U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS CONTROL STRATEGY REPORT, MARCH 1996:
MAJOR CHEMICAL SOURCE COUNTRIES
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
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
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.