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Mexican Meth Production Concentrated in 3 Western States

An industrial-scale meth lab discovered in Sinaloa in 2011 An industrial-scale meth lab discovered in Sinaloa in 2011

Nearly 90 percent of methamphetamine laboratories discovered in Mexico in the past decade have been located in the three western states of Jalisco, Sinaloa and Michoacan, according to military officials.

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Of the 847 Mexican military raids on methamphetamine laboratories since 2001, 87 percent occurred in those three states, which are all on the Pacific coast, Milenio reported

According to the data provided by Mexico's Defense Ministry, the state of Michoacan leads in the number of laboratories discovered, with 357 raided by the military between 2001 and August 2012, compared to 216 raids conducted in Sinaloa and 166 in Jalisco.

InSight Crime Analysis

It is not surprising that the largest number of meth labs discovered in the past decade were located in Michoacan, home to the once mighty Familia Michoacana -- who made a name for themselves as a supplier of the drug to the US market -- and their successors, the Knights Templar.

The number of labs in Sinaloa is likely due to the activities of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, which has also long been a major player in the meth trade. The group is believed to have taken over much of the Familia’s methamphetamine production in recent years, and is now considered the largest distributor of meth to the United States.

Milenio reports that military officials say laboratory raids are on the rise, which could partially explain why Mexican cartels are increasingly shifting meth production to Central America. Lax controls on precursor chemicals and notoriously corrupt police forces also make the countries in the region, especially Guatemala, an attractive operating base. In 2011 alone, Guatemalan officials seized some 1,600 tons of meth precursor chemicals, four times the amount seized the year before.

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