The curse of the illegal drug labs

29 April 2014 - Crime

drug lab source europol.PNGThe Netherlands have a dubious reputation when it comes to illegal drug labs. The phenomenon is nothing new (30 labs have been dismantled this year alone) but the labs nevertheless made the news this week because the general increase in chemical waste dumping and the discovery of two dead lab workers in their laboratory.

According to this 2011 EMCDDA/Europol report amphetamine in Europe is bigger than methamphetamine, The most popular production method is the Leuckart synthesis with benzyl methyl ketone (BMK). In the Netherlands the labs are increasingly professional with 30 to 50 liter reactors and a 20 - 50 Kg daily output of finished product. The chemical waste is a problem itself: up to 24 Kg for each kilo of product.

In recent years with availability of BMK more tightly controlled (no longer illegal imports from China) the labs have expanded to BMK synthesis itself. Since 2012 a popular precursor has been the then legal compound alpha-phenylacetoacetonitrile (APAAN). All it takes for conversion to BMK is sulfuric acid and water. In 2013 possession of the compound was made illegal so now according to one source the drug labs are in hot pursuit of new APAAN method (NOS)

The two bodies were found in a laboratory heavily filled with fumes. One of the victims apparently died wearing a gas mask.