‘Queen of Meth’ made $200K-a-week: How Tom Arnold’s sister got ‘lucky’

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Jail was one of two ways out of the drug trade for the woman once dubbed “Scarface in a skirt.”

A coffin was the other.

“I’m just grateful she didn’t get murdered,” actor Tom Arnold told The Post of his drug-dealing little sister Lori, whose dope-, booze-, crime- and turmoil-filled past is depicted in the new Discovery+ three-part documentary “Queen of Meth,” premiering Friday. 

Lori’s wild world collapsed when she was arrested, twice — first in November 1991 and then again in October 2001 — and served a total of 15 years in prison for building a massive, multistate methamphetamine production and distribution network on a 170-acre ranch in working-class Ottumwa, Iowa. 

“There was no way to end it, except death or prison,” said the 62-year-old “True Lies” and “Sons of Anarchy” star and ex-husband of Roseanne Barr. “And she got lucky.”

Lori, 60, is now eking out a low-key life with an understanding fiancé named Bill — “She’s paid her dues,” he says — and a blue-collar job in Sandusky, Ohio. But by the 1990s she was both a meth addict herself and a prolific dealer, reportedly peddling more than 10 pounds of the deadly drug a week, each time raking in at least $200,000.

The constant cascade of crooked cash helped feed the beast the real-life Walter White had created, which included legitimate businesses — including a car sales lot, a 52-horse ranch and a local biker bar called the Wild Side, all of which employed locals — as well as more frivolous pursuits, like a flashy red Jaguar and even an airplane.

But she also used the money for a twisted sort of philanthropy that included, she said, buying homes at auctions and fixing them up as Section 8 housing to help poor area residents.

Looking back now, she recognized the “weird contradiction” of how she funneled the money back into the community.

“I thought I was doing good, helping people. ‘Cause I always like to help people and always protect the underdog and that sort of thing, you know?” she said. “But now, after all these years, you know, you look back you’re like, it probably wasn’t the greatest way to do that.”

The documentary chronicles how middle child Lori — a self-professed “tomboy” and “tough girl” — and brothers Tom and Scott survived a childhood rocked by their parents’ divorce when Tom was 4, Lori was 3 and Scott was just 2. The kids were raised by their father, Jack, who eventually married a neighbor, Ruth, who already had two kids and with whom he had two more.

When Tom turned 15 and Lori was 14, they escaped that bursting household and moved in with their now-remarried and, they said, hard-drinking and oft-absent mom, Linda — and “that’s where everything changed,” as Tom says in the series. 

“I never realized that Mom was the issue because I thought Mom was cool, she was funny, everybody loved her. She was always fun,” Lori said. “You know, I could smoke cigarettes, I could drink beer … She was just fun to hang around — kind of like a friend, I guess?”

But under their mother’s less-than-watchful eye, Lori developed an alcohol addiction starting at age 14 when she imbibed while working at the local watering hole that her mom managed. That also coincided with an illicit relationship between Lori and a 23-year-old man named Bobby.

Her then-stepfather issued an ultimatum: “He had to dump me, marry me, or go to jail for statutory rape,” said Lori, who dropped out of eighth grade (but later earned a GED). The pair agreed to get hitched in Missouri, where it was legal — with the blessing of her mother, who drove them there, according to the documentary. 

However, Lori divorced Bobby just six months later because, she said, he was abusive and a cheater. 

“I don’t want to say it ruined Lori’s life because she’s strong now, she’s doing well,” Tom said. But, he added, “It was the end of her childhood.” 

Lori today recognizes the impact her lenient mother would have on her troubled future.

“I forgive her because she was terrible for a mom, but at the same time — so was I,” said Lori, who married local biker Floyd Stockdall in May 1980 and gave birth to their son, Josh, in January 1981. (Floyd, who was arrested along with Lori in 1991, died in prison in 2004.)

“Here I am doing kind of the same thing, even though I’m not giving [drugs] to him personally,” she said. “But I’m still breaking the law and making his life hell, you know, as a mother. So I guess that’s why, you know, I forgive her because I didn’t mean to hurt my son, either.”

“‘Queen of Meth’ is how people that don’t know my mom see my mom,” Josh, who was 10 when Lori was first jailed, says in the documentary. “But from the inside looking out, she was my mom, Lori.”

Still, there was a lot he didn’t know as a kid. “I would probably go with her on her drug deals but not really know it,” he said. 

And due to her repeat incarcerations, Lori wound up being an absent mom for many years, which she called her “biggest regret.” (In the docuseries, Josh says he “came to peace with the whole situation.”)

Tom, meanwhile, is just glad that his little sister is still alive after years of mixing with “just horrible people” as the “Queen of Meth,” he said.

“The thing about drug money, and Lori knows this better than anybody,” he said, “[is that] it will always be over when you get a position like hers. She just was on a freight train and [it just got] too big.”

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