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Mexico makes historic methamphetamine seizure

MEXICO CITY - Mexican troops have made an historic seizure of 15 tons of pure methamphetamine in the western state of Jalisco, the Mexican army said in a statement released late Wednesday.

The find was more than four times the size of a major seizure last summer of 3.4 tons and more than twice the total amount of the drug seized in Mexico in 2009, according to United Nations statistics.


No one could say late Wednesday what the largest seizure was previously in Mexico.

Soldiers discovered the huge cache in the town of Tlajomulco de Zuniga, a suburb of Mexico's second-largest city, Guadalajara.

The statement reported by The Associated Press had no other details but said it would publicly present the seizure on Thursday. Spokesmen answering the phone at the army's base in Guadalajara refused to comment further, the AP said.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said total meth seizures worldwide were 31 metric tons in 2009, the most recent figures they have available.

Cross-border methamphetamine trade booms amid Mexico's 'war on drugs'

There has been an increasing flow of methamphetamines to the United States from Mexico, the the primary source of the drug sold in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Much of the increase is attributed to Mexico's powerful Sinaloa Cartel, headed by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who the U.S. Treasury Department calls the most powerful drug trafficker in the world.

Jalisco state has long been considered the hub of Sinaloa's methamphetamine trafficking, though the army statement didn't indicate which Mexican cartel may have been involved.

The Sinaloa cartel is suspected of smuggling in mammoth amounts of precursor chemicals that are used produce meth in industrial-size operations.

It is thought to be using "front" businesses in the United States to launder its funds, Jennifer Shasky, of the Department of Justice's Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section told Congress on Wednesday, according to Mexican newspaper Excelsior. (Link in Spanish)

The Sinaloa cartel also appears to be extending its massive production of methamphetamine into neighboring Guatemala, where remote, isolated mountains and an alliance with a key Guatemalan trafficker are making the Central American nation a new international meth production base.

Mexican authorities seized 675 tons of a key precursor chemical in December alone, and all of it was heading for Guatemala.

Msnbc.com staff and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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