Exploiting loopholes in the global economy, Mexican crime syndicates are importing mass quantities of cold medicines and common chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine, turning Mexico into the No. 1 source for all meth sold in the U.S., the Washington Post reports. In 2007, the Mexican government appeared on the verge of controlling the sale of chemicals used to make the drugs, but the syndicates have moved to the top of the drug trade.
Cartels use dummy corporations and false labeling and take advantage of lax customs enforcement in China, India, and Bangladesh to smuggle tons of the pills into Mexico for conversion into methamphetamine. Ordinary cold, flu, and allergy medicine used to make methamphetamine – pills banned in Mexico and restricted in the U.S. – are widely available in many countries. In the past 18 months, Mexican armed forces have raided more than 325 sophisticated factories capable of producing a million pounds of potent methamphetamine a year. Seizures of Mexican methamphetamine along the southwest border have doubled. “As hard as everyone is working to stop it, the stuff is just going to continue to flow in massive quantities,” said Michael Braun, former chief of operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration now with Spectre Group International. In a typical scenario, an Indian pharmaceutical maker exports cold pills to Dubai, where they are falsely labeled as herbal supplements and shipped to Belize, and then to Veracruz by cargo container.