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Sherwood Voice

Police use online tool to find suspected meth makers

By Kate Knable, Staff Writer

October 15, 2010

Sherwood police officers arrested four suspected methamphetamine makers Sept. 30 with the help of an online program called LeadsOnlabs.

The officers arrested Charles Dill, 42, of North Little Rock, Jeffery Fortner, 39, of Romance, David Weaver, 40, of Oklahoma City, Okla., and Kenneth Wickliffe, 48, of North Little Rock at the Wal-Mart Super Center in Sherwood.

The four men were allegedly buying pills containing pseudoephedrine, a chemical used to manufacture meth, and other items used to produce the illegal drug.

Grady Russell, captain over support services for the SPD, said Tuesday that Sherwood police use the online investigation system LeadsOnline's service LeadsOnlabs to track who is buying "massive amounts of the drugs used to make meth."

Russell said people in Arkansas who purchase the allergy and cold pills Sudafed and other over-the-counter medicines containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine must be at least 18 years old and are required to show identification to purchase the products. The pharmacies, by law, must document who bought the medicines and when.

LeadsOnlabs allows law enforcement personnel to track online who bought the medicine and where and when they did. While pharmacies have documented such sales for years, LeadsOnlabs compiles the information to make it more readily available to law enforcement officers.

The SPD has been using LeadsOnline and its services for about three years, Russell said.

Russell said Dill, who had a warrant out for his arrest for breaking parole, "showed a pattern of going to stores and buying ephedrine-type products."

Dill was buying the maximum amount permitted of medicines containing pseudoephedrine, Russell said.

Arkansas pharmacies only are allowed to sell a maximum of five grams of ephedrine or nine grams of pseudoephedrine to any one person in a 30-day period, regardless of the form it comes in, he said.

Sherwood police officers stopped in at the Wal-Mart's loss prevention office Sept. 30, provided a photograph of Dill and asked to be notified the next time Dill attempted to make a purchase at the pharmacy there.

Before the officers left the parking lot that day, they received a call from Wal-Mart with the tip that Dill was attempting to buy pseudoephedrine while they were there, Russell said.

The police arrested Dill and his three companions that afternoon. The officers reported that they seized such meth-related products as syringes, decongestant medicines, hydrogen peroxide and HEET, as well as meth powder and other controlled substances from the four men's belongings.

All four men were charged with possession with intent to manufacture methamphetamine, among other felony charges.

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