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J1nglz
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[*] posted on 29-8-2012 at 05:42
DEA drop kicking doors in!


Hi all,

I have been a lurker now on the forums for a year or two now. Love it.

I am an Aerospace Engineer. I just graduated last month with my masters degree in combustion/propulsion. My thesis pertains to chemical mechanisms representing hydrocarbon fuels. Development of a biodiesel rocket propellant is my most recent passion.

I got a well paying job designing racecar engines. With my new influx in cash, came an influx of lab equipment. I have openly bought a number of apparati such as a magnetic stirrer, separatory funnel, beakers, and, to avoid governmental scrutiny, a distillation setup so that I can distill various solvents. Apart from that I have a 1/2 hp water aspirator...etc. I think I have a pretty nice lab set up to start my pursuit of a biorocket fuel.

I also ordered a variety of biofuel related chemicals. Specifically, KOH, NaOH, 35% H2O2, GAA from a very well known biodiesel supplier (Don't want to advertise).

Well, my girlfriend is into the whole holistics thing. She thinks all of my lab stuff is a little excessive. I explain to her the chemistry but all she really gets from it is that biodiesels and soaps are essentially the same thing. I tell her to get whatever oils she wants from her mother (a massage therapist) and I will make her some soap. Primarily, so I can get some more time/practice with my new lab.

She talks to her mom and her mom has a lot of massage oils but needs to get more essentials. My girlfriend gets the email address of the indian supplier she uses. A few days go by before I find out what essential oil she ordered... you guessed it. The smallest quantity offered (8oz) of the dreaded Sassafrass Oil. I checked online and yeah its the real stuff. It was delivered to her mother's house no problem (mom's account but my girlfriend's paypal). Her mother forwarded it to our address. This address has also had ample labware delivered to it in the past few months.

Her mother says that when USPS took the package, they said it would have to go through some sort of security scan. Being that the package was shipped using 2 day mail, and it is now day 4 I am relatively positive that the package has been siezed.

Does anyone have any input or suggestions for me so that I can avoid having the DEA kick my front door in?
I am fully aware that my lab has the capabilities of producing several MDxx chemicals probably as is. Biofuels and amphetamines involve many of the same steps. They are actually a great literature source for some of the processes. I am 100% positive that I have never produced an amphetamine or any remote derivative. If they gave me the benefit of the doubt and swabbed around, I have nothing to hide. I just worry that they won't give me the benefit of the doubt. I have spent the past few days researching legalities and if one has the chemicals and capablility to produce ANY precursor than the DEA can prosecute. But honestly anyone with some drain cleaner and alcohol can. I really don't want to go to jail or have trash my beautiful lab equipment. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
-J
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zoombafu
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[*] posted on 29-8-2012 at 10:38


If you really think that that package was seized get all of you equipment out of your house and store it at a friends house. Then even if your door gets kicked down there will be nothing for them to find. Are you sure that it is sassafras essential oil rather than fragrance oil? Also where was the package being shipped from? Importing sassafras oil from a foreign country is illegal without a permit.



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J1nglz
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[*] posted on 29-8-2012 at 10:56


I am certainly taking similar precautions. I checked the website definately the real deal. Her mother is big time about have pure, high quality oils for her customers. My girlfriend assumed that whatever was on the website could be ordered. I checked and there was no disclaimer or anything.
The package was originally shipped from India to the mothers house because that was the name associated with the account. Her mom took it to the USPO as is, stuck it in a package, and went to the counter. The lady at the counter said they would have to do some kind of security screening since she just said there was an essential oil inside.
It was probably scooped up. I am ok with losing the money for the oil. I just don't want to be raided/prosecuted. Everything I read online is about HUGE busts of 10 55-gallon drums of Sassafras Oil. Nothing small. One other website allows you to order small amounts stating that they have a "9 oz per month" limit before the report to the DEA. I am hoping that there is some rule out there saying that <9oz month won't get you raided.
Does anyone know of any cases where a package is seized and customs doesn't follow up? That is my ideal situation atm.

Thanks Zoom
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Eliteforum
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[*] posted on 29-8-2012 at 11:04


lol, don't feed the troll.



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a_bab
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[*] posted on 29-8-2012 at 11:18


In theory they could bust your door to pieces anytime; it may take months though. In the mean time they harvest evidence against you.

Say the oil incident was the first alarm ring to them.
-they likely don't know about your lab. Storing away your stuff will help
-you will NOT be given any benefit of doubt. I'm sorry for you, but you live in the country where prosecutors will charge you with some 100 crimes in order to make a deal and be left in the court with enough to ruin your life anyway, even if innocent, and even if they knew (and by innocent I mean without wrong intentions).
-there is a possibility you already raised some eyebrows with your orders, which may have put you under the radar. If this is true, that oil could have been the missinbg piece in their puzzle. Hiding your stuff won't help, as they likely know about your chems and equipment you ordered.


At last, cmon - sassfras oil by mistake? What's the chance? You must be really unlucky whatever the case.


Then again, the UPS may have lost your package. You'd better ask them what's wrong with your parcel so you know where you are.


[Edited on 29-8-2012 by a_bab]
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J1nglz
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[*] posted on 29-8-2012 at 13:54


Sorry about not being more clear. This is in the US.

a_bab
I understand what you mean. That certainly wouldn't be my defense because it was not an accident. She did order it intentionally. She just didn't know that she had to check.

I think one thing that I have on my side is the fact that I bought my first piece lab ware 1 month ago (that's how long ago I got my job) so I can't imagine that there is really any kind of flags established. The oil would be the first. Also, I have only had the lab ware delivered to my home address. I don't think any signatures were required. The chemicals are delivered to my work, none of which I signed for. I think that if I box everything up and, unfortunately, put my learning on hold for a while things should blow over.

This whole situation is completely ridiculous. I am actually rocket scientist and I am not allowed to do science. I guess I will start building my rocket for the time being.
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[*] posted on 29-8-2012 at 22:42


You say you did read/find useful some procedures from literature on illegal substance manufacturing. Do make sure any hint of that is wiped thoroughly from your computer. Note that simply deleting a file will not actually erase it, but only remove a reference to it (there is free software around that can help).

Did you pay for any of the lab equipment with a credit card?

Make sure you have whatever permits you need to play with model rocketry at home too.

Your story all by itself may be take as a far-fetched cover-up, but if they also question your girlfriend and her mom they might see you're being honest and innocent. I think if you get arrested the best thing to do would be to just explain honestly what happened. If they can't find any illegal substance, what can you be arrested for?


[Edited on 30-8-2012 by phlogiston]




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[*] posted on 30-8-2012 at 13:06


What state are you in? Frankly I doubt that any federal TLA is going to be after you on the basis of a single order of safrole (one that is well below the reporting limit). So your main worry would be local law enforcement, and you would have a better notion than anyone here whether they are asset-seizing, door-kicking stormtrooper types or relatively sensible people.
BTW I don't think you can 'drop kick' a door in. It already has to be off its hinges in order to be dropped, and at that point kicking it doesn't seem sensible.




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radagast
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[*] posted on 30-8-2012 at 17:29


At the risk of replying to a troll, it's doubtful that federal authorities would be concerned about the acquisition of such a small potential source of safrole.

In any event, if you're concerned about potential wrongful prosecution, you should start keeping a paper trail of what research you're conducting. Out of an abundance of caution, your girlfriend may want to do the same thing with her soap products so she can confirm what happened if law enforcement ever investigates. Contemporaneous documentary evidence is compelling evidence of intent (or to negate alleged intent) and I would be surprised if prosecutors would press charges if your records are in order.

I work with listed chemicals like acetic anhydride and, besides contacting law enforcement before I order any large amounts, I also keep a detailed, time-stamped, lab notebook so I can fully account for my use of these reagents.

Isn't safrole mildly carcinogenic? It sounds like a poor ingredient to use in soap.
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watson.fawkes
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[*] posted on 30-8-2012 at 18:23


Quote: Originally posted by bbartlog  
on the basis of a single order of safrole (one that is well below the reporting limit)
The facts reported here are about an import of safrole from a foreign supplier, and that requires a List I permit for import (it's the start of the paper trail for US regulation). Insofar as I recall, there is not a de minimis exemption from this requirement.
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[*] posted on 3-9-2012 at 03:10


I would have to agree a paper trail describing your experiments in the field of biodiesel would be hard to beat, especially if you also tested clean for illegal drugs. If you could do that Im sure a jury would not convict. Your problem would be an over-zealous prosecutor that charges you with several dozen felonies figuring they could get you to take a plea bargain, that way they dont have to go to court and explain anything. But there is one more thing, have you considered returning the oil in question? I ask because to keep it knowing what you could do with it might look bad. By returning it you can say it was a mistake. This whole conversation makes me ill. I weep for the children in this country, for we have failed to protect them from our own government.
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J1nglz
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[*] posted on 3-9-2012 at 16:13


Thank you everyone! A package was delivered last week. After I peeled through layers of security tape (the government is VERY through when searching oils), wrapped in a small booklet of documentation, I opened the small bottle allowing the unmistakably pungent sassafras fragrance to fill the room. I found that the company that sent the oil shipped it using a "mislabeled" container with the "incorrect" paperwork. I am positive that they did this intentionally as they are involved in an psuedo-black market. (and no, I will not reveal my source to anyone, so don't even bother asking) It is really sad knowing that international companies are enabling clandestine chemists, many with high-school level educations and an even lower level of common sense, to operate out of their parents basements.
I have spent the past week learning a lot about legalities thanks to everyone's comments. It was actually refreshing to dismantle everything and give it a well-deserved cleaning. From now on, I will do all of the ordering to make sure my research does not put me in hot water.

Thanks again,
-J


**Edit
Sorry about venting my frustrations. I just think that the fact that everything I have worked so hard for was in jeopardy for those people that I flamed a second ago is ridiculous. Be it the out-of-control government, as edge said, or those idiots that I mentioned, I spent the last week sleeplessly sick to my stomach because I was going to get sh*t on -regardless- of who's fault it was.

[Edited on 4-9-2012 by J1nglz]

[Edited on 4-9-2012 by J1nglz]
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zgoat69
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[*] posted on 19-12-2012 at 07:07


Fact is, depending on which state you reside in, you coulda been shit on anyway. The US is a country rich in fear of what is not understood. To a majority of the American population see a chemistry hobbyist as a potential terrorist, a manufacturer of illicit substancez, or a mushroom cloud explosion waiting to happen and level the whole town.

In the state that i live, merely possessing a distillation setup is a felony.......unless you have a permit (which requires a consented search of the lab by law enforcement prior to permit, and random searches as they see fit). It doesn't matter if yer into perfumery, biodiesel, or whippin out pounds of crank people see it all the same when they see it in the media, and its fear that will drive them to prosecute and convict.
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neptunium
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[*] posted on 19-12-2012 at 07:39


holly crap! how do you find out what is and isnt legal to own in your state? i am en ellement collector and like to isolate and reproduce historical experiments....how do i know i am not doing anything illegal in my state? Michigan.



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[*] posted on 19-12-2012 at 16:11


http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=8445
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[*] posted on 19-12-2012 at 16:25


Quote: Originally posted by neptunium  
holly crap! how do you find out what is and isnt legal to own in your state? ... how do i know i am not doing anything illegal in my state? Michigan.


You can probably get a good idea from an Internet search. Try your state police website or similar site to get started. I believe that the bigger problem is the huge gray area where you are not doing anything explicitly illegal, but you are doing things that scare the ignorant. Scared, ignorant people are quite dangerous (think of an angry crowd with pitch forks). Therefore, I recommend that you protect yourself by following some of the advice that has previously been given in this forum, like keeping a low profile, keeping a clean and orderly lab, storing your chemicals properly, labeling everything, keeping a lab notebook, having first aid stuff available (including an eyewash, baking soda, fire extinguisher, burn ointment) and having a hard copy set of MSDS sheets.




Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the show?
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