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Learn more about the dangers of smurfing here

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New Generation Of “Smurfing” Real Danger for Retailers

June 11, 2018, Tony Hallett, Lincoln News

What one generation fondly remembers as a children’s cartoon reference has taken on a more menacing meaning today as a national initiative has begun to educate and ultimately prevent “smurfing.”

Not to be confused with anything related to The Smurfs, smurfing is an activity where criminals visit multiple stores, even crossing state lines, to purchase over the counter medication needed to manufacture methamphetamine. Most retailers currently limit the amount of Advil Cold and Sinus, Allegra-D, Claritin-D, Mucinex D and Sudafed an individual can purchase. Those medications all contain pseudoephedrine, or PSE, the active ingredient needed to make meth.

“Because criminals may be well known in the area by police, retailers and pharmacies, they will often times find others, preferably who are not known, to make illicit purchases of medicines containing the ingredients to manufacture methamphetamine,” Lincoln Public Safety Director Dan Summers said. “Criminals know there are checks and balances in place to detect over-purchasing of certain medicines.”

According to a press release by the Consumer Healthcare Product Association, “29 states have enacted laws requiring implementation of electronic, real-time stop-sale systems that prevent illegal sales at the point of purchase.” Additionally, drug manufacturers have developed educational programs for retailers to help cut down on the activity. Posters are also available for display to dissuade individuals for knowingly, or unknowingly, making the purchases.

“What the person may not know is that they become a target of suspected illegal drug trafficking or manufacturers as their information is stored in databases and can be made available to investigators,” Summers said.

In 2017, the system successfully blocked the illegal sale of more than 1.7 million boxes of medicines containing PSE, preventing more than 4.6 million grams of PSE from getting in the hands of potential criminals.

Hardware stores can also be a target for meth cooks as well.

“Here in Lincoln, we have a good working relationship with our pharmacies and hardware stores,” Summers said.  “I mention hardware stores because they sell home use products that are often times sought out by meth manufacturers.

The hardware stores are also partners in assisting law enforcement in suspicious activity purchasing.