Mexican heroin is flooding the US, and the Sinaloa cartel is steering the flow

11/18/2017 Business Insider 

2870348905_10a5b1d375_bHeroin availability in the US — and overdose deaths related to drug — has skyrocketed over the past several years.

Eleven of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 21 field divisions in the US rated it has the number-one drug threat in 2016. And while the DEA says heroin from Mexico, South America, Southwest Asia, and Southeast Asia is all available in the US, the agency’s testing and research indicate that the US’s southern neighbor is the dominant source.

“Mexico and, to a lesser extent, Colombia dominate the US heroin market because of their proximity, established transportation and distribution infrastructure, and ability to satisfy heroin demand in the United States,” the DEA notes in its 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment.

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Prescription drug smuggling busts spike on Arizona-Mexico border

11/11/2017 The Arizona Daily Star 

drugsA woman walked up to a blue SUV in a Food City parking lot in Nogales, Arizona, and started removing packages of prescription drugs from her groin.

She handed the packages to two men in the SUV who had crossed the border earlier that day and received pills from different carriers in the parking lots of a Walmart and the Food City in Nogales on Aug. 17, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Tucson.

Oblivious to the Homeland Security Investigations agents following them, the men in the SUV, Juan Valenzuela Armenta, 22, and Jose Perez Val, 26, headed to the post office with 14 envelopes filled with pharmaceuticals, according to the Sept. 1 criminal complaint.

Over the span of three days, federal prosecutors said camera footage recorded the men trying to mail about 4,400 prescription pills divided among 29 different envelopes before agents intercepted them.

Mexico’s Record Violence Is a Crisis 20 Years in the Making

10/28/2017 The New York Times 

58063dc18d83b439008b5113-2400MEXICO CITY — The forces driving violence in Mexico, which is now on track for its worst year in decades, were first set in motion 20 years ago by two events that were, at the time, celebrated as triumphs.

First, Colombia defeated its major drug cartels in the 1990s, driving the center of the drug trade from the country into Mexico.

Then, in 2000, Mexico transitioned to a multiparty democracy.

This meant that the drug trade moved to Mexico just as its politics and institutions were in flux, leaving them unable to address a problem they have often made worse.

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Mexico arrests top Sinaloa cartel heroin trafficker

10/26/2017 Washington Post

drugsMEXICO CITY — One of the top heroin traffickers for the sons of Sinaloa drug cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was arrested Thursday, Mexican prosecutors said.

Guzman’s sons have largely taken over the cartel following their father’s arrest last year and extradition to the United States.

The Attorney General’s Office said Victor Manuel Felix was arrested at a tony apartment complex in an upscale suburb of Mexico City known as Santa Fe.

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Here’s where Mexican drug cartels operate in the US, according to the DEA

10/25/2017 Business Insider 

mexican drugsMexican drug-trafficking organizations maintain heavy influence in broad swaths of the US — particularly Southern California, the Northeast, along the southern border, and in South Florida — and they continue to expand, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment

The report depicts shifts in cartel presence in the US — most notably the disappearance of the Knights Templar, which “is still regarded as a viable [transnational criminal organization] in Mexico,” though the “DEA assesses it does not have a major impact on the drug trafficking landscape within the United States.”

The six cartels that the DEA judges to have the greatest drug-trafficking influence in the US are the Sinaloa, Jalisco New Generation, Juarez, and Gulf cartels and the Beltran Leyva Organization.

Where Tourism Thrives in Mexico, Bloodshed and Poverty Are Blocks Away

58063dc18d83b439008b5113-240009/17/2017 The New York Times

LOS CABOS, Mexico — In recruiting foot soldiers, the drug gang did not have to look hard to find 18-year-old Edwin Alberto López Rojas. He, in fact, had been looking for them.

He admired the traffickers’ lifestyle and power. And the money he stood to make promised admission to the ranks of the international elite who cavorted in the luxury resorts mere blocks — yet a universe away — from the poor neighborhoods where he grew up in Los Cabos, a tourism mecca at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula.

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The 1985 murder of a DEA agent still haunts Mexico. Finally, a drug lord gets sentenced in the case

8/24/2017 Los Angeles Times

He was known as “El Padrino” — the Godfather — and, as co-founder of the once-dominant Guadalajara drug cartel, Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo reigned over Mexico’s multibillion-dollar narco-commerce with all the ruthlessness and aplomb of the fictional Don Corleone.

The former street cop and bodyguard turned-drug kingpin counted police commanders and politicians among his protectors and supplicants.

ut eventually, Gallardo went too far. The international outrage following the 1985 murder in Mexico of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent, Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, eventually led to the fall of Gallardo and his close associates and the splintering of their nationwide criminal network.

The fallout of Camarena’s murder — and the unraveling of Gallardo’s cartel — continues to be felt in Mexico to this day, influencing law enforcement, politics and how modern cartels operate. Even though Gallardo was arrested decades ago, the case made the news again this week when a Mexican federal court sentenced Gallardo to 37 years in prison for the murder of Camarena and a Mexican pilot, Alfredo Zavala.

As part of Wednesday’s court decision, Gallardo also was ordered to make the equivalent of $1.18 million in reparation payments, presumably to the families of the victims.

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