17 | NOV | 2019
The arrest of Ovidio Guzmán is linked to the fentanyl crackdown in the U.S.
Ovidio Guzmán was arrested and released by authorities on October 17 - Photo: Cliff Owen/AP

The arrest of Ovidio Guzmán is linked to the fentanyl crackdown in the U.S.

04/11/2019
13:57
Reuters
Mexico City
Daina Beth Solomon
-A +A
On October 7, Mexican authorities launched an investigation against Ovidio Guzmán

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Last week, Mexico’s Security Minister, Alfonso Durazo, said the efforts to curb the opioid fentanyl crisis were behind the brief arrest of Ovidio Guzmán in Culiacán on October 17, the home of the infamous Sinaloa cartel.

After the United States requested his extradition, Ovidio Guzmán was briefly detained but then released when security forces were outnumbered and after cartel gunmen threw grenades at the homes of soldiers and orchestrated blockades and shootings throughout the city.

Fentanyl trade endangers Mexican drug cartels

Alfonso Durazo said Ovidio Guzmán was wanted by U.S. authorities on allegations of smuggling fentanyl, the potent opioid widely used in the United States.

After Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was extradited to the U.S. and sentenced to life in prison, Ovidio Guzmán’s role inside the Sinaloa cartel grew.

Durazo told reporters that “one of the very reasons for the U.S. interest, and the basis for the extradition order, is, in fact, the suspected link between this alleged criminal and introducing fentanyl into the United States,” told reporters.

In February 2019, a U.S. district court issued an indictment against Ovidio Guzmán and charged him with conspiring to traffic cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana, but did not mention fentanyl.

Mexican authorities find13 fentanyl trafficking routes

In August 2019, President Donald Trump said Mexico needed to do more to halt fentanyl production and smuggling across the Mexico-U.S. border.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Sinaloa cartel is one of Mexico’s top fentanyl traffickers to the United States. More recently, this cartel seems to have moved into the production of fentanyl.

In September 2019, DEA officers took part in a “covert mission” in Sinaloa, the agency said in a statement at the time and added that “profit margins for fentanyl and methamphetamine are driving the drug trade by the cartels.”

In April 2019, officials raided a fentanyl laboratory in Culiacán, where Ovidio Guzmán and his brothers control the drug trade. In 2018, authorities also discovered a fentanyl laboratory in Mexico City.

Earlier this year, the National Institute of Drug Abuse reported that around 130 people in the U.S. die every day after overdosing on opioids, which include prescription pain medication, heroin, and synthetic drugs such as fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a synthetic drug developed in 1959, it is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. A kilogram of fentanyl costs around USD $400,000.

On October 7, Mexican authorities launched an investigation against Ovidio Guzmán as he is suspected of organized crime, arms trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, and crimes against health.

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