The Washington Post reported that federal agents in Mexico raided a clandestine lab that produced fentanyl in a middle-class neighborhood on the north side of Mexico City. Law enforcement detained four people. In addition to synthesizing fentanyl from its precursor chemicals, the lab also had an automated pill press that can be used to manufacture counterfeit pills. For several years, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has indicated that China is the primary source for the illicit fentanyl that makes its way directly into the U.S., or by first shipping the drug through either Mexico and Canada.
However, Mexico having labs capable of properly synthesizing the precursor ingredients is a less frequent occurrence. In November 2018, DEA spokesperson in Phoenix Erica Curry warned that “Mexican cartels have begun generating and manufacturing fentanyl products on their own.” According to Reuters, agents also seized small blue pills and large plastic jugs containing dark liquid while searching this lab.
This is the second time in three months that federal agents in Mexico have disrupted a clandestine lab that was producing fentanyl. In September 2018, Uniradio Informa reported that police discovered a functioning fentanyl production lab in the border town of Mexicali in Baja Mexico. Mexicali is just across the border from Calexico, California. Two men – one from Mexico and one from Russia – were arrested and law enforcement seized approximately 20,000 counterfeit fentanyl pills along with equipment and precursor chemicals.
To learn more about what fentanyl is and how it gets into the United States, please read PSM’s Fentanyl 101.