Customs seizes 38 tons of precursor chemicals in Manzanillo

According to the federal government, joint actions between the Tax Administration Service (SAT), the Secretary of the Navy of Mexico and the Attorney General's Office (PGR) seized approximately 38 tons of precursor chemicals, which arrived at the port of Manzanillo on a ship from Shanghai, China.

The boat was carrying two ISOtanks, whose contents, according to the import permit was Benzyl Salicylate. However, after performing  laboratory tests the contents were identified as Ethyl Phenylacetate, a chemical precursor used in the process of making methamphetamine (crystal meth). Each of the tanks, which were destined for Mexico City, contained about 19,000 kilos of the substance.

NOTE: An ISO Tank is a term used to describe a steel "pill shaped" container within a standard ISO (International Standards Organization) frame. 20' x 8' x 8'6" is the most standard size found within the US. This tank container is used to haul up to 6,600 gal or 25,000L of bulk liquid. The products can range from food-grade products such as orange juice or wine to hazardous chemicals such as hydrochloric acid.

In addition to the amount above, more than 590 tons of precursor chemicals have been seized by Mexico's customs in the Calderon administration, roughly half of it arriving in the port of Manzanillo.

Such seizures are achieved through the strengthening of security measures in the country's customs, and through better trained customs agents, who have been taught how to recognize and identify different types of drugs and their precursor chemicals.

In 2007 more than 23.5 tons of cocaine were seized in the port of Manzanillo, and in 2008 close to $22.4 million in cash were intercepted from trade operations between Mexican and Colombian cartels.  Last March 2010, more than 80 tons of precursor chemical in 400 barrels was confiscated by authorities of the port.

Mexico's navy has also seized a homemade submarine carrying a drug shipment off the Pacific coast in Manzanillo, and arrested its four-man crew. These homemade subs are capable of carrying 9 tons of drugs; in this case, 5 tons of cocaine was seized.