Mexican Drugs Enter U.S. at Record Rates, Western States “Heroin Transit Zone”
The Obama administration’s failure to protect the southern border has allowed Mexican cartels to smuggle record amounts of drugs into the United States, especially heroin, which is increasingly popular in the U.S. Once the drugs get smuggled north Mexican traffickers use street, prison and outlaw motorcycle gangs to distribute them throughout the country much like a legitimate business enterprise.This has been going on for years and there seems to be no end in sight, according to a disturbing new report published by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the nonpartisan agency that provides Congress with policy and legal analysis. “Mexican transnational criminal organizations are the major suppliers and key producers of most illegal drugs smuggled into the United States,” the CRS states in its new report. “They have been increasing their share of the U.S. drug market—particularly with respect to heroin.” The bulk of the heroin smuggled into the United States transits across the Southwest border, the CRS writes, revealing that “from 2010 to 2015 heroin seizures in this area more than doubled from 1,016 kg to 2,524 kg.”
The trend mirrors the increase in overall seizures throughout the U.S., the CRS figures show. For instance, federal arrests and prosecutions of heroin traffickers have skyrocketed with 6,353 heroin-related arrests in 2015. Additionally, the number of individuals sentenced for heroin trafficking offenses in federal courts has increased by almost 50%, the report says. There are at least eight major Mexican drug trafficking organizations operating in the United States with the Sinaloa Cartel being the most active, the CRS reveals. “Mexican transnational criminal organizations (MTCOs) remain the greatest criminal drug threat to the United States; no other group can challenge them in the near term.” They operate sophisticated enterprises, using nearly 100 U.S. gangs in their cross-border crimes, government figures show.
Because the Mexican cartels move their drugs through the Southwest border, western states have become part of what’s known as the “heroin transit zone,” the CRS report says. “In addition, as the Mexican traffickers take on a larger role in the U.S. heroin market, and expand their operations to the East Coast, authorities have seen black tar heroin emerge in the Northeastern United States, where it had rarely been seen,” the report states. Large quantities of a synthetic opioid known as Fentanyl are also entering the U.S. primarily via the Mexican border, though the drug also comes from China. Fentanyl is 25-40 times more potent than heroin and 50-100 times more potent than morphine.
Undoubtedly, there’s an epidemic of drug abuse in the U.S. but cutting off the source would obviously improve the crisis. This may seem like common sense, but the CRS gently reminds legislators to consider it. “Policymakers may examine U.S. efforts to combat heroin trafficking as a means of combatting opioid abuse in the United States,” the CRS writes in its report. “Policymakers may also look at existing federal strategies on drug control, transnational crime, and Southwest border crime to evaluate whether they are able to target the current heroin trafficking threat.” Among the common-sense suggestions listed in the document is “securing U.S. borders.” It comes from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which has made disrupting drug trafficking and production a priority.
The impact of Mexican drug cartels has been well documented for some time in a number of government audits, even as the Obama administration insists the southern border is secure. Less than a year ago the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a report confirming that the majority of illegal drugs in the United States come from Mexico and Mexican traffickers remain the greatest criminal threat to the United States. They’re classified as Transitional Criminal Organizations (TCOs) by the government and for years they’ve smuggled in enormous quantities of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.