usa-map usa-map

Learn more about the dangers of smurfing here

Learn more

Anti-Meth Initiative Putting Dent In Drug Trade

Since the legislature passed the nation’s toughest comprehensive anti-meth legislation in 2012, law enforcement have been armed with new tools to prevent, investigate, apprehend and prosecuted meth manufacturers, dealers and traffickers.

The results have been an impressive and steady decline in the number of meth labs found in Alabama. In DeKalb County, this success has translated into savings for the taxpayers.

According to a new report by the Alabama Drug Abuse Task Force, meth lab seizures in Alabama have “dramatically decreased” from 720 in 2010, to 154 in 2013. A key portion of the law which requires pharmacies throughout the state to use the electronic NPLEx system has resulted in fewer over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) ending up in the hands of people who intend to use them for illegal purposes.

NPLEx is the electronic point of purchase monitoring system that restricts the sale of PSE products. It is required use for all registered pharmacies in Alabama and makes digital records of PSE sales and attempted sales available to law enforcement officials. PSE is a precursor ingredient used when manufacturing meth.

“For a long time, our community has struggled with the fight against meth,” DeKalb County Sherriff Jimmy Harris said. “With the tools provided by Alabama’s comprehensive anti-meth laws, we’re now able to keep a closer eye on known meth cooks and keep more of these drugs off our streets. The more of these drugs we keep off our streets, the fewer meth labs we have to clean and the more tax dollars we save.”

Alabama’s comprehensive anti-meth bill includes features such as:

• Establishment of a drug offender database;

• Enhancement of the drug paraphernalia laws to allow prosecution of intent even if PSE is absent;

• Reductions in the monthly allowable amount of PSE that any one person can purchase;

• Establishment of a felony charge for anyone convicted of being involved with smurfing;

• Restitution of expenses incurred in prosecution of meth labs;

• Crime of “smurfing” is now a felony charge in the state of Alabama.

According to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center (ACJIS), the agency responsible for securely recording the data generated through the NPLEx system, in 2013 there was a statewide total of 101,739 blocked sales of products containing PSE. These blocked sales resulted in 257,816 grams of potential precursor chemical ingredients staying off the streets of Alabama.

In 2013, the NPLEx system registered a total of 940 blocked sales of pseudoephedrine in DeKalb County, equaling over 2,315 grams. The reduction in PSE sales translates into a reduction in the number of active meth labs and results in savings for taxpayers, as the county isn’t forced to spend as much on meth lab clean up, which can range between $3,000 and $25,000, depending on the size and toxicity.

The Alabama Drug Abuse Task Force reports that most meth currently for sale in Alabama is higher-grade crystal methamphetamines, also known as “Ice,” which is manufactured in Mexico or California and smuggled into the state by Mexican drug cartels or other traffickers. According to the officials, this imported meth accounts for upward of 80 percent of all meth currently seized throughout the state.

“Alabama’s laws are working,” Harris said. “We’re cleaning up our community one day at a time.”