Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Bloomberg Businessweek: Eastman subsidiary was selling methylamine for meth manufacture in mid-2010s

Via Bloomberg Businessweek's Cam Simpson, this rather remarkable story: 

One November morning in 2015, a lawyer named Clark Jordan rose sheepishly from his chair to face the judge in a federal courtroom in eastern Pennsylvania. Jordan, then 51, had spent most of his adult life in corporate law, but this day was different. As a vice president of Eastman Chemical Co., he was appearing for Eastman’s board of directors to enter a guilty plea in a drug case. The six-count criminal information charged that an Eastman subsidiary, Taminco U.S. Inc., had knowingly violated federal narcotics laws. Before that morning, Jordan had thought this would be “no big deal,” he later recalled. But in the solemnity of the courtroom, the gravity of the moment sank in.

Taminco, which Eastman had acquired 11 months earlier for $2.8 billion, was one of the world’s top producers of a chemical called monomethylamine, or MMA. Legally used to make pesticides and pharmaceuticals, it’s also an essential ingredient for Mexican cartels cooking the cheapest and most potent methamphetamine ever sold on American streets. Federal drug laws contain a set of crimes for U.S.-based companies that fail to control the sale and distribution of every liter they make. Requirements include verifying the legitimacy of any customer worldwide. Even contractors that pour the chemical into barrels must be licensed by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Taminco was pleading guilty to illegally selling more than 22,000 gallons of MMA to two shadowy Mexican companies without conducting even basic checks of their bona fides. One of the companies may have never existed; the other was controlled by Taminco’s own Mexican sales rep, who was selling to himself before reselling to unknown buyers. In the first six months of 2010 alone, Taminco sold the two Mexican companies enough MMA to make nearly 100,000 kilograms of meth, or more than 11 times the total amount of the drug seized by U.S. law enforcement that year...

I seem to recall there was an episode of Breaking Bad where Walter White had to steal a large quantity of the stuff - little did he know he could just order it from Taminco!

1 comment:

  1. little did he know he could just order it from Taminco!... Or, they siphoned MMA from the freight car surreptitiously.


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