Methamphetamine is quickly becoming the drug of choice for Mexican cartels, according to new statistics obtained by NBC 7.
A top officer involved with border security spoke exclusively to NBC 7 about the current meth smuggling trend. Turns out, over the past few years, the number of drug seizures involving meth has increased dramatically.
“[Meth] is highly addictive. Some reports show that if you use it once, you’re already addicted,” Deputy Special Agent Jose Garcia with Homeland Security/ ICE told NBC 7.
Garcia says this addictive quality is why there is such a high demand for meth in the United States.
The special agent spends his days in charge of Homeland Security investigation. His team’s top priority is to stop drug smugglers along San Diego County’s border with Mexico.
“Eighty percent of the meth consumed in the U.S. is made and manufactured in Mexico,” explained Garcia.
According to statistics obtained by NBC 7, there’s been a drastic increase in border seizures involving meth since 2008.
In fact, last year’s total number – 642 seizures – is only about 250 less than marijuana seizures.
For years, marijuana has been the No. 1 smuggled drug -- but there’s a big downside to cartels when it comes to smuggling pot across the border.
“They have to smuggle large amounts to realize good profits," said Garcia.
However, when it comes to smuggling meth, it’s different because cartels don’t have to smuggle a lot of the drug to make a big profit.
That’s why many meth smugglers are pedestrians – who tape a few kilos to their body.
“I can tell you that some of the kids that we arrested were getting paid as little as $200,” said Garcia.
The agent says that’s exactly why the risk is not worth the reward.
"The definition of a felony is a year and a day; you could get way more than that depending on the quantity of the narcotics you were smuggling," he added.
ICE investigators say that the methamphetamine that does make it into San Diego is typically quickly taken to Los Angeles. From there, it’s transported all over the country.