The Sinaloa and Jalisco organizations have taken over from Chinese sellers as a dominant source of the potent synthetic opioid, a leading cause of the U.S.’s record overdoses. Among the reasons, it is easier and less expensive to produce than heroin.
CULIACÁN, Mexico—At a half-built house in a barrio, a longtime Sinaloa cartel employee used a shovel to mix chemicals in a simmering oil barrel.
His concoction was an illegal form of fentanyl, which Mexican criminal organizations are churning out at high volume in laboratories and smuggling across the border. In a six-day workweek, the cook said, he can make enough fentanyl for hundreds of thousands of doses.
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