Amid Record Meth Seizures at Border, a 'Clear Trend'

Would-be smugglers are strapping it to their bodies, says official
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2015 9:34 AM CST
Amid Record Meth Seizures at Border, a 'Clear Trend'
This May 28, 2014, photo released by the State of California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General, shows a methamphetamine conversion lab in San Bernardino County, Calif.   (AP Photo/State of California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General)

Stashed in gas tanks, fire extinguishers, even wheels of cheese—those were some of the ways drug runners tried and failed in fiscal 2014 to smuggle methamphetamine through ports at the California-Mexico border, where meth seizures reached record levels, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. According to US Customs and Border Protection, 14,732 pounds of the drug were confiscated by the San Diego field office through the year ending Sept. 30; that's 63% of seizures of the drug at all US ports of entry. Although San Diego County was once known as the world's meth manufacturing capital—in 1985, a DEA official told the AP that San Diego "is to crystal meth what Bogota, Colombia, is to cocaine," the Los Angeles Times reported last year—the DEA now says that 90% of the meth used in the US is made in Mexico, with much of it passing through San Diego.

A CPB director tells the Union-Tribune that meth usually makes its way into the US in smaller packages and that the "clear trend … [is] toward pedestrian body carriers in the last couple of years." Those who don't stuff a bundle under their sweatshirts are hiding contraband in harder-to-search places like car transmissions or batteries. Some are even turning the meth into liquid, masking it as gas, juice, or wiper fluid, then converting it back once they're in the US. Records from the San Diego medical examiner show that 267 people died meth-related deaths in 2013, so the county remains motivated to curb meth infiltration. "Meth cases continue to represent the largest part of our drug prosecutions," a spokeswoman for the San Diego US Attorney's Office tells the Union-Tribune. (This story involving liquid meth didn't end well.)

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