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Meth “Smurfing”
Smurfs, Breaking Bad And Meth On TV
What is Smurfing and Where Do I Sign Up?
Database Helps Police Track Meth 'Smurfs'

Meth “Smurfing”

What does smurfing mean? In relation to meth, smurfing is a term that is used to describe a person or group of people that go from one store to another in order to gain enough pseudoephedrine to make meth.

Since laws were passed in 2005 to prohibit people from buying large quantities of pseudoephedrine at one time, meth manufacturers have found ways around this by “smurfing” from one store to another buying just under the 2 package legal limit at each store until they have enough pseudoephedrine to make meth.

The term smurfing actually comes from the banking world. Smurfing as it relates to banking was coined to describe a process in which a bank would break up huge financial transactions into several smaller ones in order to avoid tipping off the government or raising any red flags. In relation to meth, I’m sure you can see the correlation. Another reason that the term smurfing conjures up memories of those fun loving little blue cartoon characters is probably because of the fact that many times it takes several people to buy up enough pseudoephedrine to make a batch of meth. So you might see a group of 3+ tweekers gathered together like a group of smurfs in the cold medicine isle or standing in line at the store with 2 boxes of pseudoephedrine each.

The government is in the process of passing legislation that would track the purchase of pseudoephedrine from one store to another. Currently these records are limited to the store in which the purchase was made, however in some states they will soon make stores that sell pseudoephedrine combine records and compare them in a central database in order to curtail the smurfing process.

Smurfs, Breaking Bad And Meth On TV

This week I produced a feature on methamphetamine in Louisville. I got the idea from the story at a press conference earlier this year. The Mayor, Sergeant Stan Salyards and other officials unveiled the new anti-meth campaign. I wanted to know if the increased arrests they were making were really due to extra vigilance, or if more people were making meth. It turns out that while there aren’t any exact statistics, Dr. Vito and Dr. Suresh’s preliminary numbers show that labs are being busted faster than they are being built.

The subject of meth is getting more play in world of TV, with AMC’s critically-acclaimed series ‘Breaking Bad.’ The show follows Walter White, a chemistry teacher who starts manufacturing crystal meth to pay for his cancer treatments. He’s joined by his former student, Jesse Pinkman, who sells the meth.

The show is good, and while it is set in America (Albuquerque), nothing like that is likely happening in Louisville. For one, Walter makes crystal meth in a very complicated mobile lab. According to Sergeant Salyards, the labs the LMPD finds are smaller, sometimes single-pot labs. These compact setups are still dangerous (lithium is combustible in moist air), but they produce a less pure, powdered version of meth. Also, Walter in Breaking Bad doesn’t use meth. Salyards says almost every lab busted was set up by a user who was making a personal supply.

I also interviewed a prosecutor for the story. None of her comments made it into the final product, but she offered insights into the meth community. She corroborated Salyard’s claim that local meth manufacturers make it for themselves, but she told me about Smurfs. Smurfs are meth users who help gather supplies for manufacturers in exchange for drugs. The Smurf system is particularly helpful in getting more pseudoephedrine for labs. Three people buying the legal limit of cold medicine from one pharmacy are less likely to be caught than one person buying the legal limit at three pharmacies.

In Breaking Bad, Walter and Jesse steal the chemicals they need for meth, rather than go to drug stores. But that’s fiction. There is crystal meth in Louisville, but it’s imported the same way crack, cocaine and heroin are. The people manufacturing those drugs are in other cities and countries, and are not often thought to be users of their own product, since their operations are for profits, not personal use.

What is Smurfing and Where Do I Sign Up?

Buzz up!vote now“The street term is smurfing,” Gentry said. “You give people certain jobs … like one person goes in and buys a box of Pseudoephedrine, then another person goes in and buys a box.”

Just kidding. But really, smurfing has nothing to do with blue paint or snuffing it (that’s what I thought). It is actually a term used to classify the people that go out in hordes to purchase ingredients to make the popular street drug, crystal meth.

I really didn’t think that it had anything to do with drugs (ya right), but I was happy to have learned something new for the day. Appreantly this happens enough to have a term for it. I remember about 2-3 years ago you couldn’t be Sudafed from Wal-Mart without going through hoops to get it.

Many chemicals that you need to make the drug can be found at local stores in most areas. That makes it tougher to keep an eye on who is making the drug, but in my opinion, you just need to what one guy: the one with 20 boxes of Pseudoephedrine, right?

Database Helps Police Track Meth 'Smurfs'

Four people face drug charges after police say they used a statewide system to track them down.

The move of products containing pseudoephedrine from the store shelf to behind the pharmacy counter was supposed to regulate medicines used to make methamphetamine, but according to Bill Mark, director of the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force, cases of meth labs increased between 2008 and 2009.

When customers buy products that contain pseudoephedrine, those purchases are logged in a statewide database called MethCheck.

"Even if we're not looking at a target individual, were just checking the logs from the pharmacy to see if there are any trends developing," said Mark.

Agents along with Gallatin County Sheriff's deputies arrested Jason Webb, 35, from Warsaw at a truck stop off I-71 Tuesday morning. Police say they watched him buy a meth-making ingredient.

With him were two women, Kristan Hall, 29, from Dublin, Ohio and Heather Smith, 24, from Cincinnati. Police say the two women were "smurfs," a term used to describe secondary purchasers of meth-making material.

Police say the nickname comes from the children's cartoon and is used because buyers usually travel in groups and go from store to store making buys.

A former user who goes by "Melissa" told 9News a $5 box of nasal decongestant that contains pseudoephedrine can be sold for as much at $50 on the black market.

"A lot of them don't even know what they're doing. They are just asked, ‘Can you buy me a box of Sudafed?’ A lot of them know what they're doing and know their compensation for it," said "Melissa".

"Other people 'smurf' because they're addicts themselves and they'll obtain the pseudoephedrine to trade it for meth," said Mark.

Clean for over a year, "Melissa" says the only way for her to escape the drug culture was to move back home to Northern Kentucky.

"It messes with your mind," she warned. "It's the worst drug in the world."

Police also arrested Clayton Walker, 47, of Cincinnati. He's charged with multiple counts of drug trafficking and could spend 10 years in prison for each count.

Webb, Hall and Smith could each face 20 years in prison.

Two bills were introduced during the latest Kentucky legislature session to address pseudoephedrine.

One would have required a prescription from a doctor to obtain the drug, the other would have decreased monthly purchase limits.


The Blue Man Group.

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