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Precursor trafficking penalties

Trade in precursor chemicals, officially known as “substances frequently used in the illicit manufacture of drugs or psychotropic substances”, is regulated at international level by the UN Convention 1988, primarily Article 12. The European Community as a legal entity ratified this article of the treaty, in line with its role to regulate free trade of goods (chemicals) within the territory.

Precursors are classed by the EU in three categories according to their worth in the drug refining process. EU laws on precursors are divided between those governing intra-Community trade and those governing trade with third countries. The original requirements for penalties were that they should be “sufficient to promote compliance with those provisions” (Council Regulation (EEC) No 3677/90 [extra], and Council Directive 92/109/EEC [intra], both Art 8), later modified to “effective, proportionate and dissuasive” in Art 12 of the Regulation (EC) No 273/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Art 31 of the Council Regulation (EC) No 111/2005. Only in the Council Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA is it now specified that the penalties should be criminal, with maximum penalty ranges given for certain offences. See http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/chemicals/legislation/precursors/index_en.htm

A first examination of the national legislation finds:

Some countries’ penalties for precursor trafficking offences are equal to those for drug trafficking offences (EU minimum penalties for precursors are equal to drugs for basic offences)

Some countries list separate penalties for offences involving intra- and extra-Community trade, others do not make the distinction.

Some countries’ trafficking offences require knowledge that the precursors were to be used to make illicit drugs, some do not.

Some countries also name the classification of the precursors, with higher penalties for offences involving Category I precursors (those which are considered as fundamental to the manufacture of illicit drugs)

Penalties for failing to follow regulations (as opposed to when there is suspicion or knowledge of diversion for making illicit drugs) may be either administrative or criminal, or both.

EU instrument



Council Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA of 25 October 2004 laying down minimum provisions on the constituent elements of criminal acts and penalties in the field of illicit drug trafficking, Articles 2, 4

The manufacture, transport or distribution of precursors, knowing that they are to be used in or for the illicit production or manufacture of drugs

A maximum of at least 1-3 years prison; or a maximum of at least 5-10 years prison, where the offence was committed within the framework of a criminal organisation as defined, and the precursors are intended to be used in or for the production or manufacture of drugs

Council Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA, Article 3

Incitement to commit, aiding and abetting or attempting the above



Offences and Penalties


Equal to drugs?


Import, export, possession, manufacture, sale or offering; 2-5 years prison and/or a fine of 15 000 - 50 000 euros.

Non-compliance with documentation rules; 8 days - 3 months prison and/or a fine of 5000 – 25 000 euros.

Law of 21 February 1921, Art.2 quater.

General Law on Customs and Excise, articles 231 and 261


Czech Republic

A person who produces, imports, exports, transits, offers, mediates, sells or otherwise obtains, or keeps for another person, a precursor: 1-5 yrs prison.

If as a member of an organized group, or on a significant scale; 2-10 yrs.

If he acquires a substantial benefit; 8-12 yrs

If he acquires a large scale benefit, or acts in association with an organized group active in two or more countries; 10-15 yrs

Administrative penalties: Up to CZK 500,000 (approximately 18,000€) / Up to CZK 1,000,000 (approximately 36,000€) / Up to CZK 10,000.000 (approximately 360,000€) / removal of licence. The penalty depends on the level of seriousness of the breach of the obligations.

Penal Code, Section 187

Act 167/1998. Coll. on addictive substances, ss.36-38, 40

Yes: precursors listed in same offence as drugs


Non-compliance with documentation rules as well as with the rules regarding import, export, transiting, possession, manufacture, sales or offering/placing on the market: up to two years prison or fine.

Law No. 326 of 18 May 2005



illicit possession, manufacture, trade in, import, export, transit, sale, delivery, purchase or obtaining a precursor in any other way; up to 5 years. For serious cases, such as organised trade or on a commercial basis; min 1 yr up to 15 yrs. Offence due to negligence; up to 1 yr or fine.

Deliberate or negligent breach of various documentation requirements; administrative offence punishable by a fine of up to €25 000.

Precursor Control Act of 1994, GÜGVV

(under revision at the moment, the new law will become effective in spring 2008)



Manufacture, possession or delivery of a substance necessary for illicit manufacture of drugs; up to 5 years’ imprisonment or a fine.

Violation of the requirements for manufacture, production, processing, packaging, storage, transportation, import, export, transit, delivery or record keeping concerning precursors, if such violation, through negligence, results in illegal trade in narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances; up to 3 years’ prison or fine.

Penal Code, s.189, 190



Any person manufacturing, transporting, distributing, trading in or possessing precursor substances, knowing that they are to be used in the illicit cultivation, production or manufacture of toxic drugs, narcotics or psychotropic substances, or for these purposes; 3-6 yrs prison and a fine of three times the value of the goods or merchandise. If the organisation is involved in the chemical trade, sentences will be in the higher range. Aggravating and mitigating circumstances applied to drug traffickers, such as abuse of positions of public responsibility, also apply.

Administrative controls on precursors. Violations of these provisions are divided into three types of offences; major, serious, and minor. Major offences; withdrawal or suspension of licence for 5-10 years and a fine of €90 000 to €600 000. Serious offences; suspension of licence for up to five years and a fine of €6 000 - €90 000. Minor offences; fine of up to €6 000.

All offences may be punished by confiscation of the chemicals and of any illicit gain.

Penal Code, Art 371

The Organic Law 3/1996 of 10 January, Arts 13-23, and the Royal Decree 865/1997, developing the Organic Law 3/1996

Precursors and drugs are treated equally in smuggling offences, but separately in Penal Code


Unlicensed production, supply, importation, exportation and possession of the precursors substances extra-EC; up to 1 yr prison and/or fine of €1270.

Illegal possession or supply; up to 7 yrs or life in prison and/or unlimited fine.

The Misuse of Drugs (Scheduled Substances) Regulations, 1993 (SI 338 of 1993) s.4, and 2004

Misuse of Drugs Act 1977

Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 (Controlled Drugs) (Declaration No. 3) Order 2003

Equal - precursors are declared as drugs


Intra-EC; Import, export or transit of Category 1 substances without a licence or the required permit; 4-10 years in prison and a fine of €10 000 - €100 000.

Supplying Category 1 substances within the EU to persons without authorisation to receive them; up to one year in prison or a fine of €250 - 2500.

Export of Category 2 or 3 substances without a licence or the required permit; up to one year in prison or a fine of €250 - 2500.

Failure to notify of individual commercial transactions; up to one year in prison or a fine of €250-2500.

Failure to notify of suspicious circumstances; an administrative offence with a fine of €500 - 2500.

Legislative Decree 258 of 12 April 1996, ss7, 8, 12, 13


A person who illegally produced, acquired, possessed, transported, sent, sold or otherwise distributed first category precursors; up to four years in prison, fine of about € 7530, or arrest 15-90 days.

Penal Code, Art. 266

Law on Control of Precursors of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (No.VIII-1207; 1999), Art 15

Separate section


Breach of regulations; administrative and criminal, 8 days to 5 months of imprisonment and fines from €62-124,000.

Manufacture, transport, distribution or holding materials, aware that they were to be or were being used in or for the illicit cultivation, production or manufacture of controlled narcotic, toxic or psychotropic substances; imprisonment of 1-5 years and/or a fine of €500 - 1 250 000.

Grand-ducal decree of 13 February 2007, art 8

Law of 17/03/1992, Art 4(5)

Law of 19 February 1973, Art. 8

Yes, penalty clause applies both to drugs and precursors


Sale or otherwise dealing in precursors knowing or suspecting that they are to be used in or for the production of a drug; Life imprisonment unless the judge considers life inappropriate or the jury conviction was not unanimous.

Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, s.22 (1D)

Yes, penalty clause applies both to drugs and precursors


Unauthorised manufacturing, possession, acquiring, trading, export, import of precursors, also the handing over of precursors to an unauthorised person; prison up to five years.

Criminal Code, Art 283/A

Separate section


The Preventing Abuse of Chemicals Act refers to the relevant Council Regulations No 273/2004, No 111/2005, No 1277/2005. A breach of this law constitutes an economic offence which is laid down in the Act on Economic Offences; maximum 6 years' imprisonment, and/or fines of up to €67 000 per illegal transaction or shipment.

The Preventing Abuse of Chemicals Act, 1995 [Art 2, Art 4(2)]



Purchase or possession with the knowledge that it will be used to manufacture large quantities of narcotics and/or psychotropic substances – 2yrs.

Manufacturing, importing, exporting or putting on the market a precursor, with similar knowledge – 5 yrs.

Breaches of licensing or documentation requirements may result in an administrative fine of up to €36 300.

[Penalties are currently under revision]

SMG, Art. 32, Art 44



Production, procession, import, export, transit, purchase, possession or store of precursors, in order to illegally manufacture narcotic or psychotropic drugs, and against the Act, Regulation 273/2004/EC and 111/2005/EC; up to 5 yrs prison and fine.

Petty offences: The production, procession, import, export, transit, purchase, possession or store of precursors [without intent to produce drugs] and breach of obligation to retain/show permit - against the Act, Regulation 273/2004/EC and 111/2005/EC; fine.

Act of 29 July 2005 on Counteracting Drug Addiction (arts. 61, 66, 67 and 69)

Separate articles


Manufacture, import, export, transport or distribution of precursors, in the knowledge that it is or will be used in the illicit cultivation, production or manufacture of drugs; 2-10 years’ prison.

Possession of precursors for whatever purpose, in the knowledge that it is or will be used in the illicit cultivation, production or manufacture of drugs; 1-5 years prison

Sentences to be increased by one quarter if eg there is an attempt at substantial remuneration, involvement of a gang, or abuse of position.

Decree-Law 15/93, Art 22

Separate article, though aggravating circumstances are the same.


Trade in scheduled substances, import, export and intermediate activities with these substances as well as possession of scheduled substances without a legal license or being recorded; 1-5 yrs.

Possession of equipment or materials with a view to using them in the illicit production or manufacture of drugs;1-5 yrs.

The unlawful trade of scheduled substances to un-authorised or unregistered trade agents or natural persons;1-5 yrs.

Committing the above acts with the purpose of use in illicit cultivation, producing, manufacture or other else obtaining the illicit drugs; 3-10 yrs. and the prohibition of some rights.

Emergency Governmental Ordinance no. 121/21.12.2006 on the judicial regime of the drug precursors, as amended by the approving law -L. no. 186/2007; Art.22



Manufacture, purchase, possession or furnishing other persons with precursors which are, to his knowledge, intended for the manufacture of drugs; 6 mths to 1 yr prison.

Breach of regulatory provisions: by legal persons, fine of EUR 4,173 - 104,323; by responsible individuals, fine of EUR 1,252 - 2,086; by individuals fine of EUR 209 - 1,252.

Penal Code, Art 196

Regulation on implementation of EC regulations on illicit drug precursors, September 2005


Slovak Republic

Criminal sanctions can be imposed for offences of illicit production of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, poisons or precursors, their possession and trafficking in them. Possession for own use is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment. Basic punishment for trafficking is up to 10 years, or with aggravating circumstances up to 25 years or life imprisonment.

Administrative sanctions can be imposed up to SKK 10 000 000 for repeated breach of legally stated obligations such as administration of documentation, notification, labelling of substances.

Criminal Code 300/2005 Coll., S. 171 – 173.

Act. No 331/2005 Coll.

Yes, penalty clause applies both to drugs and precursors


Intentionally illegally handling narcotic precursors: up to 2 yrs prison.

If judged to be petty: up to 6 mths prison.

If judged to be grave: at least 6 months and at most 6 years. (Eg part of large-scale or professional activities, has involved especially large quantities of narcotic precursors or has in any other way been of a particularly dangerous or unscrupulous nature.)

Unlawfully import or export precursors; up to six years imprisonment or day-fines.

Lack of documentation, labelling and record-keeping; up to one years imprisonment or day-fines.

Narcotic Drugs Criminal Act ss 3 b and 4. Chapter 23 in the penal Code (1962:700)

Law on Penalties for Smuggling (2000:1225)

Act on the Control of Narcotic Drugs (1992:860) s 13


United Kingdom

It is an offence for a person-

(a) to manufacture a scheduled substance; or

(b) to supply such a substance to another person

knowing or suspecting that the substance is to be used in or for the unlawful production of a controlled drug.

(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both;

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years or a fine or both.
Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990 – Part II (section 12)

Penalties for manufacture and supply offences largely reflect those for controlled drugs in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

Failure to comply with the regulations can result in withdrawal of authorisation and fines and/or prison for up to two years.

Illicit manufacture or trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, which include precursors, fall under §162 of the Civil Penal Code. Penalties may be up to two years, up to 10 years for an aggravated offence, or 3-15 years for a considerable quantity.

Act on Medicinal Products, Section 31

Precursor Regulations of 17 Feb 2006

Civil Penal Code, s. 162


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Page last updated: Friday, 21 December 2007