Police use new database to catch suspected meth cooks in Eagle RiverSubmitted: 04/17/2018
Story By Allie Herrera

Police use new database to catch suspected meth cooks in Eagle River
EAGLE RIVER - Last year, lawmakers gave Wisconsin pharmacists and police a new tool designed to catch people making meth. Last month, Vilas County showed that new electronic system works. 

Police arrested Scott Schmidt, 33, of Eagle River and Stephanie Wolfe, 34, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, on March 30 for making meth in Schmidt's Eagle River home on Highway 45. 

"We believe that they were probably making methamphetamine for themselves. They were also believed to be selling some of that," said Vilas County Sheriff Joe Fath. 

Police started looking into Schmidt and Wolfe after a Vilas County Sheriff's officer was checking local pharmacy logs and felt something didn't add up.

According to a criminal complaint Schmidt and Wolfe went to pharmacies in Wausau, Oshkosh, and Grand Rapids, Michigan to buy pseudoephedrine.

"They were exceeding the limit in Vilas county but then they made a loop down to Appleton and up through the UP and back and around," said Fath.

The complaint shows, the two bought at least 80 grams of pseudoephedrine between Nov. 29, 2017 and March 28, 2018. Wisconsin law limits the amount of pseudoephedrine a person can buy to 7.5 grams in a 30-day period.

The drug is commonly found in some over-the-counter allergy and cold medications, but can also be illegally used to manufacture methamphetamine in small, home-based labs.

Police also found video of Schmidt and Wolfe buying lithium batteries and cold packs. Those ingredients are also used in the manufacturing of meth.

Larry Thompson says his pharmacy in Eagle River has worked with police in the past. The Wall Street Pharmacy has been keeping track of people who buy pseudoephedrine products for years. Those products are all behind the counter.

"[There's] Loratadine or Claritin, Zyrtec, all of those products have a formulation that has pseudoephedrine available," said Thompson.

He couldn't tell Newswatch 12 if he worked with police on this specific case, but says hopefully this process has helped stop drug abuse.

"Smaller producers are hopefully hindered by the fact that they have to gather small amounts from various outlets in order to accumulate enough medication to do their cooking," said Thompson.

Sheriff Fath says this is the first time the Vilas County Sheriff's Office has made an arrest by using the National Precursor Log Exchange or NPLEX database. The real-time electronic log tracks sales of over-the-counter medications containing pseudoephedrine.

"Two people who had been manufacturing methamphetamine for some time were taken into custody and hopefully they won't be manufacturing in Vilas County ever again," said Fath.

Schmidt and Wolfe are each facing six drug felony related charges. They're both in jail on bond.

Police arrested two people last month for making meth at a home in Eagle River.

According to a DOJ press release, Stephanie Wolfe, 34, of Michigan and Scott Schmidt, 33, of Eagle River were arrested March 30.

The Vilas County Sheriff's Office and the Wisconsin Department of Justice worked together to find the meth lab on Highway 45 in Eagle River. 

The Sheriff's Office was doing a routine online review of pharmacy logs. An officer found Wolfe and Schmidt had purchased more than the legal amount of pseudoephedrine within a 30-day period from pharmacies around the state. 
Pseudoephedrine is a common ingredient found in over-the-counter allergy and cold medications. It can also be used to make meth in small, home-based labs. 

Wolfe and Schmidt had also bought lithium batteries and cold packs, two ingredients commonly used to make meth. 

The information from the pharmacy purchase logs led to a search warrant for Schmidt's home where police found a meth lab. 

The pair face six drug-related felony charges. They're both in jail on bond. 

This story will be updated. 

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