Anti-smurfing campaign to educate on dangers of illegal drug pur - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Anti-smurfing campaign to educate on dangers of illegal drug purchases

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The trial of a man suspected of paying other individuals to purchase Sudafed, a practice known as smurfing, is underway in Vanderburgh County. 

In the probable cause affidavit, officials say Godfrey Egwu Jr. was arrested in March after undercover cops witnessed him paying at least two other individuals to purchase Sudafed at a local pharmacy. The medicine is a key ingredient used to make meth.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is now launching a statewide campaign against smurfing.

When you visit a local pharmacy, you might notice a new sign that's a part of the campaign. It's a warning that if you buy pseudoephedrine for a meth cook, you're being watched and will be arrested. 

The new anti-smurfing campaign focuses on educating individuals on the dangers of illegal drug purchases. The Evansville Meth Suppression Unit frequently watches local pharmacies and monitors individuals who purchase cold-medicines like Sudafed.

Zoeller says eliminating a key ingredient in the meth manufacturing process could very well eliminate the number of meth labs. The suppression unit has busted 110 labs in Evansville so far this year, leading the state in total number of labs. The unit is made up of three highly trained officers that work around the clock. 

"We're limited by the amount of law enforcement we're able to put into it. I firmly believe if we double the amount of police officers looking for meth labs, we would find twice as many meth labs. It's that big of a problem here," said Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann. "If you purchase pseudoephedrine for the purpose of providing it to someone to make meth, you've committed a substantial step toward the production of meth. At least here in Vanderburgh County, we're going to charge you with that."

Evansville Police Chief Billy Bollin says there just isn't money in the budget to dedicate more resources to that meth suppression unit, but he says this anti-smurfing campaign is just another tool to help current operations.

Officials say the next step is educating college students in the area because they are often targets of the meth cooks.

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