Keeping tabs on meth making

If you buy Sudafed in Missouri, police in California know your name.

Of the more than 1,000 meth lab busts last year, about one hundred were in northeast Missouri.

Clark County Sheriff Paul Gaudette is now utilizing a national database to help his investigations tracking meth and the people behind the process.

Gaudette said a national database that tracks the sale of cold medicine is paying big dividends for his department as well as others.

He also said investigators are now able to use the information from that real time database to build stronger drug cases against those people who've been arrested for either cooking meth or involved in the meth cooking conspiracy.

"They're always trying to outsmart the system of course and a lot of them are using friends, family or even anyone off the street that will purchase Sudafed. And paying them upwards of $50 a box to provide the Sudafed," Gaudette said.

The National Precursor Log Exchange started bringing states, local pharmacies and police departments together back in 2008 and 2009.

Since that time several states have joined and are now able to allow real time access to see who's buying cold medicine and where.

Gaudette said they were able to bust a meth cook in Luray and from the database information six other people were arrested on conspiracy charges.

"The real help in this thing came later when we could identify individuals close to these people and find that they were active in the purchase of Sudafed that enabled these people to produce methamphetamine," Gaudette said.

To show you the success nationwide of the N-PLEX service, the computerized system has blocked more 800,000 purchases of pseudoephedrine and it has blocked the sale of more then two million grams of the drug. Before this was online, people would travel from city to city to buy the cold medicine used to cook the meth. But now, it's a new game and it's one that Sheriff Gaudette said is helping his department.

The database also limits the amount of pseudoephedrine that can be sold to an individual no matter where they are in the US.

A person can only buy 3.6 grams a day and only up to 9 grams per month.

If they try to buy more than that, the system can warn the pharmacy not to sell them the cold medicine.