Information from WYSH Radio
For nearly two years, Clinton Police Department officers and investigators, with the cooperation of local drug stores, have taken a proactive stance in the battle against drug activity and “would be” meth manufacturers in and around our community, and now they are sharing some of their successes with the community.
According to a release from the CPD, the continuing operation has resulted in hundreds of charges as well as numerous vehicle seizures, as in Tennessee it is 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.
CPD is targeting people 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.
CPD Officer Jason Lawson, who has been active in investigating many of the cases, said: “When (local drug stores) 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 added: “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. Authorities say that “smurfs” can turn their $5 purchase into profit, anywhere from $25 to $75 dollars per box.
Local pharmacists seem to appreciate the stepped-up police effort here in Clinton.
“I think the program is working (well),” said Clinton Drug Store owner Jim McBride. “The database has helped a lot 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.”
Clinton Police Chief Rick Scarbrough, who said he appreciates the joint efforts of the officers and the pharmacies, says this program is one of many proactive 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,” Scarbrough said. “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.”
Information in this story brought to you through an agreement between Oak Ridge Today and WYSH. See more local news headlines on the WYSH website at http://www.wyshradio.com/local_news.html.