An international consensus is emerging in favor of a global tracking system that would deprive drug traffickers of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, the raw materials needed to make methamphetamine, The Oregonian reports. Over the past decade, traffickers have remained a step ahead of law enforcement, evading efforts by individual nations to restrict the trade in the chemicals, which are manufactured by only nine major factories in India, China, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Each time law enforcement officials have cracked down, the drug cartels have simply shifted their purchases to less-regulated countries.
International officials are contemplating, for the first time, a global intelligence network that would compare estimates of each country’s legitimate need for pseudoephedrine and ephedrine with up-to-the-minute data on imports and exports. U.S. law enforcement officials plan to meet next week in Hong Kong with their counterparts from the manufacturing nations to discuss a first step: more timely and complete sharing of export data. Meth is uniquely vulnerable to disruption because its production relies on ingredients made in a limited number of highly sophisticated manufacturing plants worldwide. Heroin and cocaine, by contrast, rely on easily grown agricultural crops. Bush administration officials say the Hong Kong meeting could lay the groundwork for an international summit on the trade in meth ingredients, an idea proposed by members of the Congressional Meth Caucus. The International Narcotics Control Board, a Vienna-based agency that enforces United Nations drug treaties, is also discussing an expanded system of international controls over the trade in ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.