Key Trends in the Control of Precursors

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Ecstasy is making a comeback, INCB report suggests

The INCB Annual Report on Precursors, launched with the INCB Annual Report 2013, identifies the gaps that currently exist in the international framework for the control of precursors, which are the chemicals frequently used in the illicit manufacture of drugs and which the international community has decided to schedule under the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

International trade in precursors increasingly secure but traffickers targeting domestic trade instead

Diversion of scheduled precursors from licit international trade is becoming less frequent compared to just a few years ago. To get around the INCB Pre-Export Notification (PEN) Online system, which is used to control licit imports and exports of precursors, traffickers divert substances from domestic trade for subsequent smuggling into vulnerable countries, such as Afghanistan. 


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Drug cartels seek new non-scheduled chemicals to manufacture drugs

Traffickers circumvent the international control system by increasingly turning to new non-scheduled chemicals to illicitly manufacture drugs, as highlighted by the rise in incidents involving alpha-phenyllacetoacetonitrile (APAAN), a substitute "pre-precursor" used in illicit amphetamine and mathamphetamine manufacture, being seized throughtout Europe and North America. 

INCB moves to place new pre-precursor under international control

In response to significant seizures of alpha-phenylacetoacetonitrile (APAAN), the Board formally initiated the procedures for the scheduling of APAAN, and the UN Secretary-General has invited Governments to express their opinion regarding the proposed scheduling at the 57th Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March 2014. 

Ecstasy precursor seizures suggest MDMA is making a comeback

Les Seizures of precursors used in the illicit manufacture of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, commonly known as “ecstasy”), rebounded in 2012 and into 2013 and, combined with several illicit industrial-scale laboratories found recently in Europe, raises the concern that MDMA will soon become readily available again throughout the world’s major illicit markets. 

Activities under Project Prism and Cohesion task forces continue to yield results

INCB in conjunction with its Project Prism and Project Cohesion task force members, including INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization, have executed numerous international intelligence gathering and other special operations, and those coupled with counter diversion training activities in 2012 resulted in significant seizures of various chemicals. Project Prism and Project Cohesion are international initiatives of INCB which serve as communications platforms for national authorities for exchanging intelligence information and launching multilateral investigations

For the international community to be proactive in countering the diversion of and trafficking in precursor chemicals, INCB offers Governments help to fight chemical traffickers.

To fight chemical traffickers, INCB offers Governments state-of-the-art tools, such as the INCB Pre-Export Notification (PEN) Online System, now used by 146 states and territories, which remains the cornerstone of international precursor control in terms of monitoring licit trade in and preventing the diversion of precursors. 

In addition, the Precursors Incident Communication System (PICS) has rapidly established itself, since its launch in 2012, as an important tool for national law enforcement and regulatory authorities to report and share valuable information on individual seizures of precursors, including numerous incidents involving chemicals previously not known to have been used in illicit drug manufacture. PICS has around 400 registered users, including users from some 75 Governments and 8 international and regional agencies. However, this and other tools for countering the diversion of precursors have not been universally implemented, particularly in countries of Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, and Central Asia.

Source : United Nations Information Service (UNIS) and INCB – Dianova International is an NGO accredited to the United Nations Office in Vienna