01/31/08 — Five more arrested in 'Smurf' drug raid

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Five more arrested in 'Smurf' drug raid

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on January 31, 2008 2:02 PM

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office upped its arrest total from seven to 12 in "Operation Pop-A-Smurf", which targets people supplying methamphetamine cooks.

Five people were arrested for making buys of pseudoephedrine, an over-the-counter cold medication used in illegal meth manufacture.

Police say such pill shoppers are dubbed "smurfs" on the street.

Since Jan. 15 of 2006, it has been illegal to purchase or deliver more than two packages of pseudoephedrine -- one common trade name is Sudafed -- totaling 3.6 grams in a month.

Pseudoephedrine bought with a prescription is exempt from the law.

Lt. Chris Worth initiated the six-month anti-meth campaign called "Operation Pop-A-Smurf," which produced evidence against as many as 70 people.

Charged this week were William Thomas Poland, 25, Darrell Road, LaGrange, James Timothy Sauls, 20, Fulton Street, Dudley, Jose Javier Martinez, Old Grantham Road, Amanda Wiggins Davenport, 25, Peanut Road, Snow Hill and Gary Andrew Kornegay, 36, Budd Fields Road, LaGrange, authorities said.

Worth observed a similar program in Johnston County, dubbed "Operation Pillcrusher." That resulted in a number of arrests in October, including a Four Oaks resident who taught second-grade classes at Polenta Elementary in Johnston's Cleveland Township area.

In the Wayne County campaign, deputies checked pharmacy logs of sales of the drug, which must be requested from the pharmacy counter.

The Sheriff's Office said the accused pill shoppers thought they could take advantage of the fact that pharmacies do not share information about who is buying pseudoephedrine and in what quantities, Maj. George Raecher said.

"Most 'smurfs' know that there is no current connection of databases between all of the pharmacies, and they look at it as a way to get around the law," Raecher said in a news release.

One of those arrested, Poland, faces additional charges resulting from a traffic stop initiated by Agressive Criminal Enforcement Deputy Randy Thompson.

Poland had 25 grams of methadone, a synthetic opioid used as a painkiller and as an anti-addictive in the treatment of heroin addiction.

Because methadone is a drug in the opiate class, Poland is charged with trafficking in heroin, Raecher said, and was jailed under $250,000 bond.