Drug maker for 'El Chapo' seized in Mexico

February 14, 2012 - 9:25 PM
Mexico Drug War

Federal police agents present Jaime Herrera, alias "El Viejito," alleged member of the Pacific drug cartel, to the press in Mexico City, Tuesday Feb. 14, 2012. Herrera is considered to be one of the most important producers and distributors of synthetic drugs, according to authorities. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican officials said Tuesday they have arrested a man who manufactured methamphetamine for the Sinaloa drug cartel run by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

The arrest of suspect Jaime Herrera Herrera was the latest in a series of detentions of associates of Guzman, the most wanted man in Mexico.

The arrest also came amid mounting evidence that Guzman's Sinaloa cartel has moved into meth production on an industrial scale. Officials say several enormous seizures of meth precursor chemicals and large labs for processing the drug are probably linked to Sinaloa.

Federal police said in a statement that Herrera Herrera, 43, was captured in Sinaloa state, on the Pacific coast. It said he was one of the principal producers of methamphetamine for Guzman's cartel and is wanted by authorities in the United States. Police said he has acknowledged moving tons of methamphetamine into the United States.

Also Tuesday, a conference on drug policy in Mexico City turned into a discussion on drug legalization, one day after Guatemalan President Otto Perez proposed a broad legalization.

Former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso said "the failed war against drugs has strengthened organized crime, destabilized governments, violated human rights and devastated lives everywhere."

The Mexican government has said it welcomes debate on the issue buts believes legalization is not a solution.

The problem of organized crime goes far beyond just legalizing a given product, said Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire. "Organized crime has many faces, not just drugs," he said referring to the cartels' involvement in crimes like human trafficking and extortion.

First Lady Margarita Zavala, said "free access to drugs, I believe would logically lead to an exponential increase in violence within the family, between neighbors, in the community."