Tracking cold medicine purchases leads to drug charges

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An investigation into a local purchase of cold and flu medication has led to drug manufacturing charges against a man and woman.
The Union County Grand Jury has filed indictments against Elizabeth Ann Gough, 39, and Douglas Gary Powell, 41, both of Chardon.
Powell and Gough are each charged with one count of first-degree felony illegal manufacture of drugs and third-degree felony illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs.
If convicted on all charges, Powell and Gough could each spend as many as 15 years in prison.
Union County Prosecutor Dave Phillips said the case against the pair was brought to the Multi-Agency Drug Enforcement Task Force.
Powell and Gough came to the attention of the Ohio Bureau of Investigation and Identification after the pair made multiple purchases of cold and flu medications.
The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 bans over-the-counter sales of cold medicines that contain ingredients, such as pseudoephedrine, commonly used to make methamphetamine.
“The sale of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine is limited to behind the counter,” according to the FDA’s website. “The amount of pseudoephedrine that an individual can purchase each month is limited and individuals are required to present photo identification to purchase products containing pseudoephedrine. In addition, stores are required to keep personal information about purchasers for at least two years.”
Phillips said logbooks chronicling the sales are monitored. Officials noticed between January 2017 and March 2018, the pair purchased an inordinate amount of medications. The prosecutor said Gough and Powell would allegedly go to stores around Ohio, including some in Union County, and buy the medications.
“It caught the attention of investigators that they were making purchases of drugs that are precursors to making meth,” Phillips said.
He said arrests like these are the reason for regulations about the medications.
“You have to show your identification and sometimes it can be frustrating and people wonder, ‘Why do I have to do this?’” Phillips said. “Obviously there is a reason for that. They are trying to identify people who are purchasing the precursor drugs to manufacture meth.”
Phillips said that once the pair was identified, investigators began looking into Powell and Gough until there was enough evidence to bring charges.
Also indicted was:
– Dakota James Kelly, 20, of 1510 Patricia Dr., Marysville. Kelly is charged with one count each of trafficking in marijuana and possession of marijuana. According to court documents, on Feb. 26, Kelly was arrested with more than 200 grams of marijuana, allegedly packaged for distribution. If convicted, Kelly could face as many as 30 months in prison. Additionally, prosecutors are looking to seize nearly $1,700 in cash they believe was used for or gotten through alleged drug crimes.



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