New meth database helps fight crime

Published 25 January 2011

States are increasingly passing laws to establish electronic databases to track pseudoephedrine purchases to crack down on meth drug labs; Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, and Alabama have already implemented such databases, while large retail chains like Walmart, CVS, and Rite Aid maintain their own electronic databases; in 2008, 850,000 Americans were found to abuse meth; in 2009, the DEA discovered more than 10,000 meth labs, down from a high of more than 19,000 in 2004

In an increasing trend, more and more states across the United States are implementing electronic databases to track pseudoephedrine purchases to crack down on methamphetamine drug labs.

Pseudoephedrine is an essential ingredient in making “meth,” a highly addictive chemical stimulant, and is widely available in cold medicines available over the counter at any drug store.

In a practice called “smurfing,” people will go from pharmacy to pharmacy buying as much Sudafed, Claritin D, and Aleve Cold & Sinus as possible in a short time span.

Now individuals purchasing these cold medicines must show their ID and be entered into a log that police can search through to find suspected meth manufacturers.

States like Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, and Alabama have already implemented such databases, while large retail chains like Walmart, CVS, and Rite Aid maintain their own electronic databases.

According to Tim Glover, director of the Lauderdale County Drug Task Force, before Alabama passed legislation to implement their electronic database, individuals would cross state lines to purchase pseudoephedrine.

“We [didn’t] have an electronic database here; Tennessee does. That’s why they [came] here to shop for the drugs,” he said. “In reviewing our (pseudoephedrine) purchase logs, we have identified about 100 people who come in from southern Tennessee or other areas to buy pseudoephedrine pills.”

Alabama attorney general Troy King, a major supporter of the legislation, said that “law enforcement will have a valuable tool to more effectively fight the dangerous proliferation of methamphetamine labs.”

Other law enforcement officials across the country find the database helpful in tracking down meth labs.

In Augusta County, Virginia where 90 percent of drug-related charges are related to meth, Sheriff Randy Fisher says that with the database, “I can tell you everywhere date and time that you bought over the counter stuff. If I suspect that you’re making meth and this is the way they’re doing it, what we call kitchen sink meth, I can put your name in there and we will get an alert.”

Meth abuse has plagued rural areas and the Midwest, but due to more stringent laws and increased enforcement, usage has declined over the past several years.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2008, 850,000 Americans age twelve or older abuse meth.

In 2009, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) seized over 1,700 kilograms of methamphetamines and identified more than 10,000 meth labs, down from a high of nearly 19,000 labs in 2004.

Homeland Security, Criminal Justice, Law & Public Policy - Master of Science Legal Studies 100% online - CALU Global Online
view counter
view counter