Texas Tweakers

James "Bull" Durham burned down his mother's house while cooking meth. In Angelina County, the jail is full of guys like him..

So if he can't accept the Bible, who can he turn to? Durham might just have found his man: Houston megachurch pastor Joel Osteen. Durham says his mother had been trying to get him to listen to the smooth prosperity gospel preacher for years, and it took a night in solitary confinement for him to finally heed her. Osteen's message set his heart on fire. Osteen said not to pray for small things, but big things.

"He said, 'What is the difference between a windshield on a car and a rearview mirror? Why is the windshield so big and the mirror so small?' And he said, 'It's because what's in the past is not as important as what's in the future. Don't keep ridin' things. If people don't like you for who you was, they're sure not gonna like you for who you're tryin' to be. They're always gonna be steppin' on you, so as long as you are walkin' a straight line and givin' praise to the higher power, don't worry about the hecklers and the jecklers."

Durham says he fell to his knees and commanded the Lord to listen to him. He listed off his grievances, and told God that while he understood that he mocked and dogged him most of his life and made fun of the Bible to boot, he had never, ever asked for a single thing before. "And all I ask now is for you to find a way for me to help me gain my respect back," he says.
_____________________

Lawman Henson and misfit Durham share a moment in the chapel of the Angelina County Jail. Although he's arrested Durham dozens of times, Henson says he's a great guy when he's off the meth.
John Nova Lomax
Lawman Henson and misfit Durham share a moment in the chapel of the Angelina County Jail. Although he's arrested Durham dozens of times, Henson says he's a great guy when he's off the meth.
Late last year, James "Bull" Durham accidentally torched his mother's house and car when a "shake-and-bake" meth lab caught on fire. Durham now denies that version of events even though he pleaded guilty on an arson charge and faces 20 years in the pen.
Andy Adams, Lufkin Daily News
Late last year, James "Bull" Durham accidentally torched his mother's house and car when a "shake-and-bake" meth lab caught on fire. Durham now denies that version of events even though he pleaded guilty on an arson charge and faces 20 years in the pen.

Petite, redheaded Jessica Cooley has seen the Lufkin meth wars from the front lines. As the crime reporter for The Lufkin Daily News, a scrappy little paper that won a Pulitzer in 1977, she's benefited as much as anybody from Sheriff Henson's unusually open approach to combating meth. A local native, the 26-year-old knew little about what was going on in the backwoods outside of town until she got the job at the paper after graduating from Stephen F. Austin.

That's changed in the last two years. She was on the Christmastime raid with Hill during which the little girl was humiliated in front of her schoolmates. She saw her first tweaked-out woman on another raid.

"She was twitching, her eyes were rolling around, she was all jerky," she remembers. "The worst thing about it was if she hadn't gotten busted, she was planning to go get her eight-year-old son from school a few hours later."

She's seen old classmates succumb. Two of the people in the same conspiracy that snagged Dillahunty were schoolmates of hers at Lufkin High. Houses she'd driven by hundreds of times have turned out to be meth houses. Her eyes have been opened. Now she's looking in people's shopping carts at Walmart and scanning with a wary eye any chemicals she might see in them.

That's exactly the way Sheriff Henson wants it to be. He says you treat meth exactly the opposite of the way you would a prize fishing hole. "You'd go fishin' and you'd carry me out to where you found a bunch of white perch," he says. "Well, the next thing you know, I'd carry my wife, she'd carry her brother and his friends and there's no perch left for you to fish. Same way with all these meth labs. Why should we bust all these people and not say anything? We'd done that for a long time. We didn't publicize it. But then one day I sat down with Allen and said, 'We need to publicize this. Let's carry the media with us, give 'em everything they want. We're gonna let the public see what's in their back yards.' And Bam! Bam! Bam!" Henson remembers. "'Fore you know it, people in the public are sayin', 'Wait a minute! That was my neighbor!' You need the public to be aware. If they see the acetone can, the muriatic acid, Red Devil lye, Coleman fuel cans everywhere, they should call us."

Some don't like the approach. They say it makes Lufkin look bad, like some kind of Gomorrah on the Neches. Henson says people in adjacent communities are living in glass houses. "Everybody's got it, but we're fightin' it," he says. "Not that they aren't, but we've taken the initiative to publicize it."

Blogger Dana Goolsby grew up in Grape­land, 60 miles west, just across the Davy Crockett National Forest. In an e-mail interview with the Press, she says meth is chewing through that part of East Texas like a wind-fueled grassfire, even if you don't hear about it through the local media.

She says that in the last 15 years, local meth freaks have found just about every arrowhead in Houston and Anderson counties, thanks to their propensity for staying up all night scouring the ground with headlights on their heads. She sees people on the stuff wherever she goes, even her son's peewee football games.

"They are not hard to spot; they are generally the wild, toothless maniacs standing on the rail screaming at the top of their lungs at the kids, coaches and refs until they are red in the face with veins protruding from their foreheads."

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28 comments
Filldaddy
Filldaddy

Good to know they got rid of those dangerous pot heads who drove under the speed limit and patronized the food businesses in the county.  Hopped up meth heads are so much better!)

doctropic
doctropic

Congratulations on your Best of the West award for this piece, John. I hope you're working on turning this story into a novel - the quotes are priceless, but it's your writing style that makes the piece.

Lan
Lan

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Lan
Lan

I am a 27 years old doctor,mature and beautiful. and now i am seeking a good man who can give me real love, so i got a sername Andromeda2002 on  Agedate.СòM, a nice and free place for younger women and older men,or older women and younger men, to interact with each other.Maybe you wanna check out or tell your friends.

Lan
Lan

I am a 27 years old doctor,mature and beautiful. and now i am seeking a good man who can give me real love, so i got a sername Andromeda2002 on  Agedate.СòM, a nice and free place for younger women and older men,or older women and younger men, to interact with each other.Maybe you wanna check out or tell your friends.

Lan
Lan

I am a 27 years old doctor,mature and beautiful. and now i am seeking a good man who can give me real love, so i got a sername Andromeda2002 on  Agedate.СòM, a nice and free place for younger women and older men,or older women and younger men, to interact with each other.Maybe you wanna check out or tell your friends.

Dedicated_Dad
Dedicated_Dad

There, but for the grace of G*d, Go I.And YOU, too...

ChauncydeF
ChauncydeF

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Great, great piece, John, the most painfully graphic I've read in a long time. And I'd say that there are plenty of stories like this built around the money and desperation that is inherent in the drug trade, be it meth today or alcohol back in the 20's.

My knee-jerk reaction to all drug stories is to legalize drugs period. That's what Buckley said back in the 80's and I haven't found an example yet to dissuade me. Until this. Sorta.

But...these stories are all based on a couple things: profit motive and individual addiction. As you point out, even if we eradicate the labs here, demand for the drug is enough that someone will fill the vacuum. (Mexicans in your piece.)

If on the other hand, we legalize drugs, there will still be a small percentage of addicts, say a fixed rate of 5% (other recreational drug users will not suddenly explode into dysfunctional folks who lose their jobs and families and all that matter...in other words they won't become addicts). But, meanwhile, the gov't can take over the trade, bond purity, eliminate the profits, and still do a campaign against usage, like the PR campaign against tobacco, alcohol etc., and treat the problem of addiction for what it is: a public health problem.

They can do that with the vast savings from the very expensive 'war on drugs', which has proven as useless as prohibition, and continues to create colorful criminals like Bull Durham.

If we simply continue to combat the law of supply and demand, we waste money, lives and the rest of our resources that could actually give hope to the most hardscrabble backwoods and inner city people whose smarts could benefit us all.

Poshpoet
Poshpoet

I have a dear friend addicted to meth, it seems nothing else matters. Addiction rules or governs theirs lives as a symptom of the real problem society faces. Some of those caught up with meth have no where else to turn and those with loved ones, turn there backs because they know there loved. Go figure. Images of any abuser should be labeled counter productive unless drugs are concerned. Idealistic behavior is ramp-id because we through curiosity write stories giving them a certain importance, while corrupting a young mind, who may innocently read these articles. www.poshpoetry.com

alehound
alehound

"He shot me not in the ass but in my asshole," too funny...

guest
guest

bull durham is a liar..he was no 11 yr old he was 15 and an abusive drunk crackhead...he didint work to support his family it was to buy crack and whiskey.He did have his own place and a common law wife for many years but she lived in a nightmarish hell as he rose to his psuedo power...i feel extremely sorry for this woman and "Krystal" and whoever his new girlfriend is he is never gona change...but at least he is behind bars and cant hurt her like he did the ones before her

Voice of Con-$cience
Voice of Con-$cience

Kent Henson is a genius. Not only has he figured out a way to increase awareness of the lurking danger that "shake and bake" labs pose in his community by explaining how to spot possible "meth labs" (acetone cans, red-lye, coleman fuel), "tweakers" (bad teeth, smelly blisters, head-lights, likely living in a trailer or burnt out house somewhere on a backroad) where these criminals shop(Walmart:) and what they shop for(E and anything with a skull and crossbones), he has also figured out a way to increase the number of "labs" in his and many other areas( which cant hurt his income and/or budget), by making it sound like a cake walk to breeze to the corner store, grab some ingredients, throw them together and have some dope by the time you get home, ensuring that every curious teen, money hungry waitress and any motivated drug addict will run right out and give it a shot. Bravo Sheriff! Make sure to set some of your money aside for counsel, it looks like you'll need it.

H_e_x
H_e_x

Man, Dave Grohl has really let himself go.

T.E. Bell
T.E. Bell

Another buzzing, sparking example of Mr. Lomax' especial genius. He has a command of image, phrase and timing, be it in scathing little widgets, or in long thumbsuckers like this one, that could serve as a masterclass for writers in the Post New Journalism style.Write on, writer, write on 'til the dawn.T.E. Bell

Gary Packwood
Gary Packwood

This was a great read.

I wonder if there is any difference between these dope cooks and the booze cooks of years ago during prohibition who died an early death because they used their own poison?

Apparently quality control procedures have never found favor with these guys.

And it sure sounds like the same breed of police officers are chasing after them!

nonsequiteuse
nonsequiteuse

It's tough to pick out the greatest tragedy in a story full of them, but how awful to consider how Oregon has enacted legislation that has reduced the scope of their problem, and to realize that Big Pharma will go to the mats to prevent us from seeing this kind of benefit nationally. I saw a Frontline episode, years ago, that said that we had a chance to completely head off this problem in the same way the Quaalude problem was stopped - we, the US, had the chance to control the production of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine completely. We would not have a meth epidemic had we been able to intervene at that point. Tragic. Great story, John. Keep shining the light.

Championshipvinyl73
Championshipvinyl73

a damn good article. I couldn't help but think of Rory Cochrane as Billy Mack in "Love and a .45" as I read it. It took loneger to read the article as it did to actually watch 'Spun" but it was well worth it. Bull in an exonerating biopic? Not likely. As an inspiration for a central character in a cult classic "dope" type of film? Possibly.

Shellymillwee
Shellymillwee

Incredible story. I was born in Lufkin and still have family there so I truly believe that it's important to put a spotlight on the drug issues there. Kudos to Lufkin law enforcement and John Lomax. Excellent article.

Darth
Darth

Yes, let's glamorize and bring notoriety to these idiots.

Robin
Robin

I like to joke about East Texas as much as the next non-East-Texan, but it's nice to read about the decent people in this article trying to fight the good fight. Ultimately, however, this is a heartbreaking story with Greek-level tragic underpinnings. I know and love a couple of meth addicts. (One just got out of prison for the (I lost count) time, and the other repeatedly and earnestly measures his sobriety in days.) I don't have the words to describe how much I hate that shit.

brent82
brent82

I totally thought of Ronnie Dobbs when the Sheriff said, "well what about that time I caught you stealin my lawnmover?"...hilarious!

T.E. Bell
T.E. Bell

So I WASN'T the only one who thought it!

Shkskn

John Nova Lomax
John Nova Lomax

That's exactly what I want people to take from this story. Thanks.

MadMac
MadMac

Yeah, because nothing says glamor like a colostomy bag.

Darth
Darth

Absolutely! Colostomy bags rule.

 
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