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Smurfs, Breaking Bad And Meth On TV
What is Smurfing and Where Do I Sign Up?
Database Helps Police Track Meth 'Smurfs'
Since laws were passed in 2005 to prohibit people from buying large quantities of pseudoephedrine at one time, meth manufacturers have found ways around this by smurfing from one store to another buying just under the 2 package legal limit at each store until they have enough pseudoephedrine to make meth.
The term smurfing actually comes from the banking world. Smurfing as it relates to banking was coined to describe a process in which a bank would break up huge financial transactions into several smaller ones in order to avoid tipping off the government or raising any red flags. In relation to meth, Im sure you can see the correlation. Another reason that the term smurfing conjures up memories of those fun loving little blue cartoon characters is probably because of the fact that many times it takes several people to buy up enough pseudoephedrine to make a batch of meth. So you might see a group of 3+ tweekers gathered together like a group of smurfs in the cold medicine isle or standing in line at the store with 2 boxes of pseudoephedrine each.
The government is in the process of passing legislation that would
track the purchase of pseudoephedrine from one store to another.
Currently these records are limited to the store in which the
purchase was made, however in some states they will soon make stores
that sell pseudoephedrine combine records and compare them in a
central database in order to curtail the smurfing process.
Smurfs, Breaking Bad And
Meth On TV
The subject of meth is getting more play in world of TV, with AMCs critically-acclaimed series Breaking Bad. The show follows Walter White, a chemistry teacher who starts manufacturing crystal meth to pay for his cancer treatments. Hes joined by his former student, Jesse Pinkman, who sells the meth.
The show is good, and while it is set in America (Albuquerque), nothing like that is likely happening in Louisville. For one, Walter makes crystal meth in a very complicated mobile lab. According to Sergeant Salyards, the labs the LMPD finds are smaller, sometimes single-pot labs. These compact setups are still dangerous (lithium is combustible in moist air), but they produce a less pure, powdered version of meth. Also, Walter in Breaking Bad doesnt use meth. Salyards says almost every lab busted was set up by a user who was making a personal supply.
I also interviewed a prosecutor for the story. None of her comments made it into the final product, but she offered insights into the meth community. She corroborated Salyards claim that local meth manufacturers make it for themselves, but she told me about Smurfs. Smurfs are meth users who help gather supplies for manufacturers in exchange for drugs. The Smurf system is particularly helpful in getting more pseudoephedrine for labs. Three people buying the legal limit of cold medicine from one pharmacy are less likely to be caught than one person buying the legal limit at three pharmacies.
In Breaking Bad, Walter and Jesse steal the chemicals they need
for meth, rather than go to drug stores. But thats fiction.
There is crystal meth in Louisville, but its imported the same
way crack, cocaine and heroin are. The people manufacturing those
drugs are in other cities and countries, and are not often thought to
be users of their own product, since their operations are for
profits, not personal use.
What is Smurfing and Where Do I Sign Up?
Just kidding. But really, smurfing has nothing to do with blue paint or snuffing it (thats what I thought). It is actually a term used to classify the people that go out in hordes to purchase ingredients to make the popular street drug, crystal meth.
I really didnt think that it had anything to do with drugs (ya right), but I was happy to have learned something new for the day. Appreantly this happens enough to have a term for it. I remember about 2-3 years ago you couldnt be Sudafed from Wal-Mart without going through hoops to get it.
Many chemicals that you need to make the drug can be found at
local stores in most areas. That makes it tougher to keep an eye on
who is making the drug, but in my opinion, you just need to what one
guy: the one with 20 boxes of Pseudoephedrine, right?
Database Helps Police Track Meth
The move of products containing pseudoephedrine from the store shelf to behind the pharmacy counter was supposed to regulate medicines used to make methamphetamine, but according to Bill Mark, director of the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force, cases of meth labs increased between 2008 and 2009.
When customers buy products that contain pseudoephedrine, those purchases are logged in a statewide database called MethCheck.
"Even if we're not looking at a target individual, were just checking the logs from the pharmacy to see if there are any trends developing," said Mark.
Agents along with Gallatin County Sheriff's deputies arrested Jason Webb, 35, from Warsaw at a truck stop off I-71 Tuesday morning. Police say they watched him buy a meth-making ingredient.
With him were two women, Kristan Hall, 29, from Dublin, Ohio and Heather Smith, 24, from Cincinnati. Police say the two women were "smurfs," a term used to describe secondary purchasers of meth-making material.
Police say the nickname comes from the children's cartoon and is used because buyers usually travel in groups and go from store to store making buys.
A former user who goes by "Melissa" told 9News a $5 box of nasal decongestant that contains pseudoephedrine can be sold for as much at $50 on the black market.
"A lot of them don't even know what they're doing. They are just asked, Can you buy me a box of Sudafed? A lot of them know what they're doing and know their compensation for it," said "Melissa".
"Other people 'smurf' because they're addicts themselves and they'll obtain the pseudoephedrine to trade it for meth," said Mark.
Clean for over a year, "Melissa" says the only way for her to escape the drug culture was to move back home to Northern Kentucky.
"It messes with your mind," she warned. "It's the worst drug in the world."
Police also arrested Clayton Walker, 47, of Cincinnati. He's charged with multiple counts of drug trafficking and could spend 10 years in prison for each count.
Webb, Hall and Smith could each face 20 years in prison.
Two bills were introduced during the latest Kentucky legislature session to address pseudoephedrine.
One would have required a prescription from a doctor to obtain the
drug, the other would have decreased monthly purchase limits.
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