From the prepared testimony of Karma Kypridakes of the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday:
California's first methamphetamine drug laboratory was seized in 1967. . . . Shortly thereafter, methamphetamine production moved from a "hippie" counterculture environment to one controlled predominantly by outlaw motorcycle groups such as the Hell's Angels.
The Hell's Angels steadfastly maintained control of the manufacturing and distribution of large quantities of methamphetamine until the mid-1980s, when, very gradually, law enforcement officials in California began seeing Mexican laboratory operators and multiple-pound quantity distributors appear on the illegal drug scene. Then, gradually, over a period of five to 10 years, several things occurred which gave the Mexican cartels growing dominance in the methamphetamine industry.
First, the aggressive and violent nature of Mexican traffickers literally forced and out-priced the motorcycle groups out of the production business and almost strictly into the mid- to lower-scale distribution. Secondarily, cheap and sometimes coerced Mexican labor from across the border was imported into California to run large-scale commercial laboratory operations under the direction of several key personnel. Chemical precursors, which were once freely sold by the U.S. chemical industry for legitimate use in manufacturing, were also being sold to illicit drug manufacturers.