Drug Chemical Seizures up 22% in Guatemala

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So far in 2012 Guatemala has seized 22 percent more chemicals used to produce drugs than in the same period the previous year, highlighting the country’s growing status as a hub for the precursor trade.

Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla said that between January and August, authorities seized 13,763 containers of precursor chemicals used in drug production, up 22 percent from last year, Prensa Libre reported.

Notably, the statistics did not include the total weight of the precursors seized, which is how Guatemala’s statistics on precursor chemicals are usually given. As a point of comparison, last year authorities reported seizing some 1,600 tons or 7,847 barrels of precursor chemicals in Guatemala, about four times the amount confiscated in 2010.

InSight Crime Analysis

If Guatemala is seizing more precursor chemicals, this suggests that either customs and law enforcement have improved their ability to track and confiscate such materials, or that the sheer amount of precursors trafficked through Guatemala is growing. Since the Interior Ministry’s most recent figures refer to the number of containers seized, rather than the bulk amount of the chemicals, this doesn’t give a clear idea of whether the government has actually seized a larger quantity of liquid chemicals than last year, or merely more containers.

There are reports that Guatemala is increasingly being used a center of methamphetamine and synthetic drug production by the Sinaloa Cartel, which has driven up the demand for precursors inside the country. In April, Guatemala seized over 80,000 liters of meth precursor chemicals valued at $6 million. The chemicals had reportedly been shipped from China and were headed for Honduras.

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