'Tulsa Is Meth Capital Of U.S.'

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Updated: 3/15/2011 6:03 pm Published: 3/09/2011 4:16 pm

Update--March 15th, 2011-Local law enforcement pushing to make pseudoephedrine a prescription say the proposed HB 1235 will not be voted on the House floor. It made it out of the Public Safety committee but it didn't make today's deadline to be placed on the calendar. An epidemic worse than you may have even considered. Officials say they will work to push a similar law through the Senate.

Meth has taken up residence so bad that police nationwide dubbed Northeast Oklahoma, “America’s meth capital.”

Only on FOX23.com Abbie Alford sits down with one of the nation’s meth experts on one-pot-meth methods and an undercover officer for the Tulsa Police Department’s Special Investigations Division (SID).

He’s also an officer who is joining with other law enforcement agencies and District Attorneys to pass HB 1235 that would require a prescription to purchase pseudoephedrine in Oklahoma.

Pseudoephedrine is the ingredient inside your common cold medicine. You can’t buy it over-the-counter anymore. It’s kept behind the pharmacy counter. Even with government issued identification you can only purchase nine grams of cold medicine with pseudoephedrine in 30 days.

However, meth makers are still getting all the pseudoephedrine they need.

A trip to the store and the pharmacy, $150 later, meth makers are ready to cook.

"I could teach you how to make it in 20 minutes. It's easy," says the SID officer.

A training video shows just how volatile shake-and-bake also known as the one-pot-meth can be to makers and innocent people.

"It didn't come to Oklahoma that we can tell until about September 2008. It is an easier way to cook meth, it requires far less pseudoephedrine,” says the SID officer. (see TPD SID Meth Statistics)

Pseudoephedrine is found in some cold medicine and lawmakers put those meds behind pharmacy counters in 2004. However, meth cooks find ways around the law.

In 2003 there were 211 lab cases and last year that number rose to 323 labs. (see TPD SID Meth Statistics)

"We are definitely the meth capital of the state,” says the SID officer. "I probably get a call from someone out-of-state two or three times a week and one of the first things they always say is, 'I got your name because everybody knows that Tulsa has a bigger meth lab problem than anyone else.’ I don't think that is what we want to be known as nationwide is ’hey if you have meth lab problem call Tulsa because they'll know what to do because they deal with more than anyone else.’"

Meth cooks get so-called “smurfs” to buy cold medicine for them and are recruiting people and paying them $50 to $100 a box.

The bigger the quantity in a box, the more money to be made in the black-market meth business.

Even with a meth registry that bans felons convicted of meth crimes from purchasing pseudoephedrine, makers are able to get their hands on the ingredient.

They are recruiting people who are desperate for money selling a $15 to $20 box for $50 to $100.

"People like homeless people," says the SID officer.

Officers call them “smurfs”, meth cooks who get people to buy cold meds for them.

The officer says he’s talked to offenders who weren’t addicts until they became smurfs.

"He made money by selling boxes for a while and then he had his own home. So then they paid him to do the cooks in his garage and then the next thing you know not only is he supplying boxes but now they are cooking at his at his house and now he is using meth and he gets in trouble with everyone else," says the SID officer.

Convicted felon Demone Bell will spend 225 years in federal prison for meth crimes.

However, he was never a documented pseudo purchaser.

"He never purchased pseudoephedrine,” says the SID officer.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs track pseudoephedrine purchases.

In December 2007 there were 87,456 pseudoephedrine boxes purchased at stores. In December 2010, there were 148,409 boxes sold in Oklahoma. (see TPD SID Meth Statistics)

"As evidenced by all our guys they are buying it down the street they don't need to go to Arkansas or Missouri. As long as pseudoephedrine is easy, has an easier access, we are going to have cooks,” says the SID officer.

The top 17 Oklahoma cities with the highest pseudoephedrine sales at pharmacy stores are in Muskogee, Tulsa, McAlester, Broken Arrow, Sapulpa, Bartlesville, Owasso, Owasso and Pryor. (see TPD SID Meth Statistics)

A reputation police hope to shed.

"It seems like the leaders of our city are trying to say ‘we're open to business we want people to move here’ I don't think that being the meth capitol of the united states probably entices a lot of people, legitimate people,” says the SID officer.

Oregon passed a prescription-only pseudoephedrine law in 2006. The meth lab problem is down 96%.

The Oklahoma proposed prescribed pseudo law (HB1235) passed Oklahoma’s Public Safety House Committee last week. It’s now up for a vote on the House floor.

However, Oklahoma’s version excludes prescribed pseudo in gel caps or liquids.

Original Headline, "Tulsa Is Meth Capital Of Oklahoma".

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Trhine - 8/14/2013 5:52 PM
0 Votes
I have lived my 57 years of life without doing meth, pot, herion and even cigarettes. I grew up with both of my parents smoking 3 packs a day and then my sister started smoking when she was a teenager. My mom stopped smoking about 20 years ago, my dad never tried to quit, neither did my sister....my dad died 2 1/2 years ago. age 79, and my sister died last year at age 57 1/2. Im not saying I'm a saint, I am not, but I'm not going to do any drugs...what a waste of time, money and a life.

wopandme - 8/28/2011 2:39 PM
0 Votes
why is it that an alchoholic can drink and drive and kill several innocent people and still go into a liquor store the next day and buy his drink of choice and do it all over again, alchohol has killed and ruined more lives than any meth. yet there is nothing on any registry preventing the sales of liquor to an alchoholic. i think its terrible when the government or the pharmacist can tell you if you have a cold or if you have bad intentions, and to think all these years i was throwing money away by listening to doctors. there is really something wrong with the whole picture, its really too funny

TurfTamer - 3/11/2011 9:47 AM
0 Votes
No one ever points out the real issue here. The problem is not meth... its drugs in general. If you were able to somehow take away the meth they would just find something else or another way. How do you think the meth problem in the one state that has the prescription law has gone away? Obviously drug users found something else. Does anyone really believe drug users in Oregon have stoped getting high? Seriously, has that ever worked in the past? There is no real answer to the issue THAT is the problem. A better economy helps, more parental responsibility, better education. These are some of the real answers to the issue. We have to stop thinking about the small picture and realize what is in the big picture.

cuervo - 3/10/2011 2:37 PM
0 Votes
i would investigate that SID officer since he or she know how to make it. our society is crappy, because it always trickles from the top. Authority is a (swifer)it attracts DIRT

TurfTamer - 3/10/2011 2:30 PM
1 Vote
I'm really glad FOX23 pointed out both sides of this story. Good job reporting on what this law would potentially do to the general population seeking legitimate and safe use. Fair and BALANCED right? I see they pointed out one state where it appears to have worked... is that all Oregon did is pass a law and !!poof!! no more meth? This is another example of the media and Fox23 in this case doing little to no research on a story before publishing it. Again, great job from the media!

kindagreywolf - 3/10/2011 9:52 AM
2 Votes
"However, meth cooks find ways around the law." - So again, the innocent will be targeted. Had a friend that was busted for this crap, all he had was a couple bottles and something else in his truck and he "Had a Lab". Meth cooks are using everything that is normally available in the home. The Charged got kindly dropped two months later after he lost his Apartment and Job. Target the Meth Makers and HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE, not all of us.

CarolynHill - 3/10/2011 9:50 AM
0 Votes
I don't think everyone realizes that Tulsa or NE Oklahoma is not the capitol, Oklahoma is. In SE Oklahoma every other house can be making it and no one even knows it. Children are being abused, folks have no teeth, hearts explode, theft is high, elderly are neglected, homes are burned and they are killing each other.Here they are making it the old fashioned way. The old timers are getting out of prison and they have started making it again. This stuff is being made in ice chest too. Folks need to be educated on what to look for. Not only is meth a problem, prescription pills are being misuse in epidemic ways .

RealityStrikes - 3/10/2011 9:10 AM
1 Vote
This is tragic. THIS however is BS = "The Oklahoma proposed prescribed pseudo law (HB1235) passed Oklahoma’s Public Safety House Committee last week. It’s now up for a vote on the House floor. " Making WE WHO ARE NOT CRIMINALS go to the Dr. & waste $$ on what they've already told us we may need for allergies.

roadhunter - 3/10/2011 5:18 AM
1 Vote
@rj, they just sentenced a man to 225 years according to this article. Obviously, tough sentences don't work. The only thing that will is legalization of drugs. Tens of thousands of people in Tulsa,including kids, are taking legal amphetamines such as Adderral and Ritalin every day. The danger only comes when drugs are illegal.

slimjim - 3/9/2011 6:39 PM
2 Votes
WOW! We have the bragging rights to be the "Meth Capitol"!!!!!! The question is how did we get to this distinction, and what can be done to correct it? First, remove ALL non-prescribed pseudoephedrine nation wide. Second, go after the "big guys" behind this epidemic. Meth is big business in Okla. just follow the money trail.
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