The Sinaloa Cartel, known for its involvement in fentanyl smuggling into the United States, has implemented a crackdown on the production and sale of the powerful opioid within its territory in Culiacán, Mexico. The cartel’s Chapitos clan, led by the sons of notorious drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, issued the edict as a means to deflect American law enforcement. This move comes amidst a worsening fentanyl crisis in the United States, where the drug has become the leading cause of death for individuals aged 18 to 49.
In a grisly display, three bodies were found on the outskirts of Culiacán, with blue pills of fentanyl scattered over them. This act serves as a warning to those involved in fentanyl production or smuggling within the cartel’s stronghold. The Chapitos clan has faced several setbacks this year, including the arrest of Ovidio Guzmán, one of El Chapo’s sons, and the indictment of the four El Chapo heirs and over 20 cartel members and associates by the U.S. Justice Department.
Fentanyl, a highly addictive opioid, is inexpensive to produce and can be lethal in small doses. Most of the fentanyl in the United States originates from underground labs controlled by the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels in Mexico. It is often mixed with other drugs or sold as counterfeit oxycodone prescription pills, leading to unsuspecting individuals consuming the substance. In response to the fentanyl crisis, efforts are underway to expand access to naloxone, an overdose medication, and researchers are conducting human trials for vaccines that aim to reduce the effects of fentanyl and heroin.