Shell game: Over 50 pounds of meth found hidden in a snail statue in Cincinnati

Mexico Sinaloa state meth drug lab

US Customs and Border Protection officials say officers in Cincinnati intercepted 53.46 pounds of methamphetamine concealed inside a statue of a snail.

The package, which came from Mexico and was labeled “Mexican stone crafts,” was selected for inspection at a local express consignment facility.

The parcel contained a concrete decorative snail statue that exhibited “interior anomalies” during an X-ray inspection on December 30.

Customs officers drilled a hole into the bottom of the statue, uncovering a little over 53 pounds of a white crystalline powder, which tested positive for methamphetamine.

“This particular interception and its unique concealment method showcases the consistency with which our officers and specialists are able to support legitimate trade while interrupting illegal drug trafficking attempts,” Customs and Border Protection Cincinnati Port Director Richard Gillespie said in a statement. “Our officers excel at preventing these sorts of dangerous drugs from reaching innocent citizens.

The snail statue was sent from Mexico City, and its intended destination was Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Methamphetamine snail CBP border patrol

“Most of the methamphetamine available in the United States is produced clandestinely in Mexico and smuggled across the” southwest border, the US Drug Enforcement Administration said in its 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment.

“Domestic production continues to occur at much lower levels than in Mexico, and seizures of domestic methamphetamine laboratories have declined, most likely due to the high availability of high-purity, high-potency Mexican methamphetamine” and because of legal restrictions placed methamphetamine precursors ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine, the DEA report states.

Unlike illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, or heroin, methamphetamine is not plant based. As it is made in lab settings using a variety of chemicals, methamphetamine production isn’t vulnerable to drought, flooding, or other natural conditions.

While Mexican authorities are largely playing catch-up to meth production and the influx of chemicals related to it (China is a major producer of those chemicals, but “was never willing to help” Mexico staunch the flow), they have made some efforts to restrict the availability of them.

However, the DEA states, “Mexican [transnational criminal organizations] will continue to adapt to precursors restrictions in Mexico, finding alternative methods to manufacture methamphetamine.”

SEE ALSO: A misdirected text message led to a meth bust in Louisiana

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