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Wiregrass meth production drops as result of tracking pseudoephedrine purchases
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Wiregrass meth production drops as result of tracking pseudoephedrine purchases

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Local law enforcement officials have seen a decrease in the production of methamphetamine due to the implementation of a computerized system that tracks the purchases of pseudoephedrine, the primary ingredient used to make meth.

According to a statement from the nonprofit group called the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), the use of the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) system over the past several years helped lower the number of meth labs. The nonprofit recently released some figures showing the drop in purchases of pseudoephedrine.

Dothan Police Lt. Mark Nelms, the supervisor of the department’s narcotics unit, said the use of the NPLEx system has helped lower the number of meth labs found locally.

“It’s helped out tremendously, but it doesn’t alleviate it by any means,” Nelms said. “You can’t go into Walgreens and get everything you need to make meth like you used to.”

According to the statement, the NPLEx system has been in place at all pharmacies in Alabama since 2012. The statement said the NPLEx system, which is used in 32 states, helps law enforcement by blocking unlawful purchases of medications containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) at the pharmacy counter.

The system also provides law enforcement with valuable information such as “watch lists” that notify them through email when a meth suspect attempts to purchase pseudoephedrine, the statement said.

Over 44,000 retailers nationwide report pseudoephedrine sales to NPLEx, and in 2015, the system blocked the illegal sale of 2,239,961 boxes of medications containing pseudoephedrine, preventing 5,848,806 grams of pseudoephedrine from getting in the hands of potential criminals.

“It lowered the amount of meth that was produced locally,” Nelms said. “More meth is brought in from outside the area since the law was brought into effect because they can’t make as much locally as they used to.”

The usage of the NPLEx system has made it harder to get pseudoephedrine, resulting in fewer meth labs, but another drug is being increasingly encountered by law enforcement.

“Meth is a minor issue compared to synthetic marijuana right now,” Nelms said. “You can’t make as much as easily now. It’s actually easier to make a large amount of synthetic marijuana as opposed to a large amount of meth right now.”

Follow Matt on Twitter @ElofsonMatt.

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