Mexican cartels are the key suppliers of methamphetamine for the growing U.S. market, as a new report from the Wall Street Journal highlights.
The newspaper reports that meth consumed in the U.S. is increasingly produced on a mass scale in Mexico, and then smuggled over the border.
The report points to the record quantity of meth seized on the U.S.-Mexico border so far in 2011 -- more than 5.5 tons. (See the WSJ's graph, left, for a comparison with previous years.) Meanwhile, the Mexican authorities have busted 103 clandestine meth labs in the first six months of the year -- 25 percent higher than the same period last year.
Labs in the U.S. are generally much smaller, according to the report, often with the capacity to produce less that 60 grams. (See photo of a home lab, above.) In contrast, in May the Mexican security forces found a lab with the capacity to produce 150 kilos of the drug a day.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has said that some 80 percent of the U.S.'s methamphetamine comes from in Mexico.
As InSight Crime has reported, one of the factors in the rise in meth production south of the border is the fact that the U.S. has tightened controls on precursor chemicals used to produce the drug, shifting the business to Mexico.
Another factor, highlighted by the WSJ, is the Mexican government's crackdown on organized crime, which has pushed some criminals to move into the easier-to-produce meth, instead of heroin and cocaine.