Person wearing protective suit holding pink substance in gloved hands (© Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images)
A Mexican Army expert in protective gear displays crystal methamphetamine seized from a clandestine laboratory in northwestern Mexico in August. (© Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images)

In one of the largest drug busts in Mexico’s history, Mexican marines, with U.S. assistance, seized and destroyed 96 tons of methamphetamine over the course of a single week in August.

That’s more than four times the amount of methamphetamine the U.S. intercepted on its southwest border in all of 2016.

“These seizures represent a significant blow to the Sinaloa Cartel,” said Rich Glenn of the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, referring to the powerful, international drug-trafficking organization in Mexico’s northwestern states.

The U.S. provided training and personal protective equipment, including gloves, coveralls and masks, to the Mexican authorities who destroyed the 96 tons of methamphetamine and 14 tons of drug-making chemicals as well.

Mérida Initiative

Illegal drugs produced in Mexico are often headed for American communities, creating crime and violence in Mexico and an epidemic of drug use in the United States. To confront this challenge, Mexico and the United States work together under a program called the Mérida Initiative.

Two people wearing white protective suits in large pit (© SEMAR Mexico Navy/Reuters)
Mexican Navy technicians with U.S. training and equipment destroyed an underground drug lab in Sinaloa state. (© SEMAR Mexico Navy/Reuters)

The U.S. has delivered $2.8 billion to the Mérida Initiative to help the Mexican government train police officers, build the skills of prosecutors to take on organized crime, raise standards of safety and security in prisons, and improve border facilities.

With Mérida Initiative support, Mexico:

  • Seized and dismantled 300 hidden drug laboratories between 2015 and 2017.
  • Exchanges information daily with U.S. law enforcement and immigration officials to identify known or suspected criminals, gang members and terrorists.
  • Has adopted national certification and accreditation standards for police, prisons and forensics institutions.