Financial Times experts explain how fentanyl changed the game for Mexico’s drug cartels

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A view of the port of Manzanillo The port of Manzanillo has become an entry point for chemicals that are used to make fentanyl © Alan Ortega/Reuters

By Christine Murray | Manzanillo, Colima. July 24, 2023.

In less than a decade, traffickers have created a highly profitable business to feed the US demand for synthetic opioids.

One Sunday morning in May, after leaving a restaurant in western Mexico, Sergio Emmanuel Martínez, a new customs director at the country’s largest port, was kidnapped.

The next day, he was found dead next to a motorway, making him the fourth customs official at the port of Manzanillo to be murdered in less than two years.

Manzanillo is a bustling center of global commerce but it is also an entry point for chemicals from China that are used to make the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

Like other Pacific coast hubs, its importance to the drug business has risen sharply with the fentanyl boom, triggering a violent battle among cartels for control of the port. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Martínez’s death was related to measures taken to stop illegal imports.

“The people who come to work in customs are subject to pressures,” Griselda Martínez, Manzanillo’s mayor, told the Financial Times. “If they accept what one group proposes, they are killed.” . . and if they don’t accept, they are too.”
Griselda Martinez, mayor of Manzanillo.

Griselda Martínez, Manzanillo’s mayor, says people who work in customs are subject to pressures from drug cartels © Alan Ortega/Reuters

In the last decade, fentanyl has become the leading cause of death for young adults in the US. Mexico’s illegal drug trade has also adapted to the shift from plant-based drugs towards synthetics, creating a new, streamlined, and highly profitable arm of the illicit business with fewer workers and lower costs — but just as much violence.

Click here to read the complete original article on the Financial Times

Source: Financial Times

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