Mexican Drug Traffickers Pushing Liquid Meth Across Border

By McCarton Ackerman 06/17/14

Smugglers have disguised meth as tequila, laundry detergent, and even apple juice.

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Mexican drug traffickers are continuing to find new ways to transport meth into the country, this time by disguising it in liquid form.

The liquid meth is placed in tequila bottles or detergent containers and then further dissolved in a solution in order to remain inconspicuous to agents when crossing the border. Once deep inside California, meth cooks can evaporate the liquid and use chemicals such as acetone to make crystals. Although liquid meth itself isn’t a particularly new concept, border agents have acknowledged that more of it has been appearing in recent years.

"There's no end to the creativity to getting the drug to market when there's demand,” said Eric L. Olson, a Latin America researcher at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington D.C.

Mike Prado, resident agent in charge of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigation's Fresno office, said that many of the meth conversion labs in the city are in densely populated apartment buildings, many of which have children residing in them. This can be especially dangerous because the repercussions can be fatal when the meth cooking goes wrong. In 2012, a home in the city was blown off its foundation due to a meth explosion.

Although it’s unclear just how much liquid meth makes its way across the border, border officials have been able to seize many shipments when they cross into the U.S. Last month in San Bernardino, investigators arrested two men and seized 206 pounds of crystal meth and 250 gallons of the liquid. This amount of product would be capable of producing 1,250 pounds of crystals with a street value of $7.2 million.

Some of the meth doesn’t even make its way across the border. Last year, a 16-year-old boy from Mexico died after taking a huge chug of liquid meth in order to prove to officials the liquid he possessed was apple juice.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.