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How do authorities track pseudoephedrine sales for meth?

If you've ever had a cold or sinus infection and wanted to get relief, you probably purchased some over-the-counter cold medicine. To do so, you most likely found that you had to show your driver's license or some form of identification to the pharmacist to make the purchase. This requirement is the result of the 2009 statute K.S.A. 65-16,101, which was put in place in Kansas by the Kansas Board of Pharmacy in an effort to control the sales of pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine, which are common ingredients used in the making of methamphetamine.

This tracking system alerts authorities if a person attempts to purchase over the legal allowable amount of cold medicine's containing the drug pseudoephedrine or its equivalent. Interestingly, some methamphetamine manufacturers discovered that by using a process called "smurfing," they could get around the tracking system. According to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, smurfing is a slang name given to the practice of having a group or an individual go out and purchase the legal allowable amount of cold medicine. The smurfer then typically sells the medication to the methamphetamine manufacturers for either cash or some of the meth once it is made.

Although you may think that since these purchases appear somewhat innocuous, there is no way for the purchases to be traced, but in November 2013 authorities implemented changes in the tracking system. These changes now allow investigators to use the database to search for smurfers in concentrated areas and use this information to generate leads that will allow them to follow the smurfers back to the methamphetamine manufacturer.

Defendants who are charged with drug manufacturing may find it beneficial to consult an experienced Kansas criminal attorney to assist them with their case.

Source: Kansas Bureau of Investigation, "Methamphetamine Recommendation Report" Dec. 10, 2014

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