A release from the U.S. Attorney's Office just arrived with the following subject header: "Two Plead Guilty in Pill 'Smurfing' Case." Oh, right. That kind of smurfing. To the feds' more formal definition: "the unlawful practice of making numerous purchases of over-the-counter medication containing pseudoephedrine so that it can be used to manufacture methamphetamine."
This morning in U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul D. Stickney's courtroom, two men from Wichita Falls -- 37-year-old Joseph Enox and 29-year-old Dusty Gee -- pleaded guilty to doing that very thing according to the news release that landed in the Unfair Park in-box. Could get 'em 20 years in the pen and cost them $250,000 each.
The whole missive follows, but long story short: An investigation dating back to last year revealed that Gee was among several individuals driving down from Wichita Falls to buy up pseudoephedrine, which Enox and another person used to mix up meth up in the Falls. The twosome will remain in federal custody till they're sentenced in October by U.S. District Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn, who's known for handing down the extremely long sentence. Ask Don Hill.
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TWO PLEAD GUILTY IN PILL "SMURFING" CASE
DALLAS -- Two people from Wichita Falls, Texas, Joseph Enox, age 37, and Dusty Gee, age 29, pleaded guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul D. Stickney, to their role in a over-the-counter "pill smurfing" conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. "Smurfing" is the term used to describe the unlawful practice of making numerous purchases of over-the-counter medication containing pseudoephedrine so that it can be used to manufacture methamphetamine.
Specifically, Enox and Gee each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute a "list I chemical" (pseudoephedrine) knowing and having reasonable cause to believe this chemical would be used to manufacture methamphetamine, a controlled substance. Each faces a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. They are scheduled to be sentenced on October 22, 2010, by U.S. District Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn. Both are presently in federal custody.
According to documents filed in the case, in 2009, state and federal law enforcement officers began investigating the smurfing of over-the-counter cold and allergy medication containing pseudoephedrine in the Dallas - Fort Worth area. The investigation revealed that several individuals, including Gee, were acquiring the pseudoephedrine in the Dallas area through multiple purchases of over-the-counter medication, which was subsequently given to Enox and another individual, who used it to manufacture the methamphetamine in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Between 2007 and 2009, Enox was arrested several times with methamphetamine and chemicals and equipment used to manufacture the drug as well as "lab trash," which is the remnants of chemicals and supplies used to manufacture methamphetamine. In fact, on May 27, 2009, he was arrested with a large quantity of methamphetamine in the liquid and a quantity in the powder form, as well as with lab supplies and equipment used to manufacture the drug.
Pseudoephedrine purchase records indicate that from February 2008 to May 2009, Gee had purchased at least 101 boxes of pseudoephedrine pills which were sold to Enox to manufacture methamphetamine. Pseudoephedrine is an essential chemical to making methamphetamine. Enox would generally pay $50 per box to acquire the pills.
The case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Wichita County District Attorney's Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Tromblay is in charge of the prosecution.