Pubdate: Sun, 03 Feb 2008
Source: Wausau Daily Herald (WI)
Copyright: 2008 Wausau Daily Herald
Author: Jeff Starck
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Pseudoephedrine Purchases Lead To Recent Busts

A 2-year-old state law that limits the amount of  pseudoephedrine a
person can buy has slowed  manufacturing of methamphetamine in
Marathon County,  according to police and pharmacists.

Pseudoephedrine is a common ingredient available in  over-the-counter
remedies such as Sudafed or Advil Cold  & Sinus. To buy products that
contain it, however, a  person must sign a log that tracks sales. The
state  allows a person to buy up to 7.5 grams of the drug  within a
30-day period.

Pseudoephedrine is a common ingredient in the  production of
methamphetamine, an addictive and illegal  stimulant that can harm the
central nervous system. The  restrictions make it difficult for people
to  manufacture the drug locally.

"We don't get the intel or see the labs like we used  to," said Lt.
Gary Schneck, who heads the Marathon  County Sheriff's Department's
drug investigation unit.

Drug investigators review the drug logs and rely on  tips from the
public, pharmacists and other officers to  track large purchases of
pseudoephedrine, Schneck said.

A Schofield man was charged with a felony last month  after Everest
Metro police saw his name repeatedly on  drug logs at pharmacies in
Weston, Rothschild and  Wausau. The man bought 23.5 grams between Nov.
23 and  Jan. 3, sometimes stopping at three pharmacies a day,
according to a criminal complaint.

Another Schofield man was charged Friday after buying  11.4 grams from
Nov. 18 to Dec. 28 in Weston and  Rothschild.

Mike Scheidecker, head pharmacist at Trig's Pharmacy in  Wausau, said
he has refused sales to customers in the  past because of excessive
purchases, but it is rare.

Thefts of the cold medications are down after the law  forced
pharmacies to put them behind the counter, he  said.

In addition, Sudafed has begun selling products that no  longer
contain pseudoephedrine, he said.

Although the number of arrests and cases involving  homemade meth was
down in 2007, crystal meth -- a purer  form of the drug -- still is
commonly found and used in  Marathon County, Schneck said. He thinks
most of it is  being transported through Chicago and the Twin Cities
from Mexico.
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