2 Cartels Are Keeping America Flush With Fentanyl

'Wall Street Journal' looks at how the Sinaloa, Jalisco cartels ended up supplying the US after China cracked down
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2022 4:48 PM CDT
As China Lost Its Fentanyl Crown, the Cartels Stepped In
   (Getty Images / Scukrov)

He's a 25-year-old cook who works six days a week and pulls in about $10,000 a month. It's a lucrative gig, but also an illegal one: He's cooking fentanyl that will be smuggled into the US, and his one-person lab churns out the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of doses a week. So reports the Wall Street Journal in a look at the rival Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels' place as America's main fentanyl supplier. They took that crown from China after the Asian nation cracked down on fentanyl-related drugs in 2019. As the paper explains, the cartels already had the trafficking networks in place to distribute drugs like heroin and cocaine, and they had lab know-how from their meth production.

And while the Sinaloa cartel has long been a major heroin producer, fentanyl brings advantages: It's synthetic, making for a quicker production timeline than poppy-reliant heroin, and it costs a fraction as much to produce. The piece touches on the gangs' rivalry (ports where the necessary chemicals are imported are a battleground) and what Mexico has done to try to chip away at the industry. It also had an ominous conversation with another young fentanyl producer who says the pills' value is decreasing because the volume being produced is so high, so he's working on creating a new version. This one takes the form of a pastel-colored iconic Mexican skull, and he hopes it will be 30% more potent. (Read the full story.)

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