Police Use Laws To Paint Cold Med Buyers as “Meth Heads”

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Heather Callaghan

When does a trip to the drugstore become a trip to the slammer?

Apparently anytime…especially in an increasing number of states where law enforcement are tracing and cracking down on users of cold medication.

One Indiana grandmother was arrested and jailed in 2009 for purchasing Zyrtec-D and Mucinex D medicines for her husband – in the same week.

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The other grandma in question was recently busted over one box of Sudafed bought at the behest of her scuba instructor for sinus issues underwater. Her nightmare is only beginning. “I keep thinking I’m going to wake up, but I never do,” said Diane Avera.

Commenting on the crackdowns, her husband Keith aptly describes her as an innocent “prisoner of the drug war going on inside America.”

Details about Diane Avera, age 45, while traveling to Florida with her son, his girlfriend, and their sons:

  • Did not get prescription; pharmacist told her to go to Alabama where it’s legal to by Sudafed.
  • Went to Walmart in Demopolis, AL; she, her son, & his girlfriend bought & signed for Sudafed.
  • Sgt. Tim Soronen pulled her over right after and questioned her.
  • Avera told him her intentions; he informed her it was against the law to cross state lines to buy pseudoephedrine – wrong! It’s not legal to bring it back to MS from another state.
  • Truck & purse were searched; son’s methadone for former drug problem was found and his stash of paraphernalia, hidden in truck without mom’s knowledge.
  • Cop accused Avera & son of being drug users: “Thought you don’t do drugs,” he said. “I don’t do drugs,” Avera replied.
  • Soronen offered to call Dept. of Human Resources to “pick up these kids” — referring to her now-crying grandchildren.
  • She begged the officer to not take them away and offered to admit to anything to keep the children with the parents.
  • He coerced Avera to then make confessions that all the Sudafed was hers, which put her over Alabama’s limit, and to add that she was going to make crystal meth.
  • Jailed for intent to make crystal meth – legs & hands handcuffed to chair for 17 hours.
  • Convicted of second-degree intent to manufacture methamphetamine.
  • Opposing District Attorney is claiming she also tampered with drug tests and admitted to using meth with her daughter during the last two years – Avera and her attorney hold that this isn’t true.
  • If she doesn’t win her appeal to the Alabama Court of Appeals she must serve a year in jail.

“When common household medications and disinfectants are now illegal to possess, I believe we have gone overboard with the drug laws,” husband Keith said.

As cases like this show, even medications that are legal to possess can ruin people’s lives from just one extrapolated accusation.
Police are also reportedly searching people’s homes and using common household cleaners as grounds for “conspiracy to create drugs.”
The director of Mississippi’s Narcotics Bureau claims the stricter laws have led to a 67% decline in meth labs and subsequent child endangerment. He says that law enforcement doesn’t target people who bring pseudoephedrine back to Mississippi unless they have previous arrests. “The last thing we want to be responsible for is targeting grandma.”
But that’s exactly was is happening in full force. A grandma who doesn’t do drugs, with no previous arrests, tried to go scuba diving and now faces prison time over a box of medicine.
Some Tips:
  • Never allow police to search anything without a warrant.
  • If a legitimate warrant is obtained, have moral support witnessing the search — and record everything.
  • Never admit to anything – plead the 5th if necessary.
  • Talk to an attorney before discussing the situation with authorities.
  • Use the line “It’s against my policy.” Repeat as many times as necessary.

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