Meth Seizures at California-Mexico Border Surged in 2014

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Methamphetamine seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents surged in 2014, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. A crackdown on meth ingredients in the United States has pushed the drug’s manufacture to Mexico.

The San Diego field office of the customs agency seized 14,732 pounds of meth in the fiscal year ending September 30, accounting for 63 percent of meth seizures nationwide, the article notes. The agency said there has been a 300 percent increase in meth seizures at California entry points from 2009 to 2014. In the past year, meth seizures rose 8 percent. In contrast, seizures of marijuana, cocaine and heroin fell during the same period.

Much of the smuggled meth is brought into the country in relatively small quantities. It is often strapped to the bodies of pedestrian border crossers, carried inside sealed food cans, or hidden inside spare tires or engine compartments.

The California border is the main smuggling route for meth. “The Mexican cartels are flooding the U.S. marketplace with their cheap methamphetamine,” said Gary Hill, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) assistant special agent in charge in San Diego. Meth can be purchased for $3,500 a pound, compared with about $11,800 per pound for cocaine.

According to the DEA, about 90 percent of the meth consumed in the United States is made in Mexican labs. The overhead for producing meth is minimal compared with cocaine, Hill said.

Once meth is smuggled into the United States, much of it is distributed to the rest of the country, according to Joe Garcia of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego. “Los Angeles has become a huge transshipment point,” he said. “Our investigations take us through all corners of the country, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, North Carolina, Seattle, San Francisco, Montana. It’s going into Canada as well.”

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