Justice in Mexico

Record seizure of methamphetamine in Jalisco

A record-breaking 15 tons of methamphetamine were discovered at a ranch just outside of Guadalajara, Mexico on February 9. Photo Credit: BBC News

02/12/12 – The Mexican Army made a record breaking discovery this week when it seized 15 tons of the synthetic drug methamphetamine on February 9. The Army found the drugs stored in barrels in a ranch just south of Guadalajara, the capital of the state of Jalisco. The discovery comes on the heels of seven drug production laboratories found in Jalisco thus far in 2012, and, according to BBC News, Mexican authorities have “seized a record amount of precursor chemicals used to produce the drug [meth]” in the past few months alone. The 15 tons, discovered along with five kilos of crystal and seven tons of precursor drugs, is being called ‘historic’ by authorities because of the sheer quantity found, which was “equal to half of all meth seizures worldwide in 2009,” reports the Associated Press. The February 9 discovery well surpassed the previous record breaking seizure in Mexico when authorities found 3.4 tons of meth in the state of Querétaro in June 2010. No arrests have been made yet in the recent discovery, though authorities believe between 12 and 15 people were working the lab at the ranch.

Outside of quantity, the seizure is also important because of the potential indications it suggests. For one, authorities have noted that such a seizure is most likely tied to the Sinaloa Cartel, given that it largely operates in Jalisco and uses the state as a base for its drug production and trafficking. Antonio Mazzitelli, the regional representative of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crimes, argued that the 15 tons could be an indication that the Sinaloa Cartel is expanding and growing its business, both into the United States and worldwide. A senior U.S. law enforcement official in Mexico also added that Sinaloa may be trying “to reduce its reliance on Colombian cocaine by flooding the market with meth,” reported the Associated Press. Regardless of to whom the drugs belonged, the seizure will pose a serious economic setback, as one pound of meth can sell for $15,000 (USD). News reports have estimated the cost of the drugs lost at 58 billion pesos, or roughly $4.5 billion in U.S. dollars.

Secondly, the 15-ton seizure is significant because of the impact it may have on the U.S. drug market. The United States is notorious for being the number one drug consuming nation worldwide, with meth use on the rise. Although it is unclear whether all 15-tons of meth were destined for the United States, U.S. officials are still recognizing that such a significant decrease in the supply chain could have ramifications on both meth price and use within the States. It also could mean an increase in U.S.-based meth production, as domestic producers will fill the void for the time being, suggests Robert Penal, a meth expert and former commander of California’s Fresno Methamphetamine Task Force.

Such a seizure highlights the long-standing discussion on the shared responsibility of the United States in Mexico’s so-called “war on drugs.” Mexican President Felipe Calderón has continuously called on its northern neighbor to step up its role in decreasing U.S. drug consumption as it fuels drug production in Mexico. As he lamented in August 2011, following the Monterrey casino attack that left more than 50 Mexicans dead, “Part of the tragedy which we Mexicans are living is the fact that we are next to the biggest drug consumer in the world and at the same time the biggest weapons’ supplier in the world, which pays billions and billions of dollars to criminals to supply their drugs.”


“Calderón dijo que Estados Unidos también tiene responsabilidad en el ataque al casino de Monterrey.” Página 12. August 26, 2011.

Associated Press. “Ejército decomisa 15 toneladas de metanfetaminas.” El Universal. February 9, 2012.

Ferrer, Mauricio. “Decomisa Ejécito 15 toneladas de metanfetaminas en Jalisco.” La Jornada. February 9, 2012.

“Massive methamphetamine seizure in Mexico.” BBC News. February 9, 2012.

Associated Press. “Mexican army finds 15 tons of pure methamphetamine.” CBS News. February 11, 2012.

4 thoughts on “Record seizure of methamphetamine in Jalisco”

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