Local News

Teacher Arrested in Johnston County Cold Medicine Bust

Posted October 2, 2007 4:40 p.m. EDT
Updated October 3, 2007 7:15 a.m. EDT

— A Johnston County teacher has been suspended from her post following her arrest Tuesday in a countywide operation against methamphetamine production.

Amy Snead, 36, of Four Oaks, a second-grade teacher at Polenta Elementary School, which has a Garner address, was charged with possession of an immediate precursor chemical and exceeding the pseudoephedrine limit.

She was released from jail late Tuesday afternoon under a $20,000 secured bond, Johnston County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Tammy Amaon said.

Johnston County schools spokeswoman Crystal Roberts said Snead's suspension is with pay and is pending the outcome of the sheriff's investigation.

Snead was one of five people arrested Tuesday in Operation Pill Crusher, which the Johnston County Sheriff's Office and the State Bureau of Investigation started in July. Investigators searched the logs of 24 pharmacies to target individuals making multiple purchases of pseudoephedrine pills, the main ingredient in crystal methamphetamine.

Those individuals, referred to as "smurfs" in the drug trade, shop pharmacies for pills in exchange for finished meth products for their personal use, the sheriff's office said.

Others arrested on the same charges as Snead were Richard Glenn Turnage, 46, of Benson, who was in jail under a $100,000 secured bond; Stewart Lavon McLeod, 23, of Dunn, $200,000 bond; Christopher Charles Lawhorn, 32, of Benson, $125,000 bond; and Kenneth Scott West, 39, of Benson, $100,000 bond.

Benson police arrested West last month in connection with a mobile meth lab bust, and he was in jail up until a few weeks ago on charges that included possession of methamphetamine and manufacturing methamphetamines.

By the time the operation is complete, as many as 50 people will have been arrested, authorities said.

"The only thing I've got to say is, if you're cooking, we're looking," Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said. "We're not going to sit idle and let the drug dealers – the scumbags and thugs – ruin our community and our families."

A state law went into effect Jan. 15, 2006, that requires all single- and multi-source tablets containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, ingredients found in certain cold medications, be sold behind a pharmacy counter.

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

The law limits purchases of these 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.

"These folks who are using this to make meth have realized there's no central database to keep track of this," said Alan Carroll, who owns Carroll Pharmacy in Smithfield. "(They say,) 'We can stop at Carroll Pharmacy, and then we can go across town to the CVS and Walgreen's and pick it up all over town and get around (the law) that way.'"

So far, however, a central database shared by all pharmacies has been too expensive to undertake.