Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mexico's Sinaloa cartel makes big move into meth

By MARK STEVENSON, Associated Press


MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's most powerful drug cartel appears to be expanding methamphetamine production on a massive scale, filling a gap left by the breakdown of a rival gang that was once the top trafficker of the synthetic drug.

The globe-spanning Sinaloa cartel is suspected of dealing record tons of drugs and precursor chemicals processed in industrial-sized operations.

The apparent increase in the Sinaloa group's involvement comes as the Mexican government says it has dismantled the La Familia gang with key arrests and killings of its leadership, and as Mexico is once again the primary source of meth to the United States, according to U.S. drug intelligence reports.

Methamphetamine production, gauged by seizures of labs and drugs in Mexico, has increased dramatically since 2008.

Mexican authorities have made two major busts in as many months in the quiet central state of Queretaro. In one case, they seized nearly 500 tons (450 metric tons) of precursor chemicals. Another netted 3.4 tons (3.1 metric tons) of pure meth, which at $15,000 a pound would have a street value of more than $100 million.

Authorities said they couldn't put a value on the precursors, which were likely headed for a 300-foot-long (100-meter-long) industrial processing lab found buried 12 feet (4 meters) underground in a farm field in the cartel's home, Sinaloa state.

"We think it was Sinaloa," said a U.S. law enforcement official in Mexico, noting that Sinaloa can piggyback meth onto the network it already has for cocaine, heroin and marijuana. "They may now have this renewed interest in trying to control a bigger portion of the meth market. Although La Familia has distribution points in the U.S. ... they don't have the distribution network that Sinaloa cartel has."

He couldn't be named for security reasons.

Steve Preisler, an industrial chemist who wrote the book "Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture" and is sometimes called the father of modern meth-making, said "the quantity is just amazing."

"It is a huge amount of starting material which would allow them to dominate the world market," Preisler, who served 3½ years in prison more than two decades ago, emailed The Associated Press in reply to questions. He added that the most efficient production methods would yield about half the weight of the precursors in uncut meth, or between 200 and 250 tons, which could be worth billions of dollars.

Officials of Mexico's federal police, army and attorney general's office refused to comment on who owned the meth lab or precursor warehouses.

Meth availability in the U.S. has rebounded since the drop in 2007 and is directly related to production in Mexico, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Meth seizures remained roughly level in the U.S. at 8.16 tons (7.4 metric tons) in 2008 and 8.27 (7.5 metric tons) in 2009. But Mexico went from seizing 0.37 tons (0.34 metric tons) in 2008 to 6.72 tons (6.1 metric tons) in 2009, the U.N report said.

Mexican meth seizure figures for 2010 are not yet published, but the U.S. official said they almost certainly rose over 2009.

Authorities seized 200 tons of precursor chemicals at the seaport of Manzanillo last year, a raid that the Attorney General's Office described at the time as the largest in Mexican history. The Queretaro seizure last month was double that.

Seizures of methamphetamine laboratories also have increased dramatically, according to the U.S. State Department's 2011 International Narcotics Control Report. The number of methamphetamine labs seized by Mexican authorities jumped from 57 in 2008 to 217 in 2009, and the number of busts remained almost as high in early 2010. The volume "suggests that it is not solely for U.S. and domestic consumption," the report said.

The Mexican government says its offensive against La Familia, a pseudo-religious gang based in western Michoacan state that was once the country's main meth producer, is one of the key successes in its crackdown on organized crime and drug-trafficking. Founder Nazario Moreno Gonzalez was killed in a two-day shootout with federal police in December. His right-hand man, Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, who allegedly ran the meth operations, was arrested in June.

But the U.S. official said other gangs are now trying to fill the void.

Sinaloa, headed by fugitive drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, tends to think big: in mid-July, Mexican soldiers found a 300-acre (120 hectare) marijuana field in Baja California, the biggest such plantation in the country's history. The army said laborers working for the Sinaloa cartel planted thousands of plants under vast swaths of shade cloth and irrigated and fertilized them.

But nobody was prepared for the size of the meth network officials found in industry-heavy Queretaro, one of Mexico's safest states in terms of drug violence. The two seizures were related, the U.S. official said, and came out of the arrest of a local meth distributor months ago.

When soldiers raided three interconnected warehouses on June 15, they thought they had found 1,462 50-gallon drums filled with various precursors. But when experts examined the stash, they found 3.4 tons (3.1 metric tons) of pure meth.

Last month, soldiers discovered another warehouse at an industrial park piled with 300 metric tons of solid phenylacetamide and the equivalent of about 150 tons of liquid methyl phenylacetate.

Used in an old type of meth production known as "P2P," the ingredients are easier to smuggle, or to make from other substances that aren't specifically banned. Such precursors have become more prevalent since Mexico outlawed meth's main ingredient, pseudoephedrine, in 2007.

Authorities say the P2P method produces a less-potent drug. But the 2011 World Drug Report released in June by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime noted that the sheer quantity of meth the Mexican cartels are producing allows them offer it in purer form.

Soldiers found a sophisticated underground meth lab near the Sinaloa coast city of Mazatlan on June 26. The two-story structure had an elevator and ventilation systems, cooking and sleeping facilities. The house-sized under ground complex was reachable only by a 30-meter (yard) long tunnel, the opening disguised under a tractor shed.

The U.S. official said the warehouse in Queretaro raided in July was apparently meant to supply the underground lab in Sinaloa.

Some speculate that the Sinaloa cartel is trying to reach even beyond the U.S. Police in Malaysia arrested three Mexican brothers in March 2008 at a secluded meth factory along with a Singaporean and a Malaysian, and seized more than 60 pounds (nearly 30 kilograms) of methamphetamine.

While the U.S. official wouldn't say that the men belonged to the Sinaloa cartel, he noted that were from Sinaloa state.

"Were they over there showing people how to cook meth? ... Or was it a test for Sinaloa, a test of the capability of expanding the market to that part of the world?" he said.

Such an Asian connection would be a natural link for the cartel, since most of Mexico's precursor chemicals come from the region.



33 comments:

  1. Some one I know used to go to Michoacan to buy Crystal Meth. But now they only go to Tijuana to buy 2000 dollars worth. Well I guess busyness is not as good as it used to be.

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  2. That is one drug that needs to stay out of the market. It is so nasty. I wonder how much is already back in the CDS hands. The bust was probably a way for a few politicians and the military to make headlines and/or get their cut. With weed, it usually takes about 2 to 3 weeks to make it back to the streets. This one may be so big that their are too many eyes on it. But even if they took half of it and diluted their confiscated precursors, they would have many many fortunes for a lot of generals and politicians. I have not heard of P2P in over 15 years before I read this bust a couple of months ago. That is the old school, clean powerful stuff. They are pushing for high quality with that.

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  3. Meth is is radioactive evil! Anyone who gets involved with this drug is destined to suffer serious consequences... including death.

    One cannot make meth in huge industrial quantities without polluting the environment as if from radioactive radiation.

    So, my point is that Mexico is hell-bent on committing suicide. By degree, Mexicans will become consumers and meth addict (as is true already with heroin). Eventually, vast numbers of Mexicans will become meth addicts.

    I hate to think of what will happen in Mexico when meth addiction is endemic there.

    Mexico Watcher

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  4. Typical of Sinaloa of back stabbing others to get on top, La Familia Michoacana were the big dogs when it came to meth they cooked the most potent meth around then they allied themselves with Sinaloa and got fucked because of those snitches I can't wait till the Zetas kill Mayo and Chapo, El Azul is ok he atleast doesn't betray others on the level chapo does

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  5. Meth use went down because young people saw what meth can do to your face and teeth. It was a good government campaign showing before and after mug shots of women with 10 months of meth usage. If it's one thing teenagers are, they are vain and they will not use a drug that will make them look uglier.

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  6. This article dances around the important question: was this a Sinaloa operation?

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  7. Maybee LFM got thrown under the bus by el cds. But my guess is they brought it on themselves. There always batteling and killing any gov agency in michoacan, how many times have we seen them have shootouts and set narcoblocks. All the time, they even shot down a helicoper last year. Federal forces are a annoyance to other cartels and they try to avoid them. But to LFM and Cabbaleros there like cats and dogs. Constant killing and fightings only going to bring heat, especially in Calderons home state. You never really here cds or cdg batteling it out constantly with the feds. Even the zetas fight less with them. After el mas loco got killed it was a warzone last year. LFM and Caballeros don't want to see any gov forces at all. Ni los quieren ver en pintura dice el dicho- R

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  8. 9:47 AM
    They've been killing law enforcement in sinaloa too so your argument that they brought it upon themselves dont make sense. what makes sense is that the media dont shine the light on whats going on in sinaloa and that the government is working with them by snitching on everyone. That makes a lot more sense.

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  9. Luciferkilla your a dumb-ass! Get your fax straight el azul comes from cartel de juarez... He did betray los carrillo-fuentes.. And for everybody Sinaloa #1 cartel.. Every cartel rides on their cock like la familia and cartel del golfo..

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  10. 1 38 they kill law enforcment everywere in mexico, but in michoacan they take it one step further and just battle it out any time they can. In Veracruz and Tamaulipaz they also fight the gov a lot. In michoacan the gloves came off and they just fight all the time -R

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  11. @11:35 PM...Meth use went down because at the time it was primarily made in bath tub labs in the US. The US regulated the sale of ephedrine and it curtailed the production. Mexico picked it up in a grand scale and refined it into a smokable product, ICE. Now it is second only to marijuana. I am pretty sure its use has surpassed crack. It is huge. It is very cheep and easy to make and is wholesaling at an equal cost kilo to kilo of cocaine.

    I am in the mental health field. Meth does as much long lasting damage to the mind as the body. It creates organic brain damage that mimics schizophrenia with auditory hallucinations (hearing voices), and severe paranoia. These symptoms are being seen in people 6 months and even 2 years after they quit. They could easily be diagnosed with schizophrenia and many are. The problem is, the medication does not address it well. I have been watching this for 10 years. Meth does tremendous mental health damage.

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  12. ok seems some facts need to be straightened out. LFM separated into 2 factions when Nazario was killed. Los Caballeros and LFM. Los Caballeros is what LFM truly used to be. They still hold the same values, policies, etc... The new LFM decided to ally themselves with Los Zetas(dumbasses) again and their leader (Jose Vargas) got caught. So Los Caballeros are still doing business with Sinaloa. So you see, Sinaloa is just taking business from this new weak LFM that is in disarray....

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  13. @ August 28, 2011 11:35 PM Meth use went down because young people saw what meth can do to your face and teeth.

    This is not truth people are buying more meth than they did before.

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  14. Either way chapo is punking La Familia Michiocana Haha puro Sinaloa cabrones y los Sinaloenses somos los mero chingones de Mexico.....ay nomas cheken la historia.

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  15. @6:39 agree. Meth in any form is the worst. Users go downhill fast.

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  16. Hey LuciferKilla take your narco cheerleading someplace else. CDS are backstabbers? Are you kidding? They are all fucking criminals and so are you if you care who gets killed. They should all die for what they do to Mexico.

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  17. Chapo is a punk snitch who will one day get slaughtered I hate the Zetas but im rooting for them to help Beltran Leyvas take Sinaloa fuck all you Sinaloenses puro Michoacan y El Golfo

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  18. Mochomo turned himself in. It was a scheme that backfired. He even told arturo it wasn't el chapo. Beltranes slowly started working with thr zetas before they split from cds. Arriva el triangulo de oro.

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  19. 10:15 that's why nobody wants you culichis in chihuahua because you think youre better than everybody else!

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  20. Calmate pinche Luciferkiller vales pura verga hasta cuando van aprender putos michoacanos que nomas sirven pa gatos pa pistoleros nomas,los meros jefes se dan en Sinaloa mijo.Y pal otro pendenjo ke dice que se entrego el mochomo eso es puro pedo tuyo lo agarraron por pendejo.Arriba Sinaloa empresa MZ,chapo Guzman. CDS.

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  21. If you say something like Mochomo turned himself in, you should probably elaborate on it. What happened? What was the scheme?

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  22. @2:38 what makes you believe that? Whats your aurguement? This is what happened..when beltran leyvas were part of the federacion de carteles,Arturo was the only one who could reach any sort of agreement with los zetas,since he operated close to them,in nuevo laredo,and monterey back when he had alot ppl in those plazas,( I dont know if BLO still has plazas there since "la burra", and "el chico malo" the plaza bosses in those areas have already been arrested)anyways like i was saying.. so after chapo and mayo found out they were probably mad,jealous idk but not too happy about this because they themselves could never reach an agreement with los zetas,only arturo,so my guess is mayo and chapo were getting suspicious by arturo and the meetings he had with zetas leaders,or they were jealous by the amount power arturo had and was gaining,(what alot of ppl dont know is that after the war between the beltran leyvas and los zetaz for nuevo laredo,osiel cardenas the boss at the time agreed with arturo for a truce,and even offered him the san fernando tamaulipas plaza)after all this happened,chapo and mayo were seeing arturo get too big,and they suspected this was because he made an agreement with CDG and Los Zetas (when they were together)and didnt include mayo and chapo,so chapo and mayo gave up his brothers location,since arturo had everything on lock on south,central,west,and on northeast of mexico and mochomo his brother had it on lock on the northwest of mexico(sonora,sinaloa),by doing this chapo and mayo made their move first before they could be caught by suprised by arturo if he made a deal with los zetas and CDG back when they were one. What Chapo and mayo didnt know was that they were wrong and arturo never betrayed them,but still chapo and mayo wanted to make sure they didnt get caught of guard.Idk i could be wrong but ive watching the development of this play out and thats what i can agree happened(I could be wrong,I could not,i guess we'll never know) unless someone out there knows something I dont.

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  23. Jaja sinaloans are stupid thinking they the shit but u dum fucks let the zetas in ur main plazas and they left narcomantas u dont see that in michoacan sinaloa cartel is only on top cuz calderon backing em thats why he send 1800 to,michoacan to wipe em out but they cant cuz templarios taking em down once calderon steps down Ct gonna kill him and the zetas gonna take down the CDs and at the end it will be CT Vs Zetas cuz sinaloans are all talk michoacanos dont talk they do shit all sinaloa good is at fuken corridos but besides that they aint shit cuz if cds had those 1800 that calderon send to michoacan they wouldent last a month meanwhile CT still strong but just wait till calderon is out n u will see that ur cds will b wipe out by zetas asi q no ablen nomas por ablar pinchis sinaloencea aqui puro MICHOACAN I ARRIVA LOS LCT

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  24. Pobresito luciferkilla sigue con tus suenos pinche halucino pendejo.Ya quisieras,aqui y en todo mexico rifan los sinaloenses,y tus caballeros cagados valen verga,no salen del cerro los jotos porque se les arruga el culo cuando ven a los guachos.Hahahahaha!The only reason zetas are in sinaloa is because beltran leyva let them,sino pura madre entran a sinaloa.ooh y se me olvido si tus caballeros son tan chingones porque le chupan los guevos a los sinaloenses? Haha porque saben que son los buenos.Ya bajale pendejo de todos modos sales perdiendo.Hahaha

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  25. I remeber seeing s video were a top beltran capo talked about the split. He sent for el chapos son to get killed and they mistaked him for the son of el animal. He said when the split first happend he didn't believe el chapo betrayed him, since they were real close and compadres. He found it hard to believe, and arturo called and ask what side he was on. And he responded beltranes out of fear. Arturo said he would send 100,000which he never got. He said arturo was drugged up and irrational, which a lot of narcos back up like la barbie. El compayito said el mochomo turned himself in and had time to escape but didn't. I imagine chapos saw beltranes starting to pact with zetas b4 there split. Like golfo saw the zeta split on the horizon.
    3 03 what frontera does la familia or ct own?.. none so they get taxed everywere they move so don't make them bigger then they are. In michoacan they hold weight and that's about it. They fight for other plazas like everyone else

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  26. @ Luciferkilla. Theres 1800 militares in the whole state of michioacan?.........

    Isnt there like 800 militares in the city of culiacan alone?

    Lucifer theres is not one arguement were you fail to prove your ignorance,you always manage somehow, a way to show how ignorant you are.

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  27. Are u stupit the 1800 on michoacan are actually fighting to.kik the michoacan cartel out in sinaloa the solders work for them so get ur facts straight not just everything u see on tv from the news

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  28. Jaja the onlu reason the sinaloan cartel aint hidding is cuz the federals work for them but the sinaloas sure hide from the zetas and yea there in but were all the sinaloa plazaz well protected according to them cuz on ur pise of shit state they put hela mantas in ur capitals and fuck all u sinaloas do is talk sing and show of but when shiy goes does u guys snitch and beg pay calderon to clean all the plazaz out for u guys cuz huevos les faltan a los sinaloences thats why there scare to go agaist zetas with out the mexican army marines

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  29. to all you stupid ass ignorant lames who don't know shit listen up La Familia owned the Meth market no one not even chapo had shit close to what they were cooking and chapo never tried to step in on their business, LFM has always fucked up FP and soldiers look it up that's why chapos ally El Azul handed Guanajuato right over to LFM to avoid confrontations and he pleaded LFM to help fight the Zetas in Sonora. If im wrong someone please correct me but im right Buggs or J

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  30. In Sonora , 2,000 is kicking culichi ass, Thats why CDS needed to ask for help , La mayoria de los soldados en Sonora estan comprados por los Z's ( 2000 )

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  31. Lucifer u right Chapo knew he would loose alot of ppl n maibe his organazation as well as the lfm would if the went against but lfm never ask for help but in my opinion the cds n lct are the strongest cartels in mexico

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  32. Puros moshomos putos los ke rifan en sonora no son los zetas,,son los moshomos y los zetas nomas son sicarios de ellos.Arrib Sonora

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  33. @2:28 yeah man its true LFM before it died had super deep connections to the citizens of Michoacan I have never seen entire families including kids and grandparents rooting for a cartel and even crying when the leader was killed

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