Source: Jose Nino
View of the metal fence along the border in Sonoyta, Sonora state, northern Mexico, between the Altar desert in Mexico and the Arizona desert in the United States, on March 27, 2017. Threatened species like the Sonoran pronghorn or desert bighorn sheep freely cross the border between Mexico and the United States in protected biospheres, but the construction of US President Donald Trump’s wall will block their movement in these desert valleys and could drive them to extinction. / AFP PHOTO / PEDRO PARDO (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
In an annual report that it recently released, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration identified nine Mexican drug cartels as the principal entities behind the flood of cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine into the country.
The DEA’s 2020 National Drug Threat Assessment was published March 2, 2021 and illustrated how Mexico’s leading cartels operate.
The following map from the Daily Mail highlighted the “spheres of influence” the cartels hold and where they have strong commercial interests in the United States.
The map demonstrated that the Sinaloa Cartel — the cartel notorious drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera founded — and the competing Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) were the principal criminal syndicates transporting drugs and projecting their criminal influence into the US in 2020.
According to the DEA report, the Sinaloa cartel apparently controls smuggling routes in Arizona and California, while CJNG controls the Mexican port of Manzanillo for its smuggling operations.
The Daily Mail reported that “other key players” listed in the DEA report included “the Cartel del Noreste [Northeast Cartel] and Los Zetas, Guerreros Unidos [United Warriors], Juaréz Cartel and La Línea, and La Familia Michoacana.”
“Mexican TCOs [transnational criminal organizations] are the greatest drug trafficking threat to the United States,” the DEA observed in the report.
“They control most of the U.S. drug market and have established varied transportation routes, have advanced communications capabilities, and hold strong affiliations with criminal groups and gangs in the United States.”
What was most striking about the DEA report was the continued strength of the Sinaloa Cartel, whose legendary co-founder Joquin “El Chapo” Guzmán is spending life behind bars at the Colorado super maximum security prison. The Sinaloa Cartel’s control on the sale and trafficking of drug across America has not slipped, as it has significant influence in 24 states and Washington, D.C.
The report found:
The cartel employs gatekeepers assigned to Ports Of Entry and controls Arizona and California area smuggling corridors into the United States.
The rival CJNG outfit has business operations in 11 American states, along with Hawaii and the American territory of Puerto Rico. CJNG’s reach is strongest in Mexico, where it is present in 23 of Mexico’s 32 states.
The report discovered the following:
The CJNG smuggles illicit drugs into the United States by accessing various trafficking corridors in northern Mexico along the southwest border including Tijuana, Juarez, and Nuevo Laredo. The CJNG also has influence over the busiest port in Mexico, the Port of Manzanillo, and utilizes that influence for the distribution of large quantities of drugs.
Nemesio ‘El Mencho’ Oseguera is the head of the CGNC and is Mexico’s most wanted individual. He formerly worked under El Chapo. At the moment, the DEA has a $10 million reward for information that would lead to the capture of El Mencho or his conviction.
According to the DEA, the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel have grown their criminals operations in their United States by forging business alliances with other organizations, which includes independent DTOs (drug trafficking organizations). The two cartel heavyweights partner up with transnational gangs, American street gangs, prison gangs, and Asian money laundering organizations.
In the DEA report, the Beltrán-Leyva Organization is reported to have operations running in six states, whereas the Los Rojos cartel is largely present in Oklahoma and the Gulf Cartel is active trafficking drugs in the state of Illinois.
One of the more surprising findings of the DEA’s report is that the Wuhan virus pandemic has not put a dent in the business efforts of drug cartels.
The Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel took advantage of the epidemic by cranking up the price of methamphetamine. This drug is known to be produced in secret drug labs in Mexico. So far, both of the cartel giants have scaled back their usual volume of meth deliveries, which has been a contributing factor behind the recent increase in its price.
The DEA reported that the bulk of heroin and fentanyl circulating in the United States is being smuggled into the country by way of its southwest border. Additionally, smaller amounts of contraband is brought stateside via couriers flying on commercial airlines.
The report expanded on how cocaine was being transported to the states:
Land transportation via the interstate system is the most predominant method of transporting illicit opioids, with personally-owned vehicles (POVs), rental vehicles, and trucks/tractor trailers identified as the most commonly used modes of transport. POVs are often retrofitted with concealed compartments that are used … to hide heroin, fentanyl, bulk currency, and other contraband.
At the same time, manufacturers in China are shipping fentanyl to drug dealers as well. The level of coordination between Mexican and Chinese nationals has raised some speculation about this activity being geopolitical in nature. In other words, party of Chinese grand strategy is to use non-state actors — drug traffickers — to undermine peer competitors such as the U.S.
“Fentanyl distributors in the United States also continue to order fentanyl, FRCs, and other synthetic opioids, such as U-47700, directly from manufacturers in China via the Internet including the dark web, with delivery accomplished by international mail and commercial parcel services” the report observed.
In the DEA’s 2020 National Drug Threat Assessment, Mexican cartels are portrayed as the greatest drug trafficking threat to the United States. Per the DEA’s figures, agents seized roughly 7,250 kilograms of heroin in the Fiscal Year 2020.
In addition, the agency highlighted an increase in the quantity of fentanyl seized by authorities. From the Fiscal Year 2019 to Fiscal Year 2020, the amount of fentanyl confiscated went from 2,773 kilograms to 2,914 kilograms.
Interestingly, there was a reduction in the amount of cocaine seized from Fiscal Year 2020 to Fiscal Year 2019. In 2019, 252,824 kilograms of cocaine was seized, while 212,860 kilograms was seized in 2020.
As for meth, DEA agents confiscated 48,069 kilograms of it in Fiscal Year 2020, which was a marked increase from 2019, when agents seized 39,995.
Mexican cartels are no joke. Mexico’s collapse in public order and America’s lax border enforcement has allowed cartels to have free reign in both Mexico and America.
Forget about whatever is going in the Middle East or in the South China Sea, the real threat is right across our border. If America had a serious foreign policy, it would be investing profuse amounts of money to bolster its border security and also provide military aid to Mexican non-corrupted institutions and actors that can combat Mexican cartels and related criminal entities.