Illegal Drugs Continue to Pour in from Mexico

By Matthew Harwood

This week, a congressional hearing addressed the continuing problems of methamphetamine abuse in the United States and how most of the drug entered the country by way of Mexico.

Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report confirming the testimony, saying that despite gains, tons of illegal drugs still flow across the border. Drug seizures have been infrequent and small.

For instance, since 2000:

  • It is estimated 275 metric tons of cocaine crossed into the United States from Mexico each year.  Law enforcement seized 36 metric tons a year on average
  • Export quality heroin and marijuana produced in Mexico averaged 19 and 9,400 metric tons annually. Heroin and marijuana seizures averaged one metric ton and 2,900 metric tons a year annually.
  • The export of methamphetamine into the United States exploded as indicated by the more than fivefold increase in seizures according to U.S. officials.

According to the report, Mexican drug traffickers operate along the border with relative impunity, but there has been signs of progress on the Mexican side: extraditions of criminals associated with the drug trade have increased; thousands of Mexican law enforcement officials have been trained; and controls on the chemical precursors used to make methamphetamine have been strengthened.

But cooperation with the Mexican government can still be strengthened more, the GAO stressed.

The watchdog recommends the United States broker an agreement to allow U.S. law enforcement to board Mexican vessels suspected of drug trafficking, revive an aerial monitoring program after it was suspended due to personnel status disagreements with the Mexican government, and also have all relevant U.S. agencies coordinate together and with the Mexican government before finishing the Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy, a multi-agency effort to stop drug trafficking along the southwest border with Mexico.


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