Drug laboratories operated by Mexican cartels for the elaboration of methamphetamine have not only increased their production capability and quality, but are now supplying customers beyond the North American market, according to the United Nations .

The report, which will be presented today in Vienna , shows that though the production of said drug in North America is aimed at the regional market, local groups have begun to export small amounts to other regions, including South America, Southeast Asia, East Asia, and the European Union . “It seems that some cartels trafficked methamphetamine from Mexico to other countries in Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, and Guatemala) , some Asian countries (Japan, Korea, and the Philippines) , Oceania (New Zealand) , and Europe (Spain and Belgium) between 2013 and 2017,” the document states.

“More recently, methamphetamine shipments have been intercepted on a trafficking route between Mexico and the Netherlands for distribution in Europe.”

In 2017, Mexico was one of the main suppliers of methamphetamine at the global scale, shipping mostly to New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and China . The drug market’s expansion has been accompanied by an accelerated development of drug production on an industrial scale, with improved product quality.

The U.S. is the main buyer of methamphetamine produced in Mexico. Between 2007 and 2009, the drugs being sold on the streets of the North American country registered a reduction in substance purity (90% to 60%) as a result of new methamphetamine arriving from Mexico. However, between 2013 and 2017, the stimulant regained ground, closing with a purity above or equal to 95%.

“The decrease in substance potency was compensated with an increase in purity. Afterward, organized crime groups operating in Mexico developed new methods to further purify the substance and increase potency […] all of which suggests an increased sophistication in Mexico’s methamphetamine manufacture,” the document adds.

Around 35 thousand methamphetamine labs were dismantled in 31 countries between 2013 and 2017, 90% were in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. In 2017, 184 tonnes of methamphetamine were seized at the global scale. The UN report shows that all Mexican drug cartels now include methamphetamine trade in their line of business as part of a plan to diversify their product portfolio and decrease reliance on cocaine imports from South America.

“Practically all transnational criminal organizations in Mexico are involved in smuggling methamphetamine into the United States, including the Sinaloa, Jalisco Nueva Generación, Juárez, Gulf, Los Zetas, and Beltrán Leyva cartels ,” the report shows.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has also set its eyes on cocaine trade. Mexican cartels are increasingly resorting to the Caribbean route with Asia as their primary destination.

“Most cocaine shipments arriving to Mexico are still being trafficked into the U.S. or sold locally, though data from 2017 suggests that around 4% of all drugs seized were destined for the Chinese market ,” the document states.

As for narcotic seizures, authorities have reported less cocaine shipments from Mexico into the U.S., though there has been an increase in cocaine smuggling on the Caribbean and Pacific routes .

Australia has also become an attractive market destination for Mexican drug traffickers. Due to the substance’s high profitability, each kilo of cocaine is sold at between USD$136,000 and $226,000 .

46 embarkation points for cocaine shipments to Australia were identified between 2016 and 2017, most of which were found in the U.S., followed by South Africa, Canada, and Mexico.


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