Guatemala Puzzles Over Disposal of 2,800 Barrels of Precursor Chemicals

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Guatemalan anti-drug authorities face a bottleneck in the Pacific port city of Quetzal, where their success in seizing drug precursor chemicals means there is no space to store any more, reports La Prensa Grafica.

The newspaper reports that since the beginning of 2011, authorities in the port have confiscated 28 shipping containers, each holding between 80 and 110 barrels of chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine, ecstasy, and other synthetic drugs. Each container is valued at approximately 2.5 million quetzales (over $300,000).

The police’s success in seizing illegal shipments of precursors has led to a problem for Guatemalan authorities, who must decide how to dispose of the volatile chemicals safely.

La Prensa Grafica quotes Quetzal’s Public Security Ministry as saying that their forces lack even the most basic equipment required to handle the seized chemicals, and there is no room at the port for additional confiscated shipments.

Attempts by the government to contract with laboratories specializing in toxic waste removal, or to sell the chemicals to private companies for industrial use, have failed, according to the report.

Mexico, which shares a border with Guatemala, has an increasingly important role in the methamphetamine market, producing much of the drug that is consumed in the U.S. This is due in large part to tighter restrictions of precursor chemicals imported into the U.S.

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