In the 1980s, Ottumwa, Iowa, was a struggling city with residents facing a myriad of issues, including unemployment. A combination of wanting to get rich and not being able to stop led Lori Arnold to become one of the most notorious drug dealers in the Midwest during that time. Her story forms the crux of the documentary series titled ‘Queen of Meth.’ You can watch it exclusively on Discovery Plus. Her journey as the major methamphetamine supplier in Iowa and the surrounding states had some tremendous highs and lows with Lori eventually being sent to prison for her crimes. Curious to know where she is now? We’ve got you covered.
Who is Lori Arnold?
Lori Arnold was born to Jack and Linda in 1961. She had two brothers – Tom, the oldest of the three, and Scott, the youngest. Her parents divorced when she was about 3-years-old, and while Linda was given initial custody of her kids, she quickly turned them over to their father, Jack. Lori grew up in a religious household at the time. Jack married their neighbor, Ruth, and they had two children of their own apart from the two Ruth had already. Lori was a smart kid who did well academically, but her rebellious streak kicked in when she was in seventh grade.
Lori started spending more time with her birth mother. By the time she was 14, she was hanging around at the club where her mom worked and was addicted to alcohol. Linda was not too particular about rules at her house, and it just went on. As a result of the freedom she had, Lori started to date a 23-year-old married man, who she had to then marry because of her stepdad and mother finding out about it. Though it was a short-lived marriage, it had an effect on her. She talked about it on the show, mentioning that he had hit her and cheated on her with another 12-year-old.
In May 1980, Lori got married to local biker Floyd Stockdall. Floyd was the former president of the Grim Reapers Motorcycle Club that was involved in running guns and drugs. Before they were married, Lori ran in their circles and helped Floyd smuggle drugs into Ottumwa. Together, they had a son named Josh in January 1981. They led a poor life at that point, but everything changed in 1985. Floyd’s brother, Mike, introduced Lori to methamphetamine. After she tried it, Mike handed over some and asked her to sell it. Once she got rid of the product quickly, Lori saw a lucrative opportunity to get out of poverty.
And so it began! Meth quickly spread within the city, and there was always demand for more. Lori was introduced to a drug trafficker in California who was involved with the Mexican cartel. Soon, they were buying meth from them and hauling it into Ottumwa. Lori began to make a lot of money, and with that, she bought a bar, a horse ranch, and multiple other properties. For her, the idea was to set up a business with that money, but it was hard to give up selling. To add to that, Lori was using meth as well. When one of her drivers was caught making the trip back from California, she set up her own meth lab, earning even more profits.
At its height, her operation was the primary supplier for multiple states surrounding Iowa and her drug empire was soaring. But as 1991 came by, the dominoes started to fall. The authorities had been gathering intelligence regarding Lori’s operation for a few years. After an initial raid that year, Lori and the members of her organization were arrested in November 1991. Her trial received increased media attention because her brother Tom was a famous Hollywood comedian and actor. Lori pleaded guilty to the charges that were levied against her that included continuing a criminal enterprise, manufacturing drugs, and weapons charges.
Lori was sentenced to 15 years in prison but was released early in 1999. By then, the meth epidemic had ravaged the city. Countless people, including young children, were exposed to it. Once free, Lori looked to make amends. She worked at a meatpacking plant and picked up another job at Wendy’s. She wanted to make up for lost time with Josh, her son. But it was not long before the cycle repeated itself. A chance encounter led her to start selling meth again, and in 2001, she was busted, leading to a six-year stint in prison.
Where is Lori Arnold Now?
Lori was released from prison in 2007. She moved to Arizona after that because Ottumwa brought up bad memories. Many of Lori’s friends and their families ended up getting addicted to meth. But she felt that meth would have crossed over into the Midwest even without her empire. “Any kind of drugs are always going to show up. I never wanted to hurt anyone. It was all clean fun back then [and that] is how it felt in the moment,” she said. “We didn’t see all the harm and the way it destroys people the way you do now.”
She met her fiance in Arizona, and they moved to his hometown Sandusky, Ohio. The drug trafficking days seem to be truly behind Lori now since she works as a Materials Technician at Freudenberg-Nok, an automotive company. It’s a job she’s held since September 2018. Lori also has maintained a good relationship with her son, Josh.
Read More: Where is Josh Stockdall Now?