Crime

York County mother charged after newborn baby son tests positive for meth, police say

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David Fawcett, a therapist who works with people recovering from crystal meth addiction, talks about the purity of the drug now available and the effects it has on its users.

A York County mother has been arrested after her newborn son tested positive for meth, police said.

Ashley Alese Vester, 27, of Rock Hill, was charged Tuesday with felony illegal neglect of a child or helpless person, said Trent Faris, spokesperson for the York County Sheriff’s Office.

Vester was arrested by Det. Walter Beck following an investigation that started after the child’s birth in late March at Piedmont Medical Center.

S.C. Department of Social Services agents alerted police after Vester tested positive for marijuana and amphetamines while at the hospital, according to a sheriff’s office report. The newborn baby tested positive for both methamphetamine and amphetamines, Beck said.

“These drugs are harmful to children,” Beck said. “If adults expose children to illegal narcotics, we will investigate.”

The baby was placed in a safe home by DSS, Beck said.

Police in York County, Rock Hill, Clover and York have charged at least 17 parents since July after children tested positive for narcotics. All but one of the arrests have been mothers, York County court records show.

The children have ranged in ages from newborn babies and infants to toddlers.

Both the sheriff’s office and Rock Hill Police Department have assigned detectives to investigate cases where social services and law enforcement receive reports of children testing positive for drugs.

16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett, whose office prosecutes the criminal cases against parents charged with narcotics use, said the safety of the children involved in these cases is the top priority.

A conviction for unlawful neglect of a child carries up to 10 years in prison under South Carolina law. Many of the cases have come from referral by DSS but others came from reports of drug use, police reports show.

Vester remains in the York County jail.

Dozens of people are charged with drug-related charges each month in Horry County. Here are the consequences if you are caught with drugs in South Carolina.

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