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El Chapo in US custody

The End of the Big Cartels – Why There Won’t Be Another Chapo

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.

US Mailing System Key to Future Fentanyl Trafficking Prevention

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.

Craigslist Now Hotspot for Fentanyl Sales in Los Angeles

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”).

The Fentanyl Trade Through Mexico, Explained in 8 Graphs

Fentanyl use is booming in the United States. With support from the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, InSight Crime mapped the distribution chain, and the role of Mexico's criminal organizations in the trade in our series about fentanyl. Below are our graphic illustrations of the trade.   

End of Heroin is Bad News for US Fentanyl Hotbeds

On October 22, 2018, authorities pulled over a Dominican national identifying himself as Angel Javier Morell-Oneill as he drove in Methuen, Massachusetts. They had been investigating him since June 2018, according to a Justice Department press release. They searched his car and found two kilograms of fentanyl in the passenger seat.

Bulgarian Biochemist in Mexico Gives Glimpse of the Future

In January 2018, US authorities began following a Bulgarian biochemist named Antov Petrov Kulkin who they believed was running a small carfentanil/fentanyl laboratory in Mexico. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, has proliferated in recent years in the United States, and close to 30,000 people died by overdosing on the drug in 2017. Its potency could be a gamechanger for the illicit drug industry.

A Sinaloa Connection in Buffalo, New York?

The sea cucumber arrived. Then more arrived. Then more. It was a lot, investigators noted—too much for that northwestern corner of New York state. The shipments were, US prosecutors would declare later in an indictment, more than the small delectable culled from ocean reefs, and often prized in Asia for being both tasty and sexually invigorating. They were camouflaging poly-drug loads, which included the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl.

Fentanyl Case Shows China’s Scary Ability to Adapt

In October 2017, two Chinese men—Xiaobing Yan and Jian Zhang—were indicted for conspiring to manufacture and distribute “large quantities” of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs in the United States. Although they used multiple names and company identities over a period of six years, investigators were able to trace the fentanyl shipments back to four clandestine labs and two chemical plants in China.

Fentanyl: Summary and Major Findings

Since surging into the market in 2013, fentanyl has become the most lethal category of opioid in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that more than 47,000 people died from an opioid overdose in 2017 in the United States—28,000 of those deaths were due to synthetic opioids, which the CDC says is largely the result of the uptick in abuse of fentanyl.
Fentanyl pills bag

Mexico’s Role in the Deadly Rise of Fentanyl

This investigative series looks at the role that Mexico and its cartels have played in making the lethal opioid fentanyl a growing threat in...

GameChangers 2018: As Opioids and Cocaine Boom, the Americas Wilt

While traditional criminal organizations have widened their portfolios dramatically in recent years, drug trafficking remains the most important earner in the region. And with opioid consumption surging and cocaine production at a record high, the underworld is reaping the rewards and reshaping itself to fit the times.

InSight Crime's 2018 Criminal GameChangers

GameChangers 2018: The Year Crime Became an Ideology

Welcome to InSight Crime’s Criminal GameChangers 2018, where we highlight the most important trends in organized crime in the Americas over the course of the year. From a rise in illicit drug availability and resurgence of monolithic criminal groups to the weakening of anti-corruption efforts and a swell in militarized responses to crime, 2018 was a year in which political issues were still often framed as left or right, but the only ideology that mattered was organized crime.