"Anti-Smurfing" Campaign Cracks Down On Meth Manufacturers


By Catalina Trivino

Believe it or not, some criminals are making it harder on you to buy cold medicine.

The reason it's harder to buy cold medicine is because of "smurfing." So, what is "smurfing?" It's when people are recruited to buy one of the main ingredients to make meth -- psuedeophedrine.


It was a "who's who" of law enforcement officers in Butler County on Thursday. Their message is to get the word out about "smurfing"

"If you buy pseudoephedrine products for a meth producer, you're committing a felony and that felony is called 'smurfing,'" Said Rick Heartsill, spokesperson for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which sponsors Alabama's "anti-smurfing" campaign.

Pseudoephedrine is an ingredient often found in cold and allergy medicine, but law officials say it was abused having it over-the-counter. A bill passed last summer hopes to stop the illegal sale of those pseudoephedrine medicines.


Before, people could buy pseudoephedrine products at convenience stores, but now the law says they're only available at pharmacies. All pharmacies are required to use an tracking system known as the "N-PLEX System," a database that can block purchases if you're buying over your legal monthly limit.

"They ask for it, then when they purchase it they have to show a valid drivers license or a state issued I.D. That's scanned into the NPLEX System and the sale is either approved or denied," Said Pharmacy Supervisor at the Medicine Shop in Greenville, Jimmy Ansley.

The law has also lowered the monthly purchasing limit from 9 to 7.5 grams. If you get caught, you'll pay the consequences.

"C-class felony is a year and a day to 10 years," Said Chief Assistant District Attorney in Butler County, Steve Towns.

People convicted of certain drug offenses would also be blocked from purchasing pseudophedrine for 7 to 10 years, even if they have a prescription for it.

This new law is considered one of the toughest in the nation because it's holding everyone accountable involved in making meth.

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