State steps up fight against 'smurfing'


The state of Michigan is stepping up the fight against methamphetamine.

Attorney General Bill Schuette has announced a new campaign to take on “smurfing.”

Smurfing is when meth makers get other people to buy them cold medicine, which contains a key ingredient, pseudoephedrine, for meth.

The Anti-Smurfing Campaign aims to increase public awareness about the practice and the societal problems associated with methamphetamine production.

“Meth use is something that has greatly affected our state, from the Upper Peninsula to Detroit and all areas in between,” said Schuette. “Talking about how anyone can inadvertently play a role in the process of meth production is one of the keys to stopping the problem in its tracks. The message is clear: if you’re buying over-the-counter medicine for a meth cook, you’re breaking the law and contributing to one of the most serious problems in Michigan.”

Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark Reene, State Senator John Proos, along with Michigan Retailers Association, Michigan Pharmacists Association and Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), were also on-hand for the announcement.

“Smurfing is not just a user problem, it is a health, safety, and public welfare issue, too. People who make meth can be found throughout the state, so informing our citizens about the warning signs of smurfing will help curb the threat at its initial stages and enhance public safety," Reene said.

He said there were 525 meth labs in Michigan in 2011 and in 2015 there were 1,180.

"Which made us second in the country in terms of meth lab incidents," Reene said.

Schuette’s office reports that 8,744 boxes of cold and allergy medicine were blocked from sale in 2016 after being flagged as suspect by the NPLEx system. The system is a real-time electronic logging system that is used to track sales of over-the-counter cold and allergy medication.

The campaign will start by hanging up posters in stores across Michigan in hopes of shedding some light on the problem.

"In pharmacies, different retailers that sell the drug so it will draw attention to the issue and will have a deterrent effect. That's the hope," Reene said.

Copyright 2017 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.



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