The U.S. narcotics crisis is made in Mexico with American raw materials of U.S. publicly-traded companies who look the other way

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By Laura Argudillo

A Bloomberg Businessweek investigation, put a light at who is supplying the drug cartels in Mexico with the chemicals they use to make illegal drugs.

Without the right chemicals, it’s impossible for cartels to make two drugs that are plaguing America: heroin and methamphetamine.

Avantor is one of a handful of U.S. companies that supply the illegal and legal market for those chemicals in Mexico—a market the cartels have had little trouble tapping to make narcotics on a massive scale.

Easy access to drug making chemicals for narcos in Mexico appears to be facilitated by Publicly-traded American companies who operate subsidies in Mexico where they can’t be regulated by International and U.S. drug laws which is supposed to regulate the trade worldwide, but their reach often ends at the Mexican border for local subsidiaries of American companies.

International narcotics authorities can interdict sales between nations, but not within them. In the U.S. the companies operate under U.S. drug laws, ensuring chemicals made by chemical companies aren’t diverting these chemicals to illegal markets to make narcotics. If they fail, the U.S. Department of Justice has broad authority to shut down their American operations or charge them criminally. But that oversight doesn’t apply when the companies operate in Mexico making and selling those chemical inside Mexico– rather than shipping them there from the U.S.

The ability for these American chemical plants to operate in Mexico beyond U.S. oversight may never have been more consequential than during a roughly two-year period leading up to August 2016. In that window, the Mexican subsidiary of Dallas-based Celanese Corp. illegally provided Mexican cartels tanker trucks of another critical drug making chemical, monomethylamine, in three separate deliveries, according to sources with detailed knowledge of an staged theft. “The company pretended their trucks containing gallons of the chemicals got hijacked, but it wouldn’t say how many trucks or how much of the chemical was obtained.” Mexican authorities say the company gave the cartels a total of at least 30,000 liters.

The deliveries of the chemicals to cartels inside the county are an ongoing business, but only when these companies get caught, is when the translation is reported by the companies.

Easy access to American-made drug making chemicals for narcos in Mexico appears to be facilitated, in part, by the lack of coordination by Mexico and the U.S. and the lack of tougher regulations in both countries. Therefore, leaving a loophole opened which is exploited by the American companies in Mexico and their cartel clients.

Monomethylamine, or MMA, is so vital to methamphetamine production that for a company selling the chemical from U.S. soil, failing to immediately report a supply-chain loss to the Justice Department is a federal crime.

Because the American company, Celanese Corporation CE, makes those chemicals in Mexico, however, none of that applies, even as executives continued sending chemical tankers out to Mexico’s cartels whik playing gatcha games with Mexican authorities. Therefore, making it seem as their illegal transactions in the hundreds of liters of the chemicals are instead theft or misplaced.

What’s even worse, many more illegal transactions are never reported, therefore it is believed that the American-made chemicals ending at the hands of Cartels have reached thousands or millions of liters in the last decade.

How much acetic anhydride has gone to feed the supply of the two drugs to the U.S.? For heroin, as much as 1.2 million liters, or about 1,300 metric tons, from 2011 through 2018. That’s according to U.S. government estimates of heroin production, drawn in part from poppy crop data. It’s enough to fill a tanker train the length of two and a half football fields. The amount used to make meth is much harder to estimate, but testing and seizure data show that demand has been exponentially greater; 2011 seizures alone suggest at least 1 million liters of acetic anhydride were used for meth just that year.

The supply comes from within Mexico. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) recently analyzed every suspect acetic anhydride transaction and trafficking case worldwide, from 2016 through 2018, a period of intense activity. They didn’t find a single one involving Mexico. Investigators say that means the acetic anhydride used to make Mexico’s drugs is diverted from within the country’s legal trade.

Proprietary data collected from legal producers, distributors, and the government by Mexico’s national chemical industry association, known by its Spanish acronym, ANIQ, shows huge spikes in the country’s market for the chemical during the past decade, including a 17-fold increase since 2011.

There’s a thriving retail market for far smaller containers at medical supply shops, online, and from third distributors. Glass bottles of acetic anhydride is one of Avantor’s most heavily stocked retail products in Mexico, according to a company inventory seen by Bloomberg.

Retailers and distributors say American Companies in Mexico like Avantor uses jugs and large glass of acetic anhydride, ostensibly to be sold for use in clinical labs that are popular with narcos and easy to get access to, and companies like Avatar use these methods to sell to cartels while pretending not to know.

It didn’t have to be so easy for the cartels? says the INCB who made acetic anhydride one of its top targets in 2001, but Mexico’s government was under a narco-regine occupation for decades, ran by two political parties who were in power for 70 years.

Until December of 2018 when a 3rd party overthrew the regime in that year’s elections, that’s when Mexico finally moved it onto its list of the most strictly regulated chemicals.

Before 2018, anyone selling more than a metric ton needed to do little more than file a report with the government once a year, below that level, there was nothing to be reported. Now, a seller is supposed to ensure buyers are legitimate—factories and labs with a proven need, for example—down to every liter sold.

Before 2018, anyone selling more than a metric ton needed to do little more than file a report with the government once a year, below that level, there was nothing to be reported. Now, a seller is supposed to ensure buyers are legitimate—factories and labs with a proven need, for example—down to every liter sold.

Before 2018, anyone selling more than a metric ton needed to do little more than file a report with the government once a year, below that level, there was nothing to be reported. Now, a seller is supposed to ensure buyers are legitimate—factories and labs with a proven need, for example—down to every liter sold.

Mexico’s new chemical regulation has hit the buttonline of some of these chemical campanies. A year after the regulations came into place, Celanese Corporation CE announced its was closing its Mexicos facilities in Ocotlan, Jalisco, Mexico, to “Reduce Fixed Costs.” Previously, the company’s production plant was located in Veracruz, known as the epic center of drug making and trade through its main sea ports export to Europe and U.S.

https://www.worldofchemicals.com/media/celanese-ends-monomethylamine-production-in-mexico/10221.html

While the Bloomberg report shades a light into the ring leaders of the drug trade, aka publicly-run large American companies, the article fails to name the list of U.S. companies involved in the drug trade (only used two). The article ends deviating from its original report and becomes just a PR piece for the chemical industry and removes any responsibility from these companies. It does it by placing the blame purely on the Mexican side while giving a pass to the murky business of the chemical companies.

As a result, the article puts in display the root cuase of the drug problem: corruption, games, name calling, finger pointing, policy loopholes on both sides of the border, and the constant PR and media whitewash. Therefore, acting as if there is nothing to be done on both sides of the border because it’s the others side’s responsability.

SOURCE: Bloomberg News

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of MexusNews.

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