Louisiana couple charged in investigation of unlicensed distribution of regulated List 1 chemicals

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced Wednesday that Natural Advantage LLC a/k/a Taste Advantage LLC, a chemical manufacturer headquartered in Oakdale, Louisiana, entered a deferred prosecution agreement and was charged in a criminal information with the unregistered distribution and exportation of regulated List 1 chemicals.

Carol Callahan Byrne and Dr. Brian Byrne, both of Oakdale, Louisiana, also were charged in a criminal information with the failure to report List 1 chemical manufacturing to the Attorney General.

Natural Advantage entered a three-year deferred prosecution agreement, under which the
United States has agreed to defer prosecution of the company unless it fails to comply with the
terms of the agreement. Pursuant to the deferred prosecution agreement, Natural Advantage has
agreed to forfeit $1,938,650.10, which represents the gross revenue of its List 1 chemical sales.
The company also has agreed, among other things, to undergo annual audits for List 1 chemical
compliance, the results of which will be reported to the United States.

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Carol Callahan Byrne served as the
Chief Financial Officer and Dr. Brian Byrne served as the Chief Executive Officer of Natural
Advantage, a company that manufactured chemicals for customers in the flavor, fragrance, and
cosmetics industries.

Among the chemicals manufactured by Natural Advantage were Piperonal, Heliotropine, Phenylacetic Acid, Isoamyl Phenylacetate, and Ethyl Phenylacetate, all of which were List 1 chemicals that, in addition to legitimate uses, are also precursor chemicals for manufacturing methamphetamine and ecstasy. List 1 chemicals are subject to extensive regulations, including licensing requirements for distributors and regular reporting to the United States.

As alleged, beginning in approximately January 2011, and continuing until January 2017,
Natural Advantage distributed and exported in excess of 1,550 kilograms of List 1 chemicals to
customers in the United States and worldwide, without obtaining the requisite registration from
the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and despite being warned by the DEA not to
distribute List 1 chemicals. None of the chemicals are alleged to have been diverted to narcotics
traffickers.

Company executives are alleged to have known of Natural Advantage’s unlicensed
distribution of List 1 chemicals, and of arrangements to use other domestic companies as
intermediaries to sell List 1 chemicals to foreign customers who discovered that Natural
Advantage was not licensed and refused to purchase the chemicals.

Company executives also are alleged to have concealed Natural Advantage’s List 1 chemical activities, including, as alleged against Carol Callahan Byrne and Dr. Brian Byrne, by failing to file annual manufacturing reports with the Attorney General.

“The defendants in this case violated the law when they sold and exported nearly $2
million-worth of precursor chemicals, without following the regulations and procedures designed
to ensure that these chemicals do not end up on the black market,” said U.S. Attorney Freed. “As
part of our responsibility to help protect the public from dangerous drugs, this office will
continue to ensure that companies properly handle List I chemicals.”

“By intentionally evading the regulations in place for List I chemicals, Natural
Advantage greatly increased the possibility that these chemicals could end up in the hands of
cartels for the production of methamphetamine, ecstasy, and other dangerous and illicit
substances,” said Jonathan A. Wilson, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Philadelphia Field
Division. “In light of the rise of methamphetamine use in the United States and the damage it
causes to our families and our society, DEA will continue to enforce these regulations and seek
out these violators.”

The case was investigated by DEA Diversion Investigators. Assistant U.S. Attorney
Phillip J. Caraballo, and the Financial Litigation Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office are
prosecuting the case.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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