Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

News

January 5, 2011

Pharmacies Provide Major Tip Leading To Big Meth Bust

Greensburg — Greensburg police are once again applauding the efforts of local pharmacies and retail employees for leading them to a break in an investigation that helped nab an alleged major meth maker.

According to Interim Police Chief Stacey Chasteen, the department received information Monday from local pharmacies that two individuals were making their rounds purchasing cold medicine containing pseudophedrine, the main ingredient in the illegal drug meth. One of the individuals, Lee K. Richards, 20, of Columbus, was detained by security at WalMart for theft. During the course of the interview, the GPD was able to ascertain information on a major meth manufacturer, or meth cook, in Bartholomew County.

Working together with the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department and the Indiana State Police Meth Suppression Unit, law enforcers were able to serve a warrant on the home of Lacy Endicott, 23, and John Scott, 29, both of Columbus, at 8290 N. Co. Rd. 25 E. Inside, officers found "numerous components" used to manufacture meth, including the finished product ready for sale. Both were charged with the manufacturing of meth, a Class A felony, and neglect of a dependent, a Class D felony, because two children under the age of 5 lived at the home.

Chasteen said officers in Bartholomew County had suspected meth activity was taking place at the residence but were unable to find a break in the investigation. The alert work by local pharmacies and the WalMart asset protection manager provided the information needed to make arrests.

According to Chasteen, Richards was serving as a "smurf" for Endicott and Scott. A smurf collects the ingredients needed to make the drug and delivers them to the "cook" in exchange for money or product. His information, she noted, was vital to bringing down the meth lab. Chasteen said they believe a significant amount of meth was being produced in the home. While the raid did not eradicate the drug from the region, it took a hit on an alleged major maker, which is the ultimate goal for the investigation.

"Getting a meth cook is the highest goal of a meth investigation," Chasteen said. "Taking down a meth lab cuts the core supply to users."

With one meth lab, police can seize thousands of dollars; help avoid vehicle crashes, domestic violence and child abuse and curb the economic impact suffered by addicts, all the ills of society that meth can intensify, she noted. However, in this specific case, police were able to make an immediate impact on the lives of the two children that resided in the home. Chasteen said the children, ages 2 and 4, were within the home likely breathing in toxic fumes from the making and smoking of the drug as well as likely witnessing drug deals and other illicit activities.

"We want to safeguard the children," she said. "They are the victims in all of this."

While the raid hopefully will place two alleged makers and dealers behind bars and put the children in a safer environment, Chasteen noted it likely would not have happened without the diligence and communication of local pharmacies.

"Our success comes from them. It's not that we are incapable of conducting our own investigations, but in this case, the success begins with the cooperation of the pharmacies and the asset protection manager at WalMart," Chasteen said. "It's the due diligence of pharmacies. They're communicating with each other as well as us."

Chasteen said information from these entities was vital as the state's law enforcement teams continue to combat meth. She noted pharmacists and other employees are trained professionals who can easily discern between a person with a cold and one who is buying medicine for illicit purposes. Without their input and tips, Chasteen said the department would likely not be able to operate as effectively as they are.

"We can't say enough how much we appreciate their assistance and efforts in this matter," Chasteen said. "They are providing the information we need and staying in communication to help us complete investigations and make arrests like these."

Anyone with tips can call the police anonymously at 66-CRIME (2-7463).

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