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CIV (202) 616-2765 TDD (202) 514-1888
U.S. SUES CALIFORNIA CHEMICAL SUPPLIER FOR FAILING TO REPORT THE SALE OF PRECURSOR AGENTS USED TO MAKE METHAMPHETAMINE, PCP WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The United States has sued an Oakland, California, chemical supply company for failing to report to the federal government thousands of sales of two chemicals commonly used to make illegal drugs, the Department of Justice announced. Assistant Attorney General Frank W. Hunger of the Civil Division said the civil suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco charged the company, Chemicals for Research and Industry, with more than 4,000 violations of the record keeping and reporting requirements of the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. 801, et seq., as amended by the Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act of 1988. "The company's repeated violations of the act has hampered the efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration to control the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine and phencyclidine in California," said Hunger. "Drug trafficking is a serious crime problem in the United States and to combat it we need cooperation, not opposition, to laws Congress has passed to deal with this issue." The Controlled Substances Act regulates the sale and distribution of certain "listed chemicals," sometimes called "precursors" or "essentials," which are commonly used in the illicit manufacture of controlled substances. Among other things, the act requires that persons or companies that sell threshold amounts of the listed chemicals maintain records of such sales. Sellers of such chemicals also are required to report any sale of a suspicious character to the Drug Enforcement Administration. According to the suit, CFRI, since July 1, 1991, made more than 4,000 sales of two chemicals--hydriodic acid and ethyl ether--which are commonly used in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine and phencyclidine (PCP), under circumstances in which a report of a suspicious sale to DEA was required. CFRI, however, reported only 24 sales. Methamphetamine and PCP are controlled substances manufactured predominantly in California. The DEA says evidence of the suspicious sale of listed chemicals includes: sales to individuals not connected to a business entity; sales to customers who pay by cash, cashier's check or money order; sales to customers who purchase on a willcall or pick-up basis; sales to customers who travel an unusually long distance to purchase listed chemicals; and sales of listed chemicals made in combination with other chemicals used to manufacture controlled substances. DEA said a review of CFRI's invoices and customer receipts indicated that most or all of these factors applied to the company's sales that are the subject of the suit.
The suit, which also charged CFRI with other violations of the record keeping and reporting requirements of the Controlled Substances Act, asked the court for a permanent injunction ordering CFRI to make the reports to DEA and civil penalties. Under the act, the company is liable to maximum civil penalties of $25,000 for each violation. ##### 96-322