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Monday, January 13, 2014

The Chinese Connection

From Borderland Beat:

Two Hong Kong triads have linked up with one of Latin America's largest and most notorious drug cartels to supply the burgeoning global market for methamphetamine, the Sunday Morning Post has learned.Members of the 14K and Sun Yee On triads are supplying Mexico's Sinaloa cartel with the raw materials needed to produce methamphetamine, or "crystal meth", as demand skyrockets.

The Sinaloa cartel is one of Mexico's most powerful organised crime groups and has played a deadly role in the country's drug wars, which have claimed 60,000 lives since 2006.

The connection emerged a week after one of the biggest drug busts in recent years saw a massive methamphetamine production racket closed down in the eastern Guangdong city of Lufeng.

China is one of the world's biggest producers of methamphetamine, also known as Ice, and of its precursor chemicals. Hong Kong triads have long been significant players in the regional narcotics trade, but recent developments suggest they are seeking to build networks further afield.
 
Details of the Mexico connection come in the wake of the arrest on Christmas Day of three known affiliates of the Sinaloa cartel in a US intelligence-led raid on a cock fighting farm south of Manila.

Philippine anti-drug agents smashed a meth lab and seized 84kg of the powerful and addictive stimulant in the raid.
 
"The Mexicans are already here," said drug task force chief Bartolome Tobias, adding that he believed they were getting help from "Chinese drug syndicates".

Informed sources have identified the 14K and Sun Yee On as being among the syndicates known to smuggle the raw material used to make meth - ethyl phenylacetate - into the Philippines.
 
A Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency source told the Post that intelligence reports indicated the involvement of the 14K in the meth lab busted south of Manila. Several drug syndicates may have been involved, but details could not be disclosed until certain arrests were made.

Ties between Hong Kong triads and the Sinaloa cartel were also outlined in a report by the Mexican attorney general's office last year.
 Interestingly, this article comes barely a week after another article describing how the increased iron trade with China has resulted in the Knights Templar cartel (Caballeros Templarios) temporarily taking over the port in Lazaro Cardenas, and forcing mining companies to pay protection. What is interesting is that at the very end of the article is this:
Since setting up in 2009, Desarrollo Minero Unificado de Mexico (DMU), a Chinese iron mining company in Lazaro Cardenas, has gone from three employees to 600 nationwide, nearly all of them Mexicans, Director General Luis Lu told Reuters. 
With more than 30 concessions, Lu said his company mined all of its own iron and had not had any trouble with organized crime. He said he could not say how other Chinese firms fared. 
Still, Chinese success in Michoacan has caused friction with the Knights Templar. In the August YouTube video, gang leader Gomez had some strong words for them. 
"We have an excessive invasion of Chinese. An excess of Chinese," he said, surrounded by armed men. "It may suit the interests of various corporations, I don't know. But they're here with us now. And these people have their mafias too."
 (Underline added).

This suggests the possibility of closer ties between the cartels and Chinese triads; and perhaps a growing presence of the triads in Mexico and the U.S.

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