On Security

Mexico's Cartels Find Another Game Changer in Fentanyl

Scott Stewart
VP of Tactical Analysis, Stratfor
Aug 3, 2017 | 08:00 GMT
Bags of heroin, some laced with fentanyl, are shown at a press conference at the office of the New York Attorney General.

Fentanyl is fairly inexpensive, leading to drug dealers attempting to pass it off as various more expensive narcotics, such as "China White" heroin. If pressed into pill form, it can mimic pharmaceutical opiates such as oxycodone or hydrocodone.

(DREW ANGERER/Getty Images)

The cocaine trade significantly affected the historical trajectory of Mexican organized crime, providing cartels with unprecedented quantities of cash that they then parlayed into power. Starting in the 1980s, Mexican criminal organizations began fighting over the immense profit pool produced by the cocaine trade, and this infighting has continued in one form or another to today. But cocaine was merely the first of several drugs that proved to be game changers for Mexican organized crime groups. The latest of them, fentanyl (and related synthetic opioids), is the most profitable yet, and is rapidly becoming the deadliest drug for users north of the border....

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