Methamphetamine is being smuggled across the border in record amounts at San Diego’s San Ysidro port of entry, the Associated Press reports. The increase in part reflects a shift in meth production to Mexico after the United States cracked down on domestic labs.
The drug is smuggled across the border in many creative ways. Children walk across the border with meth strapped to their backs, or hidden between pages of notebooks. Drivers hide liquid meth in containers of windshield washer, gas tanks and tequila bottles.
San Ysidro accounted for more than 40 percent of meth seizures last year, the AP notes. The crossing is the Western hemisphere’s busiest land border crossing, averaging 40,000 cars and 25,000 pedestrians each day. More than 5,500 pounds of meth were seized at San Ysidro last year, more than double two years earlier.
Drivers clog the streets of Tijuana, waiting to approach 24 U.S.-bound inspection lanes. “This is the gem for traffickers,” Gary Hill, Assistant Special Agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in San Diego, told the AP. “It’s the greatest place for these guys to cross because there are so many opportunities.”
Joe Garcia, Assistant Special Agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s investigations in San Diego, said agents catch children with meth strapped to their bodies several times a week. The children, who typically carry 3 pounds of meth, are usually paid $50 to $200 for each trip. Drivers can make up to $2,000 per trip for smuggling meth. Often, packages of the drug are covered with mustard, laundry detergent or baby powder to fool drug-sniffing dogs.
Inspectors seized 13,195 pounds of meth on the entire border last year, more than double the amount seized in 2010.