Forensic Science International vol:133 issue:1-2 pages:159-170
These days, MDMA is one of the most popular drugs of abuse. Due to its illegality, MDMA and its chemical precursors are watched by governmental organizations in many countries. To avoid conflicts with legal instances, underground chemists have tried to market several new unregulated amphetamine analogues, such as 4-MTA. Para-methoxyamphetamine (PMA), on the other hand, is regulated by law but its precursors are easily obtained since they are cheap and unwatched. This article presents such a case, namely the large scale synthesis of PMA using anethole, a main constituent of anise oil, as precursor. Anethole has been converted to its phenyl acetone analogue via peracid oxidation, while PMA itself has been synthesized using this ketone as precursor in the Leuckart synthesis. The synthesis of PMA using anethole as starting product has been investigated applying GC/MS and GC-HSPME/MS techniques, hereby discovering new specific (4-methoxyphenol) and already identified synthesis impurities (4-methyl-5-(4-methoxyphenyl)pyrimidine, N-(beta-4-methoxyphenylisopropyl)-4-methoxybenzyl methyl ketimine, 1-(4-methoxyphenyl)-N-(2-(4-methoxyphenyl)-1-methylethyl-2-propanamine, 1-(4-methoxyphenyl)-N-methyl-N-(2-(4-methoxyphenyl)-1-methylethyl-2-propanamine, N-(beta-4-methoxyphenylisopropyl)-4-methoxybenzaldimine). The new impurity 4-methoxyphenol is specific for the application of a peracid oxidation method where anethole is used as precursor.