The methamphetamine labs that once plagued California and powered a national explosion of drug abuse have been replaced by an increasing supply from Mexico, says the Los Angeles Times. Authorities in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city, busted the largest laboratory ever discovered in the Americas last January. The fortress-like compound housed 11 custom-designed pressure cookers that could produce 400 pounds of meth daily. “It was the mother lode of mother lodes,” a U.S. law enforcement official said.
The largest share of meth-making chemicals is believed to be shipped to Mexico from factories in China and India and routed through Hong Kong. China has emerged as the top concern for U.S. authorities. “The cliche is coming true: We’ve entered a new ice age,” said Misha Piastro of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Authorities estimate that 80 percent of the meth on U.S. streets is controlled by Mexican drug traffickers. Methamphetamine seizures at the U.S.-Mexico border jumped 50% from 2003 through 2005, from 4,030 to 6,063 pounds. The number of labs discovered by Mexican authorities nearly tripled from 2002 to 2005, from 13 to 37, and methamphetamine seizures more than doubled, to 2,169 pounds. Mexico’s importation of cold medicines, used in meth production, jumped suddenly in recent years, from 92,000 tons in 2002 to 150,000 tons in 2005.