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Fentanyl becoming favorite of Mexico cartels

August 5, 2017

While Netflix’s “Narcos” tells the story of cocaine and the role it played in giving rise to some of the world’s most powerful drug cartels in the 1980s, an analysis by a former U.S. State Department official says fentanyl, an addictive opioid, may be the newest “game changer” for Mexico’s cartels.

“Mexican criminals have been incredibly flexible and adaptive in terms of the drugs they supply to the massive illegal narcotics market in the United States,” wrote Scott Stewart, a security expert with Stratfor, an Austin-based intelligence platform. “Much of this flexibility naturally comes in response to consumer demand for certain types of drugs.”


Stewart says there’s evidence that fentanyl, an opioid pain medication, is the latest growing consumer demand for drug users in the U.S. – a win-win for cartels due to the drug’s advantages over heroin.

Unlike other opioids, fentanyl doesn’t rely on opium poppy plants. It can be synthesized anywhere using only chemicals, requiring only four walls and a roof instead of vast growing operations.

In addition, fentanyl is also 50 times more potent that heroin, making it, in Sewart’s words, a “smuggler’s dream” since it can be transported in smaller and more compact quantities.

“Due to fentanyl’s strength, 1 kilogram can fetch more than $1 million on the retail drug market, making fentanyl the most profitable drug the Mexican cartels are trafficking,” wrote Stewart.

Illegal possession of carfentanil, a fentanyl derivative, was recently confirmed in Houston, prompting Police Chief Art Acevedo to upgrade officers with masks, thicker gloves and other forms of protection including a nasal spray narcotic antidote to deal with the drug’s growing popularity.

The dangerous opioid’s newfound presence even drew commentary from Mayor Slyvester Turner, who warned the general public that “just touching it, inhaling it – tasting it – can be dangerous.”

“Given America’s appetite for opioids, fentanyl is poised to become the latest in a line of drugs offering a competitive advantage to the organizations that produce them,” wrote Stewart.


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