Chemical Importer and Exporter in Bethlehem Agrees to Pay $450,000 to Resolve Allegations it Failed to Notify the Drug Enforcement Administration of Certain Shipments of Chemicals
(STL.News) – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Ungerer & Company, a privately-owned company in the flavor and fragrance business operating in Bethlehem, PA, has agreed to pay $450,000 and to commit to remedial measures to resolve allegations that it failed to make required notifications to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) about certain international shipments of listed chemicals that can be used to manufacture illicit controlled substances.
Federal law and regulations require companies registered with the DEA to notify the agency when it imports or exports certain chemicals that can be used to manufacture illicit controlled substances. Those chemicals include anthranilic acid and benzaldehyde, which can be used to manufacture methamphetamine. A company that imports and exports such “listed” chemicals is generally required to notify the DEA of the shipments, the type of chemical, and the amount shipped. After the shipment is completed, the company is generally required to once again notify the DEA of those details to account for any cancellations or changes, and to ensure the agency has accurate information on the shipments that have occurred.
According to the allegations in the settlement, the DEA conducted scheduled investigations of Ungerer and as a result of one of those scheduled investigations, the DEA found violations of the reporting obligations that apply after completion of the shipments, notified Ungerer of the violations, educated company representatives on the requirements, and issued letters of admonition. But when the DEA conducted the next scheduled investigation, the settlement alleges that the DEA found that, between January 2013 and the present, Ungerer had imported and exported listed chemicals on a number of occasions and failed to provide information to the DEA on the date and quantity actually imported and exported within 30 days after certain transactions. There are no allegations in the settlement that the chemicals were diverted for illicit purposes.
In addition to the $450,000 payment, Ungerer has entered into a three-year administrative agreement with the DEA under which it has committed to implement certain remedial measures. For example, the agreement requires Ungerer to submit certain delinquent forms on its shipments, requires Ungerer to implement a system and train its employees to ensure that these issues do not arise again, and requires Ungerer to submit quarterly certifications to the DEA that it is fully compliant with these reporting obligations.
“While there are legitimate reasons to ship these listed chemicals to international customers, it is critical that the DEA has the information it needs to track the shipments and prevent diversion of the chemicals for illicit production of controlled substances,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “This settlement shows how important it is for companies and individuals to uphold their responsibilities and comply with the reporting requirements, which are designed to protect the residents of the Eastern District and beyond.”
“Ungerer & Company has an obligation as a DEA registrant to notify the agency of international shipments of listed chemicals. If illegally diverted, listed chemicals can be used to manufacture dangerous drugs such as illicit fentanyl and methamphetamine,” said Jonathan A. Wilson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division. “The vast majority of listed chemicals are used for legitimate reasons. However, part of the DEA’s mission in protecting the public is ensuring that the distribution of these chemicals is properly reported and tracked.”
This investigation was conducted with the Philadelphia Field Division of the DEA and the Import/Export and Chemical Section in the DEA’s Diversion Control Division. For the United States Attorney’s Office, Assistant United States Attorney Anthony D. Scicchitano handled the investigation and settlement.