‘Catastrophic’: DEA Administrator Says Mexican Cartels Are Killing Americans With Fentanyl At ‘Record Rates’

The administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said Friday two Mexican cartels were killing Americans at “catastrophic and record rates” with fentanyl.

“What we see happening at DEA is essentially that there are two cartels in Mexico, the Sinaloa cartel and the Jalisco New Generation cartel, that are killing Americans with fentanyl at catastrophic and record rates like we have never seen before,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said. “And those cartels are acting with calculated deliberate treachery to get fentanyl to the United States and to get people to buy it through fake pills, by hiding it in other drugs, any means that they can take in order to drive addiction and to make money.”

Nearly 108,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CBS co-host Tony Dokoupil noted that the nature of drug dealing had changed, where dealers once sought to “wanted to keep a person addicted, keep them paying money, but not kill them.”

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“The whole world of drugs has changed,” Milgram said. “First of all, the fentanyl that we see is synthetic, it’s manmade. It’s important to know that there’s an unlimited amount that these two cartels can make. All they need are precursor chemicals that they are buying from China, from these Chinese chemical companies, bringing them to Mexico and synthesizing massive quantities. That’s important to understand. The second piece, used to be that drug deals were hand to hand, in back alleys or connected to a specific dealer that would meet someone.”

Milgram explained that many drug deals were set up on social media apps like Snapchat, and often buyers would seek drugs like Adderall or Percocet. She also said the DEA was acting to address the threat posed by the cartels’ fentanyl smuggling.

Mexican cartels have also recruited teenagers through gaming, reaching out to them through WhatsApp.

“Right now, we are actively investigating every single possible lead we can take and we are looking very much at what we can do in this space,” Milgram said. “Our top priority is to defeat the two cartels because to be really clear there’s an unlimited amount of drugs that they can make. We have to stop it before it comes from China to Mexico to the U.S. The second piece is that, yes, we have to be aggressive on this.”

“I will tell you that the men and women of the DEA are extraordinary,” she said. “We’re out every single day around the world in countless operations, our agents are in harm’s way. We take loaded guns off the street virtually every single day across America and across the world.”

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