Mexico seizes over 800 tonnes of meth chemicals

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 21, 2011 11:23 AM
Mexico seizes over 800 tonnes of meth chemicals

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The Mexican army has seized just under 840 metric tonnes of chemicals used for manufacturing methamphetamine in a raid in central Mexico, one of the biggest finds of its kind ever made in the country.

The seizure in a warehouse took place in an industrial area in Queretaro, about 125 miles north of Mexico City, the Defense Ministry said in a statement late Wednesday.

According to local daily El Universal, it was the largest seizure of meth chemicals since President Felipe Calderon launched an army-led crackdown on Mexico's drug cartels shortly after taking office at the end of 2006.

The seizure, which the army made Monday, included 787 tonnes of phenylacetamide and 52.5 tonnes of tartaric acid, all in 25 kilogram (55 pound) packets. Both chemicals can be used in the manufacture of meth.

Queretaro has not been a hotspot in the Mexican government's fight against drug traffickers, which is mostly focused on states on the U.S. border in the north of the country.

Meth, which can cause brain damage and violent behavior, is a law enforcement priority in the United States, where the drug has ravaged many rural communities.

Addicts sometimes cook small, homemade batches of meth using recipes found on the Internet, but strict regulations have made it more difficult for U.S. producers to compete with bigger, more sophisticated operations in Mexico.

(Reporting by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Eric Beech)