several things that would have twigged me something is pretty fishy. There are some things such as his truck and the RV, along with the 4 wheelers, that I know for sure he wouldn’t have left without.

10) They had 4 big outdoor dogs they were really attached to. If Dan
left, the only way he could have taken them would have been to go to a place
that would accommodate them, and he’d have had a fight on his hands with Tammy. Those dogs were used to having the run of big country all around there. Going to a fenced yard somewhere would have driven them nuts. Now,
however, she (according to the details on ICQ) has only one dog. Probably the pit bull that stayed indoors. I think there’s a possibility she doesn’t want dogs running outside, digging and whatnot. If Dan didn’t take them, I
can’t imagine what would have persuaded her to get rid of them. Those dogs were the first line of defense for the place.

There’s a lot more that’s gone through my head on all this, but this is
getting long. I’m in no danger of putting my nose into this, but those
guys don’t know that, and they still have a grudge against me south of here;
maybe over in the east mountains, too. Anything happens on this end,
maybe some of this info will come in handy. Hell, I don’t know. I think if the feds ever decide to investigate any of this beyond the interview I had, someone will make damned certain I don’t talk with them.

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