Sunday, May 19, 2024

Mexican Navy had record year of illicit drug seizures in 2023

2023 was a year of record drug seizures for the Mexican Navy, with historic amounts of several different types of illegal drugs reported seized.

The Navy seized 48.1 metric tonnes of cocaine during the year, compared to 56.4 tonnes during the entire previous four years of President López Obrador’s administration, and 40 tonnes seized during the administration of former President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Meth seizures shot up tenfold in 2023, as the drug is increasingly produced in Mexico. (@SEMAR_mx/X)

In a statement, the Naval Ministry (Semar) said that most of these seizures were made on 155 small vessels intercepted at sea, while another 251 kilograms were seized by naval personnel working in ports, and 8 kilograms in airports.

The drug vessels encountered included three sophisticated semi-submersibles. In June, a 26-meter narco-submarine was intercepted off the coast of Baja California carrying 3.5 tonnes of cocaine — the largest such vessel detected in the last five years.

Meanwhile, Navy personnel seized 367,239 tonnes of methamphetamine on land — 9.6 times the total amount seized in the previous four years — and 604,183 tonnes of chemical precursors, 16.2 times more than the previous four years’ seizures. Most of this came from 189 clandestine drug laboratories dismantled in Durango and Sinaloa, with smaller amounts seized in ports and airports.

In addition, the Semar seized 101.8 tonnes of cargo containing cocaine and 55 tonnes of cargo containing methamphetamine, in various ports around the country. Notable cases included the interception of 11,250 bottles of liquid meth disguised as tequila in the port of Manzanillo in April.

The huge increase in meth seizures during 2023 reflects the fact that Mexico has become one of the largest producers of the drug in the world, according to the United Nations World Drug Report. Most is manufactured in clandestine laboratories in states such as Sinaloa and Jalisco.

Marijuana seizures in 2023 were 1.4 times higher than the total of the previous four years, with 55,915 tonnes seized. Navy personnel also destroyed 159 marijuana plantations containing more than ten million plants. Marijuana’s legal status in Mexico is ambiguous: The Supreme Court (SCJN) ruled in 2019 that its prohibition was unconstitutional and has ordered Congress to pass legislation legalizing the drug, which the legislature has failed to do.

Finally, the Navy also seized 335,241 liters of suspected stolen fuel and arrested 2,375 people for drug crimes.

2023 was the second year in a row that has seen a sharp increase in drug seizures by the Navy. Besides booming drug flows through Mexico, this is likely also due to the force taking on expanded security roles since 2021 and heightened pressure from the United States to crack down on the illegal drug trade.

Mexico News Daily

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