López Obrador also tried to deflect attention from Mexico’s role in the fentanyl epidemic. He claimed that his country does not produce the substance which is responsible for Most US drug overdose deaths, and presented its abuse as an American problem. US law enforcement officials have said that fentanyl is Mass produced by Mexican drug cartels And then distributed by the American criminal network.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 107,000 people in the United States will die of a drug overdose in 2021, the highest recorded number. Two-thirds of the deaths were caused by fentanyl, which can be prescribed by physicians to treat severe pain, but also Smuggled shipments of powerful pills flow illegally across the border from MexicoThe Washington Post has reported.
López Obrador has often criticized US officials, including then-President Donald Trump and most recently Secretary of State. Antony Blinken. mexican leaders under extreme domestic pressure On his effort to overhaul an electoral institution seen as integral to his young democracy.
The verbal conflict with GOP officials followed last week’s kidnapping of four US citizens, two of whom died, (On Thursday, Mexican authorities discovered five zip-tied men and an apology note, reportedly from a gulf cartel faction that wanted to hand over the alleged criminals.)
While the kidnappings and killings were not directly related to the fentanyl issue, they provided the spark for Republicans to mount renewed pressure on the Biden administration, which they accuse of lax enforcement of border and drug controls, as well as on López Obrador. Let’s see in form. Liz Sherwood-Randall, a top Homeland Security adviser to President Biden, led a US delegation to Mexico this week coordinating efforts “against the menace of fentanyl,” US Ambassador Ken Salazar said.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.) This week reiterated to the Biden administration initiate military action against the cartel. Sen. Lindsey O’Graham (RS.C.) demanded that the US military “destroy drug laboratories,” However, he said that the army should not forcibly enter Mexico.
At least two Republican senators have also introduced legislation. Designate Drug Cartel as to foreign terrorist groups, which proponents say would further reduce their room for maneuver. white House Said the federal government already had the necessary powers and “isn’t afraid to use them.”
US officials say they believe Mexico overtook China as the top producer of US-bound fentanyl in 2019 after Beijing cracked down on production of the opioid. US officials say Chinese companies continue to send chemicals to Mexico that are used to make fentanyl.
While seizures of fentanyl have increased at the US border, Mexican authorities have found few production labs. Mexican officials say Chinese manufacturers may be sending fentanyl powder to Mexico, where it is simply pressed into tablets, and often mixed with other substances.
The demand to designate Republican cartels as terrorist groups is not new. The Trump administration also considered the proposal in 2019, drawing intense pushback from Mexican officials who were concerned that sanctions triggered by such a designation would limit intergovernmental cooperation, leading to a fractious situation. impact on economy and business,
López Obrador came to power in 2018 pledging to end the US-backed “war on drugs”, which he blames for violence that has killed thousands in recent years. He gave the military a more prominent role in the anti-narcotics effort and sidelined the Navy, which had worked closely with the Drug Enforcement Administration to eliminate drug lords. also supported the policy of “Hugs, Not Bullets” With the aim of using social events to lure young people away from the cartel.
Recently, however, US officials have stepped up pressure on López Obrador to crack down on fentanyl – and the Mexican government has stepped up its efforts. In mid-February, the Mexican government made a major announcement Chest A lab where troops found more than 600,000 pills suspected of containing fentanyl.
An earlier version of this article misidentified officials who say Chinese fentanyl producers may be shipping the powder to Mexico to be put into pills. This is suggested by Mexican officials, not US officials. The article has been corrected.