Mezcal shipment seized for hiding liquid meth
Mexican marines uncovered 7,200 Mezcal bottles at Manzanillo Port, which were filled with liquid methamphetamine rather than the agave spirit.
On Wednesday 19 July, marines working at Mexico’s busy Manzanillo Port in Colima uncovered a large meth shipment bound for Australia.
The meth was found in a container on board a Liberian ship; the drugs stash concealed in bottles labelled with the fictional brand name Mezcal Social and their contents marked as ‘artisanal mezcal’.
Upon further inspection, the bottles were found to contain 9.5 tons of liquid meth.
Last April, Mexican officials at the same port intercepted a single haul of 11,520 Tequila bottles filled with almost 10 tons of liquid meth. The contraband was also headed for Australia.
So far this year, Mexican marines have seized more than 124 tons of meth across the country.
Manzanillo Port is one of the biggest ports in Mexico, responsible for handling Pacific Ocean cargo. Mexican cartels have been found to be smuggling concentrated liquid meth across international waters before processing it into a solid, crystalline form at its destination. The final product weighs considerably less than its liquid form.
Links between the Tequila industry and Mexican cartels have been reported for some time.
In 2020, Mexico News Daily claimed that some Tequila brands are “allies for narcos” and helping cartels to launder drugs money.
The news outlet reported that the federal government in Mexico, via its Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF), had frozen the bank accounts of 1,770 people and 167 businesses linked to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) through a money-laundering network of companies posing as vendors of Tequila.
Accounts containing a total of US$1.1 billion were frozen after the operation, dubbed “Blue Agave”, was carried out.
Looking further back, in 2006 the United States Department of the Treasury claimed that Tequila company 4 Reyes helped the Tijuana Cartel to launder drugs money in both Mexico and the US.
America’s Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) also discovered cocaine brought into the US in trucks transporting bottles of Tequila. It reported that two Tequila companies were fronts for the criminal organisation known as Los Güeros.