Last week, Mexican authorities seized over 23 tons of ethyl phenylacetate, which is used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. The drug component was discovered at the Pacific port of Manzanillo, in a shipment from China.
In April 2010, Mexican officials seized 80 tons of phenylacetic acid and its derivatives shipped from Shanghai, China. Imports of ethyl phenylacetate require authorization from the country’s health ministry, so the shipments are intentionally mis-labeled before leaving China.
Last year, an anonymous U.S. official told Reuters that between October and November 2010, Mexican authorities seized 818 tons of chemicals used in making crystal meth.
Due to rampant corruption among port officials, the cartels are allowed to receive large shipments of the chemicals from China which are transported to meth labs throughout Mexico.
The chemicals are used in a production process known as phenyl-2-propanone (P2P method), and cost much less than pseudoephedrine, thus increasing the cartels’ profits.
In 2009 alone, the Mexican police and military found 215 meth labs, a 400 percent increase of the labs discovered in 2008.
90 percent of the methamphetamine sold in the U.S. is brought into this country from Mexico and distributed by several street gangs such as the notoriously violent MS-13.