More than 44,000 members in 100 different countries: the United States DEA reports on the operations of the Sinaloa Cartel and the CJNG

The drug agency claims that Mexico “mass” produces fentanyl. López Obrador rejects information from United States agency: “What evidence have they got?

Between the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel (CJNG) and the Sinaloa Cartel there are more than 45,000 active members distributed throughout more than 100 countries around the globe, a kind of multinational company that operates successfully in the shade of the system. The report comes from Annie Milgram, head of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), who asserted in an appearance this Thursday that Mexico ”mass” produces fentanyl, the synthetic drug that registers the most overdoses in the northern neighbor, and that the “only limit” of the cartels to their production is the lack of chemical precursors that arrive from China.

The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has systematically denied that his country produces this drug, has refuted the official morning press conference this Friday and has questioned the DEA data. “We don’t have that information, I don’t know where the DEA lady got it from,” said the president in an almost contemptuous tone. “What evidence have you?” López Obrador snapped. The Mexican government, for its part, accuses China of being the producer of fentanyl and ensures that Mexico is only the gateway for the product to its northern neighbor.

But that was not the only information in the hands of the DEA. The report stresses that the CJNG is the criminal group with the greatest presence in Mexico: it operates in 21 of the 32 states, has some 18,800 members, and is present on all continents except Antarctica, the frozen continent at the south of planet Earth. The Sinaloa Cartel has 26,000 troops, a presence in 19 States of the Republic and was, thanks to the Los Chapitos group, the pioneer in the manufacture and trafficking of fentanyl to the United States. “They control a global criminal enterprise that has taken the lives of thousands” of their compatriots, Milgram denounced.

Throughout these years, in which the fentanyl crisis has escalated to levels never seen before with any drug, the US agency has investigated and mapped the most important criminal groups in Mexico, in an attempt to stop them or at least slow down their activities. Now, the DEA has identified members of these networks and its enablers, wholesalers and the people and companies that are in charge of money laundering. They have also identified people in their communities, in the United States, who are the last piece of the puzzle, the ones who put the product in the hands of consumers on the other side of the border.

The authorities have obtained the information after a profound change within the organization. Milgram has said that the DEA created two containment teams, one focused on the Sinaloa Cartel and the other on the CJNG. The teams are made up of special intelligence agents, data analysts and scientists who are experts in chemical and financial matters. The change in strategy seems to have yielded results and has led to the creation of strategies such as Operation Last Mile, which made it possible to track and arrest 3,337 members and associates of the two cartels in the United States. “We identified that both groups use social media and encrypted apps to coordinate with consumers,” Milgram reported.

Still, Mexico insists on denying the truth, despite the evidence. In a meeting at the beginning of the week between the delegations of the United States and Canada, Mexico assured that the country is above all a place of transit for synthetic drugs, but that it does not produce them. Therefore, efforts are focused on containing the passage of fentanyl in coordination with the other North American countries. The meeting was led by the Secretary of Public Security, Rosa Icela Rodríguez, and by the White House security adviser, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall. The DEA revelations put Mexico back on the ropes and make it increasingly difficult to deny that fentanyl, a drug that is between 50 and 100 times stronger than heroin, is produced here.

Original article by Daniel Alonso Viña at El País

Translated by Schools for Chiapas.

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