MEXICO CITY (AP) — Federal agents said Wednesday that they detained four people in a raid on a clandestine lab that apparently produced the synthetic opioid fentanyl in Mexico City.
Only a few such labs have been detected in Mexico in recent years, though Mexico is one of the main suppliers of the deadly drug.
Much of the illicit fentanyl consumed in the U.S. originates in China, but is often smuggled through Mexico. Mexican cartels have also been known to produce the drug from precursor chemicals mainly imported from China.
The Attorney General’s Office said the lab was in a middle-income neighborhood on Mexico City’s north side. The lab apparently had its own automated pill press.
Fentanyl is often mixed with heroin, but is also pressed into pills made to resemble other drugs. An accidental overdose of fentanyl was determined to have killed music legend Prince in April 2016, apparently when he took fentanyl pills made to look like another drug.
On Sept. 10, police in the Mexico border city of Mexicali, in Baja California state, raided a clandestine fentanyl lab and detained two suspects, one of them a Russian man. Police found 20,000 fentanyl pills at the building.
In a 2018 report, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said: “Mexican traffickers order fentanyl from China, adulterate it, and smuggle it into the United States themselves, meaning an unknown amount of seized Mexican parcels containing fentanyl are ultimately of Chinese origin. In addition, Mexican traffickers’ primary source of supply for fentanyl precursor chemicals is also China.”