The red-hot seller lately in a Wichita Falls, Tx., Krystal Mart has been pseudoephedrine, says the Houston Chronicle. The owner had 81,000 pills in stock when a North Texas narcotics task force arrested him on drug charges this spring. Pseudoephedrine, a legal cold and allergy medicine sold under brand names such as Sudafed, is in extraordinary demand in the northern half of Texas, where authorities say the taste for the illegal and addictive methamphetamine has grown to epidemic proportions over the past five years.
Law enforcement officials, a chain-store manager, and “meth cooks” alike say voluntary restrictions on its sale at major outlets such as Wal-Mart and Walgreens have had little success keeping it out of the illegal trade. Wichita County Criminal District Attorney Barry Macha, along with an East Texas legislator, call for strict controls of pseudoephedrine sales in Texas. “We’re already late,” Macha said. He would like to see Texas follow Oklahoma, which in April became the first state in the nation to outlaw over-the-counter sales of pseudoephedrine. The law was passed after a state trooper was shot and killed last year by a man cooking a supply of methamphetamine days after he had been released on bail from a previous meth charge. After a 4,155 percent increase in the number of meth labs broken up in Oklahoma over the past decade – from 29 in 1994 to 1,234 last year – the number dropped to just 28 in May and 50 in June. In Texas, meth lab seizures grew from 20 in 1998 to 573 in 2003.