WASHINGTON (AP) — The Drug Enforcement Administration and the government of Mexico are pledging increased cooperation in attacking illegal methamphetamine production.
Under an agreement announced Thursday, the DEA and Mexico will bolster intelligence sharing and joint law enforcement training efforts.
Mexico has experienced a dramatic increase in seizures of clandestine methamphetamine labs in the past two years. Last year, seizures of meth along the Southwest U.S. border totaled more than 16,000 pounds.
Maribel Cervantes, the general commissioner of Mexico's federal police, said the recent increase in the production and consumption of designer drugs is both a security and a health problem that demands immediate attention by both governments.
DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart said it is essential for the two countries to target the problem, with the majority of methamphetamine in the U.S. being produced by Mexican drug organizations operating on both sides of the border.
Mexico's Attorney General Marisela Morales said the memo of cooperation is the first international agreement that will help fight the manufacturing of synthetic drugs in clandestine laboratories.
In March, authorities in San Jose, Calif., seized 750 pounds of methamphetamine with a street value of $34 million. The DEA called it one of the largest domestic methamphetamine seizures in history.
Underscoring the growth in the spread of methamphetamine, the U.S. Treasury Department in April for the first time designated individuals as chemical traffickers. In an effort to stem the flow of drugs nationally and internationally, the Treasury Department in the past 12 years has designated more than 1,000 individuals and entities linked to drug kingpins.
The newly designated chemical traffickers are Figueroa Vasquez and Figueroa Gomez, who allegedly lead an international chemical trafficking organization. According to the Treasury Department, they import multi-ton quantities of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine into Mexico from Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. The chemicals from the pair's organization go to major Mexican drug trafficking organizations and are used to manufacture methamphetamine in Mexico for distribution in the United States, the DEA said.
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