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The Scoop

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Verbatim: Indiana police track meth-related sales online, invite tips

Statement issued Friday:

The battle against the production of methamphetamine is now being fought online with a web driven investigative tool called the Indiana Methamphetamine Investigation System, (IMIS). The IMIS website (http://www.in.gov/meth/ or http://meth.in.gov) provides for the input of data from retailers that sell pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient used to manufacture methamphetamine. This information can then be analyzed by law enforcement to detect practices consistent with the production of methamphetamine. The site also has general information about meth and the ability for the public to submit – directly from the website – tip information about suspected meth activity.

The tracking of pseudoephedrine sales is not new to Indiana; in fact, Wal-Mart and Martin’s Super Markets were among the first to participate in voluntary tracking of the key pharmaceutical ingredient that is a ‘must have’ ingredient for production of meth. With IMIS the tracking will be automated and more user friendly for the pharmacist to input the information. As compared to the currently used paper log system the ease of use is expected to attract more voluntary participation from pharmacists across the state concerned about the diversion of a legal drug to illegal production of methamphetamine.

The IMIS site was officially launched at an unveiling demonstration held at the Indiana State Police Toll Road Post at 11:00 a.m. on August 13, 2010. Attending the IMIS launch were government officials and legislators from northern Indiana which has had a significant share of meth lab activity in the north central and north east region of the state. Following the unveiling more than three dozen law enforcement officers attended a four hour training course instructing them how to properly utilize the system, which is virtually identical to the system utilized by the State of Tennessee since 2004. Additional IMIS training events are planned for later in August as the roll out of the IMIS tool continues across Indiana in the coming weeks.

This system was provided to Indiana – free of charge – by the Tennessee Meth Task Force. The Indiana system has the same goals and expectations as the Tennessee Meth Intelligence System (TMIS). Both systems are designed for law enforcement to be used to support comprehensive community policing efforts throughout the State in preventing the production, use, and distribution of methamphetamine. Aspects of these systems include linking and sharing information derived through various technology which enables law enforcement to assess, process, record and analyze information relevant to the investigation and prosecution of methamphetamine offenders statewide. Funding to produce the Tennessee system was provided by Federal grants and Tennessee has made it part of their mission to share the system they developed with other law enforcement agencies across the country.

Since Tennessee began using the system in 2004 more than 500,000 purchases have been identified by documented methamphetamine offenders or by individuals who exceeded the legal purchase amount of pseudoephedrine. Based on this proven track record the Indiana State Police expects to have similar success.

The Indiana State Police are the primary responders to the vast majority of active and inactive clandestine meth labs that are found operational or abandoned in urban and rural locations. Meth labs can be operational in a suspect’s home or are established in motels and even in vehicles. The first documented meth lab identified by the Indiana State Police was in 1991. Since 1995 the Indiana State Police have rendered safe over 8,913 meth labs of which 1,059 of them were in 2008 and 1,343 were in 2009. So far for 2010 the Indiana State Police Methamphetamine Suppression Section (MSS) has responded to 734 meth labs as of August 1, 2010. “Look at it this way”, said First Sergeant Niki Crawford, the Commander of the state police Methamphetamine Suppression Section, “26% of all the meth labs the state police has responded to were in the last two years. And every indication for 2010 is that we’ll be well over 1,000 labs again.”

The Indiana Methamphetamine Investigation System will be a resource database available to all Indiana law enforcement agencies – city, county, state and federal. “Remember”, said F/Sgt Crawford, “we all have a vested interest in the success of this system; from the retailers that will be inputting the raw purchase data information to all the police agencies across Indiana who will access the information to track, find, arrest and prosecute these purveyors of manufactured death that are polluting their own bodies and the communities where they manufacture this despicable drug.”

  • This release is available on Facebook at: Indiana State Police Public-Information-Office.
  • This release is available on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/Indstatepolice

Meth Manufacture in Indiana

•In 2005 in response to Governor Daniels’ Meth Initiative and the rising seizure rate of clandestine methamphetamine labs in the state, Indiana passed its first law restricting the sale of Pseudoephedrine products.

•Pseudoephedrine (PSE) is the precursor drug needed to manufacture meth.

•Senate Enrolled Act 444 did the following:

  • Required PSE be sold from behind the counter, from a locked case or from a location under constant video surveillance.
  • Required completion of sales logs (paper or electronic) in a format approved by the Indiana State Police.
  • Restricted sales clerks from selling more than 3 grams of PSE in a single transaction
  • Restricted consumers from purchasing more than 3 grams of PSE in a week
•House Enrolled Act 1320 updated the law July 1, 2010

  • Mirrors sales restrictions to the federal Combat Methamphetamine Act
*3.6 grams can be sold in one day (maximum)

*9.0 grams can be sold in a 30 day period (maximum)

*Sales limit signs must be posted in retail outlets selling the products

•To address the growing meth problem, the Indiana State Police created the Methamphetamine Suppression Section (MSS)

  • 20 full-time Meth enforcement personnel
*Pro-actively investigate Meth crimes; such as,

•Manufacture (#1 time consumer for MSS personnel)

•Distribution

•Interdiction

•Full-time MSS personnel have drawn over 4,600 criminal cases from 2006 to 2009.

*Educating stakeholders about Meth and Meth lab related safety issues

•Public Safety Personnel

•Probation

•Community Organizations

•Retailers selling PSE products

•Full-time MSS investigators have provided over 1,300 public information programs on Meth from 2006-2009

*Creating partnerships

•Other law enforcement agencies

•Retailers selling PSE products – corporate partnerships

•From 2006-2009 MSS personnel made over 6,800 retail outlets visits

•Community Stakeholders

*Coordinate free clandestine lab response services and training for police agencies state-wide

•Historically ISP has processed 97% of all clan labs reported in Indiana

•Federal reporting to the DEA’s clan lab seizure system

•Annual 8 hour OSHA required re-certification training

•Initial certification training

  • In March ISP sponsored a clan lab certification training for 40 state, local and county officers.
  • The training was free of charge for all attendees and their agencies.
  • This 40 hour course included housing and OSHA required personal protective equipment for the attendees.
*MSS personnel assisted with crafting the drug endangered child protocols

•MSS personnel have ensured over 500 children have been referred for services with DCS from 2006-2009

•These referrals were from both meth lab homes and other dangerous environments children where children were residing

•Experience revealed that the paper logs were cumbersome and time consuming to:

  • Track meth cooks
  • Discern smurf groups
•Smurf definitions:

  • A person or group of people who go from store to store to store purchasing the maximum amount of PSE allowable in a single sale.
*The single sale does not violate state statute but the combination of sales does violate the law.

*The PSE is being diverted for the domestic production of meth.

*Smurfs often use false IDs to purchase multiple times under multiple names, which can increase the occurrence of identity theft.

*Meth cooks recruit friends and family member who knowingly or unknowingly purchase PSE for the production of methamphetamine.

*Cooks use homeless or those needing money as smurfs to purchase PSE

•they are paid between $20 and $70 per box

•the average in Indiana is $50 per box

lllMany meth cooks prefer boxes of pseudoephedrine products over cash for “payment” for their meth.

*A customer must bring a box or two of pills in exchange for meth.

*The typical exchange rate is 1 box of PSE for ½ gram of meth.

•Due to the rise of meth lab seizures and PSE violation cases, the Indiana State Police and the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute partnered early on.

  • Extensive time was spent researching available technology from companies in Indiana and outside our borders to better gather, track and collate PSE sales information and other meth investigative leads.
  • The priority was to allow law enforcement investigating meth labs to be more efficient with all the information available
•Cooperatively, a Meth Investigation System was chosen for law enforcement in Indiana

  • ISP has launched the Indiana Methamphetamine Investigation System (IMIS)
  • The system was created by the Tennessee Meth Task Force for law enforcement use
  • The Tennessee Meth Task Force provides the software AT NO COST to any law enforcement agency requesting it
  • The system gathers the PSE sales data, federal clan lab seizure forms, community tips, law enforcement tips and a variety of other investigative leads
  • The software uses all the data and targets those smurf groups and individuals violating the law
  • The legitimate purchaser of PSE that stays within the legal purchasing limits are protected
*Their information stays in a section of the database that is not searchable by law enforcement

*The sales data is purged every two years as required by Indiana law

  • Web based program
  • Allows retailers to submit their PSE sales in a variety of formats – ALL FREE OF CHARGE with no necessary upgrades to existing web access
*Secure web portal for real-time submission

*American Society for Automation in Pharmacy PSE standard

*CSV text files

*The only paper left is a federally required signature log kept by the retail outlet, which has no personally identifying information on it. This is only utilized if the retail outlet does not have an electronic signature capture device.

  • All information is deemed law enforcement lead information.
  • Additional investigative actions must be taken to validate the information contained in IMIS
  • Access to the system will be available to law enforcement officer in all parts of the state FREE OF CHARGE
*Must attend a training session held by ISP

*Must sign a user agreement

*Must complete on-line Bureau of Justice Assistance Intelligence System training

• What does ISP expect to be the results?

  • No tracking system is able to prevent meth labs
  • Our expectation is that we will actually seize more labs that exist in our communities because we are placing comprehensive meth investigative leads in the hands of law enforcement.
  • lMeth cooks in our communities need to know law enforcement will be targeting them, and now have an excellent tool to make police officers much more efficient and focused in providing intelligence led policing in communities all over Indiana.
  • We will not be creating a safe haven for smurfs by notifying them of their purchase limits and allowing them to fall within the legal limits while recruiting other criminals and citizens to provide PSE products to cooks manufacturing this highly addictive, dangerous, and destructive drug. Law enforcement will have access to the tools in IMIS to efficiently track these violations and provide criminal investigative follow-up through all means available.

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