Mexico will cut imports of pseudoephedrine by 40 percent this year, acknowledging that drug cartels have artificially inflated demand for the key ingredient in methamphetamine, reports The Oregonian. Mexican health officials said the country has been importing more pseudoephedrine than its citizens need for cold medicine, and imports will be cut from 224 tons in 2004 to 134 tons in 2005. The new policy is among the boldest by any country to prevent diversion of the cold-medicine ingredient by drug traffickers. It could disrupt at least temporarily the main source of meth production for the U.S., reducing the drug’s availability to an estimated 1.4 million American users.
Mexico, the U.S., and Canada have all now taken steps to curtail sales of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine, and legal imports of the raw material are falling. If traffickers are forced to smuggle cold medicine into Mexico or to buy it from other countries, the cost of meth could rise, leading users to quit. The Mexican ambassador to the U.S. told U.S. lawmakers that imports eventually will be cut to 1999 levels — a 77 percent reduction from 2004. Mexican customs records show the country imported 51 tons in 1999. Congress is on the verge of approving anti-meth legislation that would pressure other countries to follow Mexico’s example in curtailing pseudoephedrine imports.