The struggle to stop meth production in Tulsa continues, top officials say they are focusing on “Smurfing.”
While the term may sound funny, Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said it is a serious crime that could lead to prison time.
Wednesday morning, Kunzweiler announced a renewed push to crack down on the criminal practice.He said meth hurts kids, especially kids in homes where meth is being made and used.
A number of law enforcement agencies were also on hand with the DA wanting the public to know, if you're buying pseudoephedrine for making meth-- you're committing a felony.
“Tulsa County has made tremendous efforts in cracking town on the manufacturing and production of meth. However, smurfing continues to be an uphill battle for the Sheriff’s office and the Tulsa Police Department,” said Kunzweiler. “We will work with local leaders, law enforcement and manufacturers of over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines to remind citizens Tulsa County that if you buy medications containing pseudoephedrine to make meth, we will prosecute you.”
Smurf's are people who go from pharmacy to pharmacy buying cold or allergy medicine containing pseudoephedrine, then selling it to meth cooks.
Regulations are in place, and while law enforcement says the crackdown is working, pharmacist Chris Shiller said some of his consumers say the regulations are frustrating.
"A few bad people ruin it for everybody, and that's just the way it is for a lot of stuff, and this is one of them," he said.
Shiller has been a pharmacist in Oklahoma for 13 years and said he remembers when the decongestant pseudoephedrine wasn't regulated and was flying off the shelves.
Now, five years later with stricter laws in place, the traffic is significantly down.
It’s an accomplishment state and local agencies are proud of, but said the fight isn't over yet.
In a news conference Wednesday, they said there are still 22 meth labs within Tulsa city limits - a number they would like to go down to zero.
The answer, they said, is by cracking down on Smurf's.
“The people who are doing this know it’s illegal, but I want to encourage the rest of our public to be ever vigilant," Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said.
And while the crackdown is working, some customers tell their pharmacists it's inconvenient.
"You couldn't buy two of these in one day if you wanted to, so even though this will only last you ten days, you'll have to come back, at the earliest, tomorrow to be able to buy another box of it," Shiller said.
It’s an inconvenience families have when more than one person needs the medication.
But Tulsa Police Major, Eric Dalgleish said, with the current regulations, most people should be covered.
"If you're exceeding that then you need more than over the counter help, there's just no way you need more than what's available," he said.
That's when Shiller said he recommends a doctor’s visit.
"What I would do is recommend them to talk to their doctor and get a prescription written for it, doctors can write prescriptions for it," he said.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and officials from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN), the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association, the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce, the Oklahoma Pharmacists Association, Oklahoma Grocers Association, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) and other leaders, first launched the anti-smurfing campaign in September of 2014.
The Oklahoma Pharmacists Association and the OBN have already begun distributing Anti-Smurfing information and signs to retailers across the state.