Mexican authorities announced they conducted a “historic” raid this month, seizing over half a ton of fentanyl in the state of Sinaloa on Thursday in the largest fentanyl drug bust in the country’s history.
The Ministry of National Defense announced last week that the Mexican military and national guard located the drugs in a warehouse in the northern city of Culiacán that was operated by “members of organized crime” on July 2.
“This is the largest seizure in the history of this lethal drug,” said Assistant Public Safety Secretary Ricardo Mejia, who estimated the fentanyl had an illicit value of around $230 million.
The Mexican military and national guard also found over half a ton of meth in the warehouse, in addition to smaller amounts of cocaine, opium gun, and heroin and at least 70 tons of precursor chemicals. They also arrested 10 men.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency said in a 2020 report that Mexican “transnational criminal organizations” are producing more fentanyl than previously before and smuggling it across the U.S. border. Mexico, along with China, are the primary sources of fentanyl trafficked directly into the United States, the report says.
According to the DEA, the New Generation Jalisco and the Sinaloa cartels are “likely the primary trafficking groups responsible for smuggling fentanyl into the United States from Mexico.” Most Mexican fentanyl operations that have been dismantled either had involvement from those cartels or were in their controlled territories, the drug agency said.
The synthetic opiate is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine, and is especially deadly because it is pressed into pills made to look like Xanax, Adderall or Oxycodone, or mixed into other drugs. American deaths from fentanyl increased 23% to account for two-thirds of overdoses last year, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.