3 tons of key methamphetamine ingredient seized at LAX
The two shipments of methylamine chloride, a controlled substance used in the manufacture of pesticides, solvents and pharmaceutical products, originated in China. They were accurately labeled but lacked the required paperwork from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
“It raised a bunch of red flags,” said Jaime Ruiz, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “It was huge. They didn’t have any permits.”
Testing confirmed the contents of the 80 plastic bags stacked on pallets, which arrived in LAX air cargo April 19 and 23. If used to make meth, it had a street value of $40 million, authorities said.
Border agents are seeing more air and sea shipments of the chemical, as opposed to land smuggling.
“Now it seems like the cartels are using other methods,” said Ruiz, adding that the 5,700-pound seizure of methylamine chloride is “one of the biggest so far out of LAX.”
Corrosive and flammable, the white powdery substance is also used to make the drug ecstasy.
-- Bettina Boxall
Photo: Federal officers seized bags containing 5,700 pounds of methylamine chloride, a chemical used to make methamphetamine. Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection.