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«United States Department of State Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs International Narcotics Control Strategy Report ...»

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2010 saw progress in the development of a more complete and systematic reporting regime covering the international trade in synthetic drug precursors. This effort began in 2006, with a U.S.-sponsored CND resolution that provided a way to institutionalize the process for collecting information on synthetic drug precursor chemicals. The resolution also requests countries to permit the INCB to share such information with concerned law enforcement and regulatory agencies. The U.S. continues to work with the INCB and other international allies to urge countries to take steps towards implementation.

A prerequisite for implementing this is developing the considerable infrastructure of commercial information and regulation—not a simple task for many countries. However, at the end of 2010, the INCB reports that more than 123 countries and jurisdictions (up from 100 in 2008) are now cooperating and providing voluntary reporting on their licit requirements for the aforementioned chemicals. The INCB published the data collected in its annual report on precursor chemicals and updates the information regularly on its website. The data serves as a baseline for authorities in importing and exporting countries, facilitating verification of the chemicals and the quantities proposed in commercial transactions. Authorities can then determine whether importation is warranted – or, if no legitimate commercial use is apparent, whether pending shipments require additional law enforcement scrutiny.

The international community also took a number of significant steps in 2010 to stop traffickers from getting supplies of precursors to produce methamphetamine. Specifically, through the recommendations of the United Nations, Members of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted in favor of the tightening controls on phenylacetic acid, a methamphetamine precursor. A number of countries also changed their legislation and increased efforts to monitor imports and exports of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine—non-controlled precursor chemicals used to produce methamphetamine.

In 2010, the INCB continued to play a pivotal role in facilitating the exchange of information that led to coordinated law enforcement operations.

INCSR 2011 Volume 1 Chemical Controls The most notable of these was the extension of activities targeting amphetamine-type stimulants under Project Prism with Governments exchanging information through the INCB on legitimate trade and trafficking trends. INCB-coordinated Operation PILA, a time-bound voluntary operation focusing on the trade of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, including pharmaceutical preparations and ephedra, tracked shipments to the Americas, Africa, Oceania, and West Asia. This operation included regulatory and law enforcement officials and is designed in accordance with the CND resolution for a nine-month period to gather intelligence on diversion of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), precursors, clandestine laboratories and links to trafficking organizations. Pre-export notifications (PEN online) served as a primary source of information.

The operation revealed that many of the suspicious shipments were destined for Mexico, with the leading source country shifting from China to India. This shift may be a result of new legislative and administrative efforts in China. This year, analysis of data and seizures indicated that India was the source and Mexico the primary destination of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. A special emphasis was put on pharmaceutical preparations and on the trade in phenylacetic acetic with fewer controls that can be substituted to produce methamphetamine and the amphetamine phenylpropanolamine, P -2. Building on information received from last year, the operation also focused on trafficking and diversion of amphetamine-type stimulants in Africa and West Asia.

This operation, global seizures and law enforcement reporting reveal that indicate that drug trafficking organizations are adapting smuggling routes and adopting new production methods to obtain chemicals.

Specifically, traffickers are increasingly resorting pharmaceutical preparations to obtain methamphetamine precursors. Additionally, traffickers are turning to non-controlled or less controlled or reported chemicals, and are seeking new diversion routes.

The United States, through cooperation with Mexico and Central American nations, is targeting methamphetamine production in this hemisphere through both bilateral enforcement efforts, as well as multilateral cooperation, including through the United Nations—and through the Organization of American States drug coordinating body (known as CICAD). Efforts have included raising awareness of the issue to promote internal changes to target diversion and smuggling efforts, as well as coordination of information sharing to facilitate operations preventing or stopping diversion and/or smuggling—primarily through UN International Narcotics Control Board (INCB)-led task forces.

In 2010 Mexican authorities sought to implement legislative and administrative changes enacted during the previous two year to target ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.

In Asia, methamphetamine production, transit, and consumption remain significant problems. To help stem production, trafficking, and abuse in East and Southeast Asia, in 2010 the United States supported bilateral and multilateral initiatives that included UNODC‘s project to promote regional cooperation for precursor chemical control in the South East Asian region. The U.S. Department of Defense through Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) West also continues to support Interagency Fusion Centers (IFCs) in various partner nations throughout Asia. IFCs contribute to developing host nation infrastructure and aid local law enforcement to fuse and share information to detect, disrupt and dismantle drug and drugrelated national and transnational threats. The United States also has provided law enforcement training to a variety of countries, including training in basic drug investigations, chemical control, and clandestine laboratory identification (and clean-up) training. These relatively low-cost programs help encourage international cooperation with these countries in pursuing our common anti-drug and broader geopolitical objectives with the countries of the region, as well as undercut illegal drug producers that could eventually turn their sights on U.S. markets.

Heroin. In 2010, the US further engaged other Member States in targeting the chemicals used to produce heroin. International regulatory efforts to track the commercial flow of precursor chemicals were also given a boost. Specifically, in 2010, the United States increased efforts to focus on precursor chemical INCSR 2011 Volume 1 Chemical Controls trafficking through and around the world‘s largest supplier of opium, Afghanistan. In addition to promoting cooperation through several UN-led regional meetings and a special meeting of the Paris Pact hosted by France to target Acetic Anhydride, the United States continued to step up law enforcement pressure on traffickers seeking to obtain acetic anhydride, an essential chemical needed to produce heroin.

Building on the success of INCB Project Cohesion Task Force-led Operation Dice(Data and Intelligence Collection and Exchange) and its follow-on operation DICE 2, the United States and other nations expanded last year‘s efforts. The result was increased seizures, stopped shipments and identification of suspicious consignments involving over hundreds of tons of acetic anhydride.

In 2009, the United States joined with other nations to continue promoting the implementation of Security Council resolution 1817/2008 that focuses on Afghanistan, and highlights the need for countries to cooperate in targeting trafficking in acetic anhydride used to produce heroin. The Government of Afghanistan informed the INCB that there is no legitimate use for acetic anhydride in Afghanistan and seeks to block all imports of the substance to their country.

Despite international efforts, the United States is keenly aware that drug trafficking organizations are adapting by splintering and expanding their operations. A niche market has formed in some areas, and specialized middlemen now seek new routes and methods for precursor chemical smuggling and diversion methods.

Activities under the INCB-led Task Force Project Cohesion, Operation DICE-2 lasted nine months with the support of sixty countries, the INCB reviewed 860 international shipments of acetic anhydride and led to the seizure of over 26 tons. These cases involved large scale seizures of acetic anhydride destined for the illicit manufacture of heroin. Analysis of seizures in a range of countries in Europe, the Middle East and East Asia identified definite patterns of diversion and trafficking. Traffickers are increasingly using new smuggling routes for acetic anhydride, in Africa as well as seeking new distributors located in Africa, or Asia, to include Iran and Iraq, or exploiting small European non-chemical export companies to obtain acetic anhydride. It was also evident that heroin precursors are being smuggled as well as diverted from legitimate trade.

This INCB operation received further political support in coordination with several other efforts, including follow-up to a political effort to engage the UN Security Council and to support the adoption of a resolution that focused on the need to target heroin production in Afghanistan. Diversion of precursor chemicals from licit commerce, gray markets, and new smuggling routes are only a few ways drug trafficking organizations are adapting. Information from various operations indicates that Operation Ice international action to combat this threat in both bilateral and multilateral settings.

Cocaine. Potassium permanganate, the primary chemical used in producing cocaine, is an oxidizer that has many legitimate industrial uses. These include waste water treatment, disinfecting, and deodorizing.

Its main illicit use is to remove the impurities from cocaine base. Potassium permanganate also can be combined with pseudoephedrine to produce methcathinone, a synthetic stimulant that is also a controlled substance.

In South America, the INCB-led Project Cohesion Task Force focuses on monitoring the imports of potassium permanganate to cocaine processing areas. Developing an effective multilateral effort focused on potassium permanganate has proved difficult, and the INCB and others are encouraging countries in South America to make this a priority in 2010. While reporting and seizures seemed to indicate that global trade in potassium permangane was down in 2009, in 2010 it appeared to be up to previous levels.

In 2008-09 Project Cohesion Task Force participants expressed concern over the paucity of information pertaining to the trade of potassium permanganate in Latin America. Despite the lack of multilateral operations focusing on potassium permanganate, Colombia continues to report large numbers of seizures and note concern about illicitly manufactured potassium permanganate.

INCSR 2011 Volume 1 Chemical Controls The Road Ahead The U.S. will continue to urge other countries to implement the provisions of the 1988 UN Convention as well as monitor those substances on the special surveillance list. Development of effective chemical control regimes is critical to implementation. Against this backdrop, legislation to criminalize the diversion of precursors is critical. Additionally, it is important to develop the administrative and procedural tools to successfully identify suspicious transactions, as well as to make better use of watch lists and voluntary control mechanisms.

As a critical objective, and in conjunction with the INCB and other Member States, the United States will continue to promote efforts through the task forces of Project Cohesion and Project Prism to target precursor chemicals. The United States will promote implementation of the new mechanisms that have been enacted to foster the broader exchange of information and expertise pertinent to the control of methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs. The U.S. will also urge countries to avail themselves of the PEN system to actively provide and exchange information on legitimate commercial precursor chemical shipments and estimates on legitimate commercial needs to the INCB, and to provide the necessary support to enable the INCB to fulfill its expanding role.

In this hemisphere, the USG will continue to work through the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), the counternarcotics arm of the Organization of American States (OAS) to further cooperation against diversion of precursor chemicals. OAS/CICAD receives considerable U.S. funding to counter the trafficking and abuse of illegal drugs, including methamphetamine. Guided at the policy level by the CICAD Commissioners (delegates from 34 Member States in the region), the Supply Reduction Unit of CICAD carries out a variety of initiatives in this important field, and is supported by its Experts Groups on Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals, which usually meet annually.

In 2010, OAS/CICAD held several specialized training seminars aimed at building member state capacity to control chemicals that may be used in the production of illicit drugs. These seminars also provided law enforcement officers, customs officers, chemists, and regulatory/administrative officials with the knowledge, skills, and resources to safely and effectively conduct their chemical control activities.

To promote the full implementation of the CND resolution and support ongoing INCB activities, including Project Prism, the Department of State contributed $700,000 each year from 2007-2010.

INCSR 2011 Volume 1 Chemical Controls Precursors and Essential Chemicals Plant-based drugs such as cocaine and heroin require precursor chemicals for processing, and cutting off supply of these chemicals is critical to U.S. drug control strategy. International efforts have a longer track record in targeting the illicit diversion of the most common precursors for cocaine and heroin—potassium permanganate and acetic anhydride, respectively. Less than 1 percent of worldwide licit commercial use of these chemicals is required to produce the world‘s supply of cocaine and heroin, and curbing supplies is an enormous challenge.

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