MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Police have found $206 million in cash, belonging to drug smugglers who imported chemicals used to make methamphetamines, piled inside a mansion in a wealthy Mexico City neighborhood, officials said on Friday.
Police arrested seven people at the house. They found wads of hundreds of dollars stuffed in drawers, suitcases and closets around the house.
They also seized six Mercedes Benz vehicles and two other cars along with seven firearms, 200,000 euros and machinery used to make tablets.
The raid was one of the first dramatic successes in a clampdown on drug cartels launched by Mexican President Felipe Calderon shortly after he took office in December.
In January, Mexico extradited several drug kingpins to the United States, including Osiel Cardenas, boss of the powerful Gulf cartel.
Calderon has sent thousands of troops to drug crime hot spots including his home state of Michoacan, whose mountain ranges are riddled with laboratories producing methamphetamine for export to the United States.
The attorney general’s office, which operates the police force that led the raid, said the money belonged to a drug gang operating behind a pharmaceuticals front company.
The company imported from India tons of the chemical pseudoephedrine, used in the manufacture of methamphetamines.
The raid was the result of an investigation which started last December when police seized 19.5 tons of pseudoephedrine in Mexico’s Lazaro Cardenas port, the attorney general’s office said.
Mexican producers of methamphetamine are muscling in on the U.S. market as police crack down on labs in the United States, according to a recent report by the U.S. Justice Department’s National Drug Intelligence Center.
Following the U.S. crackdown, so-called superlabs that mass produce methamphetamine have relocated to Mexico, where precursor chemicals like ephedrine are more easily available.