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RESOURCES > Federal Register Notices > Rules - 2004 > Security Requirements for Handlers of Pseudoephedrine, Ephedrine, and Phenylpropanolamine

Rules - 2004

DEA has received requests from the public regarding information pertaining to the thefts of ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and phenylpropanolamine identified in this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. This document  provides further information regarding these thefts.


SUMMARY OF CHEMICAL THEFT REPORTS IDENTIFIED IN THE NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING ENTITLED SECURITY REQUIREMENTS FOR HANDLERS OF PSEUDOEPHEDRINE, EPHEDRINE, AND PHENYLPROPANOLAMINE

(DEA-211P, RIN 1117-AA62)

Summary of Bullet #1

In June 2000, a List I chemical manufacturer in the Western United States discovered and reported the theft of 90 kilograms pure pseudoephedrine hydrochloride powder during an audit. The pseudoephedrine was stored in two 45 kilogram barrels. The company suspected the night watchman who went on vacation and never returned even to pick up his paycheck, but the company could not prove this since the company was unaware of when the theft actually occurred.

Summary of Bullet #2

In December 1998, DEA received a report of the loss of 12 kilograms of pseudoephedrine, in powder form, from a bulk drug manufacturer in the Midwestern United States. The manufacturer discovered the loss in October 1998. Subsequent investigation by DEA revealed an employee theft of 15 kilograms of pseudoephedrine by an employee of the manufacturer. The employee removed canisters of pseudoephedrine from the facility on three separate occasions. The canisters were removed from a staging area at the manufacturing facility where employees have open and unobserved access to drums of raw material. Documentation bearing the employee’s name was also discovered at a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory. This case resulted in four arrests and four indictments for conspiracy to distribute pseudoephedrine. Civil charges were also brought against the manufacturer.

Summary of Bullet #3

In June 1999, 50 kilograms of bulk pseudoephedrine powder contained in 2 25-kilogram drums was stolen during an early morning armed robbery of a manufacturer in the Western United States. The pseudoephedrine was later recovered from an abandoned vehicle. An internal investigation conducted after the robbery revealed the unaccountable loss of an additional 25 kilograms of bulk pseudoephedrine powder.

Summary of Bullet #4

In August 1998, a manufacturer in the Western United States reported the theft of several listed chemicals over one weekend. These listed chemicals included hydriodic acid, pseudoephedrine, red phosphorus, iodine, and ephedrine. The alarm company contacted a representative of the manufacturer twice, and was told to dispatch the firm’s uniformed guard service. Security personnel subsequently reported that they found nothing out of order. On Monday, the manufacturer’s employees found that the fence around the facility had been breached, the telephone system destroyed, and several of the facility’s listed chemicals were burglarized.

Summary of Bullet #5

In August 1997, a pharmaceutical manufacturer in the Western United States reported the theft of 11.22 kilograms of pseudoephedrine powder through a hole in the bottom of the moveable cart in which the pseudoephedrine hydrochloride powder was stored.

Summary of Bullet #6

In September 1996, DEA was telephonically notified by a chemical distribution company in the Eastern United States that two 25 kilogram drums of pseudoephedrine raw material were stolen from a locked trailer parked adjacent to the distribution company’s warehouse. The theft was also reported to the local police department.

Summary of Bullet #7

In March 1996, a distributor in the Mountain States reported the theft of approximately 390.91 kilograms of ephedrine powder from a shipment received by a customer after material control employees reported missing ephedrine from the security cage. The company suspected the loss of this ephedrine was likely due to employee theft. Only two employees had access to the cage. It was determined that although the cage was locked, the door was not secure and could be easily manipulated. Three employees were suspected of the theft, and two had recently left the employ of the company.

Summary of Bullet #8

In November 2000, a manufacturer in the Midwestern United States (Michigan) noted that the potency of one lot of finished pseudoephedrine product was lower than expected. A subsequent internal investigation revealed the loss of 23 kilograms of bulk pseudoephedrine. The company was unable to determine if the loss was due to employee theft, or whether it occurred during receiving as the company’s "receiver" documented a broken seal on a 50 gallon drum of pseudoephedrine upon delivery from the warehouse. However, as the inner seal was still intact, no alarm was raised.

Summary of Bullet #9

In July 1999, a List I chemical manufacturer in the Eastern United States reported a theft/loss of 55.6 kilograms of pseudoephedrine powder during the manufacturing process. The company could not begin to account for what might have happened to the product because of lack of security and accountability procedures.

Summary of Bullet #10

In January 2001, DEA was telephonically notified by a chemical manufacturer in the Southeastern United States their firm had a theft of eight 55 pound drums of pseudoephedrine powder. The pseudoephedrine was last seen in December 2000. When reporting the theft, the General Manager of the manufacturing firm stated that he believed that an employee was responsible for the theft. The pseudoephedrine was maintained in a caged area designated for pseudoephedrine storage, with an attached key lock. An employee noticed that the lock was missing from the cage door, and upon subsequent inspection, there appeared to be metal shavings on the floor near the cage indicating that the lock had been cut off. Although the firm employed a security company, it was learned that security cameras were not functioning properly and computer equipment used for security monitoring was also not functioning. The cage containing the pseudoephedrine drums was approximately 200 to 300 feet from the shipping/receiving area. Management suspected that the drums were loaded and removed from the shipping/receiving area. Management also believed that a security guard was involved in the theft. The local police department also investigated the theft.

Summary of Bullet #11

In January 2001, DEA received a report from a chemical importer in the Midwestern United States that 70.4 kilograms of pseudoephedrine hydrochloride was missing from their facility. The original shipment received by the importer was three 50 kilogram containers. Prior to placement in the warehouse, all drums of pseudoephedrine are sealed with a red security seal by the Quality Assurance Department. Approximately 100 grams of the pseudoephedrine had been sample tested and found not to meet specifications. The balance of the pseudoephedrine was resealed and stored on the third shelf in a quarantine cage, in July 1998, awaiting destruction. A forklift was needed to get the containers down. The cage was open during all shifts approximately 24 hours a day. In January 2001, two production workers retrieved the three containers from the shelves in order to destroy the product. Upon retrieving the containers workers noticed the first barrel was empty, the second was half full and the third was full with no sign of tampering. A production worker at the firm told Investigators that a former employee was suspected of the theft.

Summary of Bullet #12

In February 2000, a manufacturer in the Southeastern United States reported that subsequent to a scheduled investigation and reconciliation of the company’s pseudoephedrine stock it was determined that there was an unexplained loss of 17.87 kilograms of pseudoephedrine powder. Upon completion of an internal investigation, the company could not identify the reason for the loss.

Summary of Bullet #13

In January 2003, an analytical laboratory in the Southwestern United States reported the theft of 90 kilograms of ephedrine powder. The method of entry was cutting a hole in the back wall of the business. Three suspects were involved, two of whom were later arrested, and 25 pounds of the stolen ephedrine recovered. During the course of this investigation it was determined that the ephedrine was for use in the clandestine manufacture of methamphetamine.

Summary of Bullet #14

In October 1998, a manufacturer in the Western United States reported the theft of 4.2 million pseudoephedrine tablets which had occurred over a 5-month time frame. The loss was discovered while the company was trying to fill an order and the necessary product could not be found. The product was stored in a specific location and surveillance cameras were used. However, the cameras were not operational at the time of the theft. Interviews with employees who had access to the missing materials revealed several suspects, but no firm evidence. As a result of this suspicion and various other related incidents, two employees were terminated and a third quit.

Summary of Bullet #15

In march 1998, a List I chemical distributor in the Mountain States reported a theft of 150,400 dosage units of pseudoephedrine and phenylpropanolamine products that occurred over a 6 month period. The theft was discovered during an inventory. The company believed the theft was committed by someone in the company.

Summary of Bullet #16

In January 2000, a distribution company in the Western united States telephonically notified DEA that during a routine quarterly review and audit of inventory adjustments a shortage of 294,900 tablets of pseudoephedrine was discovered. The product was stored in an unsecured area of the facility. Although surveillance cameras were used to monitor the product, the view of these cameras was obscured by a forklift. The firm’s management indicated that they suspected employee theft. The firm subsequently installed a covert surveillance camera in the distribution center where the pseudoephedrine was located. In February 2000, an employee was recorded removing two boxes (using a forklift) of products containing pseudoephedrine 30 and 60 milligram tablets. The video was reviewed by the warehouse night supervisor. The Supervisor identified an employee who worked the night shift in the location of the pseudoephedrine. However, due to lack of face image the supervisor could not make positive identification. A subsequent six month reconciliation of pseudoephedrine product conducted by the firm revealed an additional shortage of 674,800 pseudoephedrine tablets. The discrepancy was attributed to employee theft.

Summary of Bullet #17

In September 1997, pursuant to the completion of a physical inventory, a distributor in the Western United States discovered the loss of 800,000 60-milligram pseudoephedrine tablets, which was subsequently reported to DEA. In follow-up interviews, two employees admitted their involvement in smuggling the pseudoephedrine out of the building. Subsequently, another 82,000 60-millligram pseudoephedrine tablets were discovered missing from several totes in a staging area of the company.

Summary of Bullet #18

In November 1999, a distributor in the Midwestern United States reported an armed robbery of over 418,000 25-milligram and 60-milligram pseudoephedrine tablets. The robbery occurred shortly after opening when one of the partners in the front office was approached by an individual asking for a specific product. Asked to come back later, the inquirer produced a handgun and forced the staff to lie on the ground. The suspects loaded the pseudoephedrine tablets and other miscellaneous items into a waiting van.

Summary of Bullet #19

In September 1998, a pharmaceutical distributor in the Western United States reported the theft of 85 1000-count bottles of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine tablets from a warehouse. Empty bottles were found throughout the warehouse, some hidden on a shelf in a walk-in refrigerator, some in the mezzanine portion of the warehouse, some in a sealed box on a stock shelf. The company believed the disappearance was due to theft by an employee, but could not identify the thief. One employee did not show up for work once the internal investigation began and was later fired for abandonment of job.

Summary of Bullet #20

In July 2000, DEA received a theft/loss report from a registered distributor in the Mountain States indicating that an employee theft of twelve 100-count bottles of pseudoephedrine 60-milligram tablets had occurred at their facility. The pseudoephedrine was stored in an open warehouse with limited access.

Summary of Bullet #21

In October 1998, a mail order pharmacy in the Eastern United States reported the theft of a shipment of 66,000 60-milligram pseudoephedrine tablets after the distributor’s contract carrier deposited it outside their offices.

Summary of Bullet #22

In July 1999, a manufacturer repacker/relabeler in the southeastern United States reported the loss of 83,333 ephedrine tablets. Employee theft is suspected as the company’s accounting manager had recently been arrested for numerous thefts from the company, but denied any involvement in this loss. No other suspects were identified.

Summary of Bullet #23

In December 1998, a small distributor in the Western United States reported that a trailer containing a variety of products, including pseudoephedrine products containing 22,080 tablets and 1,152 ounces liquid, which had been packed into shipping cartons, was stolen from the company loading dock between midnight and 11:30 a.m. when it was noticed missing. The trailer was recovered empty the next day about 4 miles away. This was the second theft of a trailer from the company in approximately 2 months. The company increased their security guard service from only on the weekends to 24 hours 7 days a week and changed the trailer locks to a kind more difficult to break.

Summary of Bullet #24

In August 1999, a DEA Diversion Investigator contacted a hospital distribution center in the Eastern United States regarding pseudoephedrine products that were distributed to customers in California and subsequently found at numerous clandestine methamphetamine laboratories in California. The firm stated that they had an ongoing investigation regarding the loss of pseudoephedrine products. The firm had not reported a pseudoephedrine loss to the DEA. The firm’s management stated that they purchased pseudoephedrine products from an out of state distributor and then distributed the products to hospital pharmacies. Management disclosed that between January and May 1999, 7,566 100-count bottles of 60-milligram pseudoephedrine were missing. The pseudoephedrine products were stored in an open warehouse area with approximately 30 employees having access to the open area. The firm suspected a former employee. The thefts stopped after the former employee terminated his employment.

Summary of Bullet #25

In November 1998, a manufacturer in the Western United States reported the theft of 266,669 180-milligram pseudoephedrine tablets that occurred in the early morning hours. The theft occurred from an in-process area and loading dock. Initial intelligence indicates that the theft may have been conducted by company employee(s) who mark the pseudoephedrine for disposal.

Summary of Bullet #26

In February 2000, due to questionable business practices, an accountability audit was conducted of a distributor in the Southwestern United States. The audit revealed a shortage of 1.5 million pseudoephedrine/ephedrine tablets (some identified as 60-milligram tablets). During this investigation, it was discovered that the distributor had engaged in several illegal transactions. One case of missing product was found in the possession of an employee’s son, who admitted to manufacturing methamphetamine clandestinely. One arrest of a company employee was made in this case.

Summary of Bullet #27

In August 2000, a small nonregistered List I chemical distributor in the Midwestern United States reported the theft of a 16 foot trailer from his home. The trailer contained more than 96,768 tablets of 60-milligram pseudoephedrine hydrochloride, 1100-1200 cartons of cigarettes and other tobacco products. Some of the tablets were later found at a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory dump site.

Summary of Bullet #28

In June 1999, DEA received notification from a chemical distributor in the Western United States that a trailer containing 9,216 tablets of pseudoephedrine was stolen in May 1999. The pseudoephedrine was scheduled to be delivered to an in-state retail grocery company. An unknown driver using an alias name presented a correct pick-up bill of lading number to the shipping clerk and left with the load. It was later determined that no such driver worked for the carrier company. The theft was also reported to local police.

Summary of Bullet #29

In February 2000, a distributor in the Southwestern United States reported the employee theft of more than 8,000 pseudoephedrine tablets from the company’s warehouse. The employee was caught based on surveillance video of an area in which the product was stored. The stolen product was sold to another individual.

Summary of Bullet #30

In June 2000, a manufacturer warehouse in the Northwestern United States reported the employee theft of 51,100 60-milligram pseudoephedrine tablets. The theft was discovered during interviews with the company in connection to a homicide investigation regarding a methamphetamine trafficking organization by local law enforcement. Allegedly, a worker at the company sold 42 cases of pseudoephedrine tablets to a methamphetamine laboratory operator.

Summary of Bullet #31

In August 2000, a small distributor in the Northwestern United States reported a burglary that resulted in the loss if 3,744 bottles of 60-milligram pseudoephedrine tablets. Of these 1,440 bottles contained 120 tablets per bottle; 2,304 bottles contained 60 tablets per bottle for a total of 311,040 60 milligram tablets. Someone made a hole in the east exterior wall of the warehouse and removed all the pseudoephedrine product stored in the room adjacent to the warehouse area. Only the pseudoephedrine was stolen. The electronic system was inoperative and it was not clear if the door to the room was locked.

Summary of Bullet #32

In August 2001, a chemical distributor in the Eastern United States telephonically notified DEA that a trailer containing approximately 1,833,500 dosage units of pseudoephedrine along with other products was stolen. The trailer was parked at the facility awaiting pickup for ultimate delivery. Examination of the trailer after its recovery revealed that the bay door hood seal was cut and removed in order to determine the cargo. The trailer air brake lock was also punched. A box wrench and a punched lock were found on the ledge of the bay door where the trailer theft occurred. The trailer was found hitched to a tractor two days after the trailer theft. The tractor has also been reported stolen.

Summary of Bullet #33

In February 2002, a manufacturer in the Southeastern United States reported that subsequent to a scheduled investigation and reconciliation of the company’s finished pseudoephedrine product there was an unexplained loss of 3,288 30-milligram pseudoephedrine tablets.

Summary of Bullet #34

In April 2002, a distributor in the Western United States reported that 40,000 60-milligram pseudoephedrine tablets were missing from the holding area of the company’s warehouse. The loss was discovered during a routine company inventory. Product is routinely held in an open holding area. Because of the way the product is stored, employee pilferage is suspected but not confirmed.

Summary of Bullet #35

In September 2002, a List I chemical distributor in the Eastern United States reported the theft from an off-site storage warehouse of 119,800 tablets, each containing 30 milligrams pseudoephedrine. The theft occurred sometime during a 4 month period. Only six employees had access to the warehouse. There was no evidence of forced entry and the company believed the theft was committed by employees.

Summary of Bullet #36

In May 2002, DEA learned that an employee of a registered pharmaceutical distributor in the Mountain States diverted approximately 75,000 pseudoephedrine tablets from the company. The employee supplied a friend who used it to make methamphetamine clandestinely. A search warrant was executed during the "cooking" of the methamphetamine at a clandestine laboratory. The employee was arrested subsequent to DEA investigation. Upon his arrest the employee indicated the possibility of other employees at the firm who may be involved in diversion of pseudoephedrine from the waste generated during the manufacturing process.

Summary of Bullet #37

In January 2003, an manufacturer/analytical laboratory in the Western United States reported the disappearance of 73,275 pseudoephedrine tablets from their manufacturing facility. During the manufacturing process of one batch an unaccountable loss was discovered upon removal of the pseudoephedrine from the "in-process storage room." The firm suspects employee pilferage but is unable to identify any suspect employees.

Summary of Bullet #38

In June 2002, a pharmaceutical distributor in the Western United States reported the discovery of a theft of 7,200 120 mg tablets of pseudoephedrine. The loss was discovered during a physical inventory of the distribution center. The loss was never accounted for.

NOTICE: This is an unofficial version. An official version of this publication may be obtained directly from the Government Printing Office (GPO).

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