MEXICO CITY – The Mexican navy said it seized a huge consignment of chemicals used in the manufacture of synthetic drugs during an inspection at the Pacific port of Manzanillo.
The Navy Secretariat, or Semar, said Wednesday that close to 80 tons of ethyl phenyl-acetate were seized in a joint operation with the AG office and the Tax Administration Service, or SAT.
This substance, also known as phenyl-acetic acid, is one of the substitute precursors used by drug traffickers after Mexico banned imports of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.
Semar noted that on May 6 the Attorney General’s Office announced the confiscation of an equal amount of drug-precursor chemicals.
Both shipments were from China.
Mexican drug cartels use ethyl phenyl-acetate to make crystal meth and Ecstasy and in the refining process for cocaine.
The cartels frequently receive shipments through Manzanillo, where 23.5 tons of cocaine were seized in late 2007, one of the biggest drug hauls ever.
Two years ago, authorities intercepted $13 million in cash at the port. The money was found hidden in a consignment of goods bound for Colombia, the main source of cocaine for Mexican drug traffickers.
U.S. officials say Mexico’s cartels earn anywhere from $15 billion to $25 billion a year from providing drugs to consumers north of the border. EFE