- Chinese gangs are having an increased presence in Mexico.
- The US administration is struggling to curb the drug menace.
- China is a major exporter of drug precursors.
According to a new report, published by Fox News, Chinese gangs are expanding their footprint in the Mexican drug trafficking scene. Some of the Chinese networks specialize in the importation of precursor chemicals used in the processing of synthetic drugs, such as meth and fentanyl.
The report highlights the increased involvement of East Asian organizations in Mexico. Many of them use front companies dealing in pharmaceutical products to import the chemicals, which are then sold to Mexican cartels. The dubious firms help to blur the lines between legal and illegal chemical imports.
Aside from this, some Chinese syndicates in Mexico are involved in the laundering of drug proceeds for the cartels. According to the Fox report, the sophisticated networks obfuscate the money trail using smurfers, relatives, and cryptocurrency networks with lax KYC requirements.
The Los Zheng Chinese criminal network has been identified as one of the main players in the importation of fentanyl and meth into Mexico.
According to intelligence information revealed by the Fortress Risk Management security firm, the group runs legitimate-looking shell companies that range from clinical laboratory firms to computer system enterprises.
Investigations indicate that the ports of Lázaro Cárdenas in Michoacán, and Manzanillo, Colima, are used to bring in the products, with corrupt officials at the ports facilitating their entry.
The bulk of the chemical consignments usually originate from Wuhan, China, a major chemical production hub. Most of the orders are made by the Sinaloa, and Jalisco New Generation Cartels.
From the ports, the syntheticals are delivered to cartel strongholds by air and land. Much of the cargo ends up in Jalisco, Sinaloa, and Sonora. After processing for consumption by cartel chemists, the narcotics are then shipped to the United States via drug trafficking plazas neighboring the United States.
US anti-narcotics agencies have warned that the Chinese cartels are evolving and incorporating more complex strategies to develop their drug trafficking and money laundering networks, and this could lead to a worse drug deluge.
The protracted coronavirus epidemic has reportedly caused a rise in demand for drugs, a problem that the United States government will struggle to curb in the coming years.
The US Government and the War on Drugs
The Trump administration had already tried to combat the scourge by building a border wall spanning 400 miles to prevent Mexican criminal organizations from bringing in illicit drugs into the country. However, the strategy has yet to yield tangible results.
That said, federal agencies have increased the number of drug trafficking prosecutions. Investigations, as well as concerted efforts to dismantle major Mexican drug networks, have also been made.
Earlier this year, over 600 Jalisco New Generation Cartel operatives were arrested within a week, and a record 350 indictments were made within the same period. It will be interesting to see how the new Biden administration will handle the rising drug-use and narco-trafficking problem.