Mexican authorities have shut down a record number of industrial methamphetamine labs in recent months, Reuters reports. U.S. drug agents fear Mexico’s growing meth production will result in a sudden surge in supply in this country.
In the first quarter of this year, Mexican soldiers raided 27 industrial meth labs, double the number raided in the same period last year, and the largest number in any three-month period, the article notes. In February, they recovered 15 tons of processed crystal, one of the largest seizures of the drug ever made worldwide.
The United States passed the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act in 2005, which made it more difficult for meth makers to obtain the cold medicine ingredients pseudoephedrine and ephedrine that are used to make meth. While U.S. production of the drug decreased, Mexican production soared.
“We are a victim of our own success,” Matthew Allen, special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Arizona, told Reuters. “When you look at domestic meth labs, those numbers have fallen off the table. But where have they gone? Mexico.”
Quantities of meth being moved north from Mexico into the United States are increasing. Last year, U.S. agents brought in 20,000 pounds of meth on the southwest border, double the amount seized in 2008. Agents say street prices for meth are either staying flat or decreasing, a sign that there is an abundant supply.
Mexico has made it more difficult to buy meth ingredients from pharmacies, but drug cartels are importing their own shipments of chemicals, the article notes. These chemicals often are imported by companies that seem legitimate, making it more difficult to find them.