Drug Dealers Get Supplies Here, U.S. Says

Drug Dealers Get Supplies Here, U.S. Says
Posted by FoM on January 11, 2002 at 08:34:34 PT
By Jan Cienski, National Post
Source: National Post
Canada is now the leading source of the chemical used to produce speed in the United States and Canadian police are helpless to stop illegal shipments, American drug enforcement officials said yesterday.U.S. authorities yesterday uprooted a drug ring that smuggled a chemical used to make cold medicine from Canada and cooked the tablets to make methamphetamine, also known as speed.
The chemical, called pseudoephedrine, is produced mainly by China and India and is unregulated in Canada.In recent years, U.S. authorities have clamped down on pseudoephedrine production and distribution in the United States, forcing illegal drug labs to look north for the crucial raw ingredient to make speed or, as it is also known, "crank."According to U.S. officials, Canada's pseudoephedrine imports have jumped 1,400% since the mid-1990s, more than the country could ever use -- enough to clear every Canadian nose several times over.About a quarter of the chemical imported by Canada was seized on the U.S. border.The two smuggling rings broken up yesterday were run by Middle Eastern families who sent their agents to Canada to buy bulk shipments of pseudoephedrine from two companies, Formulex Canada Inc. of Mont-Royal, Que, and Frega Inc. of LÚvis, Que, a subsidiary of Le Groupe M. Vachon.The quantities seized on the U.S. border were staggering.The first big bust last April netted 43 million pseudoephedrine tablets after a trucker rolled up to the border in Detroit and failed to persuade U.S. Customs that his trailer was empty.Later shipments disguised the chemical in bubble gum and glassware. The smugglers used trucks painted with Federal Express and U.S. Postal service logos to try to sweep past U.S. Customs without being inspected.Since April, U.S. officials have seized 27 tonnes of Canadian pseudoephedrine, enough to make 22.5 tonnes of methamphetamine with a street value of about US$400-million.The eight seizures took place at Detroit, Port Huron, Mich., and Grand Portage, Minn."We are hopeful that this operation, and the illustration of this case, will move forward legislation in Canada that will regulate pseudoephedrine that is such a problem in the United States," said Asa Hutchinson, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.U.S. authorities stressed that neither Canadian company was doing anything illegal by selling the precursor chemical, and mentioned that they had been helped by Frega officials who alerted law enforcement when bulk purchases of pseudoephedrine were made.Officials at Formulex insisted that they had no knowledge of bulk sales going to shady U.S. smugglers."I am not aware of these sales," said Normand Simard, the company's head of production.Health Canada is planning to impose regulations on pseudoephedrine this year, restricting bulk imports and exports."Right now, there are no regulations so anyone can import whatever they want," said Collette Gentes-Hawn, a spokeswoman for Canada Customs.The lack of any law regulating pseudoephedrine in Canada has hampered the ability of U.S. authorities to crush their burgeoning methamphetamine labs, controlled by Mexican crime syndicates based in southern California.The RCMP can only notify the Americans that a suspicious shipment is headed their way and is unable to intervene.In one case, a bogus pharmaceutical firm based in an abandoned plumber's shop in London, Ont., was closed down by Canadian authorities, but the man who ran the outfit cannot be extradited to the United States.Extradition only occurs if the offence is a crime in both Canada and the United States.Canada's slow movement to adopt tougher rules on pseudoephedrine is making Washington increasingly frustrated.The U.S. ambassador to Ottawa has mentioned the issue and other U.S. officials are ratcheting up the pressure."Right now in Canada, they do not have, in my judgment, adequate laws and regulations to protect against the illegal diversion of pseudoephedrine for the illegal manufacture of methamphetamines," said Robert Bonner, the U.S. Customs Service commissioner."We want them to move expeditiously," Mr. Hutchinson said."We urge the Canadian government to move as quickly as possible to enact regulatory legislation."The U.S. drug bust, dubbed Operation Mountain Express, resulted in 54 arrests, the confiscation of 96 cars and the seizure of US$350,000.Those arrested included people from Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Kuwait and Mexico.U.S. officials said they were not aware of any Canadians being arrested.Some of the money from the smuggling operation has been traced back to Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries, but U.S. officials said there was no sign of any link with terrorist groups."The huge pseudoephedrine seizures in this case prevented thousands of pounds of 'meth' from being manufactured and sold on the streets of our country," Mr. Bonner said.Note: Canadian cold medicine used to make speed, agency complains.Source: National Post (Canada) Author: Jan Cienski, National PostPublished: January 11, 2002Copyright: 2001 Southam Inc. Contact: letters Website: Related Article:Meth Labs Reach Into Rural Midwest
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on January 11, 2002 at 10:56:24 PT
I know they are cracking downing on Sudafed. I use Sudafed so I've gotten a few extra boxes because I'm concerned they will be taken off the market and I'll have to pay an inflated price for a simple decongestant and pay for a Doctors visit when Sudafed works just fine. 
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Comment #2 posted by Dan B on January 11, 2002 at 10:45:05 PT
And, by the way . . .
If you can get Sudafed at your local grocer, your local grocer can get it in bulk. Going after the big smugglers will take one big problem and turn it into thousands of smaller ones because those who once got Sudafed for making meth from large suppliers will now have to multiply, spread out across the country, and make smaller batches to supply a multitude of localities. The feds just don't get it.Dan B
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Comment #1 posted by Dan B on January 11, 2002 at 10:39:42 PT:
In recent years, U.S. authorities have clamped down on pseudoephedrine production and distribution in the United States, forcing illegal drug labs to look north for the crucial raw ingredient to make speed or, as it is also known, "crank."Here's a tip: You want pseudoephedrine? Go to the store and buy some Sudafed. Better yet, by the generic brand. I personally can't stand the stuff, and I really have no idea why someone would want to be hopped up on speed, but if that's your thing, that's your thing. As for the Sudafed itself, I won't even use it in its cold medicine form. I don't like the way it makes me feel.Dan B
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