Lori Arnold Is a Crook

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Lori Arnold is a Crook

After the meatpacking plant closed, farms started going out of business, and people began leaving Oelwein, Iowa, the town was left in a state of economic distress. To fill the gap, workers began using and/or selling methamphetamine in what would be known as “mom and pop” meth labs. Biker gangs like The Sons of Silence, The Grim Reapers, and The Hell’s Angels took the opportunity to bring in their own meth and sell it to the vulnerable and increasingly desperate people of Fayette County. Along with the biker gangs, other drug-trafficking organizations, such as The Mexican Mafia, also took advantage of the worsening situation. It is because of these people and organizations that Oelwein’s “meth problem” became an epidemic and has affected the lives of people, not just in Iowa or the Midwest, but all over the United States. Out of all the possible suspects, the person most responsible for Oelwein’s meth problem is the large-scale, Iowa-specific meth dealer, Lori Arnold. Without her enterprise, connections to other drug-trafficking organizations and opportunistic senses, the spread of meth into Oelwein would have come much more slowly, if it came at all.

The enterprise that Lori Arnold created made the wide-spread distribution of meth into Oelwein possible. What started as small-scale Methedrine (pharmaceutical meth) dealing for a landlady eventually turned into “the Midwest’s first and last bona fide crank empire” (Reding, 60). In 1984, the first time Lori was high on meth, she tried her hand at dealing and found her calling in life. Somehow she figured that if she gave away half of her meth she would gain new customers due to its highly addictive properties. From that moment on she began the construction of her enterprise. Her success came quickly, within a month she was able to go around her brother-in-law and The Grim Reapers biker gang to deal with their middleman in Des Moines. In the late 1980’s, Lori rapidly climbed the so-called chain of command from The Grim Reapers’ supplier in Long Beach, to the Amezcua brothers (aka The Mexican Mafia) to get a more direct supply of meth. During this time, Lori bought a bar that she named the Wild Side in order to have a place to sell the meth she was acquiring. Because of the amount of money that was needed in order for her dozens of runners to drive back and forth to California to retrieve her meth, she bought a car dealership. She also bought fourteen houses in order to house her dozens of employees. “In 1989, she bought fifty-two racehorses -and hired the dozen or so grooms, trainers, veterinarians, and jockeys it took to maintain them- along with a 144-acre horse farm from which to run her ever-multiplying synergistic empires… Lori’s true stroke of genius, though, was to build under a series of military tents hidden in the wooded hills of her horse farm what for almost two decades would be the only meth superlab ever known to be in production outside the state of California” (Reding, 66). With the help of a chemist, borrowed from the Amezcua Brothers, her employees were taught how to make ten-pound batches of meth in only forty-eight hours. Due to the highly pure meth her lab was making, each uncut ten-pound batch could eventually equate to thirty or forty pounds of usable meth being distributed all around the Midwest, leaving Lori Arnold responsible for, literally, tons of meth going directly into Oelwein itself.

Without Lori Arnold as the middleman between The Mexican Mafia and people like Roland Jarvis, along with her reputation in the community, the dealing of meth into Oelwein would have been an impossibility. The influx of illegal migrant workers taking up low-paying meatpacking and fruit-picking jobs easily allowed meth to be transported into the Midwest from Mexico and California, but due to meth being a mainly “white drug,” (Sweeney, para. 45) they needed a way to get their product into the white population. Lori...
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