11/10/11 — Drug raids end in arrests

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Drug raids end in arrests

By Gary Popp
Published in News on November 10, 2011 1:46 PM

The Goldsboro/Wayne County Drug Task Force began a campaign Wednesday targeting people who have been identified as unlawfully purchasing pseudoephedrine in Wayne County.

Pseudoephedrine is a drug found in many over-the-counter medications available in area pharmacies and it is a is a key ingredient in "cooking" methamphetamine. Laws limit the purchase of the drug and pharmacies are required to keep logs of purchases of the drug. The Drug Task Force used the list in their investigation, going after people who had exceeded their limit.

The campaign is being called "Pop-A Smurf 2." A similar campaign called "Poppa Smurf" resulted in a number of arrests in 2008.

Authorities said "smurfing" pills occurs when a person buys pseudoephedrine products for the purpose of trading them to methamphetamine cooks for money or the illegal substance.

Task Force officials said they plan on arresting more than 100 people.

Captain Richard Lewis of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office said the operation could continue until late December.

He said the operation will unfold in several phases. During the first phase, warrants were obtained for the arrest of nearly 40 people. As of this morning, Lewis said, 10 people had been arrested.

Lewis added that the operation includes 15 Sheriff's Office deputies, three Goldsboro police officers and two SBI agents.

"The SBI is here in case we come across any meth labs," Lewis said Wednesday afternoon.

Hours later, the Drug Task Force requested the assistance of the SBI agents when a meth lab was discovered.

The lab was found at a home at 335 Dave Howell Lane in Princeton. John Christopher Hall, 37, was taken into custody and charged with manufacturing methamphetamine.

Lewis said the meth site found in Hall's residence was larger than most sites discovered in the area in recent years.

Eastern Environmental, a hazardous material contractor, was hired to safely clean the site of the harmful agents.

Two other individuals live in the home and additional arrests are pending, deputies said.

Sheriff Carey Winders said the use and manufacturing of methamphetamine is on the rise in Wayne County and the state, and that he wants to actively fight the growing problem by initiating operations like "Pop-A Smurf."

"We want to slow down some of the meth production by taking proactive steps," Winders said.

The sheriff said that by going after those who purchase the pseudoephedrine, it creates another avenue to confront the proliferation of meth use.

"It is important we try to limit the source that is being used to make the meth," Winders said. "It is a very tough drug we are dealing with."