Operation Meth Merchant


In Georgia, it's illegal to sell cold medicine to a customer who publicly declares that he is going to use it to make methamphetamine. So undercover cops are going to store to store, buying up Sudafed and hinting that they're heading back to the trailer to cook up America's Most Dangerous Drug. They've nabbed 49 convenience store clerks this way. Problem is, not everyone who sells Sudafed is as down with the meth lingo as Georgia's ultra-hip police force. The New York Times reports:

Forty-four of the defendants are Indian immigrants—32, mostly unrelated, are named Patel—and many spoke little more than the kind of transactional English mocked in sitcoms.

So when a government informant told store clerks that he needed the cold medicine, matches and camping fuel to "finish up a cook," some of them said they figured he must have meant something about barbecue.

The New York Times report is delicately titled "Cultural Differences Complicate a Georgia Drug Sting Operation" as if the story were more about silly cross-cultural foibles than insane law enforcement. Nowhere does the piece question whether anyone who was actually going to make meth would loudly proclaim the fact at the cash register.

In related news, popping Sudafed and Claritin D in Oregon will soon require a prescription.