With US authorities battling stateside meth makers, Mexican "superlabs" are stepping in to take advantage of a shrunken supply. Cartels are sending purer, cheaper methamphetamine across the border—so much of it that 80% of the stuff now sold in the US is from Mexico, the Drug Enforcement Administration says. "These are sophisticated, high-tech operations in Mexico that are operating with extreme precision," an agent tells the AP. The supply can be as much as 90% pure, meaning a faster, stronger high for users.
Agents seized 4,000 pounds of meth on the Southwest border in 2007; last year, that figure had jumped to 16,000 pounds. Meanwhile, the price sank from $290 per pure gram to less than $90—a 69% drop. Production in Mexico has reached an "industrial scale," the AP notes, and the suppliers are "marketing geniuses," says a DEA agent. They're drawing in new customers by slashing prices as purity increases, boosting addiction. What's more, the drug is turning up more frequently in cities. While rural areas still get their supply from within the US, authorities are seeing Mexican meth in cities from Dallas to Salt Lake City. And that could mean more gang violence, officials say.