Mexico admits it produces illegal fentanyl but blames the U.S. for its drug addiction problem

Mar 11, 2023 | 10 comments

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador appeared to depict the synthetic opioid epidemic largely as a U.S. problem, and said the United States should use family values to fight drug addiction.

His statement came during a visit to Mexico by Liz Sherwood-Randall, the White House homeland security adviser, to discuss the fentanyl crisis. It also comes amid calls by some U.S. Republicans to use the U.S. military to attack drug labs in Mexico.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador

The Mexican government has acknowledged in the past that fentanyl is produced at labs in Mexico using precursor chemicals imported from China. Fentanyl has been blamed for about 70,000 opioid deaths per year in the United States.

“Here, we produce fentanyl but we do not have consumption of fentanyl,” López Obrador said. “Why don’t they (the United States) take care of their problem of social decay?”

He went on to recite a list of reasons why Americans might be turning to fentanyl, including single-parent families, parents who kick grown children out of their houses and people who put elderly relatives in old-age homes “and visit them once a year.”

His statement contrasted sharply with a Thursday tweet from U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar saying a meeting between Sherwood-Randall and Mexico’s attorney general was meant “to enhance security cooperation and fight against the scourge of fentanyl to better protect our two nations.”

There is little debate among U.S. and even Mexican officials that almost all the fentanyl consumed in the United States is produced and processed in Mexico.

In February, the Mexican army announced it seized more than a half million fentanyl pills in what it called the largest synthetic drug lab found to date. The army said the outdoor lab was discovered in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state.

In the same city in 2021, the army raided a lab that it said probably made about 70 million of the blue fentanyl pills every month for the Sinaloa cartel.

“The president is lying,” said Mexican security analyst David Saucedo. “The Mexican cartels, above all the CJNG (Jalisco New Generation Cartel) and the Sinaloa Cartel have learned to manufacture it.”

“They themselves buy the precursor chemicals, set up laboratories to produce fentanyl and distribute it to cities in the United States and sell it,” Saucedo said. “Little by little they have begun to build a monopoly on fentanyl, because the Mexican cartels are present along the whole chain of production and sales.”
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Credit: Associated Press

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