Sandoval says 'there was a change in drug markets due to the ease of producing synthetic drugs'
Mexico’s cartels are increasingly turning away from the production of opium and marijuana, looking instead towards establishing a greater presence in the synthetic drug market.
Figures released by Mexico’s Defense Department on Monday seizures indicated a 525 percent increase in fentanyl busts throughout 2018 to 2021 when compared to the same previous three year period.
Authorities only confiscated 1,232 pounds of fentanyl in 2016-2018, but in 2019-2021, the amount of the synthetic opioid seized soared to 7,710 pounds.
“There was a change in consumption, there was a change in drug markets due to the ease of producing synthetic drugs,” Defense Secretary Gen. Luis Cresencio Sandoval explained, according to NPR.
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With the production of more organic drugs like opium and marijuana, cartels need to pay farmers and agricultural workers who gather the product.
This is not the case with synthetic drugs like meth and fentanyl, which can be produced in large amounts through industrial scale labs.
Last week, a driver from Mexico was arrested after he attempted to smuggle over 17,500 pounds of meth and 389 pounds of fentanyl into the United States, marking the largest such seizure of either drug in the US.
While Sandoval praised recent drug raids as proof that the problem is being addressed, security expert Alejandro Hope expressed a less optimistic outlook.
“It could be because of a greater effort, or it could be because there is a greater volume,” Hope argued, according to NPR.