America’s methamphetamine crisis is now rooted in Mexico, where drug cartels illicitly obtain tons of pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient needed to make the potent stimulant, The Oregonian reports. Mexico’s imports of the cold medicine have vaulted from 66 tons to 224 tons in the past five years. That’s roughly double what the country needs to meet the legitimate demands of cold and allergy sufferers.
U.S. officials say meth production in Mexico is rising because Mexican traffickers can no longer easily obtain pseudoephedrine in the U.S. and Canada, which have cracked down on companies that sell cold pills. Although some U.S. officials predicted three years ago that traffickers would start acquiring pseudoephedrine in Mexico, the U.S. and Mexico failed to prevent it. Mexican officials told the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that they have reduced their import quota 30 percent this year. The change has not had much effect. Mexican pseudoephedrine imports total a little more than 69 tons through April, putting the country on a pace to import 210 tons by year’s end. That’s almost as much as the 224 tons imported in 2004.