Academic journal article Journal of Drug Issues

Shake and Bake: Exploring Drug Producers’ Adaptability to Legal Restrictions through Online Methamphetamine Recipes

Academic journal article Journal of Drug Issues

Shake and Bake: Exploring Drug Producers’ Adaptability to Legal Restrictions through Online Methamphetamine Recipes

Article excerpt

Introduction

Criminal script theory analyzes criminal acts by breaking them down into distinct scenes involving carefully planned steps (Cornish & Clarke, 2002). The theory is based on the belief that offenders act rationally and seek to increase their benefits (often monetary gains) while limiting their costs (often monetary losses and jail time). It also posits that criminal scripts are transferrable and that offenders innovate by sharing their scripts with each other. Innovation is often externally motivated by the need to adapt to a changing environment (Cornish & Clarke, 2002). Legislation, such as laws regarding the production and sale of drugs, can be a source of such change, in some cases leading offenders to collaborate to design new and better scripts. Several studies have used the criminal script theory framework to study violent crime (Beauregard, Proulx, Rossmo, Leclerc, & Allaire, 2007), car theft (Morselli & Roy, 2008), check fraud (Lacoste & Tremblay, 2003), and organized crime (Cornish & Clarke, 2002; Hancock & Laycock, 2010). A select few, such as Vijlbrief (2012) and Chiu, Leclerc, and Townsley (2011), have applied the theory to the production and distribution of amphetamines, focusing on the way the drug is produced. Their works detail the steps needed to obtain the chemical precursors that make production of the drug possible, as well as the steps involved in running a clandestine drug lab. Because drug producers’ activities take place undercover, there are few studies of amphetamine and other synthetic drug production scripts (Chiu et al., 2011; Vijlbrief, 2012). Building on past research, this article provides a more comprehensive and generalizable look at the methamphetamine production script and the way such scripts are disseminated to methamphetamine producers, particularly cooks. Our data enable us to assess the impact of new legislation and show the adaptability of offenders. The ideas of adaptation and tactical displacement following implementation of new laws (Guerette & Bowers, 2009) are expanded, making it possible to illustrate the strategies used by producers to get around legislation specifically aimed at methamphetamine production and to explain how producers develop efficient methods to both produce methamphetamine and limit detection risks.

Methamphetamine Production

Methamphetamine is extremely addictive (Barr et al., 2006). It acts by stimulating the central nervous system and increases wakefulness, endurance, and alertness (Cretzmeyer, Sarrazin, Huber, Block, & Hall, 2003; Ellinwood, King, & Le, 2000). Continued use can lead to increased aggression and psychosis, including depression and hallucinations, as well as damage to the brain and liver. Even those who manage to overcome their addiction may continue to suffer from chronic apathy and anhedonia. Part of the family of synthetic drugs, methamphetamine is made from synthetic compounds called precursors (Dobkin, Nicosia, & Weinberg, 2014). Two main precursors are involved in the production of the methamphetamine molecule: ephedrine (or pseudoephedrine) and phenyl-2-propanone (Lee et al., 2006; Windahl et al., 1995). These two precursors can be processed through five different synthesis methods to produce methamphetamine (Vearrier, Greenberg, Miller, Okaneku, & Haggerty, 2012). Three methods—red phosphorus, birch, and shake and bake—are reduction methods and consist of removing one oxygen molecule from the ephedrine molecule to obtain the methamphetamine molecule. They are differentiated by the reducing agent used (Ingersoll, Brown, Kim, Beauchamp, & Jennings, 1936). The other methods (Leuckart and reductive amination) focus on the reaction of two carbonyl compounds. The quality of the methamphetamine produced varies depending on the precursor used and the synthesis method (Lee et al., 2006; Puder, Kagan, & Morgan, 1988). Recipes that use phenyl-2-propanone (phenylacetone) as a precursor produce a mixture containing 50% d-methamphetamine, the form of methamphetamine associated with a stimulating effect, and 50% l-methamphetamine (Cunningham et al. …

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