Jan 24 - A daring army raid in Mexico's Jalisco state leads to the discover of nearly 20 tonnes of chemicals used in drug production. Sarah Wali reports.
Hidden under vegetation in Mexico's Pacific state of Jalisco, the army uncovers an open drug lab sprawling over 18 hectares. Army spokesman Gilberto Hernandez said the chemicals seized were to be processed for shipments destined for the United States. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ARMY SPOKESMAN GILBERTO HERNANDEZ, SAYING: "There are 19,278 kilos of chemical substances, but only a legal expert can determine the amount of drugs processed here." Hernandez said the location was ideal. Plants and tree of the mountainous region hide the bunkers, chemicals and equipment. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ARMY SPOKESMAN GILBERTO HERNANDEZ, SAYING: "An open air drug lab could be established in any mountainous area. As you can see it is all covered with vegetation, we cannot say this is exclusive of Tlajomulco, any area like this one, covered with lots of vegetation (would suffice)." No arrest has been made. However, the region is frequented by Mexico's most wanted cartel chief Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman. He has earned his spot on the Forbes's list of billionaires by smuggling methamphetamine, marijuana and cocaine. The military crackdown on drug cartels by President Felipe Calderon's conservative administration has claimed 46,000 lives in the past five years. As the numbers rise, support for his National Action Party, dwindles. Sarah Wali, Reuters