Meth makers giving 'Smurfs' a bad name

Sgt. Stan Salyards
Sgt. Stan Salyards

By Janelle MacDonald - bio | email
Posted By Mike Dever - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Do you know what a Smurf is? It's probably not what you're thinking. As WAVE 3's Janelle MacDonald reports, LMPD officers have made a series of arrests recently as they continue to crack down on the growing problem of meth labs and the creative ways the people who cook the drug try to get around the law.

Instead of the little blue men and women from the Saturday morning cartoon, the word "Smurf" is now used to describe someone who buys pseudoephedrine and hands it over to people cooking meth.

Police say if you do it, they'll see you soon.

Kentucky's MethCheck program - a computer log of who's buying pseudoephedrine - is limiting how much of the ingredient one person can buy and forcing people who cook the drug to get creative.

LMPD Narcotics Sgt. Stan Salyards says "you have to have it (pseudoephedrine) for the manufacturing process."

Under Kentucky's laws, an individual can only buy nine grams a month - or around seventy-five 120-milligram pills.

Salyards says that restriction means makers are recruiting help. "What the meth cooks do is they'll get someone in their neighborhood, or a friend or somebody who needs money, to actually go out and buy this pseudoephedrine."

It's called "Smurfing" and the Smurfs can turn their $5 purchase into profit. "Depending you can get anywhere from $25-$75 dollars per box."

That's what police say 24-year-old James Wilson and 68-year-old Israel Whitehead did. Both were busted earlier this year after police say they went Smurfing and, like so many things these days, police say it comes down to cash.

"Nowadays people just need the money," Salyards said. "So they're going to do it for the money."

That's where MethCheck comes in again. It not only prevents pharmacists from selling more than nine grams of pseudoephedrine to any one person in a single month, it also flags people who reach that limit to police.

"Each month we get a printout report of everybody who's reached their limit, so just to let all the Smurfers know, we will eventually be coming to your door."

Smurfing is just one of the ways criminals are trying to get around meth laws, and police say they need your help to catch them all. That's why they're offering free training to the public in a Meth 101 workshop next month.

The workshop is scheduled for October 21st, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Male High School.

To register call MetroCall at 311.