Methamphetamine manufacturers are the Wile E. Coyotes of the drug world.
They know how to circumvent the law, often with mixed success, and how to improvise, using all sorts of nasty ingredients to produce their illegal and highly addictive product. But there’s one ingredient they cannot forgo — pseudoephedrine or PSE, contained in cold medicines used by allergy sufferers, who must sign in at pharmacies to get a limited amount monthly.
That requirement complicates the lives of meth cooks who cannot possibly get enough allergy medicine on their own. So they recruit personal shoppers — addicts, girlfriends, the homeless, students, people desperate for money and drugs — to do their dirty work, to purchase sufficient quantities of cold tablets. These so-called smurfs, who have a way of standing out like an open wound in pharmacy waiting areas, are a royal pain for pharmacists, law enforcement and the public.
Smurfing is about to get very unpleasant. A new, statewide public education campaign, announced last week by Sen. Rick Brinkley, R-Owasso and an assortment of top law enforcement officials that included Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris, will include signs at every pharmacy warning smurfs that their shopping habits could earn them a felony conviction and up to 10 years in prison.
These in-your-face postings have turned out to be strong deterrents in Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Indiana, and Pruitt thinks that success can be replicated in smurf-filled Oklahoma.
Oklahoma already has succeeded in reducing the number of clandestine meth labs by an impressive 50 percent. Law enforcement must be the Roadrunner to stay ahead.
Meth cooks can’t cook when their larder’s bare; Wile E. Coyotes need their minions.
Smurfs aren’t too smart in their choice of bosses or line of work. We’re betting, however, that the new campaign makes them read the handwriting on the wall.