Drug Control:

Implementation of the Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act of 1988

GGD-91-56BR: Published: Apr 3, 1991. Publicly Released: May 8, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) implementation of the Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act of 1988 (CDTA), enacted to increase the regulation and detection of legally manufactured chemicals used to manufacture and process illegal drugs.

GAO found that: (1) CDTA did not require chemical handlers to register with the federal government; (2) DEA identified chemical handlers through the use of questionnaires, and as of December 1990, it had identified 2,859 chemical handlers subject to CDTA; (3) CDTA program officials believed that DEA made progress in identifying chemical handlers, but believed that new firms continuously entered the market; (4) as required by CDTA, DEA and the chemical industry established threshold quantities for sales and shipments of chemicals, based on criteria for defining major drug traffickers and determination of standard shipping quantities; (5) CDTA required chemical handlers to follow record keeping and reporting requirements when their chemical shipments met or exceeded threshold quantities, but CDTA allowed for waivers for established shippers and customers; (6) DEA used CDTA import and export provisions to target investigation and enforcement transactions; (7) as of February 1991, DEA had denied the special established customer status for 84 customers of U.S. exporters, resulting in decreased U.S. chemical exports to Latin America from 1988 to 1989; (8) according to DEA, while U.S. exports decreased, Columbian imports of chemicals used in cocaine processing increased from 1988 to 1989; (9) DEA data indicated that from 1988 to 1989, Columbian imports of four cocaine producing chemicals more than doubled; and (10) DEA encouraged initiatives aimed at strengthening international controls for chemicals diverted for illegal drug production.

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