Sheriff: Tracking purchases puts dent in meth production - | WBTV Charlotte

Sheriff: Tracking purchases puts dent in meth production

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Lincoln County saw a record number of meth lab busts in 2013, and investigators tell WBTV tracking your purchases added to their success. 

Sheriff David Carpenter said his department uses an online data system known as NPLEx. The online database allows investigators to track cold medicine purchases.

It's a tool Carpenter said has changed the way separate departments work together to track meth manufacturers.

"The new tactics that our drug investigators used, or are currently using, led to those busts that we had, which was record breaking for us." Carpenter said. 

Lincoln County drug investigators raided 22 meth labs in 2013. The county only reported six meth labs in 2012. 

While law enforcement agencies have had success battling the meth epidemic, they are not alone in their efforts. 

Pharmaceutical companies, like Acura, have changed their products, making it more difficult for people to convert cold medicine into methamphetamine. 

Company leaders said it is similar to the technology they used to hinder the abuse of pain-killers. 

"There is a connection between pseudoephedrine and meth, and we have applied similar technologies to pseudoephedrine to make it very, very difficult for meth cooks to convert or extract pseudoephedrine for conversion into meth," said Brad Rivet, Acura Pharmaceuticals.  

Acura sells their meth-resistant cold product nationwide. 

As for the NPLEx system, it is used in 27 states, including North Carolina. 

Local authorities tell WBTV there is no arguing its effectiveness, but there is a downside. Some feel the NPLEx system compromises customer privacy. 

"There is a down side to it just to the fact that you know the vast number of folks are innocent folks but you are logged in for the purchase of cold medicine," Sheriff Carpenter said. 

It's a privacy debate that was sidelined when state leaders signed the use of NPLEx into law and authorized use in 2012.

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