The North Central Iowa Narcotics Task Force has arrested 31 people for violating the state law which restricts purchases of medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in meth. Cerro Gordo County Sheriff Kevin Pals says they reviewed records at a number of pharmacies.
Under state law, you have to sign your name to a registry when purchasing pseudoephedrine at a pharmacy. You cannot purchase more than one package of pseudoephedrine within a 24-hour period and you cannot purchase more than 7,500 milligrams within a 30-day period — unless you would have a prescription.
Pals says since the state pseudoephedrine law was passed in 2005, the number of meth labs in the state dropped, but those numbers are slowly coming back up. "The first one to five years there’s about an 80 to 85 percent reduction in meth labs," Pals says. "After that four to five year period, the meth labs will start going into production again…and that’s kind of what we’re seeing now."
The law, which went into effect May 21, 2005, put common over-the-counter cold and allergy medications like Sudafed behind the counter, as law enforcement officials said meth makers often skipped buying large quantities and simply stole boxes of the pills right off the shelf.
"This law is one of those things that was passed in 2005 that everybody said, ‘Oh great! Now we’ve got to go ask a pharmacist for cold medicine that we’ve always got over-the-counter, by ourselves and now we’ve got to do this’ and then law-abiding citizens are being inconvenienced for something that actually has worked with the intent of the law was to reduce the meth labs which are highly dangerous out there in our neighborhoods and in our towns and in our cars and out in the country," Pals says. " The law has worked."
In addition to the 31 people already under arrest, the North Central Iowa Narcotics Task Force issued warrants for 10 other people who have yet to be found. During one of the arrests, a meth lab was allegedly found at the home of 28- year-old Christopher Christenson in rural Plymouth. He’s been charged with manufacturing meth, a class "B" felony.