How Mexican labs “cook” fentanyl, the opioid thirty times more powerful than heroin

by time news

2023-12-06 19:00:04

[Bertrand Monnet est professeur à l’Edhec (école de commerce), titulaire de la chaire Management des risques criminels. A ce titre, il s’intéresse au cartel de Sinaloa depuis 2014. Il lui a fallu des années pour identifier des intermédiaires capables de garantir à la fois la fiabilité de ses interlocuteurs et sa sécurité. Cette enquête sur le fentanyl, qui a donné lieu à une série vidéo en trois volets diffusée sur Lemonde.fr, a nécessité de nombreux séjours au Mexique et un long travail de mise en confiance. « Les “narcos” ont accepté de témoigner par volonté d’afficher leur puissance sur la scène internationale », estime le chercheur.]

A track at night, north of Culiacan. I have a meeting with a Sinaloa cartel executive. After a quarter of an hour of waiting at the GPS point previously communicated on WhatsApp, a long white GMC 4 × 4 approaches, all headlights on. A man in a bulletproof vest and Kevlar helmet stands in the dumpster, one hand on the butt of a 7.62-millimeter machine gun resting on the roof. Three others, who we can also imagine are armed, are seated behind him. Several silhouettes emerge behind the smoked windows of the passenger compartment.

The 4 × 4 slows down at the height of the Toyota pick-up in which I find myself with a driver affiliated with the cartel. Emerging from the darkness, two hooded men equipped with AK-47 and M4 assault rifles climb onto the rear platform of our vehicle. “We follow them”, orders one of them, as the GMC passes us. After twenty minutes on the trail, the convoy stops in a sort of basin, between a wood and the meadow of a ranch lit by the moon. Only the crickets and short messages spat out by the Motorola radios of our “escort” disturb the silence of the night.

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A man in a field jacket walks towards our pickup. He also wears a hood, under which he has slipped a cell phone stuck to his ear, in order to have his hands free. “Most importantly, keep your phone turned off, he blurted out in a low voice. And you come out when you’re told to. » About ten men inspect the surroundings. Two of them point their rifles towards the treetops, scanning the sky for possible drones.

A member of the Sinaloa cartel, north of Culiacan (Mexico). Image taken from the video series “Narco Business”. THE WORLD / EDHEC

The “executive” that I have come to meet finally comes out of the white GMC. Let’s call him Juan. His place within the cartel – a horizontally structured organization, made up of several dozen clans – makes him a reliable interlocutor: he directs the killers (the hitmenin the jargon of “narcos”) of one of these clans, based in Culiacan, a city of 900,000 inhabitants, the stronghold of this mafia organization considered the most powerful in Mexico.

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