(MOBILE, Ala.) The Mobile County Sheriff's Office is teaming up with the Attorney General and police departments across the state in the fight against meth.
A new anti-smurfing public education campaign was announced Wednesday. It targets people who purchase medicines used to make meth, and in turn sell them to meth manufacturers in exchange for money or other drugs.
Law enforcers across the state want the public to know that if you buy cold and allergy medicines for a meth cook, you're committing a felony called smurfing. And it's a crime that can result in up to 20 years in prison.
"I think we're the only state in the union that made that a felony to smurf drugs," said Sheriff Sam Cochran in a press conference Wednesday.
Under federal law, pseudoephedrine products can only be purchased behind a pharmacy counter. A national database makes it easy to track and limit the purchase of such medications.
"The patient's ID is verified. We scan the ID right at point of sale. That information is then entered into the national database and that lets us know if the sale is in the legal limits. If not, the sale is stopped," said Walgreen's Pharmacist Kabrina Hudson.
The limit is two 15-count, 24-hour packs per month.
"Come Jan. 1, people who have been convicted of drug offenses, their information by law will be there and the pharmacists will see that and say, I can't sell you that," said Sheriff Cochran.
This information and more is all listed on a new website called www.methknowtheconsequences.org. The website, along with posters and television and radio ads are all part of the statewide campaign.
"Meth is a drug that has devastating effects on the body, but for those that manufacture it, it's worse. They're exposed to chemicals. Their families are exposed. There's risk of explosions, people get burned," said Sheriff Cochran.
"As with any case we have to have evidence to enforce the law. So, we have to have folks willing to come forward to report these things and folks who will come to court and testify," said Assistant District Attorney Deborah Tillman.
Police hope reducing the sale of ingredients used to make meth will cut down on production of the drug in the longrun.
The Sheriff's office reports an 18 percent reduction in Mobile County's pseudoephedrine sales from 2011 to 2012. The department believes all the changes made to the state's laws and increased awareness through programs like MethText, made a difference.