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Selling cold meds a chargeable crime

Consider yourself warned: If you buy pseudoephedrine and give it to someone else who cooks methamphetamine, prosecutors are going to charge you with a felony.

It matters not that the decongestant is not a prescription drug, but its use in the manufacture of methamphetamine has for years made its purchase and consumption a matter of concern to law enforcement.

And now the practice known as “smurfing” – buying cold and allergy drugs containing pseudoephedrine to give to meth cooks – is a felony and prosecutors are starting to enforce the law.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller was in Fort Wayne on Monday afternoon and stood inside a CVS pharmacy near the prescription counter to give notice to those who engage in the practice.

Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards was also present, alongside State Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, who helped spearhead the legislation making it a felony.

The Fort Wayne area has seen a huge increase in the number of meth labs discovered and broken up so far this year – 47 so far compared with 32 in all of 2012 – according to Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York.

Richards said it often doesn’t dawn on individuals who pass on the cold and allergy medicines that it may be illegal because the drugs, while requiring identification and a signature to obtain, are not prescription drugs.

But it is illegal – a Class D felony punishable by up to three years in jail.

“The fair warning has gone out,” Zoeller said. “If you didn’t know (it is illegal), now you do.”

rgreen@jg.net

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