To a hard-core drug aficionado, the evidence room on the Mexican army base in Culiacan, Sinaloa, would be a wet dream; it has enough crystal meth, cocaine, grass, pill, and heroin to keep a human being stoned, tripping, high, low, spun out, and seeing fairies for a million years.
And then some.
It is a fort within the fort, protected by barbed wire and closed-circuit cameras, which, we are reminded, will be recording our journalist visit one sunny December afternoon.
While they call it an evidence “room,” it is actually the size of a warehouse, with no windows and one hefty steel door.
Every time this portcullis is opened, federal agents cut off special seals, and when it is closed, they put on new ones, to make sure — and show us — that no troops are pilfering the goodies.
On the streets of American cities, the treasure trove would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
General Eduardo Solorzano guides us through the chamber of sinful substances. He is a squat and square-jawed soldier in his fifties with glasses perched on the end of his nose and a black vest packed with beepers, radios, and cell phones that he keeps barking ino in a curt, commanding tone.
He accompanies his tour with comments in measured military language while occasionally getting excited at finding samples of rare types of narcotics amid the bags, bricks, and bundles.
As we step inside, a cocktail of mystic toxic smells greets us. To the left, towers of cling-wrapped marijuana loom above over our heads. To the right are huge sacks of cut-up ganja plants and enough seeds to give birth to a forest of psychedelic weed.
Walking forward, we stumble into a pile of giant, blue metal saucepans of the type Mexicans use in the restaurant to cook up broths such as posole and consomme.
General Solorzano lifts up a lid of one and flashes a knowing grin: “This is crystal.” He smiles. The white sludge of raw methamphetamine fills the pan like a foul stew of ice and sour milk. In a corner, we catch sight of a much older Sinaloan product, black-tar heroin, which looks like jet-black Play-Doh, oozing out of yellow cans.
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