The production of fentanyl and methamphetamine requires key ingredients known as precursor chemicals. Because of their illicit uses, these substances are highly regulated around the world.
Yet synthetic drug producers in Mexico have found ways to circumvent regulations to obtain the precursor chemicals, and a sophisticated network of brokers has allowed them to find and buy pre-precursors, less regulated chemicals used at an earlier stage of the production process for methamphetamine and fentanyl. These drugs are then transported across the border by groups like the Sinaloa Cartel and the CJNG.
In this investigation, InSight Crime breaks down the different stages of the supply chain for these synthetic drugs. We look at the chemical companies manufacturing and selling the precursors in China and India, the transnational network of buyers sourcing the precursors, and the chemists and cooks synthesizing the drugs in Mexico. The report also assesses the effectiveness of current regulatory and law enforcement efforts on this issue and offers a series of recommendations aimed at governments, multilateral organizations, and other decision-makers.