Manzanillo, a port city on Mexico’s Pacific coast and about 175 miles south of Puerto Vallarta, is one of the busiest ports in Mexico. It is also where most of the fentanyl gets it start as it winds its way up the North American continent.  It is no secret that fentanyl overdose is the leading cause of death for Americans between the age of 18-45 and represents almost 70% of the drug overdoses in the U.S. Approximately 150 people a day die from an overdose of fentanyl.

What is the journey of a fentanyl tablet or capsule as it makes it way from the Manzanillo port to the shores of the United States?

Most fentanyl that hits our shores gets it start as precursor chemicals that come in containers from China. Most of these containers are filled with clothes, electronics, auto parts and other typical exports from China, but in amounts nearly too small to find, are the precursor chemicals that are transported to rudimentary labs in Mexico’s northern states. Only small amounts of the precursor chemical are needed to make a supply of Fentanyl that would satisfy one year’s worth of demand in the U.S. This, plus the fact that these precursor chemicals can be used for legal purposes makes interception of these chemicals from China almost impossible to stop. Add to that, the fact that the Mexican cartels control the import of these chemicals and their journey to the labs and eventually to the U.S. makes this a near intractable problem. Any interference by the Mexican authorities often results in the death of the authority.

The Mexican production of fentanyl has taken over heroin and marijuana as the drugs of choice among the cartels. It is much easier and more profitable for the cartels.  No vast swaths of land are needed to grow poppies or cannabis, and the number of laborers needed to produce fentanyl is far fewer. The fentanyl produced in labs is made by cheap untrained labor hired by the cartels and often cut with other drugs, including animal tranquillizers. From there, the processed fentanyl is transported to the U.S. by “mules” or by private plane.

Stopping this traffic is a monumental task. Some U.S. lawmakers have even broached the possibility of using the U.S. military to stop the cartels. It wouldn’t be the first time. There is a long history of using the U.S. military to fight drug trafficking. The Mexican government opposes such intervention as an assault on Mexico’s sovereignty. Both Mexico and China argue that the solution lies on the shores of the United States. Without the demand, there would be no supply.

Mexico, in particular, feels as though it has paid a high price for the demand for fentanyl. The cartels carrying this trade are violent and responsible for a record number of homicides in Mexico in recent years. Manzanillo, itself, has been the scene of some of that violence as the cartels battle for control of the port city.  Another casualty, if you would call it that, is that the rural areas of Mexico where the heroin poppies are grown have witnessed a steep decline in demand for their product. Consequently, the poor rural farmers have seen their incomes drop precipitously.

Closer to home, fentanyl addiction often perpetuates petty crime, homelessness, and for the unlucky, death. Many addicts endlessly rotate through the criminal justice system and live desperate lives. From the ships leaving China, to the ports and labs in Mexico, to the streets of the United States, the fentanyl scourge affects many lives.

Orange County criminal defense attorney, William Weinberg, is committed to helping those arrested for drug crimesnavigate the criminal justice system. He offers a free consultation regarding your drug charges or any other criminal matter where he will advise you of your defense options. You may contact him at his Irvine office by calling 949-474-8008 or by emailing him at bill@williamweinberg.com