Diversion Control Division, US Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration

RESOURCES > Chemical Control Program > Knowing Your Customer/Suspicious Orders Reporting

Knowing Your Customer/Suspicious Orders Reporting

Question: What constitutes a Suspicious Order and how can Suspicious Orders be easily recognized?

Answer: The DEA has frequently been asked for guidance on what constitutes a suspicious order. The Suspicious Orders Task Force (SOTF) met in 1997 to make recommendations to industry on recognizing suspicious orders. The following guidelines, contained in the Chemical Handlers Manual, are intended to assist chemical manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers to be alert to suspicious orders involving listed chemicals. Consistent application of these guidelines will help industry assist DEA in preventing the diversion of legitimate chemical products to illegal drug manufacturing and use. The guidelines are intended to apply to all aspects of commercial chemical manufacturing and distribution. It is important that the guidelines are applied to the totality of any particular circumstances. No individual indicator listed below is independently a suggestion that a given order is suspicious and/or reportable to DEA. Questions concerning potentially suspicious orders should be directed to the local DEA office.

"Know Your Customer" Policy

It is fundamental for sound operations that handlers take reasonable measures to identify their customers, understand the normal and expected transactions typically conducted by those customers, and, consequently, identify those transactions conducted by their customers that are suspicious in nature.

Some states have restrictions on distribution practices that are more stringent than the federal rules. The extent of compliance with state law is taken into consideration when civil, administrative, or criminal actions are under consideration.

It is required that any regulated person verify that a customer for List I products possesses a valid DEA registration or is exempt from that requirement.

The granting of a DEA registration signals only a proper application, the establishment of the required records system, and the required security system at the time of the on-site inspection by DEA. The registration is not a confirmation of proper ongoing business practices and does not relieve the chemical handler of the responsibility to evaluate such transaction.

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