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Shipment of methamphetamine ingredients seized at LAX

October 6, 2011 | 10:37 am


Border agents at Los Angeles International Airport intercepted a 1 1/2-ton shipment of chemicals used to make methamphetamine, officials said Thursday.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized 40 drums containing 2,200 pounds of methylamine hydrochloride and two barrels with 880 pounds of ethyl phenyl acetate -- both used as precursors to methamphetamine and ecstasy.

The shipment, discovered Sept. 29 at an air cargo consignment facility, came from a Chinese company bound for Illinois. Officials declined to name the companies involved.

Customs and Border Protection spokesman Jaime Ruiz said the shipment had been red-flagged before it arrived in Los Angeles.

The Chinese company had declared it was shipping the chemicals, which are controlled substances, although methylamine hydrochloride has legitimate industrial applications.

But on the cargo's arrival, officials found the company did not have the required permissions to ship the substances, Ruiz said.

"It is a huge amount of a highly flammable, corrosive chemical used to manufacture methamphetamine," he said.

The chemicals were seized and will be destroyed, Ruiz said. No arrests have been made.

Ruiz said it has become increasingly common to intercept shipments of chemicals from China used to manufacture illicit drugs.

That may be because the large volume of cargo from that country makes it easier to avoid detection.


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-- Abby Sewell

Photo: Entrance at Los Angeles International Airport. Credit: Los Angeles Times