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Butler County NPLEx Successes

Butler County Law Enforcement called a press conference Monday, August 4, on the steps of the Butler County Courthouse to give an update on the anti-smurfing campaign that is ongoing in the county. The law enforcement officers wanted to emphasize the results are positive in Butler County. Butler County District Attorney Charlotte Tesmer, Butler County Sheriff Kenny Harden, several members of the Drug Task Force, McKenzie’s Police Chief Don Reaves and Greenville Chief of Police Lonzo Ingram were in attendance to discuss efforts to combat the sale and manufacture of methamphetamines in Butler County.

Approximately one year ago, Butler County launched an anti-smurfing campaign that coincided with the enactment of new legislation in 2012 on methamphetamines and the ingredients used to make this drug passed by the state of Alabama. Information necessary for prosecution of meth related criminals became easier to access in order to prosecute, and restrictions were placed on the sale of certain cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) in the legislation that was passed. The enactment of these laws put into place the NPLEx system which is an electronic point of purchase monitoring system that restricts the sale of certain cold and allergy medicines containing PSE. Purchasers are documented in digital records and made available to law enforcement officials.

Sheriff Kenny Harden thanked the men and woman that work hard to keep methamphetamines out of Butler County and explained that working so closely together with the District Attorney, Drug Task Force and police forces in each town and city in the county in 2014 has led to 34 investigations, 39 current people being watched and 24 arrests. These statistics have been made possible through the use of the NPLEx system used statewide to reduce the sale of precursor ingredients used to make meth. “We’ve come a long way in our fight against meth in Butler County. Using the NPLEx system, we’ve been able to keep a close eye on known drug dealers and restrict certain types of criminal activity. This tool allows us to more effectively keep certain precursor ingredients out of the hands of people who intend to use them for illegal purposes. It also allows us to closely monitor anyone who might be buying, or attempting to purchase, PSE under suspicious conditions,” told Sheriff Harden.

Tesmer explained the new law to be one of the most comprehensive when passed and said that many other states formed laws similar to Alabama’s after its passage. “Last year in Butler County, we had a total of 149 blocked sales, and 387 grams of PSE kept off our streets. After an individual is arrested for a meth related crime, it is up to my office to prosecute the case. When the state’s anti-meth laws changed, they made it easier for us to obtain vital information necessary to the prosecution of these crimes. They also placed larger financial responsibility for property damage restitution and crime scene clean up on the shoulders of those who are found guilty for involvement in the manufacture and distribution of meth. At the end of the day, these changes save taxpayers a lot of money, and make our community a safer place. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made,” said Tesmer. The laws that were put into place have created more cases for Tesmer, and she told that the laws help tremendously in prosecution.

Not only have improvements been made in Butler County to fight against the production of meth, the state of Alabama has also made a great pursuit in eliminating this debilitating and deadly drug. According to the Alabama Drug Abuse Task Force, meth labs that must be taken down have “dramatically decreased” from 720 in 2010, to 154 in 2013, and according to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center (ACJIS), the agency responsible for information obtained by the NPLEx system, in 2013 there was a statewide total of 101,739 blocked sales of products containing PSE. These blocked sales resulted in over 257,816 grams of potential precursor chemical ingredients staying in the stores and out of the homes of those that would use them to make methamphetamines.

“Ice,” a high-grade crystal methamphetamine, is reported to be the most meth currently available for sale in the state of Alabama. Much of this is manufactured in California or Mexico and transported into the state. “The increase of imported meth suggests that Alabama’s laws are working,” told Sheriff Harden.

“Smurfing” is now a felony charge in the state of Alabama.

District Attorney Tesmer and Sheriff Harden agree that the new laws against methamphetamines and the anti-smurfing campaign “are working.”