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US announces charges against leaders of Sinaloa Cartel for fentanyl


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    NORTH TEXAS (KTVT) — The U.S. Department of Justice has charged 23 people linked to the Sinaloa Cartel’s fentanyl trafficking operation, which Garland police blame for an uptick in fatal overdoses in the last eight years.

“Today, the Justice Department is announcing significant enforcement actions against the largest, most violent, and most prolific fentanyl trafficking operation in the world – run by the Sinaloa Cartel, and fueled by Chinese precursor chemical and pharmaceutical companies,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

The synthetic opioid is more than 50 times more potent than heroin. It’s the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 49.

In 2022, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized enough fentanyl to kill every American — more than 50 million fentanyl-laced pills and over 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder. In North Texas, the DEA Dallas Field Division seized more than 11 million deadly doses of fentanyl last year.

“It’s more prevalent. And when they come and flood the neighborhoods with this drug, there’s no end to it,” Jarrod Gilstrap, a Dallas Fire-Rescue outreach paramedic told CBSNewsTexas.

Despite the local, national and international crack down, fentanyl remains prevalent in communities across Texas and the country. And the drug is more deadly than ever, with six out of 10 fentanyl-laced pills containing a potentially deadly dose, according to the DEA.

“We’re finding it in everything, whether it’s fake Percocets or fake Xanax,” said Michael Watkins, a recovery support peer specialist with the Recovery Resource Council.

The fentanyl found in the pills Watkins referred to was likely manufactured by the Sinaloa Cartel. It’s largely responsible for the manufacturing and importing of fentanyl for distribution in the United States.

Between 2019 and 2021, fatal overdoses increased by approximately 94%, with an estimated 196 Americans dying each day from fentanyl, according to the Justice Department.

In February, Mexican soldiers seized more than a half million fentanyl pills in a raid on a large synthetic drug lab. The army said the outdoor lab was discovered in Culiacan, the capital of the northern state of Sinaloa in Mexico. Sinaloa is home to the drug cartel of the same name. Soldiers found almost 630,000 pills containing the synthetic opioid. They also reported seizing 282 pounds of powdered fentanyl.

Mexican drug cartels produce the opioid from precursor chemicals shipped from China, and then press it into pills counterfeited to look like Xanax, Percocet or Oxycodone. People often take the pills without knowing they contain fentanyl and can suffer deadly overdoses.

The Justice Department is also holding the chemical companies in China, which produce fentanyl accountable.

“Today’s indictments target every element of the Sinaloa Cartel’s trafficking network and reflect the Justice Department’s commitment to attacking every aspect of this threat: from the chemical companies in China that spawn fentanyl precursors, to the illicit labs that produce the poison, to the networks and money launderers and murderers that facilitate its distribution,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco in part.

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