It was the last day of the year 2020. Given the growing increase in American deaths from fentanyl use that Mexican drug cartels traffic from the common border, the Government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador acknowledged that in the Aztec country there is also a crisis due to this opioid that comes from China.
It seemed like one of the traditional morning conferences that the Mexican president leads every day, but that December 31, Defense Minister Luis Crescencio Sandoval admitted that the demand for opioids “is increasing”.
But he also recognized that “all the raw material used to make these drugs arrives through the ports, through Mexican customs.”
The Fentanyl arrives at the Mexican ports of Manzanillo, Colima and Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán, from China, And although in 2020 compared to 2019, the seizure of this drug in Mexico increased by almost 500%, organized crime has already found a way to circumvent surveillance at Aztec customs thanks to the development of different types of labels that facilitate its international shipment, according to an investigation by the organization Insight Crime.
Gerardo Rodríguez Sánchez Lara, coordinator of the Department of International Relations and Political Science of the University of the Americas in Puebla (UDLSP), one of the main private institutions in the country, considered that in the face of this crisis that since 2017 has lit the red lights in the US, China should ensure that shipments leaving its territory avoid trafficking in chemical precursors.
He considered that this is a scenario in which the Aztec government must find a way to establish a dialogue with China to seek greater controls, and expressed: “It seems difficult because China does not know whether or not it wants to cooperate in this regard, because in the end it sees it as an agenda that the United States imposes to Mexico, but China is the great actor ”.
On the other hand, at this moment “it is difficult for Mexico to pressure China because he is not going to want to adopt measures regarding the security of the supply chain, because he sees it as pressure from the United States, ”the academic told Infobae Mexico.
The fight against this illicit substance is focused on the Sinaloa cartels, founded by Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán Loera, and the Jalisco New Generation (CJNG)But there are already smaller organizations that are also fighting for their share in the fentanyl market and that may not yet be on the authorities’ radar.
Criminal groups seeking to consolidate themselves in the illicit market for fentanyl have found a way to enter Mexico in the form of powder, drops on blotting paper, eye drop containers or pills. To multiply its effect, before trafficking it to the United States, they often mix it with cocaine, heroin, MDMA and methamphetamines.
“In China they label them as if they were other things and neither in Mexico nor in China have time to do research corresponding to know what type of material it is, “said Mike Vigil, one of the most important drug trafficking specialists in America, to Infobae Mexico.
Mexico closer to China
Another health-related crisis, that of COVID-19 has been the reason why Mexico created a nexus with China And it is the fact that the CanSino Biologicals company has not only performed thousands of tests on volunteers from phase 3 of your virus vaccine in Aztec land, but also the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac will supply the country with more than 10 million doses to advance the immunization of older adults.
Just last saturday The first 200,000 doses of the Sinovac CoronaVac vaccine arrived in the country while that of CanSino represents one of the main bets of the López Obrador administration as a single application is allegedly required to immunize a person.
The country authorized the application of CoronaVac despite the doubts that its effectiveness has generated Before confusing results after the tests that it carried out in Indonesia and Turkey, since while the first attributed an effectiveness of 65%, the second assured that it was 91.2 percent.
So far Mexico is the only country that has two Chinese vaccines, which for analysts is sufficient guarantee that at this time AMLO’s government does not enter into any kind of conflict with Beijing.
“Mexico is in a complicated situation because the CanSino vaccine is one of the great options to complete the vaccination. Love with love is paid and Mexico is indebted to China on this issue ”, Sánchez Lara warned.
The reform in the ports
The Defense Minister’s report released on December 31, 2020 stated that that year An estimated 1.3 tonnes of fentanyl had been seized, up from 222 kilograms in 2019. The seizure figures can be an indicator of the extent to which the importation has also increased, which in some cases may legally occur by pharmaceutical companies that use the active ingredient as an input for the manufacture of medicines.
In the last section of last year, Mexico began a transition in which control of the port system will pass from the Ministry of Communications and Transport (SCT) to the Ministry of the Navy (Semar). With these reforms The Navy will assume the total management of the concessions, contracts, works, permits, fees and naval education.
The reform of the Organic Law of the Federal Public Administration, the Law of Navigation and Maritime Commerce and the Law of Ports establishes that the Navy will have the power to “grant permits for the establishment and exploitation of services related to communications and transport by water with boats or naval devices; award and grant contracts, concessions and permits for the establishment and exploitation of services related to water communications ”.
It is expected that the militarization of control in the seas and ports of entry of the country will help reduce the flow of precursor chemicals that are used to produce synthetic drugs, however, this intention has created controversy in the chambers of deputies and senators, who demand the large number of tasks that the executive is delegating to the military.
With little hope that the Mexican executive will take action on the matter, experts wonder if it is not time for the legislative power to act seriously in the creation of comprehensive legislation that fully attacks this problem that generates a very serious health crisis and it causes tens of thousands of deaths that could be prevented by stopping this illicit activity.
In the fentanyl crisis, the US knows that the rate of overdose deaths in its territory increased between 2007 and 2017 from 36,010 to 70,237, but in Mexico, deaths from drug overdoses are rarely recorded correctly, which may not give the adequate dimension of the problem in Aztec land (Tomorrow part three).