Key meth-making ingredient now harder to obtain

By Roslyn Anderson - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - If you suffer cold and sinus problems, starting Thursday, you won't find any remedy containing pseudoephedrine on store shelves.

A new state law takes effect July 1, 2010, requiring a physician's prescription to purchase the medication.

In January, two brothers from Rankin County, 34-year-old Billy W. Couch and 28-year-old Dusty F. Couch, were arrested by Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (MBN) agents and charged with making crystal meth in a travel trailer.

Two months later, 25-year-old William Bryant Prescott and 48-year-old Toney K. Hefner of Hinds County were also charged with meth manufacturing.

Law officers said the key ingredient they all used, pseudoephedrine, is now more difficult to obtain.

Starting Thursday, it will take a doctor's prescription to get the narcotic used in cold medicines like Sudafed.

MBN officials said last year there were more meth arrests than the combined total of crack and powder cocaine arrests.

In 2009, there were 722 meth lab seizures.  From January 1st, 2010, to date there have been 529.

136 children have been removed from locations where meth was made.

"And the ones who are neglected and not fed properly and maybe not sent to school are the ones who are lucky," said MBN Director Marshall Fisher.  "There's an extremely high instance of sexual abuse with these children, and I'm not talking about 12-year-old's.  I'm talking about pre-schoolers."

Officials said they know, however, the state law won't stop the practice of "smurfing" or going to different regions to purchase small quantities.  That's why they are working with surrounding states.

"It (the new law) will significantly narrow the way that you obtain it and how law enforcement can track it," said Department of Public Safety Commissioner Steve Simpson.  "So sure there's gonna be some of that, but it's gonna be significantly limited compared to what we have now on every street corner almost."

Mississippi is only the second state after Oregon to label pseudoephedrine a controlled substance.

It is now illegal to possess more than three-point-six grams per day and up to nine grams in a 30-day period.

©2010 WLBT. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.