Stronger controls on drug precursors used in heroin and methamphetamine production have been proposed by the Commission today.
Drug precursors are legal chemicals contained in a wide range of products, including pharmaceuticals, perfumes and plastics, but which can also be illegally diverted to produce narcotics. The two proposals adopted today seek to close loopholes in current legislation on drug precursors that could be exploited by illegal drug producers. They reinforce the controls on specific chemicals, both within the Single Market and at the EU borders through Customs. In doing so, the proposed new rules can contribute to early stage prevention of illicit drug manufacturing, which is an important pillar of the EU drug strategy.
European Commission Vice President, Antonio Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship, said, “Securing legitimate trade in the EU’s market for the main heroin precursor — by ensuring and extending the registration of business users — will allow companies to continue to actively cooperate in the worldwide fight against diversion of drug precursors and fight against illicit drug production.”
Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-fraud and Audit, said, “Customs has the dual responsibility of keeping our society safe, while facilitating trade for legitimate businesses. Controlling drug precursors is a prime example of how this is applied. On one hand, the shipments of legitimate businesses using these chemicals should not be hindered. On the other hand, everything possible must be done to thwart the efforts of illegal drug producers. Today’s proposal reinforces Customs’ contribution to tackling illicit drug production, for the benefit of all EU society, citizens and businesses.”
The first proposal strengthens Customs controls on two drug precursors, namely ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. These chemicals are used to make flu and allergy medicines, but are also illegally exploited to produce methamphetamines (a.k.a. meth, ice, speed or crack). While ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are controlled both in the EU and internationally, the trade in medicinal products containing them is not. Drug traffickers therefore frequently target the legal medicines to have an easy source of precursors for methamphetamines. To close this loophole, it is proposed that Customs authorities should be allowed to seize shipments of medicines containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine when there is reasonable suspicion that they are destined for illegal purposes.
The second proposal tightens the rules for companies within the EU using acetic anhydride, which is used in the manufacture of heroin. Currently EU companies producing or trading acetic anhydride must register with their national authorities. This is to ensure that this substance remains in the hands of legitimate businesses rather than drug traffickers’. Under today’s proposal, end-user companies using acetic anhydride in their industrial processes would also have to register with the authorities. Finally, the proposal also aims to establish a European Database on Drug Precursors, to ensure more efficient data collection on seizures and stopped shipments, and have a list of EU licensed and registered businesses.
Not only will these measures help block access to the necessary chemicals for narcotics producers, but they will also create greater legal security for legitimate EU businesses.