Meth New Drug of Choice for Mexican Cartels

Cartels are increasingly turning from marijuana to meth when smuggling into the U.S.

Statistics suggest a disturbing trend in drug smuggling at San Diego's border with Mexico.

Meth is quickly becoming the drug of choice for Mexican cartels according to new research obtained by NBC 7 San Diego.

There’s currently a high demand for meth in the U.S.

"It's highly addictive,” said Jose Garcia, Deputy Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations. “Some reports show that if you use it once you're already addicted."

Garcia is focused on stopping smugglers along San Diego County’s border with Mexico. It’s his team’s number one priority.

"Eighty percent of the meth consumed in the US is made and manufactured in Mexico," Garcia said.

According to these new statistics obtained by NBC 7 San Diego, there has been a dramatic increase in border meth seizures since 2008.

Marijuana has been the number one smuggled drug for years. However, in 2012, 642 seizures involved meth. That’s just 250 less than seizures involving marijuana.

Marijuana presents a big downside for cartels when it comes to smuggling.

"They have to smuggle large amounts to realize good profits," Garcia said.

With meth, the cartels don't have to smuggle a lot of it to make a big profit.

That's why many smugglers are pedestrians who tape a few kilos to their body.

And as NBC 7 San Diego reported a few months ago, an increasing number are teenagers.

"I can tell you that some of the kids that we arrested were getting paid as little as $200,” Garcia said.

That's why the risk is not worth the reward.

"The definition of a felony is a year and a day,” he said. “You could get way more than that depending on the quantity of the narcotics you were smuggling."

According to ICE investigators, the meth that does make it into San Diego is quickly taken to Los Angeles. From there, it is then transported all over the country.

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