HomeNewsBriefUS Chemicals Help Fuel Mexico Drug Production: Report
BRIEF

US Chemicals Help Fuel Mexico Drug Production: Report

FENTANYL / 11 SEP 2020 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

Authorities in Mexico said they will look into the mass-scale diversion of chemicals from US companies to produce drugs that are trafficked over the border to feed consumers in the United States, further evidence crime groups are not reliant on Chinese precursors.

“It doesn’t matter if these are US companies. They can be from any part of the world, but we will not permit this,” Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced during his morning press conference September 7.

The comments followed a Bloomberg investigation published August 26 that uncovered how Mexico’s organized crime groups are sourcing precursor chemicals used to make heroin and the synthetic drug methamphetamine from US companies that supply the country’s legal market.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

A lack of oversight facilitates the problem. While drug-making chemicals are regulated by US and international law, “their reach often ends at the Mexican border for local subsidiaries of American companies,” Bloomberg found.

In one roughly two-year period, Bloomberg reported that thieves thought to be working for the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación – CJNG) stole at least 30,000 liters of monomethylamine -- a central component in methamphetamine production -- from the Mexican subsidiary of the Dallas-based Celanese Corp.

The Bloomberg report also linked one large May 2019 seizure of acetic anhydride -- required alongside the sap from opium poppies to produce heroin -- used by the Sinaloa Cartel for heroin production to Avantor Inc., a billion-dollar chemical manufacturing and distribution company headquartered in Pennsylvania.

Under US law, any significant losses must be reported to the Justice Department. Failing to do so is a federal crime. However, those requirements don’t apply to the Mexican subsidiaries of US companies. The supervision of chemicals often diverted for drug production is “effectively unregulated” in Mexico, according to Bloomberg.

Between 2010 and 2018, more than 142,000 people in the United States died from overdoses of both heroin and methamphetamine sourced primarily from Mexico.

InSight Crime Analysis

The United States has sought to thwart the flow of precursor chemicals from China used for drug production in Mexico. The east Asian country is the primary source for the majority of chemicals used to make synthetic drugs, especially fentanyl.

But in response to restrictions brought on by the coronavirus and increased regulations in China, Mexico’s crime groups have sought out alternative routes to obtain the chemicals and invented new chemical compounds entirely to skirt restrictions.

SEE ALSO: Mexico City Fentanyl Seizures May Point to Shifting Trafficking Trends

However, the role of US companies in facilitating drug production in Mexico complicates the situation. The Bloomberg report suggests that criminal groups have been able to count, at least partially, on domestic sourcing for precursor chemicals for years.

In addition to local manufacturers and Chinese and US companies, Mexican authorities have in years past also seized shipments of precursor chemicals sent to the country from South Korea, at times disguised among legal shipments of fertilizer.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

GULF CARTEL / 15 MAR 2022

Mexican armed forces have captured the reported leader of the feared Northeast Cartel, but this arrest may only stoke further…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 11 JUN 2021

Over seven million rounds of ammunition were stolen by an unknown armed group in central Mexico this week, a record-breaking…

ELITES AND CRIME / 9 OCT 2020

As drug traffickers’ bank of choice for many years, HSBC allowed its services to be used as a conduit…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…