Drug Warriors Encourage Mexican Meth Makers to Sharpen Their Chemistry Skills

Seven years ago, before Congress tried to Combat Meth by imposing nationwide limits on sales of cold and allergy remedies containing pseudoephedrine, I noted that you don't need pseudoephedrine to make meth. Now The Texas Tribune reports that the crackdown on pseudoephedrine, which has helped Mexican cartels expand their share of the meth market, is encouraging them to use production methods based on other precursors:

"The Mexicans have moved to an old recipe that existed in the '70s and '80s that is called P2P [for phenyl-2-propanone]," said Jane C. Maxwell, a senior research scientist at the Addiction Research Institute at the Center for Social Work Research at the University of Texas at Austin.

"It uses precursors that have been banned in the U.S. since the 1980s, but the Mexicans have taken up making it,” Maxwell said of ingredients — including a substance called propanone — used to make the drug. "They are making it in mass quantities, and they are damn good chemists."

The old recipe became popular again after Mexico banned the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, the common ingredients that had been used to make the narcotic. But Mexicans have become increasingly adept at using the old recipe for the drug, which Maxwell likened to a weed in a garden that won’t go away.

In the second quarter of 2010, only 50 percent of Drug Enforcement Administration lab samples of seizures were from the P2P process. But that increased to 85 percent during the third quarter of 2011.

The prevalence of meth production in Mexico was driven home this month when authorities reportedly seized 15 tons of meth on the outskirts of the city of Guadalajara, a known stronghold of Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

"This is a cyclical drug. If you pass a precursor bill it goes down, and then it comes back up again," Maxwell said. "The lesson on this is that we can’t congratulate ourselves for doing away with pseudoephedrine. People keep looking for other recipes."

The utterly predictable adaptability of the black market is, of course, one of the major arguments against prohibition. More narrowly, it shows the pointlessness of the cost imposed on American consumers by restricting access to a cheap, safe, and effective decongestant. Even if you accept the goals of the war on drugs as legitimate, treating cold and allergy sufferers like potential criminals has not advanced them at all and may in fact have increased the hazards associated with domestic meth production. The obvious solution: compound this gratuitous burden by requiring prescriptions for pseudoephedrine. 

I noted the record 15-ton meth seizure two weeks ago.

[Thanks to Vic McDonald for the tip.]

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  • sarcasmic||

    double post

  • sarcasmic||

    double post

  • sarcasmic the spoofer||


  • juris imprudent||

    tap-tap........ tap

  • Better Title ||

    Congress Creates Thousands of Lucrative Jobs for Unemployed Organic Chemistry Majors in Third World Country

  • ||

    The utterly predictable adaptability of the black market is, of course, one of the major arguments against prohibition.

    And equally utterly predictable is the MSM ignoring that fact. Did the article ever take a break from regurgitating government statements and government-funded researchers' statements to wonder aloud why we're playing Whac-A-Drug like a fat little kid at Chuck E Cheese?

  • Paul||

    Whac-A-Drug like a fat little kid at Chuck E Cheese?

    The drug warriors are combatting obesity, too. So it all comes together in one, grand unifying prohibitionisism.

  • A Serious Man||

    Reminds me of last night's Archer where Archer and Ray go to West Virginia to save Ray's drug farming brother from the sheriff.

    (opens barn to show state of the art pot farm)
    Ray: Jesus Randy, how the hell did you afford this?
    Randy: Farm subsidies from the Federal government. They think I'm growing corn for corn syrup, but damned if I'm going to contribute to the obesity epidemic.
    Archer: Man's got to have his principles.

  • Paul||

    Archer, best show since Venture Bros.

  • Hugh Akston||

    You just killed any desire I might have had to check it out. Thanks.

  • ||

    You have no place here, Hugh. Go.

  • ||

    I've told him that about 100 times. it doesn't do any good.

  • Paul||

    You just killed any desire I might have had to check it out. Thanks.

    Hugh, if there was ever a time when I needed you to not be Hugh...

  • Robert||

    Any cx to Spade & Archer?

  • Zeb||

    Meth is pretty good at combating obesity. These people need to be more creative.

  • o3||

    death combats obesity too & that's where meth abuse leads unlike pot.

  • ||

    Yep -- abuse, not use.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Millions of Americans have used meth. Millions. So where are all the corpses?

  • o3||

    millions havent ABUSED meth which is what i wrote.

  • Meth Abuser||

    This one time, I bought some meth, and I took it home and tried to smoke it and it got all mouthy with me and shit. It started to cop an attitude, so I slapped it around a bit, called it some awful names, and then touched it inappropriately... and now I'm dead.

  • Combaticus||


  • Drug War Einstein||

    "So it all comes together in one, grand unifying prohibitionisism."

    Membrane Prohibitionism Theory

  • Tim||

    "I noted the record 15-ton meth seizure two weeks ago."

    You note fifteen tons what do you get?
    Another day older and deeper in debt.

  • ||

    So as part of the G.U.T., are we saying that, at the sub-legislative level, all laws are made up by various combinations of quirks?

  • A Serious Man||

    ::bring bring:: Hello, markets? It's government, you win.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Ha-ha...as if they'd ever admit that.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I think its kind of fascinating how by the shear volume of business they are engaged in, they could almost afford now to create a black market legitimization of the industry. Like soon they will start organizing conferences and publishing professional journals.

  • juris imprudent||

    "It's a cookbook!"

  • Paul||

    More, harder prohibitioning is required.

  • juris imprudent||

    Double secret prohibition?

  • Pro||

    Uninhibited prohibition.

  • ||

    I saw, earlier this morning, what appeared to a a drug dog search of some guy's pick up truck in progress. Making America safer. Yay!

    One more reason to *not* keep a gun in the car.

  • Paul||

    That's for bombs and terrorists. Paid for by homeland security dollars. But, you know, if they just happen to find some drugs in the process, well then...

  • Zeb||

    The local guys don't seem to be shy about openly searching for drugs.

  • ||

    No, you should have the gun on your person.

  • Killazonthrun||

    . More narrowly, it shows the pointlessness of the cost imposed on American consumers by restricting access to a cheap, safe, and effective decongestant.

    Never hit the brakes. The life you save may be that of a politician.

  • Franklin Harris||

    While the music played
    you worked by candlelight.
    those San Francisco Nights.
    You were the best in town.


  • Tim||

    Now that the drug dealers have moved on we can have our sinus pills back, right?

  • ||

    Quit being soft on crime, you fucking terrorist sonofabitch!

  • 8===D ()||

    I'd love to have a hard on for crime, but not tonight dear because I have a sinus headache.

  • ||


    Good news. The 11th Circuit ruled that decrypting your hard drive is protected under the 5th Amendment.

  • ||

    That link isn't working for me. Did you mean "encrypt", John?

  • Tim||

    John's the CryptKeeper...

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    I think he means being forced to decrypt your hard drive is a violation of the fifth and the right to not incriminate yourself.

  • ||

    Works for me. What did the Volkh Conspiracy ban you for posting all those rants against the agricultural city state?

  • ||

    You're on to me!

    If it's the right to not have to decrypt your drive, that's awesome. But even so: fuck you, I forgot the encryption key. Oops.

  • ||

    It is great. But it is a strange case. I need to read it. I can't figure out how the hell the government ever got a warrant. Or maybe I am just out of date with that whole probable cause warrant thingy.

  • LarryA||

    "Probable cause" = "If we write up a warrant it will probably cause the judge to sign it."

  • ||

    The guys at Volokh were saying that they can just keep you in jail until you remember if the judge doesn't believe you.

  • ||

    One of the comments points to a puzzling footnote in the opinion.

    Here, in contrast, the Government does not know whether any files are present on the encrypted drive; if any, what their location on the drive may be; whether Doe has access and control to the encrypted drives; and whether Doe is capable of decryption.”

    How the hell did they get a search warrant for the drive in the first place?

  • ||


    Here is the link to the actual opinion, so that those gambolers among you who are no longer allowed on Volkh can see it as well.

    And Volkh has a great comment.

    Wait, what if your password is “I can’t remember what I used as the password!”? Can you really be convicted of lying to a federal officer if he asks for your password?

  • ||

    what if your password is “I can’t remember what I used as the password!”

    then your password would be vulnerable to dictionary-based cracking?

  • ||

    Only cabinet officials are permitted to have memory lapses when talking to federal investigators.

  • Dekedin||

    People are crafty. Politicians fundamentally misunderstand OChem; you can theoretically make anything from anything if you've got the capital. And the cartels already have enough to invest in new processes to circumvent the bans. Unless you want to ban any compound with a benzene ring, the price of meth will never rise significantly.

  • a postmodernist professor||

    Why bother learning OChem? All that sciency stuff has no applicability to the real world, unlike what I teach.

  • Pedant||

    Let's deconstruct that thought now shall we!

  • Shmenge||

    Looks like these guys took lessons from Walter White.

  • Shmenge||

    I swear that picture wasn't there when I posted.

  • fish||

    Addiction Research Institute at the Center for Social Work Research at the University of Texas at Austin.

    It's the small building between the Ministry of Truth and the Ministry of Love.

  • ||

    "Maxwell said of ingredients — including a substance called propanone — used to make the drug."
    LOL! The common name for "propanone" is "acetone". When are they going to ban that?

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Not only am I still offering a punch in the face to any politician who'll come to a party I'm attending and admit to voting for the cold-med signature thing, but I will now formally extend the offer to those who lobbied for it as well.

    But wait, there's more!

    If you call now I'll throw in a kick in the crotch for free!

    Just pay separate shipping and handling to the tune of $25.

  • ||

    Negro y Azul, amigo, Negro y Azul.


  • Tim||

    Can I have my fucking decongestants that work back.


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