The sons of “El Chapo” have flooded the United States with cheap and deadly fentanyl

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While he headed the Sinaloa Cartel Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman serving life sentences, his sons ran the family business towards fentanyl, creating a network of laboratories that produce massive quantities of the cheap and deadly drug they were smuggling into the United States, prosecutors revealed in a recent indictment.

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Even if Guzmán’s trial revolved around cocaine shipments, the case against his sons exposes the inner workings of a cartel he lived in generational changeas it works “to make the strongest fentanyl and sell it in the United States at the lowest priceaccording to the indictment filed April 14 in Manhattan.

Synthetic opiates, mainly fentanyl, kill more Americans every year of those who have died in the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan combined, fueling the argument among some politicians that cartels should be considered terrorist organizations and gives rise to calls, previously unthinkable, a a US military intervention beyond the border.

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One of El Chapo's sons, Ovidio, turned the family business from cocaine to fentanyl.  Photo: CEPROPIE / AFP

One of El Chapo’s sons, Ovidio, turned the family business from cocaine to fentanyl. Photo: CEPROPIE / AFP

“The fentanyl problem, as some people in the State Department have told me, needs to be repositioned. It’s not a drug problem; it’s a poisoning problem,” said Alejandro Hope, a security analyst in Mexico, who died on Friday. “Very few people deliberately go out in search of fentanyl“.

an electoral issue

Hope predicted that fentanyl would be likely will become a theme in US elections next year, but resisted any threat of US intervention.

“I don’t think that would be a great way to address a public health problem,” he said.

From oxycodone to heroin and then fentanyl

The basis of the fentanyl epidemic in the United States they sat down more than 20 years agowith aggressive overprescribing of the synthetic opioid oxycodone. When the US authorities they repressed their prescriptionconsumers have switched to heroin, which the Sinaloa Cartel happily supplied.

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán was tried for shipments of cocaine to the United States.  Photo: AP

Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was tried for shipments of cocaine to the United States. Photo: AP

But making your own fentanyl – a lot more powerful and versatile than heroin– in small and easily hidden workshops it was a radical change. The cartel has grown from its first makeshift fentanyl laboratory to a network of laboratories concentrated in the northern state of Sinaloa. in less than a decade.

“They’re not super labs, because they give people the illusion that they’re like pharmaceutical labs, you know, very sophisticated,” said Mike Vigil, former head of international operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration. “They’re just metal buckets and they use wooden paddles — even shovels — to stir the chemicals.”

Fentanyl hidden in pill remedies

only one “cook” sign can compressing fentanyl into 100,000 pills falsified every day to fool Americans into believing are taking Xanax, Percocet or oxycodone. The pills are being smuggled across the border to supply what his son Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar has called “streets of drug addicts,” according to the indictment.

Fentanyl is so cheap to produce that the cartel also makes huge profits selling it wholesale at 50 cents a pill, according to the indictment.

Homeless people in the United States smoke fentanyl.  Photo: AP

Homeless people in the United States smoke fentanyl. Photo: AP

Why is it dangerous?

The potency of the drug makes it particularly dangerous. The narcotic dose of fentanyl is so close to the lethal dose that a pill designed to provide the narcotic effect to a habitual user can easily kill a less experienced person take something i didn’t know was fentanyl.

Between August 2021 and August last year, more than 107,000 Americans died from drug overdose, mainly from synthetic opioids. Last year, the DEA seized more than 57 million counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, according to New York indictments.

To protect and expand that business, the “kids”, as Guzmán’s sons are known, they appealed grotesque violenceaccording to prosecutors.

Executioners Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar are the main defendants among the 23 partners indicted in the New York indictment.

Ovidio Guzmán López, alias “El Ratón”, who allegedly pushed the cartel towards fentanyl, is accused in another case in the same district. mexico stopped it in january and the US government requested his extradition.

They test the hostages for drugs

Joaquín Guzmán López faces charges in the Northern District of Illinois. According to Guzmán Salazar’s indictment, the cartel conducts some laboratory tests on its product, but performs more gruesome tests on humans, kidnapped rivals or drug addicts. the ones he injects until they overdose.

The purity of the cartel’s fentanyl “varies greatly depending on the method and skill of the individual manufacturer,” prosecutors noted. After a user takes an overdose of one batch, it continued to be shipped to the United States.

The narcotic dose of fentanyl is very close to the lethal dose.  Photo: AP

The narcotic dose of fentanyl is very close to the lethal dose. Photo: AP

When the eldest of the Guzmán family and Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada led the Sinaloa cartel, he operated with some degree of restraint. But now that Guzmán is serving a life sentence and Zambada is believed to be in poor health, the Chapitos have moved aggressively to prevent a power vacuum that could splinter the cartel.

“What was really a unique advantage of the Sinaloa Cartel and El Chapo was the ability to assess violencesaid Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy and Technology.

The sweeping indictment filed in New York against the Guzmán Salazar brothers details their penchant for feeding their pet tigers to their enemies and describes how they tortured two Mexican federal agents, one of whom was they tore the muscles with a corkscrew and then they stuffed his holes with chili peppers before shooting him.

The indictment also provides context to some of the recent acts of violence in Mexico.

In August 2022, gunmen shot up in Ciudad Juárez, across from El Paso, Texas. Two prisoners and nine civilians from the city were killed. US prosecutors say the Chapitos’ security arm ordered their local gang mates to commit violent acts, targeting the activities of a rival cartel.

“This isn’t your father’s Sinaloa Cartel,” Felbab-Brown said. “These guys they operate with a very different mentality from his father.”

Last year, the DEA seized more than 57 million counterfeit pills containing fentanyl.  Photo: AP

Last year, the DEA seized more than 57 million counterfeit pills containing fentanyl. Photo: AP

Guzmán Salazar’s indictment makes an initial attempt to disrupt the cartel’s supply chain, naming four people linked to a China-based chemical company and an intermediary in Guatemala who allegedly helped the cartel obtain the chemicals and even allegedly gave them instructions on the best recipes for fentanyl.

“When you talk about labs and try to focus attention on them, it won’t have any impact unless you get finished product or chemical precursorsVigil said.

The contradictions of AMLO

The Mexican government came across conflicting messages of its security forces, who insist on the dismantling of laboratories, while President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has stated that fentanyl is not produced in Mexico.

In an appearance before Congress on Thursday, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram was asked if Mexico and China are doing enough to cooperate with the United States.

“We want Mexicans to work with us and we want you to do moreMilgram said, adding that the DEA would not hesitate to prosecute public officials in Mexico or elsewhere if it found evidence of cartel ties.

The purity of cartel fentanyl varies enormously by method and by application

The purity of cartel fentanyl “varies enormously depending on the method and the skill of the manufacturer.” Photo: AP

Experts say so López Obrador is one of the obstacles to curb the cartels’ production of fentanyl. After US prosecutors announced the concerted effort against the Sinaloa Cartel, López Obrador reacted angrily.

The president has accused the US government of “espionage” and “interference”, suggesting that the case had been built on information gathered by US agents in Mexico.

The president had already slashed Mexico’s cooperation with the DEA, experts said.

Hope, the security analyst, said that a fundamental problem is that López Obrador does not seem to understand the threat of fentanyl. The president rails against the deterioration of family values ​​in America and portrays addiction as a moral failure.

“He’s stuck in a 50-year moral universe,” Hope said.


Source: Clarin

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