Mexican officials inspecting a cargo container
shipped from China have uncovered a 19.5-ton cache of
pseudoephedrine, enough to make a dose of
methamphetamine for every adult American.
Hundreds of barrels containing the essential meth
ingredient were seized Dec. 5 at the Lazaro Cardenas
seaport in Michoacan after a citizen tip, according to
Mexico's attorney general. It was the largest seizure
of pseudoephedrine or ephedrine in Mexican history and
one of the biggest on record worldwide.
The 19.5 metric tons amount to 8 percent of the 233
metric tons of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine that
China manufactured in 2005, according to Chinese
government statistics compiled by Guangzhou CCM
Chemical Co. Ltd.
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., said the massive
leakage of pseudoephedrine from Chinese commerce
underscores that "we need to go to the source" and
ensure the chemical is as tightly controlled in China
as it is in North America.
"It cries out for law enforcement attention being
paid to the entire supply chain," said Larsen,
co-chairman of the congressional Methamphetamine
Such an enormous seizure suggests that Mexican
traffickers, struggling under tight restrictions on
legal imports of pseudoephedrine in Mexico, have found
illicit sources in the handful of countries that
manufacture the chemical.
In 2005, The Oregonian reported that Mexico's
pharmaceutical industry was legally importing about
twice as much as the country needed for cold medicine.
The demand was inflated by traffickers who bought up
millions of pseudoephedrine tablets.
Since then, Mexican authorities have slashed
imports of pseudoephedrine by 70 percent to 70 tons,
making it harder for traffickers to acquire
pseudoephedrine from legitimate drug companies within
New restrictions announced recently in Mexico also
have capped the size of any pseudoephedrine shipment
at 1,100 pounds, meaning the Michoacan load was 39
times the allowable amount.