Mexican prosecutors said Thursday that they found an illicit facility with a tablet press used to make fentanyl tablets in the border city of San Luis Rio Colorado, across from Yuma, Arizona.
The city is best known for its numerous pharmacies, dentists and doctors’ offices that cater to American visitors.
But federal prosecutors said they detained a man there who had 11 kilograms of fentanyl tablets, 110 kilograms of white powder and 44 kilograms of blue powder and an industrial tablet press.
Mexican cartels import close precursors of fentanyl from China and then press the drug into counterfeit pills made to look like Xanax, Adderall or Oxycodone, or mixed with other drugs. This led to tens of thousands ofin the United States because people often don’t realize they are taking fentanyl.
Agents at the US-Mexico border are using new technology to scan trucks for fentanyl, as fentanyl pills seized by police increased nearly 50-fold between 2018 and 2021, CBS News’ Lilia Luciano reported last month.
DEA focuses on China as fentanyl deaths rise
The leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 and 45 is fentanyl overdoses. With most fentanyl chemicals produced in China, the Drug Enforcement Administration isto crack down on the supply chain networks that produce the illegal drug.
“We would like China to do more,” DEA administrator Anne Milgram told CBS News. “For example, we need to be able to track all shipments of chemicals that leave these Chinese chemical companies and arrive in Mexico. At the moment, we cannot do that.”
The DEA seized 2,100 pounds of precursor chemicals from January 2021 to March 2022, Milgram said. It’s enough to make a billion potentially lethal doses, but Milgram knows his agency isn’t getting all that.
“That’s what we care about,” she said. “That’s part of why we’re so focused right now on preventing chemicals from leaving Chinese chemical companies. If we can go as far as possible to China, we have a much better chance of preventing it from being made in Mexico.”
Milgram said Chinese chemical companies are currently the biggest producers of precursor chemicals used to make fentanyl.
“There is a relationship between these Chinese chemical companies and the criminal cartels in Mexico,” she said.
Milgram said that by the time the drugs reach the border, “it’s too late.”
“I can say with 100% certainty that criminal drug cartels in Mexico will stop at nothing to bring fentanyl to the United States,” she said.