Address of Gene R. Haislip before the Third Committee of the 47th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, November 3, 1992

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Preventing the Diversion of Chemicals Into the Illicit Drug Traffic

An address to the Third Committee of the 47th Session Of the United Nations General Assembly by Gene R. Haislip Deputy Assistant Administrator And head of the Office of Diversion Control U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration November 3, 1992

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Representatives and Ladies and Gentlemen:
My name is Gene R. Haislip and I am a Deputy Assistant Administrator of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. It is an honor and a personal achievement to be invited to address you this morning in regard to a global problem that ought to be of highest concern to all civic-minded persons and that will require their active cooperation together to resolve.

During the last 12 years, my official responsibilities have brought me into a close working relationship with the U.N. agencies In Vienna responsible for the fight against the international traffic in illicit drugs. This experience has convinced me that the U.N. possesses special capabilities for transcending national and regional differences, which can make it uniquely important in combating the drug problem. This is, of course, due to the very nature of the problem itself, which transcends these boundaries and neither respects, nor is impeded by them. Therefore, I see this occasion as a unique opportunity to serve our common cause. But to make a point which may be of value to you, I shall, of necessity, confine my remarks to but one of the many complex issues that comprise this field of endeavor. This is the diversion of certain chemicals from legitimate commerce into the illicit production of drugs. In doing so, I by no means wish to obscure either the fact or importance of so many other valid concerns of criminal justice, education, treatment or research.

The International drug traffic, in the extreme form in which it now threatens the global community, can only exist because those responsible are able to avail themselves of the advantages of modern communications, commerce and technology. We see this constantly in the movement of people, goods, money and chemicals. It is the use and movement of chemicals which I wish to address and to which I have devoted considerable effort together with my colleagues In the United Nations.

The drugs themselves, which are the object of this destructive commerce, are the product of modern science and technology and did not exist in the history of mankind. Of all of the current drugs of abuse, which we see with frequency, only opium and cannabis are simply products of harvest and even cannabis is now the subject of modern hydroponics techniques. All the rest are products of chemical synthesis or refinement. This is true of heroin, cocaine, and all of the psychotropic drugs such as amphetamine, methaqualone, LSD, MDMA, and others. Their production requires the use of chemicals often in vast quantities, and always in amounts for which no private Individual would have need. Yet, the sale and purchase of these chemicals by individuals who have no legitimate need has gone unchecked and, in fact, has increased to truly incredible dimensions.

In the case of cocaine alone, the evidence suggests that drug traffickers operating in the Andean Region must import annually perhaps 20,000 metric tons of industrial chemicals to sustain current levels of production. These are chemicals that are not readily available in the region but must be imported from industrialized countries. The production that these chemicals make possible has brought great injury to my countrymen, threatened the sovereignty of democratic governments in Latin America, resulted in the murder of thousands of police, judges and public officials, and created great wealth in the hands of violent and evil men. This same traffic is now poised to inundate Europe and has established a foothold in Asia. But cocaine is merely one example. We see that similar situations exist with regard to the manufacture of heroin in Asia and psychotropic drugs in Europe, North America and Asia. Thus, the commerce in chemicals is critical to much of the international drug traffic and can constitute the focus of an effective anti-drug strategy.
I am pleased to report that this fact is now well recognized throughout the global community, owing in large part to the work accomplished through mechanisms for international policy development provided by the U.N. There, I and others from many nations have worked with the INCB and now the UNDCP since 1981 to bring this about. Now it has a firm and binding foundation in international law due to the adoption of Article 12 of the U.N. Convention against Drug Traffic of 1988. This provision, though vague in some specifics, is nevertheless unequivocal as to intention; and that is that the commerce in certain critical chemicals shall be controlled and monitored so as to prevent shipments from being diverted into the drug traffic. This is a duty that falls upon all parties to such commerce, but especially upon those Industrialized countries from which such commerce originates.

We now see in the U.S. that the strategy of preventing access to chemicals can produce stunning results. We now have the experience of nearly three years of administering the first comprehensive chemical control legislation of any industrialized country. Within our own borders, we have had, for many years, a major problem of illicit manufacture and distribution of psychotropic substances, especially methamphetamine. For the first time in this long history, the problem has been reduced by 60 percent due to the aggressive implementation of our law. This is the sort of massive victory seldom seen in drug law enforcement. Moreover, there is similar evidence seen on a smaller scale in some other countries, such as the panic that resulted in the heroin traffic In Pakistan when a mere 19 tons of acetic anhydride were seized in the port of Karachi.

Our law has also been effective in curtailing the diversion of chemical exports from the U.S. into South America. In this case, each customer and shipment is subjected to investigation. This has had many concrete results. For example, we have halted 21 specific shipments totaling almost 1800 metric tons of chemicals. But it has not helped the situation: and this underlines the indispensable need for global solidarity. We believe that other, uncontrolled sources of chemical supply have immediately filled the vacuum created by our efforts.

What then can be the objection to such a promising strategy? First and foremost, some officials have expressed concern that a great volume of legitimate commerce will be burdened because of the illicit use of a minor fraction of it. There is the usual concern with government interference with free trade. And indeed, government must be cautious in its interference with trade, as it is the great engine of material progress. But freedom of trade cannot be accepted as the freedom to sell anything to anyone for any purpose. In a modern, interdependent, technological and global society, drugs, certain chemicals and potentially dangerous commodities must be regulated to insure that trade serves progress and not death, destruction and abuse.

I am pleased to report that the U.S. chemical industry firmly supports the policy of our government, the purposes of Article 12, and the efforts of the DEA in this field. Whatever you may hear to the contrary, let me assure you that the burden on government and industry is relatively modest, the number of transactions requiring investigation relatively small, and the means to do so can be provided without great expense.

Others have expressed concerns as to how governments can determine the bona fides of customers in other countries, perhaps on the other side of the world. This is an operational challenge to which the law enforcement, regulatory and Customs services of all concerned countries must respond, working together with the international agencies. Finally, we cannot overlook the fact that some businesses, and even governments that may not consider themselves affected by the drug traffic may be unwilling to exercise controls for the benefit of their neighbors and others. These are mean and shortsighted views that must be exposed when encountered.

In any case, I think it important to state firmly that this strategy, although widely accepted, has not yet been effectively applied. Article 12 has not yet produced the results for which it is intended. There is no difficulty for traffickers in obtaining their necessary chemical supplies. Effective national laws and mechanisms of international cooperation have only begun to be established. Therefore, I wish to conclude my remarks with a brief review of the urgent agenda facing the global community in this area.


First, Article 12 must be translated into effective national legislation that will fulfill its intent that such diversion be prevented. Too often, treaties are implemented at the national level in minimal ways that provide an appearance of compliance without really achieving the intended purpose.


Second. resources and personnel must be provided for enforcement and administration. Both experience and theory show that this is a cost-effective use of resources that can produce great impact. The resources required are relatively modest and, if necessary, can be obtained by modest reprogramming.

Continued support of the UNDCP and the INCB is critical to facilitating a global effort and they must also be provided the modest resources required. Those of us who have worked long with these vital institutions know that their resources have actually declined in the face of greatly increased need and rhetorical priority.


Finally, states must recognize and fulfill their unique responsibilities depending upon their relation to the commerce in question. Cooperation together is absolutely essential and it must be recognized that suspicious chemical shipments potentially affect all of us and are not merely unilateral or bilateral issues.


Exporting states must insist upon the identification of the ultimate recipient of each shipment, meaning the person or business that is going to put it to use. or redistribute it at the national level. Under the U.S. law, we do not permit export to intermediaries who cannot or will not disclose this information. This is contrary to some previously existing practices; but for this small list of chemicals, previous business practices must no longer be accepted. When the customer is identified, the exporting state must then investigate the bona fides of the shipment, cooperating with other national and international authorities as appropriate. Where there are reasonable grounds to suspect diversion, the shipment must not be allowed to proceed.


For their part, importing states must investigate the bona fides of both importers and domestic users and distributors. Oftentimes it happens that an importer or distributor may have mostly legitimate business, but some that is also suspicious. Licenses and permits must be denied not only to those who have a record or reputation for criminal associations, but also to all who fall to cooperate and investigate their own business activity.


Transit states must take measures to safeguard against the use of their ports and territory to repackage, misidentify, or redirect shipments to facilitate smuggling to drug traffickers.


In conclusion, let me repeat that I regard this invitation to address you as an honor and opportunity. I have sought to use it in a manner that you will respect and find useful. For me, it has been a great pleasure and reward of my life to have labored for a significant part of these last 12 years in the fight against the drug problem with the most able and dedicated men and women of every race and continent in the service of humanity. Only the United Nations can provide the universal forum where such work can be organized in an atmosphere designed to achieve the unity of purpose in common cause for all mankind.

Thank You,

Gene R. Haislip