Health groups try to raise awareness of ‘smurfing’

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — The Indiana attorney general’s office and several industry groups are launching a statewide campaign to raise public awareness of criminals who purchase cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine to sell to methamphetamine cooks.

Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Dennis Wichern says the practice is called “smurfing” because gangs enter stores and buy the drugs individually to sidestep restrictions on purchases.

The Indiana Pharmacists Alliance, the Indiana Retailers Council, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association and other groups announced the campaign Tuesday in Evansville.

The effort uses signage at stores warning consumers the simple act of buying certain cold or allergy product for a stranger can fuel Indiana’s methamphetamine problem.

The public-private partnership was developed by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a group representing the makers of over-the-counter medicines.

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