HomeNewsBriefMexico Seizes 3.6 Tons of 'Opium Paste'
BRIEF

Mexico Seizes 3.6 Tons of 'Opium Paste'

HEROIN / 15 MAR 2012 BY EDWARD FOX EN

Mexico announced the confiscation of 3.6 tons of a substance thought to be opium paste, the largest seizure of opiates in the country's history.

Mexican officials announced that on 1 February, the army seized roughly 3.6 tons of a dark substance containing heroin. The Associated Press (AP) reports that it marks the country's largest ever seizure of opiates, eclipsing the previous high of 245 kilos in January 2011.

According to the Defense Department, the seizure came after a raid by the army on a drug lab in the town of Coyuca de Catalan, in the western state of Guerrero.

The AP notes that, using estimates of opium paste-to-heroin production, the 3.6 tons could have yielded approximately 360 kilos of heroin. Based on the most recent UN World Drug Report figures, this would have a US street value of roughly $65 million.

InSight Crime Analysis

Mexico seized 268 kilos of heroin in 2011, and eradicated 4,124 hectares of poppy, the raw material for heroin, according to the latest US International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.

Government and multilateral reports in recent years have placed Mexico as the largest producer of heroin in Latin America and the Caribbean, having surpassed Colombia, the former regional leader. The 2011 World Drug Report stated that Colombia's poppy cultivation fell to 356 hectares in 2009, compared to Mexico's 19,500 hectares. However, DEA sources have told InSight Crime that the majority of heroin that they observe entering the US is, in fact, Colombian, making these estimates about Colombia's supposed dwindling production seem questionable.

In both countries, the heroin trade is largely controlled by smaller trafficking cells as opposed to major transnational criminal organizations. These big structures are involved in the trade only indirectly. In Mexico, for example, organizations such as the Sinaloa and Gulf Cartels charge smaller groups to use trafficking corridors and their links in distribution markets such as the US. In Colombia, the trade relies largely on drug mules employed by smaller groups, which operate predominantly out of Colombia's southwest city of Cali.

A major difference between the two countries is in the quality of heroin produced. Mexican gangs typically traffic "black tar" heroin that is about 40 percent pure. In contrast, Colombian heroin is of far higher purity, reaching 90 percent.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

HUMAN RIGHTS / 12 AUG 2016

Mexico will not be able to rein in runaway organized crime until it addresses the links between Mexican authorities and…

EXTORTION / 3 APR 2014

The execution-style murder of an employee at a public university in Mexico has shed light on the extortion of staff…

ELITES AND CRIME / 18 APR 2019

US authorities have charged a Guatemalan presidential candidate with soliciting campaign funds from Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.