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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
April 15, 2003

DEA Detroit SAC Mike Braun's Remarks About Operation Northern Star

Operation Northern Star logoWe're here to announce the culmination of the covert phase of a multi-agency, international investigation targeting pseudoephedrine traffickers, the Canadian companies that produce the chemical and West Coast Mexican methamphetamine producers. The initiative was dubbed Operation Northern Star and involved investigative efforts that literally spanned the globe-in the Middle East, in Latin America, in Canada and in the United States.

Pseudoephedrine is a chemical that is sold legally in cold remedies and is the primary precursor chemical used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Six corporate executives from three Canadian companies will be brought to justice as a result of this initiative, as well as over 55 other defendants nationwide. Those Canadian companies are identified as Frega Industries, Formulex and M.G. Medical Products. In fact, Frega Industries was actually charged in a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Four of the Six corporate executives were indicted in the Eastern District as well. These corporations were responsible for the distribution of approximately 37 tons of pseudoephedrine that had the capacity to produce over 60,000 pounds of high-grade methamphetamine.

The initiative was multi-faceted in scope. By that I mean that we employed a myriad of investigative techniques-from deep undercover-to the most technically advanced means for gathering evidence and intelligence.

Typically, the three drug corporations in Canada sold the pseudo in multi-ton quantities to pseudo trafficking syndicates of Middle Eastern descent based in Michigan, Ohio and Illinois. These syndicates then smuggled the chemical across our Northern Border, often at the Ambassador Bridge right here in Detroit, and then transported the substance to the West Coast where it was sold to Mexican methamphetamine producers operating meth "super labs."

These are not like the small meth labs that we in law enforcement confront throughout the Midwest and many other parts of the country. Rather, these labs can produce 100 or more pounds of methamphetamine over a single 8-hour cooking cycle.

The West Coast produced meth is then sold throughout our Nation, much of it right here in our own backyard. In fact, it is estimated that these Mexican syndicates on the West Coast produce about 80% of all the meth that is consumed in our Nation today.

We here in the Midwest know full well the ravages of methamphetamine abuse. Some of you may have seen the recent documentary Crank: Made in America, which aired on HBO just last week. If you did, you know what meth can do to the people who use it and to the people around them.

This operation will tighten the noose around those who engage in meth manufacturing and trafficking. By cracking down on the precursor chemicals that are needed to produce meth, we anticipate having a significant impact on the meth market here in the United States. Without a steady supply of pseudo-it's a lot harder to make meth. And you can't sell what you can't make.

I believe the most important message that Operation Northern Star sends, however, is this: law enforcement, working cooperatively around the globe, will be relentless in our pursuit of high-level corporate executives who are willing to gamble and engage in any facet of narcotics trafficking. They are just as responsible as the dope peddler on the street is, if not more so, for the lives and families destroyed by drug abuse and trafficking. They will be brought to justice and held accountable for their actions.

I'd now like to introduce those present with me today and turn it over to them for their comments:

Mr. Jeffrey Collins, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, whose office will be responsible for prosecuting a big piece of this international conspiracy.

Chief Richard Patterson of the Birmingham MI Police Department-one of the Chief's detectives is assigned to the DEA as a Task Force Agent and that officer worked as one of the primary undercover agents on this operation.

Assistant Special Agent in Charge James Dinkens, representing Special Agent in Charge Richard Hoglund of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement-the DEA and Customs worked shoulder-to-shoulder throughout this operation.

And Commander Wally DeHanko from the RCMP. I have to tell you that we would not be standing here today if it weren't for the outstanding investigative efforts of the RCMP. I'll add also that the Mounties have put tremendous effort into working with the Canadian Parliament and government agencies to create new laws and tighten regulations governing the sale of pseudoephedrine and for that we are especially thankful.

More Information about Operation Northern Star>>

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