California Now the Country’s Top Methamphetamine Gateway

Recently, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris released a report detailing the state’s efforts to identify and prevent organized crime activities originating in Mexico and other countries. One of the key findings of her report is that California is now the country’s major point of entry for methamphetamine manufactured by Mexican cartels. While the report praises the current efforts of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and state law enforcement, it is likely that the investigation and prosecution of crimes involving methamphetamine – including manufacturing, trafficking and money laundering – will be a point of emphasis in the coming year.

Given California’s geographic location, it is not surprising that foreign organized crime groups would target the state as a primary point of entry into the U.S. What is surprising, however, is the scale of their efforts: the report, entitled “Gangs Beyond Borders: California and the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime,” estimates that about 70 percent of methamphetamine in the U.S. enters the country through California. Much of this smuggling occurs on the border with Mexico, though maritime smuggling is also a significant problem. From 2009 to 2013, agents at the port of San Diego captured approximately 13,200 pounds of methamphetamine. In 2013, agents in south Texas captured only 2,200 pounds.

One of the primary factors leading to the large amount of drugs entering the country through California is the rise of the Sinaloa cartel in Baja. This group actively imports the chemicals used in methamphetamine manufacture from India and China. Experts believe that the cartel has industrial labs set up in Baja where they can manufacture the drug on a large scale. The border with California provides a convenient entry point into the U.S., which is the largest market for these drugs.

The problem is not confined to southern California, however. Although much of the methamphetamine enters the state through San Diego, the report notes that groups further refine the drug at labs located in rural areas throughout the state.

Attorney General Harris is planning on meeting with Mexican law enforcement officials and the attorneys general from other states in Mexico City later this spring. They are expected to discuss plans to step up efforts to stop the flow of methamphetamine into California.

If you have been arrested for a drug crime, do not delay: speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Crimes involving the manufacture, possession or trafficking of drugs such as methamphetamine carry the possibility of serious penalties.