BERLIN (AP) — Authorities have seized 2.9 tons of a chemical used to produce crystal meth in an operation that brought 15 arrests in Germany and the Czech Republic, German police said Thursday.
The chloroephedrine seized in the eastern German city of Leipzig last week could have been used to produce 2.3 tons of crystal meth with an estimated street value of 184 million euros ($230 million), the Federal Criminal Police Office said.
Seven suspected members of the drug-producing gang and a suspected customer were arrested during raids in Leipzig last week and cash, ammunition and stolen identity papers seized. Czech authorities arrested another seven people, seizing firearms and cash.
The suspected ringleader, a 32-year-old chemical and drug trader from Leipzig, had chloroephedrine produced elsewhere in Europe and delivered to Germany, police said. From there, it was transported in quantities of 20 kilos (44 pounds) or less across the Czech border for use in producing crystal meth, which was then delivered back to Leipzig.
Police office chief Joerg Ziercke said that chemicals for large-scale drug production were until now "almost exclusively" procured from China, and that a German having them made in Europe was "a novelty."