A record 15 tons of pure methamphetamine have been seized in Mexico, the largest seizure of meth ever made in the country.
The historic seizure, announced late Wednesday night, was valued at $4 million, and equal to half of all meth seizures worldwide in 2009, The Associated Press reported. The raid has exacerbated growing concerns that Mexico is on its way to becoming a global hub for meth production.
"Seizures of this size could mean one of two things," Antonio Mazzitelli, the regional representative of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, told The Sydney Morning Herald. "It may be a product that hasn't been able to be sold, and like any business, when the market is depressed, stockpiles build up. Or such large-scale production could suggest an expansion, an attempt by some Mexican groups...to move into Latin American and Asian markets."
Mexican army soldiers found the stash at a ranch in Tlajomulco de Zuniga, south of Jalisco's state capital of Guadalajara, after being tipped off by a local, BBC News reported.
Jalisco has long been considered the center for Sinaloa's meth production and trafficking, the AP reported.
Soldiers also seized equipment used to produce methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug made with volatile chemicals that often cause explosions. However, they did not make any arrests, though it appeared that between 12 and 15 people worked at the facility, according to the AP.
Security forces had uncovered seven meth laboratories in Jalisco in 2012 alone, The Mexican Defense Ministry told the BBC.
The sheer scale of the drug bust also suggests the involvement of the Sinaloa cartel, a major trafficker of cocaine and marijuana that has recently expanded its operations to include meth production, the AP reported.
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The largest meth seizure in Mexico by the army previous to this one was in June 2010, when soldiers found 3.4 tons of pure meth in three warehouses in the central state of Queretaro, along with hundreds of tons of chemicals used to make the drug, the AP reported. An underground lab was also found in Sinaloa state, and officials linked both busts to the Sinaloa cartel.
"This could potentially put a huge dent in the supply chain in the US," US Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Rusty Payne said of the Jalisco raid, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. "When we're taking this much out of the supply chain, it's a huge deal."
A 2011 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said amphetamine-type stimulants have become the second most widely used illegal substance worldwide, behind cannabis.
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According to the report, the main producers of synthetic drugs remain the Netherlands and Burma, but manufacture has spread to Latin America.