Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing jokingly said he hopes new laws involving producing methamphetamine will help “smurf out crime.”
That’s a good description of what state legislators and law enforcement officials hope happens with the state’s recently launched Anti-Smurfing Campaign.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said the campaign’s mission is to make it clear that purchasing pseudoephedrine for the purpose of cooking meth is a crime that could lead to prison time enhanced by the status of being a felon.
Pseudoephedrine is the key ingredient used in the manufacturing of meth.
“That’s were the smurfs come in,” Rushing said.
He said people who go out and purchase items needed to make methamphetamine have been labeled “smurfs.” They will now face felony charges if caught providing the goods to those manufacturing meth.
“The bottom line is they are the middle men,” Rushing said.
Strange said buying a cold or allergy product for a stranger is not an innocent or harmless act, but one that could have disastrous effects for the community and tragic effects for children who are endangered by being in the environment of meth labs and drug addicts.
“Methamphetamine is a terrible drug that causes great damage to our society, but I am encouraged that we are continuing to make significant progress against it,” Strange said. “Our message is that if you help get medicine for the manufacture of meth, you too are committing a felony crime for which you will face serious consequences.”
Strange said the new law is the result of the cooperative efforts of the law enforcement community, including district attorneys, drug task force leaders, sheriffs and police chiefs.
The Anti-Smurfing Campaign is being sponsored by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a national association representing the makers and consumers of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements.
State officials said Alabama is the first state to participate in the Anti-Smurfing Campaign.
During the past few years, authorities have reported an increasing problem with smurfing.
“The Lauderdale County Drug Task Force did a roundup just targeting smurfs,” said Angie Hamilton, assistant district attorney in Lauderdale County. “To get to the (meth) cooks, you have to target the smurfs. The cooks are not going to go out and buy the stuff themselves. They know better.
“So, they sent out the smurfs to buy what they need.”
Hamilton said the new law and the campaign are a positive steps in preventing meth production.
“Hopefully, it will be a deterrent to people who are smurfing,” Hamilton said.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.