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As United States law enforcement cracks down on methamphetamine producers, Mexican drug cartels are filling the void, according to the Associated Press. Cheap, very potent Mexican meth is appearing in American cities across the country. The drug is made in “superlabs” that run like factories, the AP reports.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations have become the primary manufacturers and distributors of methamphetamine to cities throughout the United States, including in Hawaii, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

“These are sophisticated, high-tech operations in Mexico that are operating with extreme precision,” Jim Shroba, a DEA agent in St. Louis, told the AP. “They’re moving it out the door as fast as they can manufacture it.” Mexican labs employ chemists, who develop formulas used to produce tons of the drug in sophisticated factories. The drug often is smuggled into the U.S. hidden inside packages of other drugs, or taped underneath tractor-trailers.

Mexican meth is as much as 90 percent pure, offering a high that is quicker, more intense and longer-lasting than American-made meth, the article notes. Mexican cartels are sending meth through the same drug pipeline they already use for marijuana and cocaine.

Along the Southwest border, meth seizures have more than quadrupled over the past several years, from about 4,000 pounds in 2007, to more than 16,000 pounds in 2011. DEA documents show that the purity of Mexican meth rose from 39 percent in 2007, to 88 percent in 2011. During the same period, the price of the drug fell from $290 per gram, to less than $90.

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