Michigan campaign aims to stop meth production also known as 'smurfing'

Posted at 5:56 AM, Jun 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-07 07:36:36-04

It’s a new push to curb methamphetamine production, and its use throughout Michigan.

On Wednesday afternoon, Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette is teaming up with Oakland County’s Sheriff and other lawmakers to unveil a new initiative to stop what is known as “smurfing.”

“Smurfing” is the term used to describe a method implemented by meth-producers to obtain large amounts of drugs containing pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in making meth. Meth cooks may use multiple people to purchase the drugs, since pharmacies have long cracked down on how many boxes of cold medicine can be purchased with the active ingredient of pseudoephedrine.

"While smurfing may remind some of the cartoons and some might find it amusing, this anti-smurfing effort is a serious issue because those who help provide ingredients to the cooks of meth, who cause damage to themselves and to the community, it's a crime," Schuette said.

Earlier this month in Lansing, Schuette unveiled posters that he expects to have in pharmacies across the state. It’s part of a push to educate the public about the dangers of “smurfing” and to make sure people are aware that taking part in such purchases is illegal.

According to new statistics based on 2016, more than 8,000 purchases of medicine with pseudoephedrine were stopped in Michigan alone. Nationwide the number balloons to nearly 1.5 million purchases when you include all 33 states using the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx).

“With another year in the books, once again NPLEx is demonstrating its usefulness to retailers and law enforcement,” said NADDI Executive Director Charles Cichon. “Honest cold and allergy sufferers maintain access to important medications containing pseudoephedrine, but criminals are being watched and clearly getting caught thanks to the good work of law enforcement across the country.”

The information being collected during purchases of medication containing pseudoephedrine is becoming more and more valuable to law enforcement agencies. In addition to blocking sales, it is now being used by prosecutors as they build cases to put people behind bars.

Schuette is scheduled for a metro Detroit announcement on Wednesday afternoon. WXYZ will continue to track any new details about the announcement, and update this story as those details become available.