Mexican officials announced that the number of fentanyl seizures increased by 465 percent since last year. The seizures of the synthetic opioid went from 405 pounds (184 kilograms) last year to nearly 2,300 pounds (1,040 kilograms) in 2020.
On the other hand, the seizure of methamphetamines has grown slower. According to the Defense Department, meth seizures have grown by 32.8 percent from January 1 to September 16. However, meth lab busts fell by 51 percent compared to the same period in 2019.
Similarly, Mexico’s seizures of cocaine increased by 46 percent, but seizures of transportation methods such as boats and covert landing strips fell by 64 percent and 79 percent, respectively.
Some experts believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased security and reduced traffic at the border, thus making it easier to detect any shipments coming across. In additional, partial border closures have at times allowed traffickers to abandon shipments before they head into the U.S.
The Trump administration is still concerned about the ability of Mexican cartels to produce and traffic drugs. They are of the opinion that Mexico could do more to stop this problem.
“Mexico remains the source of nearly all heroin and methamphetamine seized in the United States, and a transit route for most of the cocaine available in our country,” the administration observed in an annual report released last week. “Moreover, Mexican cartels take advantage of uneven precursor chemical controls in Mexico to manufacture deadly drugs, such as fentanyl, inside Mexico and smuggle them into the United States. Mexican drug interdictions remain far too low in the face of these critical drug threats.”
Mexican Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval claims that Mexican traffickers import fentanyl from China and India and press it into blue tablets. Cresencio Sandoval claimed that there was “no evidence” that Mexico has any labs producing the drug. However, as a Fox 13 report noted, “he may have been referring to production of the drug from scratch; there is evidence that Mexican cartels import close precursor chemicals and perform the final stages of processing.”
“Fentanyl is not produced here in our country,” Cresencio Sandoval stated. “It is put together here, the product, the raw material, the powder arrives, and pills are made from it here, but fentanyl is not produced.” He claimed that labs found in the northern state of Sinaloa in 2019 only had pills presses and fentanyl powder, but not facilities producing chemicals.
“The Mexican government should acknowledge the alarming trend of fentanyl production inside its territory,” the U.S. Presidential Determination on Major Drug Transit or Major Illicit Drug Producing Countries stated. “It must prioritize law enforcement action targeting cartel production and trafficking of fentanyl — the leading substance involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States — and strengthen efforts targeting fentanyl precursor chemicals overwhelmingly trafficked from China, as well as fentanyl smuggling and production.”
The U.S. report also noted, “More must also be done to target the (Mexican) cartels’ increasing production of methamphetamine.”
So far in 2020, authorities have seized over 42,000 pounds (19,079 kilograms) of meth. The Defense Department claims that this number represents a 32.8 percent increase over the 28,000 pounds (12,822 kilograms) confiscated in the same period in 2019. However, the increase actually appears to be approximately 30 percent.
Similarly, cocaine seizures increased by the same amount, reaching 44,000 pounds (20,069 kilograms) thus far in 2020, compared to the 30,000 pounds (13,7666 kilograms) confiscated within the same timeframe in 2019.
Mexican homicide rates still remain high even during a time of a pandemic. Nationally, there were 3,051 homicides in August, which resembled numbers in July, which stood at 3,061. Mexico’s homicide rate has remained at record levels of nearly 3,000 murders per month since the middle of 2018, prior to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador taking office.
No question, Mexico is a failed state. It cannot be counted on to secure itself, so the U.S. must take matters into its own hands and fully secure its border. In extreme scenarios, the U.S. may need to take surgical military action against cartels that pose existential threats to American national security and American citizens.