Men arrested for buying too much Pseudoephedrine

Published: Jul. 30, 2010 at 2:49 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2010 at 2:55 PM CDT
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Stuart Nelson. Photo Source: Nacogdoches Co Sheriff's Office
Stuart Nelson. Photo Source: Nacogdoches Co Sheriff's Office
Steven Nelson. Photo Source: Nacogdoches Co Sheriff's Office
Steven Nelson. Photo Source: Nacogdoches Co Sheriff's Office

By Holley Nees - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Some quick thinking pharmacists helped police stop purchases of the drug Pseudoephedrine from getting to the streets in the form of what they believe might have been Meth.

The amount of Pseudoephedrine you can buy is controlled by federal law.

Nacogdoches Police officers received a call from a local pharmacy about two suspects buying the maximum amount of Pseudoephedrine.  Police said, before long, other stores and pharmacies began calling on the same suspects.

Police found the men at Brookshire Brothers on South Street and determined that the men had been to five other locations in Nacogdoches.

"If we notice something, we call and like yesterday's incident, they call us," said Sara Jones, a certified pharmacy technician.

Steven Nelson and Stewart Parramore Nelson were arrested.  Pseudoephedrine is the active ingredient in over-the-counter medicines which are used by people who have difficulty breathing due to allergies.

"The only way really to combat local meth production, of course arrest them, is if you can shut off the supply of Pseudoephedrine or Ephedrine," said Angelina County Sheriff's Sgt. Allen Hill as he looked over the month's logs from local pharmacies.

Legally, stores are required to record the information.  It's a paper trail of who's buying Sudafed and how much.

"They'll go from one store to the next, two or three people in a car, one will go in and get it, another one will go in and they'll get three or four boxes here, three or four boxes at this store, and they'll make runs to Houston and they'll come back with just loads of Ephedrine," Hill explained.

Federal law limits customers to two 96-count boxes of Ephedrine each month.  Hill said with no central database, it's tough to track exactly how much is getting in the wrong hands, but that's where the pharmacists come in.

"The pharmacists are really a great help," said Hill.  "They try, they see this and they'll call us."

"We notice when people come up and they ask for the biggest box of the product and usually they skip to brand names first," said Jones.

It's an ongoing battle, but Hill said it is improving with a partnership from behind the counter.

"If we let it go, it will take over, so we have to fight it, but you're not going to stop it," he said.

The downside to the restrictions on Sudafed is it makes it tougher for customers that are legitimately sick to get the medicine they need.

Pseudoephedrine is also used illegally as a component of methamphetamine (Meth).  To help fight the war on illegal drugs, Congress passed the "Combat Meth Act" in 2006, placing restrictive and potentially confusing limitations on how much pseudoephedrine a person can legally buy within given time periods.

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