With AMLO’s “hugs and no bullets” policy, drug use grows in Mexico


As drug cartels increase their production and distribution, government corruption in Mexico hampers the fight against criminal groups, and drug use grows, writes Anabel Hernández.

The costs of the public policy of hugs and not bullets towards the organized crime of the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador begin to be devastating and take a heavy toll on Mexican society. Violence persists in Mexico, government corruption networks continue to protect drug cartels, drug production and trafficking have increased, crop eradication has decreased, and domestic drug consumption is growing.

This is revealed by the Report on the International Strategy for Drug Control (INCSR) of 2023, which is made annually by the United States Department of State, and published last March.

The report ensures that alcohol consumption and marijuana use have decreased slightly in Mexico, while the demand for and addiction to methamphetamine and synthetic drugs is increasing. In 2016, in drug care centers in Mexico, 15 percent of patients sought treatment for methamphetamine addiction. In 2021, the number of people addicted to that substance rose to 36 percent, more than double, “along with a growing number of deaths related to drug overdoses,” says the report.

Until now, the AMLO government has denied that fentanyl is produced in Mexico, although it does, and has blamed the US consumer market for drug cartel violence in Mexico. But it does not report on the current situation of consumption in the country. The problem is that it has been hidden under the rug, but little by little it is emerging with very worrying signs.

An employee of Centros de Integración Juvenil (CIJ), a federal government agency that, together with the National Commission against Addictions (CONADIC) is responsible for policy against drug use in Mexico, had pointed out to me for months the worrying indicators in the increase in drug use during the six-year term, but that CONADIC has not wanted to carry out the national addiction survey, which must be carried out every four years, thus keeping the dimension of the problem hidden.

Now, the data provided by the whistleblower is corroborated by the US State Department report.

At the beginning of April, a CONADIC meeting was held with representatives of the Organization of American States (OAS), the United States government, and the European Union’s drug policy cooperation agency for Latin America. and the Caribbean.

“Unfortunately, Mexico has not done anything in the area of ​​​​drug policy for many years, and hence the complicated bilateral relationship that we are having with the United States,” said the CIJ information source.

And he added that it will only be in 2023 when the design of the national addiction survey will be done on paper, and the results will be available by the end of 2024 after the presidential elections. “In other words, in the six-year term, nothing was articulated, there is no document that reports on the situation of addictions, and those in the United States are desperate to know whether or not there is consumption of fentanyl in Mexico…”.

In the previous article, “The kingdom of Los Chapitos flourishes in the government of AMLO” I pointed out that in the criminal file opened against “Los Chapitos”, sons of drug trafficker Joaquín Guzmán Loera, it is stated that the Department of Justice has managed to learn that, in Mexico City, “Los Chapitos” have a fentanyl distribution point to supply drug dealers who operate in what is one of the most populous cities in the world. And in an article published in August 2021, I pointed out that officials from areas of Intelligence from the United States government revealed fentanyl production points for local consumption in Sonora, Sinaloa, Querétaro, Puebla, Morelos, Nuevo León, Baja California Sur and Chihuahua.

If the increase in drug use in Mexico is combined with the use of fentanyl, this could be a terrible legacy left by the López Obrador mandate, with serious social and public health consequences.

Mexico’s government corruption favors drug posters

The INCSR points out that the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador promised to reduce crime and violence through social programs, to address the causes that he considers to be the origin of crime; that it passed to the National Guard under the control of the Army -and that the budget for the area of ​​Justice and national security has increased-, but mainly to finance bases and stations of the National Guard that the Secretary of National Defense is building.

However, all this has not stopped the violence of the drug cartels, the production and trafficking of drugs, or impunity. “It is estimated that 93 percent of crimes go unreported and uninvestigated,” he says.

It is explained that, on the other hand, there is a “lack of funding for institutions in the security and justice sector at the federal and subnational level” which “continues to be a cause for concern.”

“President López Obrador has taken legislative and political measures to combat corruption, an endemic disease in Mexico. However, corruption continues to hinder drug control efforts in Mexico,” the State Department states.

Increases drug production and decreases plant destruction

According to the INCSR, despite the fact that, on paper, in Mexico, there is a strong legal and regulatory system for the control of narcotics and there is cooperation under the bilateral agreement “Entendimiento Bicentenario”, signed by both countries in 2021, in fact, that has no effect.

“The volume of dangerous drugs entering the United States from Mexico, and violent crime in Mexico, fueled by transnational criminal organizations, remain alarmingly and unacceptably high.”

“Mexico is the source of the vast majority of the illicit methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl seized in the United States and a key transit point for cocaine from South America.” of fentanyl seizures by 29 percent in 2021.

“The Department of Homeland Security’s Department of Customs and Border Protection seized more than 6,667 kilos of fentanyl in the fiscal year 2022, an increase of 31 percent over the prior year. In that period, approximately 96 percent of all the fentanyl seized by originated in Mexico.

According to specialists in the field, in the world, only between 25 and 20 percent of the drugs that are trafficked are seized.

“Mexican criminal organizations have a significant and expanding global presence, not only in the Western Hemisphere, but also in Europe, Africa, and Asia. In 2022, the United States identified Mexico as the only significant source of illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogs. , significantly affecting the United States.”

In contrast, the State Department recriminates resistance on the part of the AMLO government to establish closer cooperation and is concerned about the figures in the fight against drug production and trafficking by the Mexican government.

On the one hand, it is stated in the report that the poppy crop with which heroin is produced increased in Mexico in 2021 by 23 percent, and the “pure potential of heroin production increased by 22 percent, from 59 tons in 2020 to 72 tons in 2021.” Marijuana seizures decreased by 17 percent in the same period, and methamphetamine decreased by 30.2 percent.

And, on the other hand, they cite that, according to AMLO’s 2022 annual government report, in the first half of the year Mexico claims a 38.3 percent increase in cocaine seizures, compared to the same period in 2021, in which seized 49 percent more opium gum and 6.6 percent more heroin. 

Dogs from the United States helped seize fentanyl in Mexico

And while the report admits that in Mexico the government significantly increased fentanyl seizures in 2022, it notes that this was achieved in large part by trained dogs donated by the US government. 

1,732 kilos of this substance were seized in the first nine months of 2022, which meant 33.6 percent more than in the same period of the previous year. But, according to the report, the donated canines “led to the seizure of 77,662 fentanyl pills (an increase of 521 percent, compared to the first nine months of 2021), and 121.3 kg of fentanyl powder (a 470 percent increase).”

Overdose cases grow in Mexico

The use of illegal drugs in Mexico has grown steadily since 2002, says the report, “largely driven by the popularity of drug use among adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17.” They refer to a survey of users of a government network of drug treatment centers -although they do not indicate which one-, and they observed an increase in methamphetamine addictions of more than one hundred percent between 2021 and 202. “However, the extent of the problem is unknown, since Mexico does not regularly conduct a national survey on substance use” it is indicated.

In this regard, the CIJ official assured me that there are elements that indicate an alarming situation in the increase of addictions in Mexico. “They are using fentanyl to cut other substances, the northern border area is chaos in terms of overdose; naloxone is distributed wholesale by the Red Cross, while neither the federal nor state government agencies even have proof rapid detection of substances”, which puts those who present overdose pictures at greater risk.

The drug naloxone is only used in overdoses of opioids, such as fentanyl. Since 2021, in this space, I alerted to the fact that US government intelligence sources had informed me of the growing consumption of fentanyl in Mexico and of the coming health crisis. 

AMLO is a denier of the increase in addictions in Mexico and the co-responsibility of his public policy. As part of his constant actions of disinformation, he has focused on pointing out addictions in the United States: “They do not strengthen moral, cultural and spiritual values; they do not limit drug use either, on the contrary, they encourage it even in sports. It is painful and decadent.”, said in April on his official Twitter account, in response to the war declared by that country against fentanyl, “Los Chapitos” and those who protect them.