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Tipsheet

GOP Members Call Out Mexican President for Outrageous Claim Fentanyl Is a 'U.S. Problem'

Twitter/Port Director Michael W. Humphries

In a letter shared exclusively with Townhall, 15 Republican House members, led by Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI), are reaching out to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, expressing strong concerns with his outrageous statements. On March 9, López Obrador said that his country does not produce or consume fentanyl, which he called a "U.S. problem," a claim that the lawmakers write in the letter is "at variance with the facts." As a result, they are demanding that López Obrador "retract" his statement and that he "commit to working collaboratively with our country to combat the fentanyl trade."

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In addition to laying out such demands, the letter comes armed to the teeth with the facts and statistics. According to statistics from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), 18,872 pounds of fentanyl were seized at the southern border in 2022. "This is illicit fentanyl coming from Mexico into the United States, not the other way around," the letter makes clear.

At fault is the Mexican cartels, specifically the Sinaloa cartel mentioned in the letter. Illegal fentanyl is the driving force behind the staggering increase of overdose deaths in the United States and criminal organizations based in Mexico are the primary driver of the phenomenon and this horrifying statistic," the letter warns. "This is why Mexican nationals and Mexican-origin networks have been designated by the U.S. Dept of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control for trafficking and have been subject to Department of Justice investigations for connections to American overdose deaths," the letter adds. 

If López Obrador isn't persuaded with such statistics, perhaps he will be when it comes to how his own countrymen are being affected by the fentanyl crisis as well. 

Mexican government sources have revealed that there has been a growing demand for fentanyl since 2017, with a 2019 study in Tijuana showing that a whopping 93 percent of samples of methamphetamines and heroin there contained some fentanyl. 

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Also cited in the letter is an investigation from The Los Angeles Times showed that 71 percent of 17 pills tested in northern Mexican pharmacies were positive for illegal drugs, including fentanyl, which they sought to pass off as legitimate pharmaceuticals. 

"Given the severity of the rise in Mexican deaths from illicit drugs, by 2022, Mexico's forensic medical services in Mexicali state began to implement rapid tests to identify drug use among those autopsied. Between June and August 2022, fentanyl showed up in 1/3 of all cases," the letter noted about a time span of mere months. 

Reporting from the Associated Press highlighted how Mexican analysts take issue with López Obrador's comments as well. Further, the problem may be worse than what information Mexico is making publicly available:

“The president is lying,” said Mexican security analyst David Saucedo. “The Mexican cartels, above all the CJNG ( Jalisco New Generation Cartel) and the Sinaloa Cartel have learned to manufacture it.”

“They themselves buy the precursor chemicals, set up laboratories to produce fentanyl and distribute it to cities in the United States and sell it,” Saucedo said. “Little by little they have begun to build a monopoly on fentanyl, because the Mexican cartels are present along the whole chain of production and sales.”

While it is true that fentanyl consumption appears to remain low in Mexico and largely confined to northern border areas, that may be because the Mexican government is so bad at detecting it. A 2019 study in the border city of Tijuana showed that 93% of samples of methamphetamines and heroin there contained some fentanyl.

Saucedo said fentanyl exports to the U.S. are so lucrative for Mexican cartels that they previously had not seen a need to develop a domestic market for the drug.

“It is true that fentanyl consumption in Mexico is marginal, but some mid-level cartels have begun selling it in border cities and in big cities like Leon, Mexico City and Monterrey,” Saucedo said.

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In the days following López Obrador's claims, Steil tweeted out a call to "secure the border." The Republican-controlled House has also held hearings to investigate the crisis at the border, including and especially as it applies to the fentanyl crisis

In addition to making such outrageous statements, López Obrador has also raised eyebrows with a threat to get involved in U.S. elections by asking Mexicans and Hispanics in the United States not to vote for Republicans. "We are going to issue a call not to vote for that party, because they are inhuman and interventionist," López Obrador said, according to the Associated Press.

These threats and statements came not long after four American citizens were kidnapped by cartels in Mexico, two of whom were killed. 

In addition to Rep. Steil, the letter is signed by Reps. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Lance Gooden (R-TX), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Jack Bergman (R-MI), Nancy Mace (R-SC), Barry Moore (R-AL), Tom Tiffany (R-WI), Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Randy Weber (R-TX), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Doug Lamalfa (R-CA), Michael Guest (R-MS), and Dan Meuser (R-PA). 

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