07/09/13 CLINTON POLICE DECLARE "WAR ON METH!" For nearly two years Clinton Police Dept officers and investigators, with the cooperation of local drug stores, have taken a pro-active stance in the battle against drug activity and "would be" meth manufacturers in and around our community. The continuing operation has resulted in hundreds of charges as well as numerous vehicle seizures (in Tennessee it's against the law to use your car to facilitate the transaction of narcotics). Police have confiscated nearly 150 boxes of medicine that might have, otherwise, been used to make meth that would sell on the streets for nearly $40,000.00. CPD is targeting persons who are buying or attempting to repeatedly buy Sudafed and other generic brands of sinus medication. One of the active ingredients in these medicines, pseudoephedrine, is used in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine.
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Officer Greg McBroom and Asst. Chief Vaughn Becker display some of the confiscated pseudoephedrine.
How do local drug stores cooperate with police? CPD officer Jason lawson, who has been active in investigating many of the cases, says "When they have somebody suspicious at the pharmacy they notify us, usually through a text message. They try and delay the sale until officers can arrive and observe the transaction." Police make contact and talk with the subjects.. most of them say they don't know what the medicine is used for other than sinus medication. Lawson adds: "The subjects show me their identification and I am able to run their names through a database that tells me how many times and where they have purchased pseudoephedrine. A red flag goes up when I find a person has bought more than 100 boxes of Sudafed in the last few years. That gives us reason to believe something is going on and they are listed as a Smurf".
The word "Smurf" is modern slang used to describe someone who buys pseudoephedrine and hands it over to people cooking meth. More times than not "Smurfs" have been involved in meth labs and have been convicted of possession and promotion of methamphetamine. It's called "Smurfing" and the Smurfs can turn their $5 purchase into profit. Reports, across the country, say, depending on the situation, Smurfs can get anywhere from $25 to $75 dollars per box.
Some suspects are arrested on site. In addition to any drug charges, arrests are made because the person will have an outstanding warrant related to a different incident. Many are arrested for theft because they are shoplifting while in the store. Local pharmacists seem to appreciate the stepped up police effort here in Clinton. "I have had pharmacists, from other counties, who are filling in at our stores.. asking why this isn't done in their towns," Lawson said.
"I think the program is working good. The database has helped alot,.. now that it's real time. We used to have to send in a report later, after the fact. Now that it's real time data police know immediately when people have just hit Clinton Drug Store or they just hit Walgreens or CVS. The real time database is the best thing about the program," said Clinton Drug Store owner, Jim McBride.
Clinton Police Chief Rick Scarbrough, who says he appreciates the joint efforts of the officers and the pharmacies, told our reporter that this program is one of many pro-active steps that CPD takes to eliminate drugs in Clinton. “Every time we make an arrest and prevent the sale of Sudafed it stops the operation of a meth lab. Positive repercussions are felt here in the city and county as well. It goes a long way to have this cooperative effort between our business people and officers,” Scarbrough said.