Fentanyl, the drug which killed iconic pop star Prince, has become a favorite of the Mexican cartels due to its potency and popularity across the border. Officials say because of this, it is an extremely profitable drug on the market.
— CNN (@CNN) June 7, 2016
It’s been reported by authorities in the United States, along with border patrols, that Mexican cartels are actually using their own drug labs to produce the highly addictive drug, fentanyl. Additionally, the cartels are said to be receiving shipments from China. The drugs are then smuggled through the cartel’s extensive networks to meet the increasing demand within the United States of opiates and other pharmaceuticals.
The New York Times shares the words of Jack Riley, acting deputy administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“It is really the next migration of the cartels in terms of making profit. This goes to the heart of the marketing genius of the cartels. They saw this coming.”
In the case of Prince, it is unclear as to how the star obtained the drug. As USA Today notes, we may never know the full story about the star’s death. In April, the artist overdosed on fentanyl, which can be prescribed by doctors. It is a synthetic opioid that is often prescribed to cancer patients during end-of-life palliative care.
Reports that the illicit presence of the drug form is on the rise, and at levels not seen since 2006 are being made. Back in this year, much like the present circumstance, a number of overdose deaths in the United States were linked to one specific laboratory in Mexico.
— Jean,Ohio (@SaveRepublic) February 14, 2016
The New York Times gives reason for the drug’s popularity.
“As a crackdown on prescription drugs drove the cost of pills like oxycodone higher, the cartels began banking on users opting for heroin instead. It was cheaper, more readily available and relatively easy to procure. Now, fentanyl, which can be made in a laboratory without the hassle of growing poppy, is a more lucrative — and deadly — iteration.”
The potent drug is responsible for hundreds of deaths in recent years, yet the profit that the sale of the substance gains is undeniably immense. As noted, one kilogram of a potent form of the drug can actually be stretched to 16-25 kilograms by using cutting agents, which takes a single kilogram’s value to the $1.6 million range.
Professor Jorge Javier Romero Vadillo, who works at a Mexico City university, speaks about the economic-savvy cartels.
“Cartels and drug traffickers are not stupid. They are rational economic actors, whose actions and decisions are directly related to demand.”
Although evidence supports the activity of Mexican cartels as producers and distributors of the drug to the United States, Mexican officials are not fully convinced that their drug cartels are fully to blame and are not pleased that the United States authorities are pointing the finger at Mexico for the drug’s recent rise in presence and potency.
The Drug Enforcement Administration in the United States has warned for more than a year that there is, in fact, a fentanyl epidemic in the nation. With a potency that is around 40 times greater than that of heroin, it has become the popular drug of choice for addicts and the most profitable choice for dealers. When broken down and sold in less pure forms, fentanyl can be 20 times more profitable than heroin, experts share.
Although the Mexican officials are in doubt about the Mexican cartels hand in the widespread distribution of the popular and lethal drug, United States officials share that the patterns of distribution they are seeing when it comes to fentanyl, match those of other cartel drugs. One example shared by Riley of the D.E.A. involves a Chicago street gang, which is known to traffic drugs for the cartel and is now trafficking fentanyl into the market.
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]