There are small “kitchens” along Mexico’s west coast that can cook up 2 kilograms of methamphetamine a week worth about $500 a kilogram. And there are super labs in the mountains churning out 100 kilograms a week at $300 a kilogram.
The average per-kilogram price by the time that methamphetamine reaches New England? Close to $20,000.
Once a drug “cooked” extensively in the U.S., meth is now manufactured mainly south of the border.
The shift was promoted by the U.S. cracking down in the 1990s and strictly regulating the precursor chemicals used to manufacture meth – a powerful stimulant that is both highly addictive and destructive, whether it is smoked, snorted or injected.
The main precursor chemical back then was ephedrine, used in cold medications, which is why consumers in the U.S. found themselves jumping through hoops to buy Sudafed.
The Mexican government followed the U.S. lead and made it harder to get ephedrine, so cartel chemists switched to a different method using a chemical called P2P (phenyl-2-propanone).
Unfortunately, there are a lot of ways to make P2P, and they are all cheap. Cartels import P2P and other chemicals from China, India and other countries.
The profit margins are staggering.
While the cartels have been known to give away samples of their product to cultivate a taste for it, the base price in Juárez is $3,500 per kilogram.
In Albuquerque, that jumps to $7,200 a kilogram if it comes from Juárez. If smuggled into Arizona first, the price can increase to as much as $9,000 a kilogram here. Depending on the purity of the kilogram, it could be broken into 10,000 hits or more.
With the cartels next door and their networks running through New Mexico, the price per kilogram here is one of the lowest in the country. In New England, for example, the average price is nearly $20,000 per kilogram.
Mexican cartel methamphetamine is high-quality stuff – about 90 percent pure.
It is smuggled in powder, crystal and liquid forms.