Database aids area fight against meth - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Database aids area fight against meth

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BLUEFIELD (WVVA) - Law enforcement officials gathered in Bluefield Tuesday to learn more about a national database used to fight meth crime.

They're talking about NPLEx – or National Precursor Log Exchange -- a database mandated by many states used to track pseudoephedrine purchases in pharmacies.

Pseudoephedrine is a main ingredient in methamphetamine.

Simply put, NPLEx tracks who is buying pseudoephedrine and blocks habitual buyers before the next sale at the register.

The system is already at work in West Virginia and police say it is already making a difference in their meth crackdown.

"It gives our stores the ability to say ‘I'm sorry, this sale has been stopped,’ our computer will not complete it," said Bridget Lambert, President of the West Virginia Retailers Association.

"What the meth guys would do is they could go pharmacy to pharmacy … the pharmacies weren't communicating,” Louisiana Det. Chris Comeaux said at Tuesday’s meeting. “But now they are communicating, no longer can you go to CVS, and then Rite Aid and buy because Rite Aid is going to block you."

Lambert says limits already in place in West Virginia are 3.6 grams a day, 7.2 grams a month, and 48 grams a year.

So far in 2014, 16,000 grams of the drug have been blocked from people who wanted to buy, using the database. Last year, the total was 47,000 grams.

Tuesday, police from across the area learned more about NPLEx and how to better use it to stifle meth crimes.

The program connects pharmacies and even law enforcement agencies as they fight the meth problem.

Officers say since it can all be found in one database, it saves them vital time.

"This puts it right at your fingertips,” Comeaux said. “In ten minutes i could probably do ten days work."

Police say they are already seeing pseudoephedrine purchases decrease.

West Virginia's border states, including Virginia, also use NPLEx, which helps prevent buyers from traveling across state lines to make purchases.

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