Meth now being fought through online system
PUTNAM COUNTY -- Tracking of a "must have" ingredient for production of methamphetamine is now automated and more user friendly with the activation of the Indiana Methamphetamine Investigation System, (IMIS).
The new IMIS website (http://www.in.gov/meth/ or http://meth.in.gov), according to officials, has many potential benefits, including:
* Retailers (both large and small) and pharmacists can voluntarily sign up to use the free service to input pseudoephedrine sales instead of using paper logs, thus streamlining the current drug tracking system,
* City, county and state law enforcement officers throughout Indiana, along with federal authorities (and officials in nine more states currently using similar technology), can access the site to analyze this often "real-time" information to detect purchasing practices by suspects consistent with the production of methamphetamine, and
* The public can get involved in the fight against meth by using the site to learn general information about meth and submit -- directly from the website -- "tips" about suspected meth activity.
The IMIS site was officially launched on Aug.13. As part of the effort to get the word out, the ISP Putnamville Post invited local government officials and the media to a chance to become familiar with the new system Friday morning.
District 44 State Rep. Nancy Michael (D-Greencastle) was impressed by the new system.
"I'm really excited to see and be able to share this with my constituents," Michael said. "People are always asking what we can do to make their hometowns better and safer, and I think this is a step in the right direction. It might be out of sight and out of mind for many people, but meth is out there. We know that, but maybe this will help us get one up on it."
The Tennessee Meth Task Force shared the new technology with Indiana at no cost.
"We wanted to determine what was the best possible tool for law enforcement and at the best cost for the state," ISP Commander of the Methamphetamine Suppression Section First Sgt. Niki Crawford said. "We worked closely with Tennessee officials for two years to create what was best for us, using their system as a framework."
Tennessee officials, who initially used federal grants to develop the Tennessee Meth Intelligence System (TMIS), has made it part of their mission to share the system with other law enforcement agencies across the country to prevent the production, use, and distribution of methamphetamine. Other states using some form of the TMIS system include Michigan, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Alabama.
Since the TMIS system was implemented in 2004, law enforcement officials have documented more than 500,000 pseudoephedrine purchases by methamphetamine offenders or others who exceeded the legal purchase amount. Based on this proven track record, ISP officials expect similar success.
While the IMIS system tracks the information of suspicious purchases, Crawford said the information of legitimate pseudoephedrine purchasers is protected and deleted after two years, per state statute.
"Remember, we all have a vested interest in the success of this system," Crawford said, "From the retailers that will be inputting the raw purchase data information to all the police agencies across Indiana who will access the information to track, find, arrest and prosecute these purveyors of manufactured death that are polluting their own bodies and the communities where they manufacture this despicable drug."
According to Crawford, the first meth lab in Indiana was documented in 1991. Since 1995, the Indiana State Police Methamphetamine Suppression Section (MSS) has dismantled and rendered safe more than 8,913 meth labs, of which 1,059 were in 2008 and 1,343 were in 2009.
As of Aug. 1, Crawford confirmed MSS has responded to 734 meth labs so far this year.
"Look at it this way, 26 percent of all the meth labs the state police has responded to were in the last two years, and every indication for 2010 is that we'll be well over 1,000 labs again," Crawford said. "We're going to be able to find the people out there who may have been able to hide under the radar screen before."