Taminco US, Inc. (“Taminco”), today, pleaded guilty to and was sentenced for six counts related to shipping monomethylamine (MMA) to customers in Mexico for whom required identification had not been obtained and failing to report the disappearance of shipments of MMA. Taminco is a chemical company headquartered in Allentown, PA. United States District Court Judge Edward G. Smith ordered the company to pay a criminal penalty of $860,374, which comprises a criminal fine of $650,000 and forfeiture of $210,374. The company also reached a civil settlement with the United States concerning the same conduct and agreed to pay a civil fine of $475,000.
Taminco manufactured, distributed, sold and exported MMA. MMA is classified as a “List I” chemical and regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) because it is a necessary chemical for one method of manufacturing methamphetamine, a controlled substance. Due to its List I chemical classification, a manufacturer is required to confirm the identity and verify the legitimacy of any customer to whom it ships the product. The manufacturer is also required to immediately report to the DEA any unusual or excessive loss or disappearance of the product. Taminco manufactured MMA at its plant in Pace, Florida, and had the MMA packaged in 55 gallon drums before shipping it to the border at Laredo, Texas.
Between February and June of 2010, Taminco shipped six loads of MMA to two different customers in Mexico for whom Taminco had not obtained required identification. Each load was approximately 16,800 kilograms of MMA. Some shipments of MMA disappeared and Taminco failed to promptly report the disappearances to the DEA as required by statute.
DEA discovered evidence of some barrels from missing shipments in August 2011, and discovered some of the missing barrels of MMA in December 2011 and April 2012. In August 2011, DEA agents located wrappers from the June 2010 shipment of MMA drums in an abandoned residence in San Luis, Arizona. In December of 2011, Customs and Border Protection officers intercepted five Taminco drums of MMA when an individual (not associated with Taminco) attempted to transport them by truck into Mexico at Nogales, Arizona. In April of 2012, DEA agents found and seized six additional Taminco drums of MMA at a self-storage unit in Nogales, Arizona. The drums that DEA seized were from March 2010 shipments to the unverified Mexican customer.
Taminco’s civil settlement with the United States resolves civil claims arising from 19 shipments of MMA in early and mid-2010 that were authorized by Taminco without proper verification of the existence and validity of the foreign business entities ordering the List I chemicals. According to the civil claims, Taminco also could not verify that certain of the MMA shipments reached their intended recipient in Mexico, and Taminco failed to report to DEA that those shipments were missing or that delivery could not be verified.
As part of the civil settlement, Taminco has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the DEA under which Taminco has agreed to comply with certain heightened compliance requirements regarding the manufacture, sale and shipment of listed chemicals. DEA has agreed to forego administrative action against Taminco’s DEA registrations, subject to Taminco’s compliance with the terms of the MOA.
The case was investigated by the Yuma, AZ Resident Office and Scranton Resident Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration with assistance from Customs and Border Protection. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Albert S. Glenn and Charlene Keller Fullmer.