It’s called “smurfing” and it has been identified as one of the largest contributing factors to a growing methamphetamine problem in Indiana.
“Smurfing” is the illegal purchase of pseudoephedrine products and it is something more people are doing for meth cooks in exchange for drugs or money. Today, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller was in Warsaw to continue to spread the word on a new statewide initiative that targets those “smurfs” who purchase allergy and cold medications containing pseudoephedrine.
In a statement to the public, Zoeller stated, “We’re trying to raise public awareness about smurfing. This is something that is particularly a problem in this area … This is a public message – we want to give fair notice for people who don’t know that the new statute makes the process of ‘smurfing’ a D felony. They are now on notice.”
According to Zoeller, Warsaw was one of seven cities the attorney general stopped at to explain the consequences of “smurfing.” Warsaw was chosen due to the county’s ranking among the top 10 methamphetamine producing counties in Indiana.
Though Zoeller stated the reason why Kosciusko County has suffered from the “scourge” of methamphetamine is unknown, he did note the problem has been experienced throughout Indiana and is not limited to just a rural setting. In fact, Zoeller told StaceyPageOnline.com that he had made a recent stop in Bloomington where “smurfing” at college campuses has become a point of concern.
Zoeller said the campaign may not convince people to stop using the viciously addictive drug, but he does hope the public will become more aware of the consequences of purchasing pseudophedrine for illegal purposes – a sentiment State Sen. Carlin Yoder shared.
“This is something we want to make the public more aware of,” explained Yoder. “We want the public to be aware of what is taking place and to make them aware that the process of ‘smurfing’ is a very illegal process. We understand this ‘anti-smurfing’ campaign is not a silver bullet. It is not going to eradicate the problem by itself, but it is a great start. I think that with the team effort by everyone involved, we can make some serious headway in preventing this to continue to negatively impact communities.”
The campaign includes the posting of signs inside pharmacies and retail stores that have pharmacies warning the public that buying medications used for making meth is a crime. Many of the posters seemingly rely on an emotional response, featuring photos of children and statements such as, “Meth makes children orphans.” Zoeller stated it is the hope of the campaign to demonstrate how the problems surrounding meth use continue to multiply and often affect those surrounding the user.
“This problem affects us right down at the street level,” stated Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer. “These measures are a step in the right direction and we have much more work to do. I thank Attorney General Zoeller for taking his show on the road, coming to our community and raising awareness about these measures that will attack the problem right here on the front lines, right here at the street and the counter of the pharmacy. I thank the dedicated members of our law enforcement team who now have additional tools to hammer away at street level. I ask our legislators to continue their commit to choking this problem off at the neck – to continue to find more effective ways to take this horrendously addictive drug out of the hands of the desperate.”
Anyone caught “smurfing” could face conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine charges. According to Kosciusko County Prosecutor Dan Hampton, those caught “smurfing” could receive a D felony which is punishable with 6 months to 3 years of jail time with an advisory sentence of a year and a half. These charges could be aggravated up to a C felony depending on the degree of the offense.