Drug Laws Fail To Stop Flow Of Chemicals To Cartels

Dec. 29, 2020
A 30-year-old system of international drug laws designed to prevent the diversion of chemicals such as MMA has not stopped the manufacture of methamphetamine, and U.S. chemical companies face few legal risks.

Despite international drug laws, U.S. chemical companies seemingly face few legal risks when chemicals such as monomethylamine, or MMA, end up in the hands of cartels, according to an article from Bloomberg Businessweek. The chemical, which is used in the legal manufacture of pesticides and pharmaceuticals, is also an essential building block used by Mexican cartels to cook up a cheap and potent methamphetamine. 

U.S.-based drug laws require that chemical companies control the sale and distribution of the chemicals they make, including verifying the legitimacy of any customer worldwide, according to the article. In November 2015, Taminco, acquired 11 months earlier by Eastman Chemical Company, pled guilty to selling more than 22,000 gallons of MMA to two Mexican companies without conducting the required verification – likely the only prosecution of its kind in the last decade, Bloomberg reports. The article notes, “for those 22,000 gallons of MMA—enough to make about $3.2 billion worth of methamphetamine—Eastman paid a total of $1.3 million, which represents roughly an hour and 13 minutes’ worth of sales that year.”

Read the entire article here.