Mexican authorities have seized 1,852 kilos of fentanyl this year, the potent opiate behind the latest wave of overdose deaths in the United States. At a press conference this Monday, General Luis Cresencio Sandoval, Secretary of Defense, explained that never before had so many kilos of fentanyl been seized in Mexico as in the last three years, 3,497 in total, 525% more than in the last three years of the past administration.
Sandoval has pointed out that interceptions of this drug have increased in part because “consumption has changed, as has production worldwide.” “[Las organizaciones criminales] they have gone to the production and consumption of more lethal drugs ”, he added,“ but also with greater ease to make them and at a cost that allows them greater profits ”.
The secretary has also highlighted the seizures of methamphetamine, which have exceeded 124,000 kilos in the last three years, 128% more than in the immediately previous three-year period. Sandoval has argued that the seizures of these two drugs are increasing because “strategies have been devised that have tended to detect them, both in production in laboratories and in the movement made to make them reach consumer markets.”
The seizure figures come at a critical time for the United States, unable to contain the distribution of fentanyl in its illegal drug markets. In November, the authorities of that country reported overdose deaths in the last year, which exceeded 100,000, more than the sum of deaths registered by car accidents and firearms, a record number. Most of the overdose deaths were related to fentanyl.
For the US authorities, stopping the flow of fentanyl into their territory has become a priority. Last week, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) denounced that Mexican drug trafficking organizations were using mobile messaging applications to traffic fentanyl in their territory. “The ease with which traffickers operate on social media and other popular applications to smartphones it’s fueling the overdose epidemic, ”said Anne Milgram, the agency’s chief.
Cheap and easy to disguise, drug traffickers on both sides of the border are increasingly using fentanyl to mix with other substances, or also to supply the demand for legal tender opiates, with more restricted access. Manufactured mainly in China, the drug reaches the United States via Mexico, either as a product or in parts to assemble, that is, in the form of precursors.
In this regard, the Mexican authorities are trying to increase their control at customs. Not surprisingly, the president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has left control of the sea and land ports to the Armed Forces, in the case of Manzanillo, in Colima, or Lázaro Cárdenas, in Michoacán. On November 10, the Executive announced that it would increase military control of the port of Manzanillo. “The focus of greatest violence is in Manzanillo, especially because of the control of the port,” said López Obrador. “We made the decision that the port passed from the Ministry of Communications to be managed by the Ministry of the Navy, it is not necessary to delve much about why, I think we all understand it.”
In parallel, the United States authorities have increased or announced rewards for alleged criminal leaders allegedly implicated in the fentanyl trafficking north of the Rio Grande. In the case of the Jalisco cartel, which has allegedly controlled the port of Manzanillo, the US authorities are offering a $ 10 million reward for information on Nemesio Oceguera, alias El Mencho. In the case of the Sinaloa Cartel, they offer five million for data on each of Joaquín’s children El Chapo Guzman. The latest large fentanyl seizures in recent months, of more than 100 kilos each, have been registered precisely in Sinaloa and Sonora, territories allegedly controlled by this latest criminal organization.
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