Police announced the arrest of seven people and the seizure of 80 barrels of precursor chemicals, reportedly aimed at setting up a methamphetamine lab in Nicaragua, one sign that the industry could be spreading outside of Mexico.
The 4,400 gallons of chemicals in the barrels included acetone, a key ingredient for meth production, reports El Nuevo Diario.
Police are reportedly investigating 13 people linked to the primitive lab, including two Mexicans.
Police spokesperson Glenda Zavela said that trafficking organizations have been trying to introduce meth to Nicaragua since 2011.
InSight Crime Analysis
Mexico is still the region’s primary producer of meth, the supplier of up to 80 percent of the meth consumed in the US. But as a 2011 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report observed, seizures of precursor chemicals in other Central American countries are rising, and meth labs are appearing in some countries where there was previously no history of meth production. Nicaragua discovered its first methaphetamine lab in 2009.
Even though the US State Department has identified Nicaragua as a “producer and supplier of methaphetamine,” so far the problem appears to be relatively limited. Nicaragua has taken several steps to try and combat the issue, passing a law in April 2011 that restricts the importation, production, and distribution of phenyl acetic acid, a key precursor chemical for meth.