Fentanyl: A senior Mexican official recognizes that the country ‘is the champion’ in the drug production

The statement by the head of the Criminal Investigation Agency contradicts the position maintained by President López Obrador

Felipe de Jesús Gallo
Felipe de Jesús Gallo at the International Conference on Synthetic Drugs, on April 23.Isaac Esquivel (EFE)
El País

A senior official from the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (FGR) has admitted that Mexico “is the champion” in the production of fentanyl. Felipe de Jesús Gallo, the head of the Criminal Investigation Agency, is the first member of this administration to openly recognize the problem that the country faces with this synthetic drug, according to the Associated Press. The remarks run counter to past statements by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who first denied that fentanyl was being produced in Mexico, although he later opened up a window on the issue on a TV interview with CBS’ Sixty Minutes. “The main problem in the United States today, from my point of view, is drug consumption and especially the consumption of fentanyl,” he said. Then the president claimed that the program had edited his words, and broadcast an excerpt where he contradicted himself and pointed out that in his country “fentanyl is not produced” and that “only the precursors arrive.”

The words of the head of the largest Mexican investigation agency, attached to the FGR, resonate more forcefully. “Mexico has been the champion of methamphetamine production, and now fentanyl,” Gallo said this Tuesday at the International Conference on Synthetic Drugs. “It has been the greatest provider of wealth and power for various criminal organizations. We have arrived at business models as innovative or as old and archaic as barter, ‘I’ll exchange precursors for methamphetamines to avoid the money trail,’” he added.

The discussion about whether Mexico is a producing country or only a country of transit is a debate that the government has never wanted to address, despite the multiple evidence that supports the first theory. In May of last year, when the matter was at its highest peak, the president assured that “he had proof” that Mexico received the almost finished product, and within its borders it was only pressed or given the final details.

For some years now, fentanyl trafficking has been one of the biggest points of tension between the governments of Mexico and the United States, and more circumstantially, of Canada. This synthetic drug, which is 50 times more powerful than heroin, has been responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 people in the United States alone last year, according to official data. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has warned of the growing expansion of synthetic drugs around the world because they represent lower production costs, fewer risks of detection and greater profits for organized crime groups.

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