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New Project Helping Bust Meth Labs In Laurel County

By: Jon Sonnheim Email
By: Jon Sonnheim Email

It helps bust meth labs, catch criminals buying excessive meth ingredients, and saves law enforcement some much needed time. It's called MethCheck, an electronic log pilot project in Laurel County that officials believe was the first of its kind in the country.

Operation UNITE officials say they've busted 17 active meth labs and charged 42 people with meth related offenses just since November of 2005. That's when this MethCheck project began in cooperation with the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy. They say that's just using these new electronic logs in Laurel County and that statewide, this project could bring a stop to many more meth labs.

It used to take UNITE detectives like Brian Lewis days at a time to sift through the handwritten pharmacy log books detailing sales of pseudoephedrine products, the key ingredients to making meth.

"Painstaking for law enforcement. We were having to go through pages and pages of handwritten logs that sometimes were hard to read," Lewis said.

But, since November of 2005, a new streamlined electronic log system that 14 of the 19 pharmacies in Laurel County are using simplifies that process.

"We scan the driver’s license, it goes into a database. Plus we enter whatever Sudafed type products they bought, the quantity, and it's able to be tracked in real time," said Pharmacist Leslie Rogers.

It's allowed law enforcement officials to take a more active as opposed to reactive approach in finding and catching those breaking the pseudoephedrine and meth laws. Since 2005, it's been illegal to buy more than nine grams of pseudoephedrine in a span of 30 days.

"It's just using technology in a smart, efficient way, to help law enforcement do their job and prevent meth labs," said Van Ingram with the Office of Drug Control Policy.

"I get calls almost daily from another agency, can you check this guy out for me because they know how easy and quick it is," Lewis said.

As for the future of this project, several other states have begun using similar programs and a recently passed bill in Kentucky will now make it mandatory for pharmacies across the state to use these types of electronic logs as long as the state pays for and provides them. That law will go into effect on June 26th.


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