U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers said they seized a container with a threatening chemical in a shipment at Los Angeles International Airport.
Customs officers working at an air cargo consignment facility at LAX earlier this month discovered three gallons of Gamma-Butyrolactone (GBL), a strong intoxicant used as a precursor of Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), classified as a Schedule I Controlled Substance, a CBP spokesperson said. The estimated street value of the seizure is $1,414.
GBL is a clear, odorless liquid specially designated by the U.S. Attorney General’s Office as a list 1 chemical. The sale of GBL, which is used in the production of materials such as paint thinners, pesticides, ink and glue removers, is illegal for any purpose other than intended industrial and legitimate applications, according to CBP.
“This is a significant interception by our CBP officers at LAX,” said Todd C. Owen, CBP director of field operations in Los Angeles. “CBP is on the frontline at our nation’s ports of entry targeting and stopping illegal shipments containing dangerous substances that threaten the health and safety of our nation’s youth.”
The discovery was made after CBP officers examined a three-gallon white plastic container arriving from China. Smugglers allegedly tried to disguise the shipment’s content with a misleading invoice description of “Propylene Glycol,” the customs spokesperson said.
Customs officials said GBL is a precursor to GHB, which was banned in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration in 1990 because of the dangers associated with its use.
In recent years the chemical has become popular as a recreational drug among young adults at dance clubs and “raves.” In certain doses, GHB can render a victim incapable of resisting advances, and is commonly referred to as a “date-rape” drug, according to CBP. It has also been used by bodybuilders to stimulate muscle growth.