Narcotics Control Unit

Narcotics Control Unit

Precursor Chemicals

Sri Lanka Customs Department, as the sole border protection authority of the country, is in a venture to strengthen its vigilance on importation of Precursor Chemicals by various consignees. It is our belief that a systematic monitoring structure is essential to ensure that the precursor chemicals imported to Sri Lanka are utilized for their intended and legitimate purposes only.

The term “Precursor Chemical’’ is generally referred to substances frequently used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. “Precursors” are any of the substances listed in the table I and II of the U.N. Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988.

Chemicals play two essential roles in the production of illegal drugs;

  • As starting chemical inputs for the production of synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine more commonly known under the name of ecstasy)
  • As refining agents and solvents for processing plant-based materials such as coca and opium poppy into drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

Chemicals used in synthetic drug production are known as “precursor” chemicals because they become incorporated into the drug product and are less likely to be substituted by other chemicals.

The concept of precursor chemical control is an important part of the international strategy to reduce the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances worldwide.

The strategy seeks to deny traffickers access to the chemicals that are frequently used in the illicit manufacture of such drugs.

The key concept in precursor chemical control is: NO CHEMICALS = NO DRUGS This is necessarily to strike a fine balance between the legitimate commercial demand of industry and the need to prevent diversion of these chemicals to illicit channels.

1961 and 1971 Conventions :

  • Paragraph 8 of Article 2 of 1961 Single Convention,
  • Paragraph 9 of Article 2 of 1971 Single Convention,
  • The 1988 Convention against illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
    “Measures are necessary to monitor certain substances, including precursors, chemicals and solvents, which are used in the manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, the ready availability of which has led to an increase in the clandestine manufacture of such drugs and substances”

Table I of the U.N. Convention
  1. Acetic anhydride
  2. N-Acetylanthranilic acid
  3. Ephedrine
  4. Ergometrine
  5. Ergotamine
  6. Isosafrole
  7. Lysergic acid
  8. 3,4-methylenedioxyphenyl-2-propanone
  9. Norephedrine
  10. 1-phenyl-2-propanone
  11. Piperonal
  12. Potassium permanganate
  13. Pseudoephedrine
  14. Safrole
Table II of the U.N. Convention
  1. Acetone
  2. Anthranilic acid
  3. Ethyl ether
  4. Hydrochloric acid
  5. Methyl ethyl ketone
  6. Phenyl acetic acid
  7. Piperidine
  8. Sulphuric acid
  9. Toluene

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