Mexico's authorities seized more than 54 tons of precursor chemicals, used to produce methamphetamine, in the Pacific port city of Manzanillo.
The 320 barrels of monomethylamine arrived in four containers on a ship coming from China.
This marks the latest in a series of major chemical seizures, often hidden in cargo from China, made in Manzanillo, Colima state. Some 38 tons of precursor chemicals were seized in April, 80 tons were discovered on two different occasions in May 2010, and 20 tons were confiscated in September 2009.
While Mexican authorities have improved their record on combating the traffic of precursor chemicals, the size of the shipments has also led analysts to wonder how much is getting through undetected.
Mexican authorities have also uncovered evidence of official collaboration with criminal groups in Manzanillo. Within a week of the second bust in May 2010, Mexican marines arrested the port’s harbormaster for links to organized crime.
Manzanillo has traditionally been used by the Sinaloa Cartel and subsidiary groups as a port of entry for precursor chemicals. The situation changed with the July 2010 death of Ignacio Coronel, who was also known as the “King of Ice” (a slang term for methamphetamine). He controlled the region’s drug trafficking and production in Sinaloa, and since then the region encompassing Jalisco, Colima, and Nayarit has been in dispute, with a number of different national gangs and regional subgroups, often representing the larger networks, competing for control.
The seizure comes days after Mexico's authorities discovered a huge methamphetamine production lab in the southern state of Chiapas.