Bill to crack down on meth moves to Indiana House - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Bill to crack down on meth moves to Indiana House

Testimony began with Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke at the Indiana Statehouse on Wednesday. Testimony began with Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke at the Indiana Statehouse on Wednesday.
Asst. Police Chief Chris Pugh and Meth Task Force Detective Brock Hensley both testified on Wednesday as well. Asst. Police Chief Chris Pugh and Meth Task Force Detective Brock Hensley both testified on Wednesday as well.

A bill to crack down on meth makers is headed to a full House vote after being passed by a special House committee at the Indiana Statehouse on Wednesday. 

The question is- how will this bill impact Evansville's war on meth?

Evansville Assistant Police Chief Chris Pugh tells 14 News that Evansville had 111 meth labs in 2012 and 20 already in 2013. He says that means the meth task force is on schedule to bust even more manufacturers.

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke was first to testify on the bill which passed the Senate in February. He says the bill focuses on reducing the amount of pseudophedrine a person can purchase from 86 grams a year, to 61 grams a year.

The proposed limit is equivalent to two to six boxes each month, depending on the dosage. Mayor Winnecke says that is still too much, and he suggests the limit to be cut in half.

Ultimately, Mayor Winnecke suggests Sudafed become a prescription drug.

Detective Brock Hensley said just last week he parked at Walgreens and watched two men meet in the parking lot, one went in to purchase Sudafed, and then sold it minutes later on the next intersection.

Officials say smurfing is the biggest problem.

Officials say that pseudophedrine has an incredibly high street value. Manufacturers buy the substance illegally through the use of smurfs.

The bill proposes harsher punishments for those who are caught purchasing for others. A proposed registry will track the amount an individual has purchased.

Mayor Winnecke says it's a start to crack down on smurfing which officials have witnessed in the Evansville area. 

"Say you've already purchased your limit, you can pay me and I'll go in and buy the pseudo for you. I'll sign the registry, and then the police will be trying to track me. When they track me, they'll track you. So the registry is effective in the sense that it's another tool in the toolbox, but it's not the end all, be all in the fight to stop meth," Mayor Winnecke said.

Officials agreed on Wednesday that the most disturbing aspect of these meth labs is the number of children they affect. 

Officials told the committee that child protective services removed 420 children from meth lab homes across the state of Indiana. That number accounts for more than 40 percent of the agency's cases.

Another agency that is hit hard financially is the Evansville Meth Task Force, which was formed just three years ago.  

"So we take it from other investigations. We take it form patrol, from other investigative units things like that and just the sheer amount of money to keep these guys safe. For the equipment they need to work the labs safely, so they don't get injured," Assistant Chief Pugh said.

Officials estimate the meth task force is a half-million dollar operation and like Assistant Chief Pugh said that money is taken from other local operations.

Copyright 2013 WFIE. All rights reserved.

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