Meth Seizures Increase on Texas-Mexico Border.
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By Julian Aguilar
For the second consecutive year, seizures of methamphetamine in the
Laredo customs district – the country’s busiest land port – climbed
significantly, an indication that drug cartels continue to bank on sales
of the drug in the U.S. despite vigilant enforcement efforts on both
sides of the Texas-Mexico border.
And with the cartels’ ability to produce methamphetamine
year-round in Mexico, drug enforcement officials say shipments of the
any of a number of substances that have a depressant effect on the nervous system. The chief narcotic drugs are opium, its constituents morphine and codeine, and the morphine derivative heroin.
See also drug addiction and drug abuse.
are unlikely to ebb even if they ratchet up targeted efforts
against such shipments.
Customs and Border Protection agents working the Laredo district,
which extends from
, city (1990 pop. 30,705), seat of Val Verde co., W Tex., on the Rio Grande opposite Ciudad Acuña, Mexico; founded 1868, inc. 1911.
to Brownsville, seized more than a ton of the
addictive narcotic, about 2,200 pounds, in fiscal year 2012,
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of:
2. In keeping with:
year-end statistics released this month. The amount represents a 116
percent increase over fiscal year 2011’s total, which was a 34
percent jump compared with 2010’s seizure total.
The figures are part of an overall trend on the Texas-Mexico border
in which – despite the Mexican government’s efforts to curb
organized-crime activity there since 2006 – drugs continue to flow
northward as demand in the U.S. continues unabated.
Texas, who monitor the flow of goods and people at Texas ports, seized a
total of 1.7 million pounds in narcotics last fiscal year, more than
agents in Arizona,
state in the SW United States. At its northwestern corner are the so-called Four Corners, where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah meet at right angles; New Mexico is also bordered by Oklahoma (NE), Texas (E, S), and Mexico (S).
and California combined. The 2011 total
for Texas was about 1.5 million pounds.
Howard Campbell, an author and anthropology professor at the
whose specialties include drug
trafficking and border culture, said increased production of
methamphetamine in Mexico is a natural
1. Something produced in the making of something else.
2. A secondary result; a side effect.
of enforcement efforts
here and in Mexico. As authorities continue their attempts to curb
violence, cartels will look to branch out and expand their enterprises,
“Methamphetamine is extremely valuable, and it’s easy to
manufacture and it’s cheap to manufacture,” said Campbell, the
author of Drug War Zone, a collection of dispatches from the
Texas-Mexico border. “And it’s worth a lot. To some extent, I
just think [increased production] is due to the creativity of drug
cartels and organized
crime in Mexico
Meth production by the cartels appears primarily confined to three
Pacific states. In November, the Mexican publication Milenio reported
that more than 85 percent of that country’s methamphetamine labs
seized the last 12 years by law enforcement were found in Michoacan,
Sinaloa and Jalisco. Despite the states’ proximity to Chihuahua,
which borders El Paso and other large swaths of West Texas, the majority
of the smuggling appears to be occurring east of that point, with the
Interstate 35 corridor a popular route.
CBP agents in the El Paso sector, which covers the border city and
extends into New Mexico, seized only 87 pounds of methamphetamine in
Ports of entry in California and South Texas are the most commonly
used by Mexican traffickers looking to move methamphetamine north,
according to the National Drug Intelligence Center’s 2011 National
Drug Threat Assessment.
Campbell said there are risks associated with transporting the drug
through Mexico, but cartels see it as an easier option than moving large
shipments of other narcotics.
“It’s a lower-risk strategy than bringing cocaine up from
South America and risking getting to the border and bringing it
across,” he said.
Despite the continued use of Texas as a transit point for
methamphetamine, law enforcement on the border said the amount of
product staying there is minimal.
“I don’t think the locals are capturing a lot of it here.
We do see it probably a little bit more than we’ve seen in recent
years, but only because it’s readily available,” said
investigator Joe Baeza, a spokesman with the Laredo Police
“I can’t tell you specifically which [cartel] it is.
It’s a little bit of everybody I think because the ingredients are
readily available,” he added. “But we haven’t seized
cache loads of methamphetamine, we haven’t seen any methamphetamine
Methamphetamine can also be produced year-round, Baeza added, and
does not depend on rainfall or growing seasons like marijuana or opium
harvesting do. The ability to produce methamphetamine all year and the
fact that Mexicans have become adept at producing it with domestic
chemicals make the drug likely to maintain a significant presence in
Texas and the rest of the nation.
Even though large shipments of the narcotic pass through the state,
three of Texas’
Drug Enforcement Administration
as part of the Justice Department, thus uniting a number of federal drug agencies that had often worked at cross-purposes.
include the drug on its list of top illegal narcotics threats,
accounting for availability, use and potency. The Houston and Dallas
field offices list methamphetamine as the third-highest threat, and El
Paso lists it as its fourth-highest threat. A main reason is that since
2007, the price of methamphetamine has dropped by about 70 percent while
its purity has increased by 127 percent, according to a 2012 study by
the University of Texas Addiction Technology Transfer Center