Posted: Mar 2, 2012 6:22 PM
Updated: Mar 2, 2012 7:04 PM
More methamphetamine is crossing our border than ever before, and cartel experts say they expect even more to start coming through the Valley.
Meth is usually trafficked through western Mexico into states like New Mexico, Arizona and California. New seizure stats from DPS show the meth market is growing in Texas.
"A 269 percent increase in methamphetamine seizures," says Texas DPS Chief Steve McCraw.
It's a triple digit spike in the last three years. McCraw says the Mexican drug cartels are expanding their inventories.
"That's where you get the best methamphetamine," says McCraw. "They've basically put white trash out of the methamphetamine business."
DPS stats show an even bigger jump in heroin trafficking. Meth, though, might be the best investment.
"With meth, a very small amount can get you a large amount of money," says McCraw.
Ben West is a tactical analyst with STRATFOR, a global intelligence agency based out of Austin. He studies the cartels. West expects those cartels to focus more on meth production because it's easier and cheaper to make.
"It would actually take much less infrastructure than to produce cocaine or marijuana or heroin," says West.
It takes thousands of acres to grow those drugs. Cartels can manufacture tons of meth in a small lab.
Last month, authorities busted a lab in Guadalajara with 15 tons of meth inside. It's the largest meth seizure in Mexican history.
The majority of meth used to be made by the Sinaloa Cartel in western Mexico. They would send it across the border where it would be sold on the streets in the western United States.
A DPS map shows that's changing. Meth is going everywhere. Experts predict other cartels, like the Zetas and Gulf Cartel, will start cashing in.
"This will not happen immediately because you need to create the infrastructure. They will have it very soon I would suppose," says Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a cartel expert at UT Brownsville.
Cabrera says that means more meth will cross into the Valley. She says meth is too good of an investment for other cartels to pass up.
"The Rio Grande Valley is going to be a really interesting place to watch," says Cabrera.
West says the cartels operating in this area will have to catch up. He wouldn't be surprised if they did because the meth business is booming.
West says meth offers cartels a unique advantage over cocaine production. They have to ship cocaine in from Central America, which costs money. They can make meth in their own back yards.