Thursday, January 26, 2012

On Meth's Growing Importance to the Mexican Drug Trade

Sorta new piece here. Highlights:
The location of the clandestine laboratories suggests that the Mexican production of synthetic drugs is dominated by the same group that has long towered over the industry as a whole: the Sinaloa Cartel. The organization led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, has long been the strongest criminal group along the Pacific coast region, as well as one of the most innovative in producing and smuggling drugs. It’s also noteworthy that the regions under the control of their biggest enemies, the Zetas, have comparatively little synthetic drug production.

This state of affairs seems unlikely to last. The Sinaloa Cartel has more experience at the production levels of the supply chain than many rival organizations, but the relative simplicity of synthetic drug production suggests that other gangs will inevitably eat into their market share. Furthermore, because there is no inherent geographic benefit to one region or another for producing synthetic drugs -- unlike marijuana and poppy, which are ideally suited to the remote mountain ranges of western Mexico -- a long-term shift toward synthetic drugs could eat into the natural advantages that the Sinaloa-based traffickers enjoy.

While there are a great deal of factors driving the violence in Mexico, it also seems logical that the greater amount of money at stake with synthetic production could encourage more bloodshed. Indeed, it is unlikely to be a coincidence that the rise in synthetic production has occurred alongside the notorious spike in Mexican violence. Insofar as the shift toward synthetic drugs is permanent, it will likely make the recent wave of violence more difficult to rein in.

Also, the always essential Alejandro Hope has a new piece (translated into English) here.


Richard said...

Seeing those never identified "precursor chemicals" all come from China, Mongolia and India, the Pacific coast criminal gangs do have a geographical edge over the others and may even see it to their advantage to prevent industrial decentralization in this particular field.

pc said...

They definitely have an advantage geographically, though I don't think they are ultimately in a position to do much to prevent competitors from emerging, if that is what you mean by industrial decentralization.

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