While thousands of people were dying in the United States due to COVID, it has also resulted in great acceleration in consumption of drugs, particularly fentanyl, and since then the Pacific route has become the new preferred route for cartels to transport their consignment from Peru to Colombia. As the situation in Venezuela remains extremely unstable, Peru and Colombia have lately become two large cocaine producers eyeing on the US market. As the demand for drug has significantly increased in the United States and Canada during the past few years, particularly during the COVID period, Peru and Colombia are becoming almost epicenter of production of cocaine and fentanyl, while large volume of such drug are being pushed inside the US and Canada by organized drug cartels under various covers, whereas, Biden administration’s open-border policy has also greatly contributed in enabling the drug cartels is “comfortably” and “conveniently” pushing drugs into the US and Canada, which are later distributed through a number of networks. Law enforcement and anti-drug agencies are aware that hundreds of the members of drug cartels from Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Lebanon, Mexico and a few other countries are entering the United States under the disguise of refugees, who later are engaging in distributing and or delivering drugs to the end consumers or cartel representatives.
This complex, highly-efficient, and ultimately resilient route has been reinforced from the time drug loads leave Peru to be smuggled through the deep-sea port of Guayaquil and Esmeraldas Ecuador, to Colombia, then into Mexican drug cartel-controlled ports like Puerto Escondido to end up in Tijuana as its final destination before illegally entering the US market. The Sinaloa cartels have become the main player in recent years, controlling most of the route into the United States, with evidence now that even in Ecuador, a once peaceful nation, the cartel has been increasing in strength in its presence on the ground.
Fentanyl, a cash-crop for Mexican drug cartels
With the alarming rise in addiction of fentanyl in the United States and Canada, this has already become another way to make money for Mexican drug cartels – such as the Sinaloa cartel or the Jalisco New Generation. These are the two main players in this new macabre business opportunity.
According to experts, fentanyl production is ideal in terms of production costs, as well as logistically. Indeed, it is both easy and cheap to produce, and above all it is so addictive that the demand for it within the US market has multiplied many folds, as has the cartels’ ability to make even more money. Fentanyl is also ideal to smuggle because one can easily shape it into whatever pill form they desire, hence mimicking legal medication. In short, fentanyl is another issue to deal with for the various US federal agencies trying to fight the influx of illicit drugs flowing into the United States.
According to a 1960s estimation, around 5 percent of Americans were addicted to drugs while it had doubled in the 1970s; and by the early 1990s the percentage of drug addicts in the United States rose to 37 percent. Currently the number of drug addicts in the US is 50 percent – meaning, half of the population are addicted to various types of drugs, including cocaine and fentanyl.
As the current population size of the United States is more than 333 million with almost 170 million drug addicts, drug cartels are considering it as one of the largest markets. For this reason, drug cartels are always looking for newer routes to push their products inside the United States. Particularly during the COVID period, when air and land commercial routes were greatly disrupted, drug cartels were forced to use maritime routes as a preferred way to push their drug consignments northward and this new strategy quickly became attractive and extremely convenient to the drug mafias. To this day, the Pacific maritime route remains a crucial part of their trafficking operations.