Local News

'Operation Pill Crusher' Nets 15

Posted October 26, 2007 4:01 p.m. EDT
Updated October 26, 2007 8:36 p.m. EDT

— The Johnston County Sheriff's Office made the 15th arrest on Wednesday in a round-up of people suspected of involvement in methamphetamine production.

Jimmy Ray Parnell, 30, of Erwin, became the latest person arrested in "Operation Pill Crusher," which was launched in late July with the State Bureau of Investigation's help.

Parnell is charged with exceeding the pseudoephedrine buying limits and distribution of a precursor chemical. He was transferred from Harnett County to the Johnston County Jail on Wednesday and placed under a $200,000 bond.

Earlier, authorities said they expected at least 50 people to be arrested during the operation.

Investigators searched the logs of 24 pharmacies to target individuals making multiple purchases of pseudoephedrine pills, the main ingredient in crystal methamphetamine.

A state law that went into effect Jan. 15, 2006, requires all single- and multi-source tablets containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, ingredients found in certain cold medications, be sold from behind a pharmacy counter. The law limits purchases of the products to no more than 3.6 grams (about two packages) within a 24-hour period and no more than 9 grams (about three packages) within 30 days without a prescription.

Purchasers must be at least 18 years old, show photo ID and sign a log to buy these products.