The Drug Enforcement Administration keeps a close watch on the Internet and often conducts sting operations to arrest people who buy precursor chemicals in amounts that are larger than those allowed by federal law.
Precursor chemicals, or drugs, are legal chemicals used during an illegal drug manufacturing process. For example, benzyl chloride, which is legal, is used to manufacture methamphetamine, a controlled substance.
Although precursor chemicals can be used in processes that create items for legitimate commercial sale such as perfume or paint, because they are often used to create illegal drugs, the US government has restricted their possession, sale, purchase and import.
DEA Sting Operations
Along with large sales of legal precursor chemicals on the Internet, the DEA also conducts sting operations on:
- Individuals who repeatedly buy smaller amounts of precursor chemicals over the Internet
- Commercial drivers who transport precursor chemicals
- Employees of chemical or pharmaceutical companies who make precursor chemical sales without the proper reporting
The penalties for drug offenses in Pennsylvania depend on factors that include the amount and type of drugs involved, whether a weapon was present, prior conviction and other elements.
If you are caught possessing a precursor chemical, you can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison depending on the circumstances of your case.
What Pennsylvania Law Says About Precursor Chemicals
Title 35, Chapter 6 of the Pennsylvania Code covers state laws pertaining to drugs. Here’s a summary of what you should know:
- Possession of ephedrine, etc. with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine is a misdemeanor with a gravity score of 2 and prior record score points of 1/3.
- Retail sale of product containing ephedrine, etc. with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine is a misdemeanor with a gravity score of 2 and prior record score points of 1/3.
- Possession of liquefied ammonia with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance is a felony with a gravity score of 5 and prior record score points of 2.
- Possession of esters, salts, etc. with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance is a felony with a gravity score of 5 and prior record score points of 2.
Steps to Take if You Have Been Charged
If you have been charged with a drug offense, your first step should be to immediately hire a Pittsburgh drug attorney.
An experienced drug crime attorney will have worked with the prosecutors handling your case many times before. They can draw on their relationships and understanding of the local court system to lessen or dismiss your charges.
Don’t talk to the police or prosecutors unless your attorney is with you.
Your lawyer will go over what happened both before and after your arrest. Importantly, he or she will assess whether there was probable cause to charge you with a crime. This includes determining if the drugs really belonged to you.
If you were arrested for a drug crime while you were in your car, a critical aspect of your case will be whether or not the police had probable cause to pull you over and do a search. If there was not probable cause, the evidence obtained by law enforcement can be suppressed.