Last year synthetic narcotics surpassed heroin and cocaine to become the second-most-used illegal substances on the planet after marijuana. “The major drug-trafficking organizations, particularly the Mexican one, are trying to conquer new markets, to their methamphetamine production. That means Latin America, but … also other markets such as the Asian one.” Antonio Mazzitelli, regional representative, U.N.’s Office on Drugs and Crime for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
Mexican Federal Police, some of them covered head to toe in white hazardous-materials suits, paraded Jaime Herrera Herrera in front of the media in handcuffs this week. Officials say he was the methamphetamine mastermind for Mexico’s most wanted man, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who runs the powerful Sinaloa cartel.
Ramon Eduardo Pequeno, the head of the anti-narcotics division of Mexico’s federal police, says Herrera trafficked tons of methamphetamines into Southern California between 2008 and 2009 alone. The Mexican drug cartels started out smuggling marijuana. They then expanded into cocaine. Now they’re making a major push into synthetic drugs.
Last week the Mexican Army raided a ranch in Jalisco, near Guadalajara, and seized what they claimed was 15 tons of methamphetamines. Announcing the bust, Gen. Gilberto Hernandez Andreu said the lab had 15 reactors for cooking the drugs. He called it a historic seizure.
‘A Big Blow’
Some drug experts have questioned whether this was really 15 tons of pure, street-grade product, an amount equivalent to half of all the methamphetamines confiscated worldwide in 2009. But even if the purity were low, this was still a huge laboratory capable of producing significant quantities of narcotics.
“Certainly [it] is a big blow to whoever was the owner of the shipments and the lab,” says Antonio Mazzitelli, the regional representative for the U.N.’s Office on Drugs and Crime for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.