What are drug precursors?
"Drug Precursors" are chemical substances having wide licit uses (e.g. in the manufacture of pharmaceutical products, perfumes, cosmetics, fertilizers, oils, etc.). However, they can be extremely dangerous when diverted from the licit channels for the illicit manufacture of drugs (such as heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines, etc.).
For example 200g of piperonal (a substance commonly used in perfumery, in cherry and vanilla flavourings, in organic synthesis, and in the manufacture of mosquito repellents) are enough to produce 4,000 street doses of ecstasy.
How are they controlled?
Due to their wide legitimate uses, trade in drug precursors cannot be prohibited. Therefore, drug precursors are controlled throughmonitoring their licit trade.
The EU legislation on drug precursors is based on the 1988 United Nations Convention against the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances , part of an international framework.
In 2005 a set of three EU Regulations was put in place aiming at monitoring trade in drug precursors both within the EU and between the EU and the rest of the world. The control mechanism, aiming at preventing diversion of drug precursors, is based on close cooperation (partnership) with industry and reinforced through measures such as documentation and labelling, licensing and registration of operators, procedures and requirements governing exports. For example, preventing 1 litre of PMK (the main ecstasy precursor) from entering the EU and getting into the hands of criminals potentially prevents 1000 ecstasy pills from being sold on the black market. This clearly shows that what represents enormous risks for users means at the same time huge profits for the drugs 'business'.
The EU drug precursor legislation requires a systematic reporting from EU Member States on seizures and stopped shipments of drug precursors. This allows identifying the evolution of trends in drug precursor trafficking and diversion.
Latest Summary Reports on EU Drug Precursors Seizures
The EU has concluded agreements with a number of countries around the world to help prevent the diversion of drug precursors.