Mexican Meth Floods U.S.
Shutdown Of U.S. Labs Fails To Stop Spread Of Deadly
CBS News May 19, 2006
enforcement officers busting illegal
methamphetamine labs once was a common sight
across the United States.
such raids don't happen as frequently anymore —
not since most states and the federal government
put severe restrictions on the sale of
over-the-counter medications containing
pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in
methamphetamine, reports CBS News Correspondent
Drug enforcement agents report the number of meth
labs in the U.S. has plummeted.
"Yes, drastically down, in fact," says John
Fernandes of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
But, he adds, "Unfortunately there is an explosion
of meth use."
The epidemic of meth use is still rampant because
the drug is still plentiful on America's streets.
"They just came across into Mexico to start
production," said Fuillermo Gonzalez of the
Tijuana Police Department.
This deadly drug is now a growth industry for
Mexico's deadly drug cartels. They're replacing
small U.S. kitchen labs with Mexican super labs.
The cartels are smuggling ephedrine from China,
India and Europe and cooking up huge quantities of
cheap meth — including an especially potent
variety, Mexican Ice. Then the cartels smuggle it
north to U.S. users.
"They're making quite a lot of money off of meth,"
Gonzalez said. "They are pretty much using the
same routes that they've used in the past with
cocaine and with marijuana."
By some estimates, as much at 80 percent of the
meth on U.S. streets comes from Mexico. Agents see
more of it at the border. Meth seizures are up 106
percent in a year at the border crossing near San
The DEA has joined forces with Mexico to fight
meth with a two-pronged strategy.
"Essentially, push the problem south of the
border" said the DEA's Fernandes. "And at the same
time, the DEA has been able to take a lead with
our Mexican counterparts in order to prevent the
importations of pseudoephedrine coming into Mexico
from other locations, like Hong Kong."
But things look different from south of the
border. Mexico now has an exploding meth epidemic
of its own.
Mexican authorities have busted 18 meth labs in
the city of Tijuana this year alone. One lab was
located next door to a day care center.
Police raided the lab after teachers and children
reported a sickening chemical smell.
Tijuana now has a growing number of meth addicts
seeking help at one of the growing number of rehab
"It's no longer just the drugs passing through
Mexico to the United States. We're now consumers,"
said one Mexican addict.
Users in both nations have created an expanding
market for cartel meth — and a growing crisis for
law enforcement on both sides of the border.