Mexico Seizes 32 Tons of Chinese Precursor Chemicals

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Mexican authorities have seized a shipment of 32 tons of chemicals used to make methamphetamine, which authorities say originated from China, a major player in the market for precursor chemicals.

The shipment of 32 tons of monomethylamine, a key ingredient in the making of methamphetamine, was seized by port officials in the city of Veracruz. In a press release, authorities in the Navy Secretary’s office claimed the chemicals arrived in two shipping containers onboard a ship leaving from China on April 30.

Although the shipping company stated the cargo was aluminum sulfate, a chemical compound often used in water purification, a search revealed the containers’ true illicit contents.

InSight Crime Analysis

Because of the growing profitability of meth, seizures of chemicals used to make the drug are becoming increasingly common in Mexico. In July 2011, officials found 800 tons of precursor chemicals in a warehouse in the central state of Queretaro, which officials described as the largest such seizure in the country’s history.

This is the second major seizure of meth precursor chemicals bound for Mexico in less than one week. On May 2, United States officials seized close to three tons of chemicals at Los Angeles International airport in two separate shipments that officials said were intended to be sent to central Mexico. Like the Veracruz seizure, the US shipment also originated from China. The Asian country’s booming chemical industry (which is its third largest and contributes to some 10 percent of growth domestic product), combined with lax regulation, make it a major source of precursors to criminal organizations, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

However, because many of these chemicals have legitimate uses, the trend is difficult to tackle. Monomethylamine, for instance, is widely used in pharmaceuticals and pesticides.

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