Smurfs for Hire

By Megan Trent

February 6, 2012 Updated Feb 6, 2012 at 7:33 PM EDT

INDIANA, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - The number of meth labs being discovered by police are up, but meth cooks have some new tricks in their efforts to evade authorities.

In 2011, Indiana State Police dismantled 1,437 meth labs. Most were "one pot" meth labs. That number is up from 2010, when 1,395 labs were discovered.

One way legislators have attempted to cut down on meth manufacturing is through tracking who buys pseudoephedrine (cold medicine) and how much. However, meth manufactures are still finding ways to get their hands on that key main ingredient.

Many meth cooks are now hiring "smurfs". Someone 18-years-old or older, often a college student, is asked to go into a pharmacy and and buy cold medicine containing psuedoephedrine in exchange for drugs or cash.

It can be a tempting offer for a struggling college kid who is handed $50 and told they can keep $40 of it. Police say, don't fall for it. It's a felony that could earn someone several years in prison for conspiracy to manufacture meth amphetamines.

Sgt. Ron Galaviz of the Indiana State Police says if someone asks you to buy cold medicine for them, it should send up a red flag. "Do you really know who that person is? What if it's an undercover police officer? What if it truly is a criminal they're working a sting on? All of a sudden you're caught up innocently enough trying to help another person. So unfortunately, you really can't trust people these days."

Galaviz says traffic stops result in a large number of meth related arrests, but it's also up to concerned citizens. If you see, smell, or notice anything suspicious, submit a tip. You can do so anonymously at the ISP's Meth Hotline. Just call 1-800-435-4756.

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