Drug Traffickers Become Producers in Mexico and Central America

By Dialogo
February 06, 2012

Ever more frequent seizures of chemicals used in the manufacture of synthetic drugs in Mexico and Central America are evidence that the drug traffickers who move drugs from that region to the United States are becoming producers, according to experts and authorities.

In Mexico, “a shift in the criminal organizations’ business, toward producing synthetic drugs,” is underway, General Ricardo Trevilla, a spokesperson for the Mexican Secretariat of Defense, emphasized in a recently released report.

Mexican authorities have not revealed production figures, but seizures of synthetic drugs and chemical precursors for their production are ever more frequent, as are discoveries of clandestine laboratories.

During 2011, Mexico seized more than 1,200 tons of chemicals intended for the manufacture of amphetamine-type synthetic drugs, such as monomethylamine, a chemical precursor derived from ammonia.

“Synthetic drugs represent a very attractive opportunity for criminal organizations because, unlike natural drugs, they can be produced anywhere, once the organization has access to the chemical precursors and basic know-how,” Antonio Mazzitelli, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime director for Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, told AFP.

The expert added that these drugs can be sent to consumption locations at a very low cost.

In Guatemala, where cartels have already established themselves, security forces intercepted 30 tons of chemical products in 2011, and 6 tons have already been seized so far in 2012, according to official figures.

In the United States, the form of methamphetamine known as ‘meth’ or ‘crystal,’ which has devastating effects, has displaced cocaine and heroin among the poorest users.

This accessibly priced and highly addictive drug can generate mental disturbances such as schizophrenia or paranoia and contributes to the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, experts indicate.