Mexican authorities have seized over 105 tonnes of marijuana near the border with the US, in the largest such seizure since the launch of a crackdown on drug cartels in 2006.
AFP - Mexican authorities said Monday they seized over 105 tonnes of marijuana in the border town of Tijuana after clashing with drug traffickers.
It was the largest seizure in years amid an increasingly brutal war on drug cartels that has claimed some 28,000 lives since President Felipe Calderon launched a nationwide crackdown in 2006, deploying some 50,000 troops who have so far failed to stem the tide of violence.
Police had seized 130 tonnes of marijuana over the past three years across the entire state of Baja California, home to Tijuana. This past year alone, they have also uncovered dozens of tunnels built to move drugs to California.
During Monday's seizure, soldiers and police confiscated over 10,000 packages of marijuana in the operation across the border from San Diego, California, General Alfonso Duarte told reporters.
The drugs had a value of over 335 million dollars on the Mexican street, but their worth could double or triple if sold in the United States, which the traffickers had been attempting to enter, Duarte said. He did not confirm which of the major Mexican drug cartels owned the drugs.
The massive haul came after a shootout between Tijuana municipal police officers and gunmen in a convoy of seven vehicles. The army and state police sent reinforcements and 11 people were arrested. Some of the drugs were found aboard the trucks.
Confessions from the detainees led security forces to more of the illegal substance at a local ranch, a home and an apartment.
On the US side of the border, Californians are due to vote in two weeks on a referendum over whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Mexico's border regions, especially the major towns directly on the US frontier, have witnessed the brunt of the conflict with notable spikes in particularly gruesome violence in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez, which borders Texas further to the east.
Last year, Mexican security forces confiscated a total of 2,105 tonnes of marijuana, according to government figures.
Date created : 2010-10-19