KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri attorney general Chris Koster joined Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and leaders from the Missouri Pharmacy Association and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday to launch the state’s new voluntary retail Anti-Smurfing Campaign.
"Missouri law enforcement officials will tell you that smurfing is one of the biggest challenges they face in the battle against methamphetamine production and abuse," Koster stated. "With the Anti-Smurfing Campaign, Missouri leaders are coming together with the manufactures of over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines to send an unmistakable message: if you're buying this product for a meth cook, you are committing a serious criminal offense and could end up behind bars," he said. "The Anti-Smurfing Campaign is not a silver bullet, but I am confident it will make those who consider buying products to help a meth cook think twice before making an unlawful purchase."
“There is no question that smurfing is a major challenge for the law enforcement community," stated Scott Melville, president and CEO for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. "In addition to electronic blocking technology and other legislative tools, Missouri leaders recognize the importance of taking concrete steps to educate the public about this serious criminal activity.”
The initiative, which was developed by CHPA, aims to educate potential “smurfers” — those who buy pseudoephedrine and sell the product to another to manufacture methamphetamine — on the consequences of making an illegal purchase. The Missouri Pharmacy Association and the Missouri Retailers Association are co-sponsoring the campaign along with CHPA.
According to law enforcement officials, some hardened criminals—attempting to circumvent the law—approach third parties to purchase pseudoephedrine for them. While some meth cooks may understand they can go to jail for their illegal behavior, individuals who purchase these medicines for others for payment may be unaware that their behavior can lead to prison time.
The Anti-Smurfing Campaign is a public-private partnership that provides Missouri pharmacies signage to display at the retail counter. CHPA tested a range of anti-smurfing messages, and the research affirmed that these materials successfully educate potential smurfers about the consequence of illegal purchases without deterring honest consumers.