Unique: Amid US crackdown on fentanyl, Mexico gathers knowledge on drug lab raids

MEXICO CITY, March 17 (Reuters) – Mexico’s army has dramatically higher the choice of drug lab raids performed below President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, in step with govt figures and leaked army paperwork reviewed via Reuters.

The paperwork, discovered amongst a trove of thousands and thousands of emails leaked final 12 months via the Guacamaya hacker team, display upward revisions led to via the army’s retrospective revision of masses of inactive labs to its seizure checklist below the presidency of López Obrador. The figures for the former management’s years had been left unchanged.

Mexico’s army, in keeping with a freedom of knowledge request in February, now says it seized 635 artificial drug laboratories throughout 2019, 2020 and 2021 – the primary 3 years of López Obrador’s management – up from 104 busts that He had up to now reported for a similar duration.

The army additionally stated it anticipated to take hold of about 500 laboratories in 2022, the perfect annual determine to this point this century, in step with an army reaction to a Reuters request in January.

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Two former senior regulation enforcement figures in Mexico and the US, in addition to two serving Mexican safety assets, say the inflated figures aren’t credible.

“Those numbers are outrageous and now not definitely worth the paper,” stated Matthew Donahue, a former regional director for the United States Drug Enforcement Management (DEA), who was once up to now based totally in Mexico and retired from the company final 12 months, when requested a couple of Reuters research. was once introduced.” of information.

In his view, the numbers had been supposed to “pacify the US and make it seem that they’re doing one thing, when obviously they aren’t.”

Donahue stated his allegations had been in keeping with earlier enjoy running in Mexico, even supposing Reuters may now not independently examine his claims.

Two safety assets stated the Mexicans’ description of the medicine they seized in labs additionally raises questions concerning the accuracy of the lab knowledge. Within the knowledge set reviewed via Reuters, the labs that had been raided are categorized methamphetamine labs and none are categorized as generating fentanyl, a man-made opioid using file this is banned in the United States. There’s a file of overdose deaths.

In keeping with two safety assets, the absence of raids at the fentanyl lab is very not likely as a result of Mexican crime syndicates way back moved to mass-produce the drug on home soil, a pattern that coincided with China’s 2019 crackdown on fentanyl as a managed substance. had intensified after being categorized as

According to detailed questions from Reuters concerning the revised laboratory counts, the Mexican Ministry of Protection (Cedena) stated it “does now not have any knowledge that solutions the request”. SEDENA, which oversees the army, additionally didn’t reply to further questions on allegations that it integrated “defunct” laboratories at the seizure checklist and that the knowledge lacked credibility.

The presidency didn’t reply to more than one requests for remark at the alternate in knowledge. On Thursday, President López Obrador advised a standard morning press convention: “We’re steadily destroying laboratories.”

The White Space and the DEA declined to remark at the Reuters findings. A State Division spokesman stated the United States helps Mexico’s efforts to “successfully take hold of and examine clandestine drug laboratories” and is operating with Mexican counter-narcotics companies to facilitate such seizures. “Protocol established” for reporting.

US Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia who sits at the International Members of the family Committee, commented on Reuters’ findings after the newsletter of the tale, caution that the epidemic of overdose deaths will have to be addressed to handle drug trafficking. There’s a want for “nearer cooperation” with Mexico.

“If Mexican leaders aren’t doing their section, or seeking to downplay this factor, it’s deeply troubling and we will have to dangle them responsible,” Kaine stated in a observation.

Fentanyl or now not?

Laboratory busts, regularly in inhospitable mountainous areas, have traditionally been crucial metric of ways proactive Mexican safety forces had been in concentrated on drug trafficking teams.

The information revision comes amid intensifying US drive on Mexico to do extra to fight fentanyl manufacturing and trafficking, weeks forward of Lopez Obrador’s July 2022 talk over with to the White Space, in step with paperwork reviewed via Reuters . Mexico denies that fentanyl is produced there.

On Wednesday, on the president’s day by day press convention, officers once more fought again towards US claims that Mexico produces fentanyl and introduced a video pronouncing the present management has produced 153% greater than the former one. Drug laboratories had been raided.

Mexico’s overseas ministry stated on March 13 that its safety products and services had “no information” of fentanyl manufacturing within the nation, contradicting the DEA’s claims that Mexican cartels dominate all the world fentanyl provide chain.

Fentanyl, just lately recovered via US government alongside the southern border with Mexico, has damaged year-on-year information. In keeping with the United States Customs and Border Coverage company, US government will intercept 14,104 kilos (6,397 kg) of fentanyl in fiscal 12 months 2022, a 33% build up from the former 12 months.

Mexico’s overseas ministry spoke back to Reuters questions concerning the lab raid figures via forwarding International Minister Marcelo Ebrard’s Wednesday statements on fentanyl smuggling, wherein he stated fentanyl was once pressed into capsules in Mexico, however the drug was once now not to be had there. was once now not created.

Ebrard stated the drug is imported into Mexico from the US and unspecified “Asian nations”.

Members of the family between the US and Mexico had been strained below López Obrador, who has curbed safety cooperation with Mexico and punished the habits of DEA brokers in Mexico, accusing them of trampling on Mexico’s sovereignty.

DEA leader Anne Milgram advised the United States Congress final month that the company was once “very involved in clandestine laboratories in Mexico”, including that “virtually all” of the fentanyl seized in the US is produced there. .

“Passive” Labs

Whilst the army has publicized the upper lab raid figures in its most up-to-date per thirty days safety document, it has presented no public reason behind the knowledge adjustments, and the inclusion of inactive labs has now not been up to now reported.

Along with Donahue, the previous DEA regional director, 3 different Mexican and overseas safety assets stated they doubted the veracity of the lab seizure figures.

The alternate within the knowledge was once a “comic story”, stated Guillermo Valdés, Mexico’s civilian detective leader between 2007 and 2011, when Reuters confirmed him the knowledge. “It’s shameful that the military is keen to do that and is taking part in with its credibility.”

Interior army paperwork discovered amongst thousands and thousands of leaked Military emails launched via the Guacamaya hacker team display that during June 2022 the Military started together with “dormant deserted” laboratories in its tally of seizures.

In a draft document of anti-crime knowledge hooked up to an e-mail dated Might 30, the army stated it raided 232 laboratories below López Obrador (together with 2019, 2020, 2021 and a part of 2022). Per week later, in a revised version of the similar document despatched on 7 June, the Military higher that general to 873, reporting that 232 had been lively laboratories, whilst the remaining had been “inactive deserted” laboratories.

4 former and serving safety officers who spoke to Reuters stated there was once no transparent explanation why for conserving inactive laboratories, which were deserted for years, on its seizure checklist.

An Military dataset supplied in keeping with a Freedom of Knowledge request in August 2022 presentations 14 lab raids in sooner or later in June 2022 and 12 lab busts two days later – older than the army performed in all the 12 months in 2021 calculation approach.

Mexico’s Administrative center of the Lawyer Basic (FGR) additionally collates laboratory raids, and its statistics come with seizures made via different safety companies. FGR knowledge has traditionally been relatively upper, even supposing kind of consistent with knowledge supplied via the army, which accounts for almost all of raids.

For 2021, the FGR recorded 23 laboratory seizures, whilst the Military now claims to have 217 (raised from 21 in earlier knowledge).

In 2022, the FGR reported 18 lab raids via all safety companies, in comparison to the Military’s rely of 492 raids.

FGR didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Reporting via Drazen Georgic, Jackie Botes and Stephen Eisenhammer; Further reprints via Sarah Kinosian, Dave Graham, Lizbeth Diaz, and Alex Alper; Modifying via Claudia Parsons

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Agree with Ideas.