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News (Media Awareness Project) - Mexico: Guatemala New Center For Meth Production
Title:Mexico: Guatemala New Center For Meth Production
Published On:2012-01-01
Source:Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)
Fetched On:2012-01-02 06:01:26

MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's powerful Sinaloa drug cartel appears to be
extending its massive production of methamphetamine into neighboring
Guatemala, as hundreds of tons of precursor chemicals stream into the
Central American nation.

While Mexico is usually estimated to be the main supplier of meth used
in the United States, seizure data suggest that Guatemala could in
fact be producing as much or more.

That data, along with interviews with U.S. and Guatemalan officials,
also indicate that Sinaloa cartel chief Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is
taking advantage of Guatemala's remote, isolated mountains and an
alliance with a key Guatemalan trafficker to make the Central American
nation a new international meth production base.

Mexican authorities seized 675 tons of a key precursor chemical in
December alone, and all of it was heading for Guatemala. Officials in
Guatemala have seized 7,847 barrels of precursors in 2011, equivalent
to about 1,600 tons and far more than Mexico's total seizures of 1,200
tons for the year.

The Guatemala-bound chemical seized in Mexico, methylamine, can yield
its weight in uncut meth, according to Steve Preisler, an industrial
chemist called the father of modern meth-making.

That means the total amount seized in or heading to Guatemala could
theoretically produce more than a billion 1-gram doses of pure meth,
and billions more if cut to street-level purity.

Authorities say it's not entirely clear where Sinaloa could sell
thousands of tons of methamphetamine if it produced that much. The
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said in its 2011 World Report
that total meth seizures worldwide amounted to 65 tons.

Guatemalan Interior Minister Carlos Menocal said the Mexican cartel
has prepared its operations by doing business with a gang in his
country led by Juan Alberto Ortiz Lopez, nicknamed "Chamale," who,
before his arrest in March, was identified by the United States as the
most important trafficker in Guatemala.

"What we have found is that Chamale has links to the Sinaloa cartel,"
Menocal said. Those links include coordinating the processing or
"cooking" of meth, he said.

"An analysis by Guatemala's intelligence indicates the laboratories
were managed by Mexicans," Menocal said. "They come to oversee the
drug production process; Mexican chemists came to establish the
formulas and local people talk about Mexicans who came and went, doing
this work."
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