October 21, 2010 in Nation/World

Mexico destroys 134 tons of pot

Richard Marosi Los Angeles Times
Associated Press photo

A soldier stands guard next to packages of marijuana that are being incinerated in Tijuana, Mexico, on Wednesday.
(Full-size photo)

TIJUANA, Mexico – Mexican officials Wednesday began burning 134 tons of marijuana seized in what authorities believe is the largest pot bust in the nation’s history.

As a drum and bugle corps played in the background, soldiers piled thousands of blocks of marijuana onto a wooden platform during a ceremony at a military base in Tijuana that included dozens of local, state and federal officials. The roughly 10-foot-high by 100-foot-wide pile was then sprayed with diesel fuel.

At 4:40 p.m., an army general pushed a button, triggering an electrical charge that detonated gunpowder beneath the pile.

Baja California authorities seized the marijuana Monday morning. About 15,300 packages of marijuana were hidden inside six cargo containers stored in a warehouse in an industrial area of the border city.

The marijuana was discovered after police intercepted a convoy of vehicles escorting a tractor-trailer that had left the warehouse, officials said.

After a shootout, 11 people were arrested. Police and soldiers, acting on information from the suspects, raided the warehouse and two homes near the coast, where smaller amounts of marijuana were found.

The neatly packaged cannabis – guarded by masked, heavily armed soldiers – was later displayed for the media at Morelos Army Base. Gen. Alfonso Duarte Mugica, the military’s top commander in Baja California, said the pot had an estimated street value of about $340 million.

The drugs were destined for the U.S., he said.

Officials said a preliminary investigation showed that the marijuana was transported to Tijuana by the Sinaloa cartel, also known as the Pacific cartel.

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