A record methamphetamine bust in Nevada is the latest reminder of just how far Mexican drug cartels have come in filling the void left by a sharp decline in U.S. meth lab activity out West, reports the Las Vegas Sun. Law enforcement authorities credit a 2006 federal law with making it tougher for American drug traffickers to obtain ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, chemicals found in cold medicines used to manufacture meth.
Mexican cartels such as Sinaloa, Zetas, and La Familia, which also deal in heroin, marijuana, and cocaine, have found creative ways to obtain those drug precursors from China, India and other faraway places, and have established large manufacturing operations south of the border to replace U.S. meth labs. The cartels then use an array of methods to smuggle the drugs into the U.S., such as trucks, gliders, tunnels and catapults. That's why authorities weren't shocked to uncover 208 pounds of meth and 4.3 pounds of heroin with an estimated street value of more than $5.7 million after executing five search warrants in the Las Vegas area July 12 and 13.