Comments Off on Liquid Methamphetamine Smuggling Increases at California Borders; Conversion Lab Uncovered In San Diego Area

buckets of meth2The discovery of a meth lab in a San Diego-area condo complex last week was an unusual find for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and highlights a growing trend of drug smugglers.

DEA agents discovered the first large-scale liquid meth conversion lab in the San Diego area on Nov. 13.

While conducting a drug bust at 754 Broadway in Chula Vista, agents seized more than 100 pounds of methamphetamine and found what they believe is the first meth lab of its kind in the county.

“The conversion laboratory was right near the border in Chula Vista. That is unusual. We don’t usually see that. They’re usually further up inland in the LA County area and not near the border”, said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) Karen Flowers.

A DEA chemist who did not want her identity revealed told NBC 7 smugglers are simply dissolving the drug in various solvents – water, alcohol and even gasoline to name a few.

“When it’s dissolved in alcohol, it’s then repackaged in the alcohol bottle and resealed at the top,” the chemist said. “We’ve seen it smuggled in gasoline tanks. So you’d see the gasoline in the bottom layer and the liquid meth in the top layer.”

Flowers said liquid meth is more difficult to detect than when it’s in its crystal form. The reason is because it can be hidden in something as common as a water bottle.

Once the substance in its dissolved form crosses the border, it’s then dried out at a conversion lab and converted to the crystal form most drug users are used to seeing.

Huge, icicle-like crystals make the product appear more valuable to drug users, even though in reality that may not be the case.

“I’ve been in law enforcement for 23 years and this is the first time I’ve seen a finished product in that state,” Flowers said. “To see it that pristine. I think the end user will see that and pay a high premium for that.”

Flowers said two cups of dissolved meth can make about one cup of meth, which could then sell for between $3,500 to $9,000 on the streets.

Flowers says the agency is using a multi-layered agency approach to combat the problem. The DEA specifically is looking to dismantle drug organizations that manufacture and smuggle illegal substances, meth in particular.

According to the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), a record number of at-risk adults in San Diego County are using illicit drugs – mostly notably marijuana and methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine use among male arrestees has been climbing steadily. In 2013, 41 % of them tested positive for meth, representing a considerable jump from 2012 (31%).

To report meth abuse or activity in your area, visit the DEA website where you can e-mail an anonymous tip or contact the San Diego DEA division directly.

Citizens can also call the San Diego County Methamphetamine Hotline at 877-NO2-METH or 877-662-6384.







Comments are closed.