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United States Department of State

Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs


Argentina. Argentina is a party to the 1988 UN Convention, and a 1989 law meets the chemical control requirements of the Convention for record keeping and reporting, import and export licensing, and the authority to suspend shipments. A Presidential Decree signed in September 1991, strengthens the law and requires all manufacturers, importers and exporters of regulated chemicals to be registered with the counternarcotics secretariat. Distributors of chemicals are not required to register, limiting the effectiveness of chemical control programs.

Cocaine essential chemicals, such as ether and acetone, are manufactured in Argentina, and large quantities of other essential chemicals are imported. Despite the laws and regulations on the books, the agency charged with enforcement lacks adequate staff and funding to effectively control diversion, providing a source of chemicals for smuggling into neighboring drug-producing countries, primarily Bolivia. Diversion for local drug manufacture is limited to small "kitchen" sites in Northern Argentina, as well as in the province of Buenos Aires. Argentine chemical records are shared with U.S. authorities in the course of normal law enforcement cooperation.

Brazil. Brazil is the largest producer of chemicals in South America, and it has been a source of ether and acetone used in illicit cocaine manufacture. Brazilian manufactured precursor and essential chemicals have occasionally been used in illicit laboratory operations in Brazil, but they are primarily smuggled into Bolivia, Colombia and Peru for illicit cocaine manufacture. The Brazilian Federal Police seized about 5000 liters of regulated chemicals in 1995.

Brazil is a party to the 1988 UN Convention. In 1995, new chemical control legislation took effect and implementing regulations were published. The law places eleven chemicals under control, including record keeping, and sets minimum thresholds of half a liter or 400 grams for reporting. It substantially increases, over the previous Presidential Decree on chemical control, administrative penalties for non-compliance, including seizure of chemicals and fines.

Businesses dealing in regulated chemicals pay registration fees to the Federal Police. These fees are placed in a holding fund, eighty percent of which is available to police for chemical control and drug enforcement activities.

The US/Brazil counterdrug agreement signed in April 1995 provides the basis for bilateral cooperation in many areas, including chemical control. Implicit in this cooperation is the sharing of information in the course of implementing US and Brazilian chemical control laws.

Mexico manufactures and imports precursor and essential chemicals used in the production of heroin, cocaine and synthetic drugs. European precursor and essential chemicals also transit Mexico, and it has become a primary entry point for ephedrine used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Mexico. Although a party to the 1988 UN Convention, Mexico has not adopted laws and regulations fully implementing its chemical control provisions. The Mexican Government proposed legislation in 1993 based on the OAS Model Chemical Regulation which would meet these provisions, but the Mexican Congress adopted only minor changes in the general health law, which still lacks sufficiently severe penalties to be an effective control on drug-related chemicals. There is no specific record keeping and reporting requirements on all 22 chemicals in the 1988 UN Convention, no system of permits or declarations for imports and exports of all the chemicals, nor authority for officials to suspend or seize shipments of all the listed chemicals.

Available chemical control information is exchanged through the bilateral working group on chemical control established by the Mexican Attorney General's office and DEA. The working group carried out investigations and seizures in 1995 that document the large scale diversion of ephedrine in Mexico.

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