From Riodoce by: Alejandro Monjardín, September 25, 2016
Sophisticated Drug Factories
Culiacan is the clandestine methamphetamine factory of the country. Data provided by the Secretary of National Defense (Sedena) indicates that the state capital is the city where the largest number of drug laboratories are concentrated.
From 2005 to May 2016, 261 clandestine laboratories were located. That quantity represents 20 percent of the 1,314 thousand found throughout the rest of the country.
The second highest number of laboratories, 91, were found is Apatzingan; followed by Buena Vista Tomatlan, with 66, both in the state of Michoacan.
Cartels have installed laboratories in 21 states, but most of them are located on the Pacific Coast.
Sinaloa, Michoacan and Jalisco account for 1,103 laboratories found in a decade, which represents 83 percent of of those decommissioned nationwide.
In Sinaloa crystal methamphetamine production is concentrated in the downtown area of the capitol city.
In addition to Culiacan, municipalities with more laboratories are Badiraguato with 32, Mocorito with 26, Cosalá with 22, and Elota with 21.
In 10 years security forces of the Secretary of National Defense in the state have found 380 laboratories.
In the same period across the country they seized 22,932 kilos and 633 grams of crystal, 5,967 kilos were found in Sinaloa.
The quantity of drugs seized, in the state of Sinaloa is only surpassed by Michoacan, where they secured 7,083 kilos of methamphetamine.
According to information from the Department of Defense, SEDENA, Sinaloa is where the drug cartels have innovated strategies to avoid detection by the authorities.
Placing them in remote and mountainous areas covered with camouflage, they have also been found underground.
The first underground drug laboratories in the country were found in Culiacan and Elote, Sinaloa.
The very first was in 2011 in the area of Sanalona and had two levels, with an elevator and ventilation. The laboratory structure was made of metal and wood, had a dimension of approximately 10 meters wide by 12 meters long and 10 meters deep.
The same year another laboratory was located beneath the earth in the municipality of Elota, which was more sophisticated. The facility had walls, a ceiling with a concrete floor, a control system with lighting and ducts for ventilation. It was four meters deep and measured four meters wide by 100 meters long.
Additionally, in Sinaloa, SEDENA found the first laboratory with a cold room.
The drug factory was located in Cosalá and had a cold room built on a hill to maintain the proper temperatures for the chemical substances and make crystal meth of better quality. The refrigeration system was powered by a generator which was built with an engine from a tractor trailer.
Laboratories Under Protection
The commander of the Ninth Military Zone, Rogelio Teran Contreras, says that the Sinaloa Cartel controls most of the production of methamphetamines in the country and its laboratories located in Sinaloa are in an area that they dominate and have a network of halcones or lookouts that protect them .
Synthetic drugs factories in Culiacan are in an area where they can easily get warnings.
"It is the area itself, these surrounding areas, for the security of the facilities which they have to hide; here it has been observed that the entire area is under the control of the Pacific Cartel ", Contreras says. "Last year," he added, "the Ninth Military Zone had 80 laboratories and as a Military Region we were above 100 labs and now we have 54 more".
He said methamphetamine production began in the south of the country in states like Michoacan and Guanajuato, but currently is focused in Sinaloa.
The Cartels, he detailed, not only export drugs outside the country, but also send people prepared to manufacture drugs to other countries.
"They have also exported people, Sinaloans are producing methamphetamines in some places in Africa, and I believe there are Sinaloans in other places in the world", he said.
Teran Contreras said the cartel installs most of its laboratories in the state of Sinaloa because here they have a wide network of hawks.
He said that criminal groups have managed to maintain and grow that network due to the fact that for public security institutions it is difficult to detect the lookouts.
"They are everywhere, it can be a pizza delivery person, the newspaper seller on the corner outside here or the taxi driver or the young man who sells shrimp in the corner, the Cartels have great economic power to pay them, so there are hundreds of lookouts everywhere.
"I do not know how much they are paid but they must get something out of it because they do not allow us to get anywhere near the organizations, from where we leave we are already being followed and sometimes they do not release us, they do it so brazenly that the new penal system favors them and now all of the world has fallen into this brazenness", he said.
The Brigadier General said that soon the army will step up efforts to combat drug laboratories in the state.
"Right now our troops are in training in Durango, when they come back and with the troops that we already have here, we will continue attacking laboratories and as we deploy more troops we are going to find more," he said.
Sinaloans Around the World
The Sinaloa Cartel do not only exports methamphetamine, but also experienced men in the manufacturing process.
Cooks, as they are known, these men are sent to other countries where the Sinaloa Cartel produces synthetic drugs.
Last March, in Nigeria, four Sinaloans were arrested that helped build a "superlab" to export crystal to Asia.
According to the National Drug Enforcement Agency in that country, Mexicans were technical partners in the laboratory that had the capacity to produce up to four tons of methamphetamine per week.
In Nigeria, a kilo of the drug is priced at $6,000 and in the Asian market the price of a kilo reaches up to $300,000.
According to the Agency, it is the first laboratory with capacity to produce industrial quantities of drugs that has been found in West Africa.
The detainees are José Bruno Cervantes Madrid, Pastiano Rivas Cruz, Cristobal Castillo Barrazas and Pedro Barraza Gonzalez Partida.
Just as in Africa there are Sinaloans cooks in Asia as well.
In the Philippines, since 2013, the presence of the Sinaloa Cartel was detected with the seizure of 84 kilos of methamphetamine and the arrest of two Chinese nationals on a ranch. That operation led to the arrest of Horacio Herrera in June 2015; and in the same month a judge issued an arrest warrant against Carlos Ochoa and Jaime Sanchez, all from Sinaloa.
Philippine authorities accused them of entering the country with crystal meth valued over 143 million pesos. (7,384,801 USD)
Horacio Herrera allegedly came to the Asiatic country to open a restaurant in Manila, but prosecutors said he and the other two Sinaloans were responsible for establishing the production and distribution of drugs for the Sinaloa Cartel in the country.
The best known case of a Sinaloa detained in another country, is that of the brothers Jose Regino, Simon and Luis Gonzalez Villarreal.
The Sinaloans from Culiacan were arrested in 2013 in a laboratory in Malaysia.
All three are imprisoned and sentenced to hang.