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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Raid on Sinaloa Cartel Narcolaboratory in Ensenada, Creating Product For Local Consumption

"HEARST" for Borderland Beat

There was a major raid on a methamphetamine drug laboratory that allegedly produced crystal meth for a Sinaloa Cartel group associated with El Mayo, according to Zeta Tijuana. This marks the seventh Sinaloa Cartel drug laboratory in Baja California that has been raided in the last two years. 

This FGR seizure that occurred in Ensenada was covered by Sol here on September 10, 2021, and now Zeta Tijuana Weekly has released a new article detailing the behind-the-scenes cartel aspects of this warehouse raid which resulted in the seizure of 10.8 tons of precursor chemicals. 

As some background, Zeta Tijuana reported in a June 2021 article that there has been a marked shift in how many drug shipments the Sinaloa Cartel has been carrying out to Baja California locations. 

They report that in recent years the Sinaloa Cartel has shifted towards producing certain types of drugs within the state of Baja California, rather than transporting them there. This cuts down on the transportation costs and the risk of police searches and seizures. Zeta alleges that a few years ago the Sinaloa Cartel (Cartel de Sinaloa, CDS) ordered the creation of drug laboratories in various municipalities of Baja California, mainly for the manufacture of methamphetamine. 

This recent September raid is actually just one of a larger string of roughly twelve total drug lab warehouses raided by authorities in Baja California in the last two years. Of these roughly 12 raids, 7 of the facilities are believed to have belonged to CDS. 

This disproportionate amount CDS targeted raids, could be due to other cartel organizations being less involved in local meth production or meth distribution. Or it could be due to a change in the cartel affiliation of key high ranking law enforcement figures. 

In Zeta’s most recent September 2021 article they report that “as a result of a change of command [at] the federal corporation” level, CDS’s meth laboratories and precursor storage facilities are now getting frequently raided by federal authorities.

It is unclear which federal law enforcement position they are referencing or who they are referencing when it comes to this change in command. 

In terms of the most recent raid, the federal agencies involved are: Attorney General's Office (FGR), State Attorney General's Office (FGE), National Guard, the Marines (SEMAR) and the Federal Ministerial Police so there are number of possibilities about which federal agency could be referred to with this “change of command,” statement from Zeta.

Some of the most notable drug lab warehouse seizures that Zeta alleges were Sinaloa Cartel operated are:

Shortly after 11:00 am on Monday, May 25, 2020, several armed officers, hooded and with the GESI and National Guard (NG) insignia on their bulletproof vests, arrived in the area of Reforma Avenue, in Valle Dorado, in white trucks. For more than an hour, the soldiers kept the area between the junkyard to the Dico furniture store completely cordoned off from the public. Authorities temporarily closed Reforma Avenue to all traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular.

In the cordoned off section, authorities were seizing over 12,800 liters of chemical precursors from a warehouse. 22 vehicles were also located and seized on the property, some of them luxury vehicles.

Isaías Bertín Sandoval, the representative of the Federal Public Security Secretariat in Baja California, later confirmed this as a Sinaloa Cartel operated location during a Baja California government's videoconference.

As covered by Yaqui on Borderland Beat at 06:20 on Monday, June 1, 2020, a search warrant was released which allowed security forces to begin the search for illicit substances in and on a property located on the Rosarito-Ensenada Free Highway. The property was reported at the time to have presumably served as a laboratory for the Sinaloa Cartel.

Sixteen 200-liter drums of hydrochloric acid; 1 argon tank, 13 drums of 200 liters of ethyl alcohol, 3 drums of acetone, 1 drum of toluene, 5 drums of 200 liters of isopropyl alcohol, 60 gas tanks, 279 packages of caustic soda, 100 packages of 30 kg pasty white powder and seven 50-liter containers of ammonium hydroxide. 150 caustic soda packages were found inside a truck in the warehouse as well. 

Authorities say that up to 896 kilograms of methamphetamine could have been manufactured from these precursors.

Then on June 2, 2020,  just following the previous raid, a "narcolaboratory" allegedly belonging to the Sinaloa Cartel was located in Tecate by agents of the State Security and Investigation Guard (GESI). The specific amount of dugs and precursors from this raid were not disclosed, however, witnesses reported that three trucks of the FGR left the location filled with seized goods. 

Later, Isaías Bertín Sandoval from Federal Public security commented that the "narcolaboratory" from June 2 was allegedly operated by the Sinaloa Cartel and had the potential to create 702 kilos of methamphetamine from the items seized.

In the Heriberto Jara area of the Mexicali desert, on September 5, 2020, the State Attorney General’s Office (FGE) dismantled a synthetic drug laboratory. The lab consisted of a wooden lean-to with camouflage overtop to hide it from aerial surveillance . Further details on the amounts seized were not revealed by the FGE.

On October 4 , the FGE and the National Guard launched an operation as a follow-up to a complaint received about a property near San José de la Zorra and Rancho La Rosca, located in the Valle de Guadalupe area. 

And then there was the recent raid Sol covered, where an anonymous complaint to the FGE led them to a warehouse in the Carlos Pacheco neighborhood where 10.8 tons of chemical precursors were being stored and subsequently were seized by authorities.

Zeta reports that some of the methamphetamine produced by CDS in Baja is trafficked to the United States, but a part of it remains in Baja California for local consumption. On the streets, the crystal or stone costs between 50 and 100 pesos, which is enough for an addict to spend the day doped up. It is estimated that one out of ten people recover from addiction to meth, however, most of them end up with irreparable mental health problems.

According to a psychologist specializing in addiction who works in two rehabilitation centers, the levels of crystal meth use in Ensenada are worrying. 

Some addicts use it to lower alcohol levels or the effects of other drugs, although it does not have the same degree of potency as cocaine.The hook for developing an addiction ican be high levels of stress and/or work fatigue.

"It is activating, it usually fulfills its function, you can work better and feel better, it is more pleasurable because they are longer lasting, and they tend to use it for more satisfying sexual relations," indicated the Ensenada psychologist . Statistics show that between 60 and 70% of drug addicts in the region are crystal meth users, between the ages of 8 and 65.

"Addiction is not achieved at first, but with abuse and generation, it is progressive and it is a process. It starts with a first consumption, if the gratification was great, the brain begins to work," the psychologist told ZETA.

Main Sources: Zeta Tijuana Article 1, Article 2

May 25 2020 Raid: Zeta Tijuana,

June 1 2020 Raid: El Sol de Tijuana, Plex.Mx, Cadena Noticias , PoderMX, La Jornada, Zeta

June 2 2020 Raid: Zeta Tijuana

September 5 2020 Raid: Periodismo Negro, FGE Official Press Release 

October 4 2020 Raid: El Imparcial, Cadena Noticias, El Vigia, Hiptex

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