GUATEMALA CITY – Security forces confiscated 200 drums of drug precursor chemicals in an operation in northern Guatemala and arrested five people, officials said.
The chemicals were being transported in five trucks in the municipality of San Benito, Peten province, National Civil Police spokesman Jorge Aguilar told reporters Friday.
The detained Guatemalan drivers, who were caught transporting 40 drums each on Thursday, were identified as 40-year-old Julio Xol, 41-year-old Mynor Villegas Aja, 63-year-old Benjamin Albarenga Molina, 34-year-old Wilber Osmar Morales Espina and 37-year-old Rony Aroldo Amezquita Castillo
The 200 drums contained chlorohydric acid, which is used to manufacture synthetic drugs.
More than 2,600 drums of drug precursor chemicals have been seized so far this year in Guatemala, authorities say.
Mexican authorities say international drug cartels are manufacturing synthetic drugs in that Central American country due to increased pressure from security forces in Mexico.
The U.S. drug market has seen declining demand for cocaine and a simultaneous rise in demand for synthetic drugs, officials and analysts say.
Synthetic drugs are favored by users for their more prolonged effect and because they come in tablet form and are therefore considered socially cleaner.