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"Precursor" and "essential" chemicals play two critical roles in the production of illegal drugs: as compounds required in the production of synthetic drugs or as refining agents and solvents for processing plant-based materials such as coca into cocaine and opium poppy into heroin. Chemicals used in synthetic drug production are known as "precursor" chemicals because they are incorporated into the drug product and are less likely to be substituted by other chemicals. Chemicals used to refine and process plant-based drugs are referred to as "essential" chemicals that do not become part of the finished drug and can be readily replaced by other chemicals with similar properties. Both sets of chemicals (precursor and essential) are often referred to as "precursor" chemicals and for conciseness, this term is used interchangeably for both categories throughout this report.

International efforts have long targeted the illicit diversion of the most common precursors for cocaine and heroin, potassium permanganate and acetic anhydride, respectively. The large licit market for these chemicals makes this a difficult task. For instance, diversion of less than one percent of worldwide licit commercial use of acetic anhydride would be sufficient to produce the world's supply of heroin. Precursors can also be obtained from licit medicines as is the case for ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in finished cold medicine products. The international community is also increasing efforts to target the precursor chemicals used to produce illicit fentanyl, a powerful Schedule II synthetic opioid that has been responsible for thousands of overdose deaths in the United States over the past decade and has emerged as a critical public health threat in countries around the world.

The International Framework

The 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988 UN Convention) is one of the three main international treaties intended to promote international cooperation to counter the harms caused by drugs. Preventing diversion of precursor chemicals from legitimate trade is one key goal of the 1988 UN Convention. Specifically, state parties are required under Article 12 to monitor their international trade in chemicals listed in Tables I and II of the Convention. These tables are updated to account for changes in the manufacture of illicit drugs, and state parties are required to share information with one another and with the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) on their international transactions involving these chemicals. Article 12, Sections 8 and 9 of the Convention requires licensing or similar control of all persons and enterprises involved in the manufacture and distribution of listed chemicals.

Resolutions from the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND)--the UN's primary drug control policy-making body--have provided additional guidance to states parties on how to implement their obligations according to specific best practices, and have encouraged greater dissemination and use of the INCB's International Special Surveillance List (ISSL)--a mechanism for monitoring chemicals that are not regulated by the Convention but for which substantial evidence exists of their use in illicit drug manufacture.

The INCB is an independent, quasi-judicial monitoring body for the implementation of the three UN international drug control conventions--the 1988 UN Convention, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971. The INCB encourages compliance with the drug control treaties and proposes appropriate remedial measures to governments that are not fully applying the provisions of the treaties or are encountering difficulties in applying them and, where necessary, assists governments in overcoming difficulties. The United States provides funding to the INCB to monitor the measures called for in the Conventions, and improve detection and tracking of chemicals subject to diversion.

In addition to ISSL, the INCB has developed a number of instruments to address the challenges of precursor chemicals:

* The Pre-Export Notification Online system (PEN Online) is an online database system that enables the exchange of information between member states on shipments (export and import) of the chemicals required for the manufacture of illegal addictive drugs such as heroin, cocaine and amphetamines and to provide the ability to raise alerts to stop suspect shipments before they reach illicit drug manufacturers. The system facilitates full electronic responses to acknowledge receipt and to notify exporting countries of clearance to export of chemicals. Since the PEN Online system was first launched in March 2006, 153 exporting as well as importing governments have so far registered to use the system. On average, 2600 PEN pre-export notifications are submitted via the online application on a monthly basis.

* The Precursors Incident Communication System (PICS) is another INCB tool that provides real-time communication to share intelligence and facilitate direct contact between national authorities to further investigations into chemical trafficking. PICS has shared final intelligence on more than 800 chemical trafficking interdictions to various registered law enforcement and regulatory agencies around the world. Since March 2016, 59 new users from 41 agencies in 26 countries have newly registered to use PICS, bringing the overall number of users between agencies and countries to nearly 450.

Regional Bodies. The regulatory framework codified by the United Nations does not exist in isolation. Regional bodies, such as the European Union (EU) and the Organization of American States (OAS), actively work in partnership with the United States on multilateral chemical control initiatives, including implementation of CND resolutions.

Chemical Control Activities and New Trends

Fentanyl. Fentanyl is a powerful Schedule II synthetic opioid more potent than morphine or heroin. Within North America, drug dealers are increasingly lacing illicit fentanyl into low-grade heroin to create a more potent high for consumers. Fentanyl is also pressed into pill form and sold as counterfeit prescription opioid pills. In many instances, buyers are not aware of the large quantities of fentanyl in the composition of powder heroin. In recent years, the use of fentanyl among drug users has been responsible for thousands of overdose fatalities in the United States, Canada, and some European countries.

The two most prevalent precursor chemicals used to produce illicit fentanyl and many fentanyl-related substances (for example, acetyl fentanyl) within the United States are N-phenethyl-4-piperidinone (NPP) and 4-anilino-N-phenethylpiperidine (ANPP). While many chemicals can potentially be used to manufacture fentanyl, the NPP and ANPP processing method appears to be the preferred method currently used by clandestine manufacturers, as revealed in the profiles of seizures obtained from law enforcement seizures. While the United States domestically controls the manufacture, diversion, and sale of NPP and ANPP, a coordinated international control of these precursor chemicals is necessary to reduce the recent increase of illicitly produced fentanyl.

The United States and other UN member states are adopting preventive measures to curb fentanyl's negative effects on global public health and safety. This includes the implementation of evidence-based prevention programs to reduce the number of new initiates to illicit opioid use, and treatment programs to assist those with opioid use disorders in their path to long-term recovery. It is also important to combine preventive health measures with the overall efforts to reduce the global availability and use of all illicit opiates, including heroin and morphine.

As part of its larger strategy to curb diversion, production, distribution, and use of illicit fentanyl, the United States is working to increase law enforcement information sharing; enhance medical research on treatment methodologies for cases presenting with fentanyl consumption; advocate with key international partners to curb illicit production, diversion, and distribution of fentanyl. Furthermore, the United States has also requested that the UN Secretary General to internationally control fentanyl precursor chemicals under the 1988 UN Convention. The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs will most likely vote on whether to internationally control these chemicals at its next meeting in March 2017.

New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). NPS are difficult to track because of the speed in which they can be formulated and marketed, often outpacing that the ability of authorities to identify them. Many cannot be identified through commonly available drug tests, and if they are truly new, they are not listed in the tables established by the international drug conventions. Producers modify and experiment with chemical formulas in search of new NPS that can go undetected by law enforcement and avoid international control. Distributors are able to spread the NPS widely before legislation to control it can be enacted. As of 2016, 103 countries provided reports on the presence of NPS and alerted the global community through the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) tool, "Global Synthetics Monitoring: Analyses, Reporting and Trends" (SMART). The number of NPS listed with Global SMART increased from 644 in 2015 to 730 in 2016.

At the 2016 CND, the United States supported a resolution to expand the international response to the challenge of NPS by promoting cooperation to (1) collect and share data through UNODC; (2) increase efforts to more expeditiously control NPS under the conventions; and (3) promote operational efforts targeting NPS through the INCB.

Heroin. The main precursor chemical used to produce heroin is acetic anhydride, a substance that is also widely used in legitimate industry. Drug trafficking organizations continue to channel acetic anhydride to illicit producers through diversion, or smuggling. Acetic anhydride may also be used as a compound substance to produce a chemical reaction in the production of methamphetamine. To counter increased heroin consumption in and trafficking into the United States, the United States has intensified its cooperative efforts to target acetic anhydride diversion and smuggling.

The United States continues to work closely with participant countries of the INCB Precursor Task Force of Project Prism and Project Cohesion. Project Cohesion focuses on chemicals related to illicit heroin and cocaine manufacture, and Project Prism targets chemicals related to illicit manufacture of amphetamine-type stimulants. These ongoing mechanisms serve as international communication platforms for the monitoring of chemical transactions and for coordinating targeted, time-bound intelligence-gathering operations. The INCB Precursor Task Force is currently focusing on legitimate domestic trade and end-use of acetic anhydride. The United States also provides assistance to expand the International use of the INCB's PEN Online and the PICS systems to control the diversion of acetic anhydride. As of 1 November 2016, 134 and 92 countries had nominated focal points for activities under Project Prism and Project Cohesion.

Methamphetamine. Methamphetamine is produced using a variety of methods, but most require one or more of the following precursor chemicals; pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, pharmaceutical products containing these chemicals, phenyl-2-propanone (P-2-P), and phenylacetic acid. As these precursor chemicals have become more difficult to obtain due to increased controls, traffickers have started using other chemicals, or seeking non-controlled pre-precursor chemicals or esters, and derivatives of phenylacetic acid to produce the precursor chemicals necessary for methamphetamine production. Traffickers, particularly in Europe, continue to use the pre-precursor, APAAN, or alpha-phenylacetoacetonitrile. This chemical was added to the list of internationally controlled chemicals under the 1988 UN Convention in 2014.

In response to the international scheduling of APAAN, the 2017 edition of the World Customs Organization's "Harmonized System Nomenclature," which entered into force effective 1 January 2017, includes a new harmonized system code number for the separate identification of APAAN. Additionally, in December 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proposed to designate APAAN and its salts, optical isomers, and salts of optical isomers, as a list I chemical under the Controlled Substances Act. This action will allow regulations to be imposed in all transactions involving APAAN, regardless of size. It also proposes that chemical mixtures containing APAAN would not be exempt from regulatory requirements at any concentration. Therefore, all transactions of chemical mixtures containing any quantity of APAAN would be regulated pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act.

Methamphetamine production takes place worldwide and in the United States. Domestic small production capacity laboratories (SPCLs) are the most frequently encountered type of clandestine laboratory. These SPCLs tend to be low production operations (grams or ounces), and make up only a small percentage of the drug that is consumed in the United States. The emergence of the "one-pot labs" (a.k.a. "shake-n-bake" labs) constitute the majority of SPCLs found domestically. These laboratories are normally found in 2 liter plastic soda bottles, 16-20 oz. drink containers, and other such receptacles. The SPCLs utilize chemicals that are easily obtained. Many of the supplies required can be purchased over the Internet, in hardware stores, gas stations, convenience stores, and at other retail establishments. Pseudoephedrine and ephedrine are the principal precursor chemicals used in the SPCLs and are purchased over the counter from retail pharmacies and convenience stores.

There are indications that methamphetamine trafficking across the United States' southern border increased in 2016. As with other synthetic drugs, traffickers substitute chemicals for production based on availability and price. Most large-scale manufacturers in Mexico now use a production process known as P-2-P (from the precursor chemical phenyl-2-propanone) method. This alternative process does not require pseudoephedrine to produce the chemical base of the drug, allowing drug traffickers to circumvent controls.

The use of the nitrostyrene method to produce P-2-P, which starts from benzaldehyde and nitroethane, or from the intermediary product 1-phenyl-2-nitropropene, has also been an alternate method used by Mexican drug trafficking organizations in recent years to manufacture the precursor chemicals required to produce methamphetamine. In 2015, Mexican authorities seized more than 4,000 liters of benzaldehyde and almost 5,500 liters of 1-phenyl-2-nitropropene. In August 2016, U.S. authorities seized an illicit cargo of nearly 36 metric tons (MT) of benzaldehyde en route from India to Mexico. In 2016, ephedrine-based and pseudoephedrine-based methods were not found in any of the selected samples analyzed by DEA.

Countries in Africa and Asia where precursors like P-2-P and APAAN are relatively unknown continue to rely on ephedrine and pseudoephedrine to produce top quality methamphetamine. There are indications, however, that Mexican alternate methods to produce methamphetamine are becoming known in Africa. In March 2016, the Nigerian authorities dismantled an industrial-scale illicit methamphetamine laboratory, where traffickers used the nitrostyrene method to produce the drug. Most of the chemicals seized during the law enforcement operation are not yet scheduled in Nigeria and were purchased in country from legitimate sources.

In Europe, the legitimate uses for APAAN are limited, and therefore imports are likely to be intended for conversion to benzyl methyl ketone (BMK), an amphetamine precursor. According to the INCB, APAAN seizures between 2015 and 2016 amounted to 1.5 MT and were all reported by countries in Europe. The diversion and smuggling of APAAN is not just a European problem. In recent years, Canada has also reported large seizures of APAAN. On February 24, 2016, Canada added APAAN, its salts, isomers, and salts of isomers to schedule VI of its Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to the schedule of the Precursor Control Regulations.

Cocaine. Potassium permanganate, an oxidizer, is the primary chemical used to remove the impurities from cocaine base. It has many legitimate industrial uses, including waste-water treatment, disinfectant, and deodorizer. Potassium permanganate also can be combined with pseudoephedrine to produce methcathinone, a synthetic stimulant that is a controlled substance.

In South America, the only region of the world where large quantities of coca leaf are cultivated, chemical trends continue along the lines outlined in previous years, with traffickers continuing to divert chemicals from legitimate industry either from domestic or international sources. A growing trend cited by law enforcement officials is the recycling of chemicals used in cocaine production. This allows clandestine laboratory operators to reuse the chemicals up to four times before they need to be replaced.

INCB's Project Cohesion monitors the imports of potassium permanganate to cocaine processing areas. This chemical is primarily used as a disinfecting agent and water purification and as a key reagent in synthetic organic chemistry. Alternative precursor chemicals used in cocaine manufacturing have also been detected. Additionally, traffickers continue to recycle the chemical containers, making it difficult to trace the origin of the chemicals inside.

The United States, the INCB, and others encourage countries in South America to continue obtaining and sharing information on these new trends; at the same time, developing an effective multilateral effort focused on potassium permanganate has been difficult because of the large number of licit uses for this chemical. The illicit manufacture of the substance and diversion from domestic distribution channels remain the major sources of potassium permanganate for cocaine production.

Continuing Trends. Illicit drug producers are adapting. In the past, diversion of international shipments accounted for a greater proportion of precursor chemicals than it does now. Now, precursor chemicals are produced outside of domestic controls, and subsequently mislabeled for shipment or smuggled abroad. Domestic chemical diversion is the biggest challenge in countries where controlled substances are already produced. It is critical to continue efforts to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement and public health institutions to minimize illicit precursor chemical diversion.

Increasingly, drug traffickers use chemicals that are not controlled under the convention or the domestic laws of the source or importing country. They exploit countries that have limited enforcement and regulatory capacity. International cooperation against chemical diversion has also pushed trafficking groups to exploit domestic industry in a significant way. Additionally, traffickers continue to obtain chemicals produced in the country where illicit drugs are produced, thereby escaping international monitoring, surveillance, and interdiction efforts.

The Internet continues to facilitate bulk sales and distribution of chemical compounds containing controlled substances, as well as the sale of uncontrolled NPS, and now fentanyl.

The Road Ahead

To counter the shifts in diversion, trafficking, and production of chemicals, the United States is committed to expanding its work with international partners, to implement the provisions of the 1988 UN Convention, to monitor those substances on the ISSL, and identify and stop diversion and/or smuggling of new substitute chemicals that can be used for illicit drug production.

The development and reliable implementation of effective chemical control regimes and legislation are critical. Additionally, it is important to develop and utilize the administrative, investigative, and prosecutorial tools to successfully identify suspicious transactions and bring chemical traffickers to justice, as well as to make better use of watch lists and voluntary control mechanisms to target listed chemicals and substitute chemicals as well as to identify the latest production and trafficking methods.

Increased cooperation with domestic industry, including chemical and shipping companies, and other public-private partnerships is critical to targeting precursor chemicals. International guidelines and best practices have much to offer in this regard, particularly the INCB Voluntary Code of Conduct for Industry. The United States will seek to work with other countries to encourage the application of domestic control measures similar to those applied to international trade in these chemicals.

Against this backdrop, the United States will continue to promote efforts through the INCB and engage other member states through the CND and other multilateral venues. In the Western Hemisphere, for example, the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) advances voluntary cooperation on precursor chemical controls. CICAD's Group of Experts on Chemical Control and Pharmaceutical Substances carries out a variety of initiatives in this important field. Of note, this expert group explores options for soliciting private sector input from the Western Hemisphere into the discussion on controlling substances that are legal but used to make illegal drugs.

Moreover, the United States is supporting partner nation efforts in various regions of the world to develop and strengthen precursor laws and regulations to ensure compliance with international drug control conventions, including further steps to enhance and foster communication among national authorities, promote increased communication and follow-up on exports and imports of controlled chemicals through the INCB task forces, and expand diplomatic engagement on precursor initiatives bilaterally, and through multilateral and regional institutions. The United States also provides training to international entities to improve the monitoring and control of chemical commercialization through the Internet.

Major Chemical Source Countries and Territories

This section focuses on individual countries with large chemical manufacturing industries that have significant trade with drug-producing regions and those with significant chemical commerce susceptible to diversion domestically for smuggling into drug-producing countries. Designation as a major chemical source country does not indicate a lack of adequate chemical control legislation or the ability to enforce it. Rather, it recognizes that the volume of chemical trade with drug-producing regions, or proximity to them, makes these countries the sources of the greatest quantities of chemicals liable to diversion. The United States, with its large chemical industry and extensive trade with drug-producing regions, is included on the list.

Many other countries manufacture and trade in chemicals, but not on the same scale, or with the broad range of precursor chemicals, as the countries in this section. These two sections are broken down by region.



Since 2011, eleven clandestine methamphetamine laboratories have been detected in Nigeria, making Nigeria an emerging major producing country for methamphetamine. In February 2016, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) discovered one clandestine laboratory capable of producing between 3,000 and 4,000 kilograms (kg) of methamphetamine every seven to 10 days. In addition to the emerging methamphetamine threat, Nigeria is also developing into a major transshipment country for ephedrine, a precursor chemical used in the production of methamphetamine. Precursor chemicals--mainly ephedrine--are imported from India and China then diverted to the laboratory operators. One kg of 99-percent pure locally-produced methamphetamine sells for as little as $7,500 in Lagos and over $150,000 in Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia.

In 2015, the UNODC reported that Nigeria imported 8.3 tons of ephedrine from India over an eight-month period, making Nigeria the world's largest importer of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine from India. Nigeria was also the largest importer of tramadol from India, a pharmaceutical drug becoming increasingly abused in Nigeria. Both drug imports far exceeded the amount legitimately used in Nigeria.

According to UNODC, Nigeria is not in full compliance with CND Resolution 49/3 and has not been accurately tracking the licit use of precursor chemicals. UNODC worked with the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) and the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) over 2016 to develop a process based on international best practice of properly estimating these needs. NAFDAC is responsible for submitting an estimation of its requirements of precursors for Nigeria.

UNODC has also been working with the FMOH on the related issue of quantification of narcotics and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes. In September 2016, the UNODC trained data collectors and has plans to train six analysts--three from NAFDAC and three from FMOH--to analyze the data. These trained officers completed the data collection in six pilot states in Nigeria in October 2016. UNODC planned to review and analyze the data collected from the pilot and subsequently finalize the guidelines for eventual nationwide data collection by the end of the year.

UNODC hopes to see a more informed estimation of the need for precursors in Nigeria being reported in 2017, and plans to train data collectors in every state in the country by March 2017.

South Africa

South Africa is a leading regional importer of chemicals used in the production of illegal drugs, particularly synthetic drugs. Chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine and methaqualone arrive primarily from Asia (including India and China) and Nigeria. Seizures from flights arriving in Johannesburg from the United Arab Emirates have also increased since 2015.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) have a trained, dedicated clandestine laboratory team. The SAPS Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) has annually dismantled between 40 and 50 clandestine laboratories in recent years. The dry climate in Gauteng is optimal for methamphetamine production. The frequent flights from the airports in Gauteng also make it an ideal transshipment location. SAPS report annual seizures and the South African Revenue Service (SARS) publishes the trade of chemical products, but only as a broad category in the trade statistics report. SARS Customs and Enforcement teams seize illicit drugs and substances scheduled as precursors. Chemicals confiscated in 2016 included ethanol and toluene.

Container shipments identified by the United States as suspected of carrying possible illicit materials, to include precursors, are consequently investigated by South African authorities and acted upon. South African efforts to engage with the countries of origin have had limited success. Investigative collaborations between U.S. and South African authorities are productive, yet more regular and enhanced interactions would prove useful.

No regulatory entity exists within the South African government to address precursor chemical diversion, largely due to insufficient resources. Instead, South Africa relies primarily on companies to perform self-regulation. It is not clear to what extent South Africa reported on its trade in controlled precursors to the INCB, as required under the 1988 UN Convention, but it is registered with the INCB's PICS System. Controlling and analyzing the trade in precursors is included as a goal within the South Africa National Drug Policy, which mandates the establishment of computerized inventory control systems for scheduled chemicals and regular regulation and monitoring of the purchase of medicines containing precursors via a registry system. Such measures have not been fully implemented.

North America


Canada's "Controlled Drugs and Substances Act" (CDSA) and its regulations provide a legislative framework for the control of chemical precursors. Scheduling of substances under the CDSA and its regulations provides law enforcement agencies with the authority to take action against activities that are not in accordance with the law. These instruments also authorize Health Canada to communicate information collected to law enforcement agencies, border control officers, foreign competent authorities and the INCB if necessary.

Health Canada submits an annual report to the INCB with respect to its obligations under the 1988 UN Convention. The annual report provides information on licit imports and exports for the previous year, as well as stopped shipments and seizures, and refusals of permit applications due to objections from foreign authorities, information received from the INCB, and incomplete or invalid application information. Canada cooperates fully with the INCB in cases where shipments may pose a concern.

In February 2016, Health Canada published the regulation that added APAAN to Schedule VI of the CDSA. In May, Health Canada published the regulation that added 2C-phenethylamines to schedule III of the CDSA. In June, Health Canada published the regulation that added opioid analgesics AH-7921, MT-45, W-18 to schedule I of the CDSA and Lefetamine to schedule III of the CDSA. Health Canada also announced a proposal to amend Schedule VI to the CDSA and regulations to amend the schedule to the Precursor Control Regulations to add chemicals used in the production of fentanyl (propionyl chloride, 1-Phenethyl-4-piperidone and its salts, 4Piperidone and its salts, Norfentanyl (N-phenyl-N-piperidin-4-ylpropanamide) and its salts, 1Phenethylpiperidin-4-ylidenephenylamine and its salts; and N-Phenyl-4-piperidinamine and its salts.

As a State Party to the 1988 UN Convention, Canada is also obligated to impose controls on substances in response to decisions of the CND. Canada's decision to schedule APAAN was the result of the CND's decision to place the substance under international control. In addition, Health Canada announced proposals to amend Schedule III to the CDSA to expand the scope of the scheduling entry for methylphenidate and its salts to include its isomers, derivatives and analogues, as well as salts of the derivatives, isomers and analogues.

To address the problem of chemical diversion, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) instituted the National Chemical Precursor Diversion Program in 2001. Program coordinators liaise with Health Canada and the chemical industry, assist investigators who are conducting clandestine laboratory investigations, and provide training to the chemical industry in the identification, monitoring, and prevention of suspicious transactions.


Mexico has several major chemical manufacturing and trade industries that produce, import, or export most of the chemicals required for illicit drug production, including potassium permanganate and acetic anhydride. Although Mexico-based transnational criminal organizations are major producers of methamphetamine, pseudoephedrine and ephedrine are not produced legally within the country. In 2008, Mexico outlawed imports of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, except hospital use of liquid pseudoephedrine. Mexico has enhanced regulatory laws on the importation of precursor chemicals, including regulations for imports of phenylacetic acid (including its salts, esters, and derivatives), methylamine, hydriodic acid, and red phosphorous. Imports of essential chemicals are limited by law to 17 of 49 Mexican ports of entry. Of these 17, imports of precursor chemicals are permitted at only four ports of entry.

Ammonium chloride and formaldehyde/paraformaldehyde are precursor chemicals used in Mexico to manufacture methylamine. Ammonium chloride is also used to manufacture heroin, used during the extraction of morphine. In January 2016, the Government of Mexico regulated four chemicals--nitroethane, nitromethane, benzaldehyde, and benzyl chloride--under Article 4 of the Federal Law for the Control of Precursor Chemicals, Essential Chemicals, and Tableting Machines. Mexico also classified these chemicals as psychotropic substances under Article 245 of the General Health Law. These chemicals were previously purchased in bulk quantities to manufacture methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine production and importations of precursor chemicals continue to pose challenges. Mexico controls all chemicals listed in the 1988 UN Convention. Mexican laws regulate the production and use of many of these substances, and the Mexican Office of the

Attorney General is responsible for enforcing chemical control laws. Mexico's regulatory agency is the Sanitary Risk Protection Federal Commission (COFEPRIS). The United States is currently working with COFEPRIS to control all ketamine products. COFEPRIS controls ketamine for human use, but not veterinary ketamine products, which are smuggled into the United States. Mexican ketamine seized in the U.S. is usually in vials and is mostly as a recreational high. To date, there has not been a large-scale consumption of this drug in the United States. Most of the domestic diversion is from veterinarian clinics or obtained via the Internet.

With respect to precursor chemical seizures, in April 2016 Mexican officials reported seizing a container with 80 drums of methyl ethyl ketone, with an approximate weight of 14.64 MT. The shipment originated in Qingdao, China with a final destination in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. During the first six months of 2016, Mexican officials reported seizing 48 MT of ammonium chloride; 14 MT of magnesium chloride; 19 MT of barium dihydrate chloride; 14 MT of barium anhydride chloride; 750 kg of potassium sorbate; one and half MT of sodium fluoride; four MT of citric acid; 500 kg of boric acid; and an unknown quantity of oxalic acid. Mexican seizures of methamphetamine totaled 26.5 MT from April 2014 to September 2015.

Regarding the production of fentanyl and its related substances by Mexican traffickers, the most widely used precursor chemicals for illicit production are the NPP and ANPP; as revealed in the profiles of samples obtained from law enforcement seizures. The international control of both NPP and ANPP is necessary to prevent the illicit production of fentanyl and related fentanyl-like substances. In this regard, the United States requested the initiation of steps to add fentanyl precursor chemicals to the international chemical tables under the 1988 UN Convention. The request is currently under review by the INCB.

Mexico participates in international efforts to control precursors and has a strong bilateral working relationship with the United States. Mexico participates in the National Methamphetamine and Pharmaceutical Initiative conference and signed a memorandum of cooperation with the United States in 2012 to address precursor chemicals and clandestine laboratories. The two governments also cooperate to share best practices with Central American countries affected by the trafficking of precursor chemicals. This cooperation includes a bimonthly meeting on synthetic drugs, clandestine laboratories, and precursor chemicals with participants from the United States, Mexico, and other affected countries.

The United States

The United States manufactures and/or trades in almost all 24 chemicals listed in Tables I and II of the 1988 UN Drug Convention to which it is a party; and it has laws and regulations implementing chemical control provisions.

The foundation of U.S. chemical control is the Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act of 1988. This law and subsequent chemical control provisions of the U.S. drug law are interwoven into the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, rather than individual stand-alone legislation. The DEA is responsible for administering and enforcing these laws. The Department of Justice, primarily through its U.S. Attorneys, handles criminal and civil prosecutions at the federal level. In addition to registration and recordkeeping requirements, the legislation requires importers and exporters to file import or export notifications at least 15 days before the transaction is to take place. The 15-day advanced notification permits DEA to evaluate the transaction. However, the legislation and regulations allow for a waiver of the 15-day advance notification if a company has an established business relationship for a specified listed chemical or chemicals with its foreign customer that has been reported to DEA subject to the criteria in the Code of Federal Regulations. In these cases, same-day notification is permitted for future shipments. Diversion investigators and special agents communicate with exporting and importing government officials in this process. The legislation also gives the DEA the authority to suspend shipments.

U.S. legislation requires chemical handlers to report to DEA suspicious transactions such as those involving extraordinary quantities or unusual methods of payment. Criminal penalties for chemical diversion are strict; the penalties for some chemical trafficking offenses involving methamphetamine are tied to the quantities of drugs that could have been produced with the diverted chemicals. If the diversion of listed chemicals is detected, persons or companies may be prosecuted or the DEA registration may be revoked.

The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 (CMEA) mandated DEA to establish total annual requirements, import quotas, individual manufacturing quotas, and procurement quotas for three List 1 chemicals: pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine. This affected those DEA-registered importers and manufacturers that wish to import or conduct manufacturing activities with these chemicals. The CMEA also restricted retail level transactions of nonprescription drug products that contain ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine, now known as "scheduled listed chemical products." The CMEA and other chemical control legislation are aimed at preventing the illicit manufacture of illegal drugs domestically and internationally.

The United States has played a leading role in the design, promotion, and implementation of cooperative multilateral chemical control initiatives. The United States also actively works with other concerned nations, and with the UNODC and the INCB to develop information sharing procedures to better control precursor chemicals and non-controlled substances used in the illicit production of drugs. U.S. officials are members of a combined task force for both Project Cohesion and Project Prism. The United States has established close operational cooperation with counterparts in major chemical manufacturing and trading countries. This cooperation includes information sharing in support of chemical control programs and to prevent chemical diversion.

Central America and the Caribbean


Belize became a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention in 1996. The guiding laws for chemicals in Belize are outlined in the Misuse of Drugs Act (2011) and the Chemist and Druggist Act (2000). Belize controls the importation of precursor chemicals through the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture. Belize permits the importation of chemicals for the agriculture industry, which must be certified by the Ministry of Agriculture before

Customs will allow importation. Belize has no pharmaceutical industry; however, chemicals may be imported with a Ministry of Health certificate for legal use. Belize does not manufacture illicit drugs and no illegal drug laboratories have been seized.

Diverted precursor chemicals likely enter Belize through illegal border crossings and transit Belize to other countries undetected. Diversion of chemicals at legal crossings and ports likely also occurs through corrupt officials. Customs officers scrutinize containers and prioritize screenings because Belize lacks the human and financial resources to conduct extensive inspections of all containers. If a chemical were to be confiscated, the National Forensic Science Services would be challenged to identify precursor chemicals.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a stringent licensing process for the importation and distribution of precursor chemicals. In 2010 it also adopted recommendations from the INCB. Costa Rica has controls for Table I and Table II precursor and essential chemicals as defined by the 1988 UN Drug Convention.

The Costa Rican government's National Plan on Drugs for 2013-2017 includes preventing the illicit diversion of chemical precursors as a priority. Costa Rica has yet to seize large amounts of diverted precursor chemicals compared to other states in the region and has a low volume of imports. The Costa Rican Drug Institute has a special unit dedicated to the control and regulation of precursor chemicals, and this unit has broad powers to monitor and respond to illegal activity. By law, importers and businesses that handle chemical precursors or certain types of prescription drugs are required to submit monthly reports through an online tracking system. During the first 10 months of 2016, 27 imports were licensed to 37 registered importers of Table I chemical precursors and 88 imports were licensed to 155 importers of Table II chemicals. The system tracks the movement of chemical precursors and solvents and also generates alerts. Costa Rica received no specific alerts during this 10-month period in 2016.

Dominican Republic

In accordance with its obligations under Article 12 of the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the Dominican Republic has implemented a chemical control regime to prevent precursor chemical diversion. Dominican laws regulate the production and use of the 24 chemicals listed in the Convention and the Dominican Republic annually submits information required by the Convention. The Dominican Republic has also ratified the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971. The National Directorate for Drug Control (DNCD) is responsible for enforcing chemical control laws.

The Dominican Republic does not have a large petrochemical industry engaged in the manufacturing, importation, and exportation of chemical products. Chemicals for industrial production are imported from the United States. The two largest chemical imports are sodium carbonate and toluene, which is used in the Dominican Republic as an additive for gasoline and as a solvent for paint. Production of methamphetamines is not significant in the Dominican Republic.

The DNCD regulates and enforces the importation and use of precursor chemicals. The DNCD receives pre-notifications for precursor imports and issues certificates of importation. The DNCD also controls and regulates prescription drugs and issues annual permits to medical doctors, clinics, and hospitals, maintaining a register of the type of drug and amount each doctor prescribes each year, especially for drugs containing opiates. Clinics and hospitals are mandated to report prescriptions for certain drugs before dispensing them and the DNCD verifies that the prescription number and the doctor are valid before authorizing the sale. The DNCD is taking steps to automate its paper-based chemical control registration.

El Salvador

El Salvador is party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, and invokes its rights to pre-notification of scheduled precursor chemicals under Article 12. However, precursor chemical trafficking continues to be a developing problem as methamphetamine production continues to spread from Mexico into neighboring Guatemala. Major but sporadic seizures of precursor chemicals imported from China have been reported at the Acajutla seaport in prior years, though none were recorded in 2016.

The OAS, with U.S. funding, is working with Central American countries to destroy existing stockpiles of seized precursor chemicals. The OAS signed a cooperative agreement with the Government of El Salvador in February 2015, for technical assistance in the management and disposal of controlled chemical substances.


The manufacture of methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs in Guatemala remains a major problem. Large quantities of precursor chemicals enter and transit Guatemala via its land borders and seaports, presenting the government with both law enforcement and chemical disposal challenges. Inefficiency and corruption at ports of entry likely facilitate the entry of precursor chemicals into the country. Currently, authorities have 2,662 MT of seized precursors in storage at four different locations in Guatemala, including the two busiest commercial seaports at Puerto Quetzal and Santo Tomas de Castilla. Ethyl phenyl acetate comprises the bulk of the seized contraband.

Although the Guatemalan government has a system in place to safely destroy precursor chemicals, the current method is unable to neutralize the large backlog of stored goods or keep up with the pace of ongoing seizures. In response, the United States is in the process of purchasing a high-capacity incinerator for Guatemala's Anti-Narcotics Police. Once operational in mid-2017, the incinerator will be able to efficiently destroy precursor chemicals used to manufacture controlled substances, as well as processed narcotics seized by law enforcement agencies. According to best estimates, the incinerator will be able to dispose of all precursors in Guatemala seized to date in two years or less. The Guatemalan government concluded an agreement with its Central American neighbors that will permit the transportation and subsequent disposal of seized precursors from El Salvador, Honduras, and Belize.


Precursor chemical diversion continues to be a problem in Honduras, with the main shortcoming being a lack of oversight and enforcement over the importation of controlled chemicals. Currently, the Health Ministry (MS) is the only entity with the authority to investigate chemical companies, but lacks the funding and personnel to implement this function effectively. Furthermore, the MS does not effectively communicate with Honduran law enforcement and intelligence communities, which has hindered inspections of precursor chemical shipments.

Most precursor chemicals diverted through Honduras originate in Asian source countries such as China, and often transit additional countries which mask the points of origin. Law enforcement sources estimate that the majority of these precursor chemicals are ultimately destined for methamphetamine production labs in Guatemala and Mexico. Some precursor chemicals also remain in Honduras, as evidenced by the detection and seizure of a cocaine processing lab in 2016.

The United States provides training to Honduran authorities to detect and prevent precursor chemical diversion. The Honduran government may wish to consider adopting additional penalties for illegal chemical diversion. The United States has also offered to assist the Government in Honduras in creating a task force comprised of key Honduran agencies to identify, investigate, and prosecute companies and individuals that import illegal precursor chemicals.

Latin America


Brazil is one of the world's 10 largest chemical producers. Brazil licenses, controls, and inspects essential and precursor chemical products, including potassium permanganate and acetic anhydride. The controls on both allow for either product to be commercialized without restriction for quantities of up to one kg for potassium permanganate and one liter of acetic anhydride.

The Brazilian Federal Police (DPF) Chemical Division controls and monitors 146 chemical products in conjunction with 27 DPF regional divisions and 97 resident offices. The Chemical Division is comprised of two units: the Chemical Control Division, subordinate to the DPF Executive Directorate, and the Criminal Diversion Investigations unit which reports to the Organized Crime Division. However, both divisions routinely coordinate and share information when conducting administrative inspections and criminal investigations.

Regulatory guidelines require all chemical handlers to be registered and licensed for conducting activities such as manufacturing, importing, exporting, storing, transporting, commercializing and distributing chemicals. The DPF uses a National Computerized System of Chemical Control to monitor all chemical movements in the country, including imports/exports, and licensing.

This system requires all companies to use an on-line system for registration and to report all activity being conducted, including the submission of mandatory monthly reports of all chemical related movements as well as existing chemical stocks in their inventories.

The Government of Brazil adheres to the CND--Resolution 49/3 on strengthening systems for the control of precursor chemicals used in the manufacturing of synthetic drugs. Brazil reports its annual estimates of legitimate requirements for ephedrine and pseudoephedrine for quantities above 10 grams, and P-2-P in any amount. This is done through PEN Online. The DPF routinely uses PEN Online in cases of international trade and in coordination with member states to alert importing countries with details of an export transaction.


Under Ecuadorian law, potassium permanganate and acetic anhydride are designated as controlled chemicals. Buying, selling, or importing such chemicals requires the permission of the Technical Secretariat for Drugs, the primary agency responsible for precursor chemical control in Ecuador. According to Article 219 in the 2014 Penal Code, the use of precursor chemicals to produce, manufacture, or prepare illicit materials such as cocaine or heroin is punishable by three to five years in prison.

The chemical unit of the National Antinarcotics Directorate (DNA), under the Ecuadorian National Police, plays an active role in chemical control by carrying out investigations and intelligence operations. Although DNA's chemical unit is a highly competent entity, its small size and outdated technology hinder operations. The unit employs only 20 people, 10 in Quito and 10 in Guayaquil, and does not have a presence in northern Ecuador where drug labs and trafficking are most pronounced due to the porous land border with Colombia. Due to its small workforce, the chemical unit must often rely on ad-hoc support from police officers from other units that generally lack adequate chemical training.

Ecuador has been importing large quantities of potassium permanganate for at least the past decade. At the time of this report, chemical import data for 2016 was not available. According to the Central Bank of Ecuador, during the first eight months of 2015, Ecuador imported 34.79 MT of potassium permanganate, compared to 35.96 MT in 2014. Potassium permanganate is a controlled chemical and requires an import license in order to be imported into the country.

Most imports originate from China.

Similar to potassium permanganate, acetic anhydride is also a controlled chemical requiring an import license. During the first eight months of 2015, Ecuador imported 67.22 MT of acetic anhydride, a significant increase from the 48.66 MT imported in 2014. By contrast, Ecuador imported only 370 kg of acetic anhydride in 2012, and only 10 kg in 2011. Ecuadorian authorities have not been able to explain this significant jump. Most imports originate from India and the United States.



Transnational drug trafficking organizations operate within Bangladesh with connections to Burma and India, and narcotics enforcement agencies have reported increased trafficking of synthetic drugs such as "yaba" (a mixture of caffeine and methamphetamine, sometimes with heroin) and diverted pharmaceuticals, such as phensedyl (codeine-based cough syrup). Drug traffickers continue to divert precursor chemicals and chemical preparations (incorporating ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, toluene, and acetone) from Bangladeshi pharmaceutical or chemical companies' illicit drug production. Bangladesh has successfully engaged bilaterally with India to control the diversion of phensedyl, and Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies work closely with the DEA to seize and disrupt illicit drugs and chemicals.

The Government of Bangladesh is committed to the implementation of the 1988 UN Convention and regional agreements regarding control of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals. Twenty-two of the 24 precursor chemicals listed in the 1988 UN Convention are included in the "Schedule of Drugs" of Bangladesh's Narcotics Control Act (NCA) to comply with the provisions of Article 12 of the 1988 UN Convention. The NCA also allows financial investigations and freezing of assets derived from trafficking in drugs and precursors. The government provides the INCB with annual estimates of Bangladesh's legitimate use requirements for imports of the four precursors frequently used in the manufacture of amphetamine-type-stimulant (ATS)--3, 4-MDP-2-P, pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, and P-2-P under CND Resolution 49/3.

The Directorate General of Drug Administration has developed a draft national drug policy, which was approved by the Cabinet but it has not yet been published in the gazette, in response to the threat posed by the abuse of and trafficking in pharmaceutical preparations and other drugs. The Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) issues licenses for the import, export, transport, shipment, manufacture, sale, distribution, purchase, possession, storage, or other use of controlled precursors. The NCA implementing rules regulate the control, monitoring, and use of precursors for industrial, scientific and medical purposes through a licensing system.

The DNC, however, lacks sufficient staff and equipment to detect and interdict precursors consistently. Bangladesh has also established District Drug Control Committees (DDCC) to monitor and coordinate the activities among the agencies responsible for drug and precursor chemical enforcement. The Police, Customs, Rapid Action Battalion, Border Guard, and Coast Guard are empowered to detect and intercept illegal precursor chemical and drug operations.

The counterdrug unit of the Dhaka Metro Police has successfully assisted DEA in conducting investigations targeting Dhaka-based traffickers of pseudoephedrine chemical preparations. Despite government efforts, Bangladesh continues to struggle to allocate sufficient resources to control precursors through consistent enforcement of existing laws.

Bangladesh has a nascent but growing commercial pharmaceutical industry. Beximco Pharmaceuticals in August became the first Bangladeshi company to receive Federal Drug Administration (FDA) authority to export a prescription drug to the United States. Beximco now has FDA approval for two drugs.


China remains one of the world's top producers and exporters of precursor chemicals. The majority of precursor chemical production and export are intended for legitimate use, but precursors are not only being diverted by transnational criminal organizations but also manufactured in large, sophisticated, illegal factories within China. China's close proximity to the illicit drug source countries in Southeast and Southwest Asia, in conjunction with insufficient regulatory oversight of the precursor chemical industry, corruption among government and business officials, lower production costs, myriad transportation options, and illegal factories make it an ideal source for precursor chemicals intended for illicit drug production.


The Government of India adheres to the chemical control provisions of the 1988 UN Convention. The Government of India has three pieces of legislation that restrict illicit narcotics trafficking, and there are three agencies in the government that enforce counternarcotics law.

The diversion of precursor chemicals from licit producers to the illicit drug trade is a serious problem. India-based precursor trafficking organizations are involved in the illicit exportation and domestic sale of precursor chemicals such as ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, both of which are used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. In light of this challenge, India has undertaken significant efforts to control precursor chemicals produced in its large chemical industry and actively participates in international precursor control initiatives such as the INCBled Project Cohesion and Project Prism.

India issues pre-export notifications for exports of precursors using an online system developed by the INCB, and administers a sophisticated licensing regime to control dual use pharmaceutical products. India regulates 17 of 24 precursor chemicals listed by the 1988 UN Convention. Of the 17 chemicals, India's NDPS Act designates five as "Schedule A" substances subject to the most stringent controls: acetic anhydride, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, n-acetylanthranilic acid, and anthranilic acid.


Singapore's geographic advantage and robust port infrastructure contribute to its rank as one of the world's top trade hubs, including for the trade of precursor chemicals. The Government of Singapore continues to partner with concerned countries in international chemical control initiatives to prevent the diversion of synthetic drug precursor chemicals, including ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and other essential primary chemicals such as potassium permanganate and acetic anhydride. Singapore is one of the largest distributors of acetic anhydride in Asia. Used in film processing and the manufacture of plastics, pharmaceuticals, and industrial chemicals, acetic anhydride is also the primary acetylating agent for heroin.

Singapore does not produce ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, but significant volumes of both chemicals transit the country's ports. Singapore exported 43.95 MT of pseudoephedrine and 8.75 MT of ephedrine in 2015, and imported 47.62 MT and 8.1 MT of both chemicals respectively. Most of the ephedrine imported to Singapore originated from India and Taiwan, and the bulk of which is then re-exported to pharmaceutical companies in Indonesia. The imported pseudoephedrine originates mostly from India, China, Germany, and Taiwan, and then is often re-exported to pharmaceutical companies in Indonesia. Singapore also exports both chemicals to Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Nepal for pharmaceutical purposes. Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine that are not re-exported are used primarily by the domestic pharmaceutical industry. Singapore exported only 200 grams of phenyl-2-propanone and imported 100 grams in 2015.

The Singapore Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) is the competent authority in Singapore for the 1988 UN Convention, and is tasked with undertaking measures to prevent the diversion of controlled precursor chemicals. All imports, exports and transshipments of these controlled substances require a permit from the CNB, and supporting documentation must be kept by the companies for a minimum of two years and made available for inspection by the CNB. Supporting documents may include invoice, sale contracts and documentary proof from the competent authority of the exporting countries. The movement of these controlled substances is also tracked and monitored by CNB. If the permit application is approved, CNB will provide Pre-Export Notification to the competent authority of the importing country for any exportation of substances.

Information on all goods imported and exported through Singapore's borders must be provided in advance to enable Singapore Customs, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, or other controlling agencies to facilitate legitimate and secure trade through measures such as timely pre-clearance risk assessment. Singapore does not screen containerized transshipments unless they involve vessels from select countries of international concern, a Singapore consignee or contain strategic or controlled items, including certain chemicals. In instances where precursor diversion for illicit drug manufacturing purposes was suspected, Singapore authorities have assisted foreign law enforcement agencies. The Government of Singapore conducts site visits on companies dealing with controlled chemicals to ensure awareness of the requirements and overall compliance.

The Port of Singapore is the world's second busiest port in terms of shipping tonnage and is the world's busiest transshipment port. The presence of several designated Free-Trade Zones in Singapore presents a potential risk for the undetected transshipment of diverted narcotics. Singapore authorities have never reported a diversion of precursor chemicals used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine from Singapore's pharmaceutical, biotechnology and fine chemical industries, nor have they reported the seizure of any domestic clandestine methamphetamine laboratories. Singapore's Health Sciences Authority and the Civil Defense Force and the DEA hold regular cross trainings to increase Singapore's capability to address any surge in clandestine manufacturing.


The Taiwan Ministry of Economic Affairs Industrial Development Bureau imposes strict reporting requirements in tracking the production, distribution, sale, storage, and export/import of precursor chemicals such as acetic anhydride, piperonal, safrole, piperidine, hydrogen chloride, and potassium permanganate. In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, approximately 905 companies reported through this web-based system every quarter. In April 2015, the Taiwan authorities added benzyl cyanide to the list of chemicals requiring quarterly reporting.

Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) supervises the trade in and use of finished products containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, and other chemicals, including by end-users such as hospitals. In 2015, TFDA inspected 17,454 drug manufacturers and hospitals subject to law and found 371 violations, primarily for administrative errors or use of expired medicines containing those chemicals. The Taiwan authorities report that there were no domestic cases in 2015 and 2016 involving the use of controlled pharmaceutical ingredients, such as ephedrine, in the production of illegal drugs.


Precursor chemicals are not produced in Thailand, but the government imports chemicals in bulk for licit medical and industrial purposes. The Precursor Chemical Control Committee is responsible for formulating the national strategy on precursor controls. The Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) is the principal Thai law enforcement agency responsible for enforcing the laws against the illicit diversion of prohibited chemicals.

Improved law enforcement capabilities of Thai authorities and more intense scrutiny of end-user requirements have led to a decrease in illicit diversion through Thailand over the past several years. The growing availability of drugs and chemicals from sources in China and India has further mitigated the use of Thai chemical diversion channels. Nevertheless, it is probable that acetic anhydride and ephedrine continue to transit Thailand en route to clandestine laboratories in Burma. Acetic anhydride is produced in Indonesia, while other chemicals are brokered through Indonesian chemical houses and transported through Malaysia into Thailand. Pseudoephedrine and ephedrine enter Thailand by couriers or by air, or containerized maritime cargo before being transshipped overland from northern or northeastern Thailand provinces to methamphetamine production centers in Burma, Laos, and/or Cambodia.

The sale of pseudoephedrine tablets has been prohibited at local pharmacies for several years. In 2013, due to the determination of an imminent threat to the public safety, the Thai Ministry of Public Health signed into law the control of mephedrone, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MPDV), and methylone. These substances have been designated narcotics in schedule I under the Narcotic Drugs Act B.E. 2522 (1979) and their importation, exportation, and possession are strictly prohibited.

Thailand is a signatory to the 1988 UN Convention and has placed stringent controls on the 24 chemicals listed in Table I and Table II of that Convention. The Royal Thai Government has further imposed controls on seven additional chemicals because of its unique domestic situation and its geographic proximity to the major Burma-based drug-producing and trafficking organizations. These chemicals include: acethyl chloride, chloroform, ethylidine diacetate, glacial acetic acid, phosphorus trichloride, phosphorus pentachloride, and thionyl chloride. Controls are also in place for caffeine, which is used in the production of methamphetamine tablets. Further, Thailand provides pre-export notifications via the INCB's PEN Online system as a mean of discouraging diversion of precursors and essential chemicals in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.


Chemical diversion control within the EU is based upon EU regulations binding on all 28 Member States. EU regulations meet the chemical control provisions of the 1988 UN Convention, including provisions for record-keeping on transactions in controlled chemicals, a system of permits or declarations for exports and imports of regulated chemicals, and authority for governments to suspend chemical shipments. EU regulations are updated regularly and directly applicable in all EU Member States.

EU regulations establish common risk management rules to counter chemical diversion at the EU's borders. Member States are responsible for investigating and prosecuting violators.

The U.S.-EU Chemical Control Agreement, signed May 28, 1997, is the formal basis for U.S. cooperation with the EU and its Member States in chemical control through enhanced regulatory cooperation and mutual assistance. The agreement calls for annual meetings of a Joint Chemical Working Group to review implementation of the agreement and to coordinate positions in other areas, such as national or joint positions on chemical control matters before larger multilateral fora, including the CND.

In December 2013, the EU adopted new basic legislation that strengthens controls on ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, and tightens controls on companies in the EU using acetic anhydride.

For external trade, the change strengthened controls on medicinal products containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine exported from or transiting through the EU. The EU developed a new category of scheduled substances (Category 4), imposed mandatory export authorization and preexport notification, and extended enforcement power to stop and seize cargo if there is "reasonable doubt" concerning the shipment. For trade within EU territory, compulsory registration of end-users for acetic anhydride was introduced by creating a new subcategory (2A). Additionally, a definition of "user" was added for natural or legal persons possessing substances for purposes other than placing them in the market.

Other amendments to the regulation to facilitate tracking and enforcement include introducing definitions for scheduled substance and natural products, strengthening the rules for licensing and registration by introducing explicit criteria for granting or refusing licenses and registrations, increasing the power of competent authorities to control non-scheduled substances, implementing a quick reaction mechanism to add new chemicals to the list of scheduled substances, developing an EU database on drug precursors, and improving data protection provisions.

On 1 July 2015, a Commission Delegated Regulation and a Commission Implementing Regulation entered into force (replacing previous implementation legislation). These regulations complete the revision of the EU drug precursor legislation which started at the end of 2013.

Bilateral chemical control cooperation continues between the United States, and EU and its Member states. Many EU Member States participate in voluntary initiatives such as Project Cohesion and Project Prism. In 2007, the EU established guidelines for private sector operators involved in trading in precursor chemicals, with a view to offering practical guidance on the implementation of the main provisions of EU legislation on precursor chemicals, in particular the prevention of illegal diversion. A new version of these guidelines now titled "Guidelines for operators--Drug Precursors' control in the European Union" is expected to be published in 2017.


Belgium is neither a major producer nor a destination for the chemical precursors used to produce illicit drugs, and the country manufactures methamphetamine precursors for licit products only to a very limited extent. In recent years, however, Belgium has emerged as a transshipment point for methamphetamine precursors. Belgium requires and enforces strong reporting requirements for the import and export of precursor chemicals (bulk pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, safrole oil and benzyl methyl ketone), and the Belgian Federal Police have the lead role in enforcing these controls. However, shipments of pharmaceutical preparations (medication in tablet form) containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine are only controlled on a regulatory level by the Belgian Ministry of Safety and Public Health.

Mexican traffickers are moving away from the use of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine for the production of methamphetamine, turning instead to processing methamphetamine using ethyl phenyl acetate (and its derivatives), benzaldehyde and nitroethane. These traffickers may also utilize APAAN in the production of methamphetamine. The import of APAAN has dropped (possibly due to its designation as a scheduled chemical under the 1988 UN Convention in 2014), but there continue to be seizures of trucks transporting the chemical from Eastern Europe to Belgium and the Netherlands for the production of amphetamine-type substances and 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA--a.k.a. "ecstasy"). Mexican traffickers can produce APAAN using benzylcyanide, sodium ethoxide and ethylacetate.

Belgian officials report an increase in the shipment of APAA (3-oxo-2-phenylbutanamide), a pre-precursor used to produce APAAN. During the first six months of 2016, over 1,000 kg of APAA were seized coming from China. The increase in seizures of APAA is significant given the increased use of "dark" web sales of MDMA to the United States. Although individual parcels sent to the United States are usually small (in the grams), the overall volume sent to the United States is significant. Though very little methamphetamine is produced in Belgium for local consumption, there is evidence that it is being produced for export (using the Internet), to the United States and other European countries. Belgium has also seen seizures of nitropropene, 1-phenyl-2-nitropropene entering the country from China.

In instances where precursor diversion for drug manufacturing purposes has been suspected, Belgian authorities have cooperated by executing international controlled deliveries (i.e., illicit deliveries monitored by law enforcement in order to further investigations) to the destinations, or by seizing the shipments when controlled deliveries are not possible. The United States continues to coordinate with Belgian authorities to identify and investigate both suppliers and shippers of precursor chemicals.


Germany continues to be a leading manufacturer of legal pharmaceuticals and chemicals. According to the most recent available data from 2014 (2015 data could not be confirmed), Germany was one of the largest global exporter of ephedrine (40.2 MT) and pseudoephedrine (313.5 MT). Most of the 24 scheduled substances under international control as listed in Tables I and II of the 1988 UN Convention and other chemicals, which are used for the illicit production of narcotic drugs, are manufactured and/or sold by the German chemical and pharmaceutical industry.

Germany's National Precursor Monitoring Act complements EU regulations. Germany has a highly developed chemical sector, which is tightly controlled through a combination of national and EU regulations, law enforcement action, and voluntary industry compliance. Cooperation between the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, merchants, and German authorities is a key element in Germany's chemical control strategy. Germany works closely with the UNODC, and is an active participant in chemical control initiatives led by the INCB, including Project Prism and Project Cohesion.

The United States works closely with Germany's chemical regulatory agency, the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, on chemical control issues and exchanges bilateral information to promote transnational chemical control initiatives. German agencies cooperate closely with their U.S. counterparts to identify and stop chemical precursor diversion.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands has a large chemical industry with large chemical storage facilities, and Rotterdam serves as a major chemical shipping port. The Netherlands has strong legislation and regulatory controls over the industry, and law enforcement authorities track domestic shipments and work closely with international partners. Trade in precursor chemicals is governed by the 1995 Act on the Prevention of Misuse of Chemicals to Prevent Abuse of Chemical Substances (WVMC), which aims to prevent the diversion of legal chemicals. Chemical substances are also governed under The Act on Economic Offences and the Opium Act, and EU regulations.

Production of synthetic drugs is significant in the Netherlands. Recent trends show an increase in new types of precursors and pre-precursors to circumvent national and international legislation. APAAN is used in amphetamine production and acetic anhydride is used as a pre-precursor for BMK. Safrole continues to be used as a pre-precursor for piperonyl methyl ketone (PMK), though availability has decreased since 2014. The main (pre-) precursors used in the Netherlands are APAA (similar to APAAN), PMK, and BMK-glycidates. In recent years, law enforcement, especially in the south, reinforced its efforts to combat synthetic drugs and preprecursors.

The Financial Investigation Service (FIOD) of the Ministry of Finance oversees implementation of the WVMC and has responsibility for law enforcement efforts targeting precursors. Customs monitors the trade and production of chemicals. The chemical industry is legally obliged to report suspicious transactions. The Netherlands abides by all EU regulations for drug precursors.

The Prosecutor's Office strengthened cooperation with countries playing an important role in precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of MDMA.

The Netherlands is one of the initiators of and an active participant in the INCB-led Project Prism taskforce. It provides the INCB annual estimates of legitimate commercial requirements for chemical precursors. The Dutch government continues to work closely with the United States on precursor chemical controls and investigations. The Netherlands has had a memorandum of understanding with China since 2004 concerning chemical precursor investigations.

The Netherlands requires a license for the manufacture and trade of ephedrine. Relevant reports on suspicious transactions are shared nationally and internationally. The Netherlands also monitors a number of non-registered substances used in the production of methamphetamine.


The Government of Switzerland continues to be a strong partner of the United States and other countries in international chemical control initiatives to prevent the diversion of synthetic drug precursor chemicals, including ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, and other essential chemicals, namely potassium permanganate and acetic anhydride. Switzerland was the third largest importer of pseudoephedrine in the first nine months of 2016, with 37.13 MT imported globally.

Switzerland participates in multilateral chemical control initiatives led by the INCB, including Project Prism and Project Cohesion. Specifically, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are subject to import and export license requirements and Swiss chemical manufacturers must provide "enduser" certificates in concert with the exportation of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. In addition, an export license is required to export acetic anhydride to "risk" countries where significant illicit drug production occurs.

Swiss law enforcement agencies have established close cooperation with the Swiss chemical manufacturing and trading industries and counterparts in major chemical manufacturing and trading countries. This cooperation includes information exchanges in support of chemical control programs and in the investigation of diversion attempts. Cooperation between U.S. and Swiss law enforcement agencies, particularly the Swiss Federal Criminal Police, on chemical control related issues is excellent.

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom (UK) remains a leading producer of precursor chemicals, particularly ephedrine, which can be used in the production of illicit drugs. However, because the UK applies a strict regulatory regime to the production and trade of precursor chemicals, including mandatory licensing and reporting obligations, relatively small amounts are believed to be diverted for illicit use. The Home Office Drug Licensing and Compliance Unit is the regulatory body for precursor chemical control in the UK. The United States and UK cooperate closely in international bodies to promote global regulation of precursor chemicals.

Middle East Egypt

Egypt oversees the import and export of all internationally-recognized chemicals through a committee composed of the Ministry of Interior (ANGA), Ministry of Finance (Customs), and Ministry of Health (Pharmaceutical). This committee approves or denies requests to import or export chemicals. Over the past few years, there was a spike in the importation of ephedrine. With the large amounts of ephedrine imported relative to the population of Egypt, it is possible that not all of it is used for legitimate medicinal production. The Egyptian government, however, has not reported any large-scale diversion of ephedrine or other chemicals, made any significant seizures, or observed any increase in the use of methamphetamine in the local populace.
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Title Annotation:Chemical Controls
Publication:International Narcotics Control Strategy Report
Date:Mar 1, 2017
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