Anti-Smurfing campaign continues

Ponca City Now - November 19, 2015 11:20 am

By Beverly Bryant/News Director

A coalition of law enforcement officials, legislators and pharmacists in Kay County are continuing the battle against illegal drugs — particularly methamphetamines — through a campaign known as "anti-Smurfing."

Smurfing is a name which describes the criminal practice of purchasing cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) to knowingly or unknowingly sell to individuals who make methamphetamines.

A press conference on the anti-Smurfing campaign was held Thursday morning at Bintz Pharmacy in Ponca City, one of the local pharmacies involved in the campaign.

Pharmacist Gary Bintz said that as a pharmacist, this is a very important issue.

"Just about everyone knows that buying cigarettes or alcohol for minors is a serious crime," Bintz said. "Not everyone knows this also passes down to cough andcold medicines, especially those with pseudoephedrine, which are purchased for others to make methamphetamines. Smurfing is a very serious crime."

District Attorney Brian Hermanson said "There is nothing wrong with buying these medicines for your own use. Buying them for the production of meth is a very serious crime."

He said he was in court on Wednesday for a trial involving methamphetamine manufacturers.

State Rep. Steve Vaughan said that in 2012, Rep. David Derby presented a bill that no one in the Oklahoma Legislature voted against.

"One person can only get so much of these medicines," he said. "Other people are buying them for the meth makers. We may have to put up with having our cold a little longer because we can’t buy as much of these drugs."

He said since Derby’s bill was passed, there has been a 79 percent decrease in meth labs.

Ponca City Police Chief Don Bohon said these awareness campaigns are vital to educate the public in law enforcement’s efforts to fight the methamphetamine problem from every angle.

"We will catch the people who are doing this," Bohon said. "We are proud of the work we have done, especially this calendar year."

Hermanson said more than 80 percent of crimes are related to drugs and alcohol.

"We have to stop it at its source," Hermanson said.

"We want ‘smurfers’ to know we are serious about prosecuting them for breaking the law. My colleagues and I will spread the word around Kay County. I hope this program will make people think before they purchase pseudoephedrine with the intention to cook it for meth."

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, along with officials from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association, the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce, the Oklahoma Pharmacists Association, the Oklahoma Grocers Association, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) and other leaders launched the anti-Smurfing campaign in September 2014. Hermanson plans to continue the campaign in Kay County.

Photo: Pharmacist Gary Bintz, at the podium, gave his support to the anti-Smurfing campaign in today’s news conference. With him are State Rep. Steve Vaughan, Ponca City Police Chief Don Bohon, and Kay County District Attorney Brian Hermanson


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