How is heroin made

Gloomy reports of the impact of heroin on small communities in the United States and the tragic death of Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman have drawn attention to the drug that kills 100,000 people annually: heroin.

Heroin is produced, not grown. This highly addictive drug is made by converting opiates into morphine and then into heroin. Seven to ten tons of opiates are needed to produce one ton of heroin - and up to two and a half tons of the chemical acetic anhydride, also known as acetic anhydride. Without them, heroin would not show up on the streets, endangering lives and destroying families.

Around two million tons of acetic anhydride are produced worldwide each year and are used in the textile and wood industries, as well as in the production of aspirin and modified starch, among other things. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that around 640 tons of this chemical are diverted into heroin production around the world. This makes up only 0.03 percent of the world's supply of acentanhydride, a comparatively small amount that is difficult to track.

The international community has been working on the problem for a long time, but is faced with major challenges. We face numerous bogus companies that act as distribution points. These companies are used to camouflage many other bogus companies. The supply chains are long, complex and difficult to break.

Between 2007 and 2012, an average of 130 tons of acetic anhydride were seized worldwide each year. The largest amounts were confiscated in Western Asia, mainly Afghanistan, as well as Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia. Tracking the precursors takes a lot of effort and financial resources.