California has become the nation’s top entry for methamphetamine coming into the country, with over 70 percent of the U.S. supply of the drug being brought across the border into the Golden State by Mexican drug cartels, a new report states.
The report, entitled “Gangs Beyond Borders: California and the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime” and released by California state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris, details the growing criminal alliances between Mexico’s drug cartels and California’s street gangs along with revealing that maritime smuggling and money laundering are viewed as major public safety concerns in the state.
“The harm done by transnational criminal organizations to communities all across California is hard to overstate,” the report states. “Not only do these organizations threaten public health by driving the supply and distribution of harmful narcotics, but their alliances with violent prison and street gangs have sparked a rash of violence in a period of otherwise declining criminal activity.”
While drug enforcement on the U.S. borders is mainly dealt with by the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies, state and local agencies have stepped up enforcement along the border regions in recent years.
"State and local law enforcement officers are on the front lines of this fight every day," Harris said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "Our response must include sustained funding for their work and strong coordination at all levels of government."
The report details the rise of methamphetamine coming across the California-Mexico border, with the amount seized coming through the San Diego Port of Entry tripling between 2009 and 2013, to more than 6,000 kilos, or 13,200 pounds.
The Los Angeles Times cites the rise to power of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico’s Baja California state as the main reason for this rise in the drug’s prevalence in California. The Sinaloa Cartel formerly headed by captured drug boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán imports precursor chemicals from China and India, refines the drug in Mexican superlabs and then brings it in vehicles into San Diego.
The drugs are also not staying just in California’s border region but making its way to the state’s Central Valley and northern sections before heading to other parts of the U.S.
Eleven people were arrested in January in a Modesto-area drug bust of a ring that had ties to the Sinaloa Cartel.
Two ranches in Stanislaus County were among the searched properties. During their investigation into the drug trafficking scheme, agents found meth, five indoor marijuana grow operations, nearly 60 pounds of processed marijuana and more than $20,000 in cash.
Officers believe the organization was growing marijuana and distributing methamphetamine. Evidence found Wednesday morning leads them to believe the group was using sophisticated methods to hide and smuggle the drugs, including in hollowed out trucks, with hidden compartments.