Salt Lake considered a hub for cartels selling Mexican meth

By Cristina Rendon

Published 10/12 2012 11:14PM

Updated 10/13 2012 04:06PM

SALT LAKE, Utah (ABC 4 News) – The Drug Enforcement Agency said Salt Lake City is one of six U.S. cities where large amounts of Mexican methamphetamine is turning up.

Assistant Agent in Charge of the DEA Frank Smith said the Sinaloa drug cartel has infiltrated our neighborhoods and turned the city in a transshipment point.

“Once they beat the border checkpoint, Salt Lake is a great place to set up distribution,” Smith said.

Smith calls the Sinaloa cartel members sophisticated businessmen who run an operation similar to a fast food chain.

He said the cartels manufacture large amounts of nearly pure meth in “super labs” in Mexico. The cartels sell it at a cheap price and try to get as many people hooked on it as quickly as possible.

The meth is smuggled into the U.S. in things like gas tanks, PVC pipes, door panels and engine blocks. It is then sent to stash houses in various neighborhoods around Salt Lake.

Smith tells ABC4 News stash houses are popping up in neighborhoods across the Wasatch front. Sometimes it’s in a trailer, apartment or a home in a gated community.

“Drugs have no boundaries,” he said.

The drugs are then shipped from stash houses in the Salt Lake Valley to various cities across the U.S. Other cities considered hubs for Mexican meth are Denver, Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis and Chicago.

“These people are targeting our children,” Smith said. “They’re murderers and thugs.”

Smith noted Salt Lake has been fortunate to not see the violence or murders associated with the drug trade.

He is confident agents in Utah will be able to rid the cartel from operating in Salt Lake in the future.

“You always hear, ‘You’re losing the war on drugs. Why would you do it?’ We haven’t found a cure for cancer. We haven’t found a cure for Alzheimer’s, but that doesn’t mean you quit. You fight the good fight.”

The DEA has had a high number of successful drug seizures in 2012.

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