This investigative series looks at the role that Mexico and its cartels have played in making the lethal opioid fentanyl a growing threat in the United States. While China accounts for the overwhelming majority of fentanyl production, Mexican gangs have also become key links in this chain, transporting, selling, and even producing the drug. Here we examine the rise of fentanyl, from production facilities in China and Mexico, to the potential role of the Sinaloa Cartel and numerous subcontractors.
Earlier this month, a federal jury in New York convicted Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, the former kingpin of Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa Cartel, on ten charges related to drug trafficking. El Chapo was stunned, his wife cried, and U.S. authorities crowed.
Authorities in the United States and Mexico are working together to combat criminal groups capitalizing on growing demand for the deadly and highly lucrative synthetic opioid fentanyl, but the US mailing system is quickly emerging as the key ingredient in that fight.
In Los Angeles, Craigslist has emerged in the last few months as a major new marketplace for illicit fentanyl.
The online classified ad service has for several years been a virtual street corner, a place where drugs are sold under lightly veiled pseudonyms: black-tar heroin (“roofing tar”), crystal methamphetamine (“clear sealant”), or generic and most likely counterfeit oxycodone 30 mg pills (“M30”).