05/11/12—The Mexican Army and Jalisco state police recently dealt a blow to the region’s crystal meth producers that El Sol del Centro has described as “historic.” Law enforcement raided a lab at a location known as “Barranca El Astillero,” which is located near the state’s border with Aguascalientes. During the operation, they seized over a ton of crystal meth already packaged for sale, a large quantity of the drug’s chemical precursors, and a light blue GMC pick-up truck without license plates. Two men at the scene, identified as Apolonio Eudave Díaz, age 57, and Eleazar Arteaga Salinas, age 50, attempted to flee with a large bag of white powder, but were detained and brought into custody.
Law enforcement brought in heavy machinery and dug some thirty feet underground to gain entry into the 600-foot long underground structure. The first of its three rooms held 25 beds, in which drug production workers seem to have slept. The room’s interior resembled a typical local, rural dwelling, with earthen walls and a sheet-metal roof. It was outfitted with amenities for workers to live, eat, and sleep in the lab. The second room appeared to be dedicated to drug production, and the third to the storage of chemicals and equipment.
National and state law enforcement intelligence had pinpointed the lab’s whereabaouts after arresting a number of local crystal meth distributors. They confirmed the lab’s location by flying over the site in a helicopter known as “Águila Uno” (“Eagle One”), which allowed them to detect the large underground structure from the air, along with some components of its drug production machinery and waste by-products dumping practices. When law enforcement arrived at the scene, the two men who were later arrested set fire to the lab, which authorities feared would result in a serious explosion given the large quantities of chemicals stored inside. Authorities, however, were able to contain the fire amidst the arrests.
It is not yet clear to whom the meth lab belonged, but seizures of this nature in the past–like the February 2012 discovery of 15-tons of methamphetamine– have pointed to the Sinaloa Cartel, which largely operates in the Guadalajara, Jalisco area. Investigations into the recent discovery, however, are still underway.