Seizure Data Show Mexican Cartels Thriving Despite Coronavirus Pandemic

A Border Patrol Jeep at the Tecate Port of Entry
Breitbart/Brandon Darby

Despite President Trump’s announcement that the U.S.-Mexico Border will close Saturday to all non-essential crossings to help stem the spread of the coronavirus like recently seen with Canada, major cartel smuggling operations risk few disruptions. Some recent adjustments have made these organizations practically immune to the broader impacts of the pandemic.

Cargo and trade will continue—and it is precisely there where major cartels make their money.

Major Mexican cartel operations encompass an extensive infrastructure that leverages large trucks and tractor-trailers to smuggle methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, and people straight through ports of entry. The truck hauling produce to replenish your local supermarket might have some meth tucked between crates.

Smaller smuggling organizations without the transportation prowess will face the need to shift tactics in this partial border shutdown. They will likely utilize personal vehicles and body carriers to move through and around the land ports.

According to CBP seizure data, most human smuggling operations are conducted between the ports of entry, and law enforcement should see a slight increase in apprehensions and drug seizures there over the next few months.

The coronavirus situation will test the resiliency of criminal and legitimate business structures alike as difficulty increases to get products to market. In times like these, the criminal underworld has proven more than capable at finding gaps in emergent conditions and procedures to thrive.

Recently, the Sinaloa Cartel hired chemists to internally manufacture a synthetic form of N-Phenethyl-4-piperidinone (NPP), a derivative of 4-piperidinone with the molecular formula C13H17NO. 4-Piperidinone which is used in the manufacture of chemicals and pharmaceutical drugs such as fentanyl. This allows the Sinaloa Cartel to sidestep their Chinese suppliers and come closer to vertical integration in fentanyl manufacturing.

The production of methamphetamine in Mexico is conducted in what is now known as superlabs. They too require chemical precursors like P2P, which is purchased and shipped from China. Yet, U.S. law enforcement agencies over the last three months have seized more methamphetamine than at any other time in U.S. history, according to recent seizure data.

Since December 2019, global travel has restricted and chemical shipments from China started running dry. At the same time, Mexican cartels are pushing more methamphetamine and fentanyl into the United States than ever before.

Jaeson Jones is a retired Captain from the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division and a Breitbart Texas contributor. While on duty, he managed daily operations for the Texas Rangers Border Security Operations Center.

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