MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Consumer healthcare officials said Alabama has some of the toughest laws in the land that crack down on meth production.
On Wednesday, December 12, Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran announced a public service campaign to spread the word of the consequences of buying pseudoephedrine to make meth, a practice called ‘smurfing'.
Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran said, "It's so destructive to the body and the people around those that are using it. You have children that are injured, inhaling the fumes and the chemicals, sometimes [we've seen] children injured in explosions or fires that come about from the chemical reactions that take place where they manufactured it."
Alabama has a new law making 'smurfing' a crime. 'Smurfing' is when a suspect moves from store to store to purchase illegal amounts of pseudoephedrine, or makes others buy it for them.
Cochran said, "Clearly what we want to do is reduce the amount of methamphetamine that's being manufactured here because that's what does so much damage to the environment and so much danger to the people."
Now, 'smurfing' is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The person who buys the drug will be liable under the law.
The laws regulating the purchase of pseudoephedrine have become very strict since Gov. Robert Bentley signed a bill in early 2012.
Just to give you an idea, if you get congested and need the decongestant drug Sudafed, you can only buy three of the boxes in a 30-day period. Also, you must purchase them from behind a pharmacy counter.
In Alabama, pharmacy sales of the medicine are tracked by computer.
The Alabama attorney general's office said a drug offender database is being created that would warn pharmacists if convicted offenders are trying to buy pseudoephedrine.
"By limiting the amount they can purchase, we're limiting the ability of how much they can make and hopefully stop them from making it," said Cochran.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the number of first-time meth users nationwide is on the decline, and Sheriff Cochran said meth trends are declining locally as well.
Regardless, the fight against the drug continues.
While new regulations will hurt local meth production, Cochran still has an eye on pseudoephedrine being smuggled in from Mexico.
He said, "That's sort of another angle. We have to pursue that with international drug investigations and the like."
In the meantime, the MCSO also runs a program called METHTEXT which allows concerned citizens to send text messages to directly notify the sheriff's office of suspicious activities that seem related to meth.
Aside from that, Cochran is hopeful that this new initiative combating will crack down on this dangerous crime and keep people in our area safe.
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