MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - It's been a little more than a year since Alabama’s law regulating pseudoephedrine sales went into effect.
Under the law, an electronic drug offender tracking system was created to monitor sales of the drug.
The Mobile County Sheriff's Office is keeping tabs on those sales.
FOX10 News went undercover to see how they track them and make arrests.
The day starts with a strategy meeting: undercover detectives with the Mobile County Sheriff's Office gathered and discussed which pharmacy to watch.
“Based on all of the intelligence we get, we're able to identify the hotspots in Mobile County where the activities occurring. And then what we do is create one of these enforcement actions here,” said a Narcotics consultant working with the sheriff’s office.
For their safety, we're keeping their identities secret.
“What we're doing is targeting those ‘Smurfers’ who go out and make numerous purchases, and we're also targeting the individuals that come in and are declined,” said a detective sergeant.
Once at a location, detectives log into the national precursor log exchange and other criminal database.
When a sale is made, the pharmacist enters the customer’s driver's license information. Detectives see the purchase on the N-Plex website and begin checking the customer's background using the other database.
“We get real time data. As soon as they make the purchase, it's coming through on our computers that they made the purchase. And at that time, we run various names through different databases to see if they have a felony conviction, drug offense or misdemeanor drug offense,” said the detective sergeant.
A state database, which began tracking convicted drug offenders this year, allows detectives to build cases from data of illegal purchases.
That's how detective’s said sheriff's investigators ended up arresting Stacy Ezelle and Shane Cowart; both are charged with ephedrine drug offenses.
Investigators said Ezelle made 18 purchases of pseudoephedrine since March this year and Cowart made 45.
She was also blocked nine times from making a drug purchase, he was blocked seven times.
Investigators said the law is making headway against illegal pseudoephedrine sales, but the criminals continue to find ways to get around it.
“Like any other new law, you see an immediate impact, a positive impact, on this new law are pseudoephedrine sales are dropping,” said the consultant.
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