CONTRA COSTA COUNTY: Local law enforcement report methamphetamine was a factor in 89 percent of domestic disputes in Contra Costa County. SAN LUIS OBISPO: Local Authorities requested DEA intervention in curbing a rash of methamphetamine trafficking which included 13 drug-related homicides in one month. SAN BERNARDINO: 360 methamphetamine labs were identified and closed down in 1995 alone.
ORANGE COUNTY: More than 100 people were arrested for manufacturing methamphetamine and 49 labs were closed in 1995. RIVERSIDE: In the first 60 days of 1996, 46 methamphetamine labs were seized. A lab explosion in December 1995 killed 3 small children. SAN DIEGO: Rival methamphetamine smuggling rings were responsible for 26 homicides, according to San Diego law enforcement.
Methamphetamine production does not require huge growing fields or sophisticated technology. It can be cooked up by just about anybody in makeshift labs hidden in mobile homes, isolated farms and even motel rooms. With a postage stamp and a few $100 bills, someone can get all the raw materials needed to make a batch of methamphetamine in two days that could produce a handsome profit of thousands of dollars.
The key ingredient of methamphetamine is ephedrine, a tightly controlled substance. Because of the difficulty in obtaining ephedrine legally, drug dealers have turned to a less-regulated substitute, pseudoephedrine, found in many over-the-counter medicines, which can be processed to remove the buffers and produce ephedrine.
Hydriotic acid is a chemical necessary to manufacture methamphetamine. While hydriotic acid is strictly controlled, it can be easily created by combining two ingredients -- red phosphorous and iodine -- which are not uniformly regulated. So drug dealers simply make cash purchases of these chemicals in large quantities to manufacture methamphetamine.
Most chemical manufacturers and distributors follow responsible business practices. According to the DEA, just seven California companies are responsible for the cash sales of 95 percent of iodine and red phosphorous. These companies are solely responsible for $10.9 of the $11 million of chemical cash sales. As a matter of fact, over the last three years, cash sales of iodine have ballooned by more than 978 percent, and red phosphorous cash sales have seen a 226 percent increase. Most of these transactions were for quantities greater than 100 pounds, a strong indicator that they are being used in methamphetamine production. Methamphetamine Control Act of 1996.
Because there are no quantity limitations or uniform reporting requirements for iodine and red phosphorous -- the chemicals needed to manufacture methamphetamine -- law enforcement's ability to trace these chemicals is severely handicapped.
Most chemicals that-are used to make methamphetamine (such as ephedrine) are tightly controlled in the U.S. but are illegally smuggled into this country through Mexico. This legislation would express the sense of the Congress that ephedrine-producing countries, such as China, should obtain approval from the Mexican government for shipments of methamphetamine-producing chemicals to Mexico.