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Federal Judge Halts Random Searches of Chemical Company Customers by DEA


June 1993

A federal judge has ordered the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to halt random searches of customers leaving a San Francisco-area chemical company (Seth Rosenfeld, "DEA Can't Search At Chemical Company," San Francisco Examiner, 5/9/93, B3).

U.S. District Judge Charles Legge in San Francisco issued a temporary restraining order to stop DEA agents from randomly stopping and searching virtually everyone leaving Chemicals for Research and Industry in Emeryville, Calif. Legge termed DEA's actions "pure harassment" that constituted "fundamental constitutional violations." DEA had targeted the Emeryville plant because it said it sold chemicals that could be used to illegally manufacture methamphetamine.

The company had requested a halt to DEA activity, which it said interfered with innocent people and caused it to lose half its business. In issuing the order, Legge said the chemical company was likely to prevail at a later trial.