One of the many, many lessons coronavirus has taught us is just how fragile the global supply chain for food, pharmaceuticals and just about all our products truly is.
With globalisation comes a reliance on other countries for raw materials which as we have learnt, can be rudely disrupted at a moment’s notice. This can be due to mutual animosity between countries, natural disaster or even now most recently, a worldwide pandemic. Toilet paper, cheese, rice and most surprising of all methamphetamine are amongst some of the staple products suffering a shortage.
Mexican cartels who derive their supply from China, are now struggling to source the fentanyl needed for meth and other illicit drugs. One of the main suppliers that shut down is in Wuhan, the epicenter of the global outbreak.
Criminal group, Jalisco Cartel can no longer secure the chemical ingredients required to make the drug fentanyl, according to Insight crime.
Sinaloa cartel operatives in Mexico also told VICE that importing the chemicals they need to make methamphetamine and fentanyl has become harder and more complicated, causing a shortage and raising prices.
“Now we are all struggling to get the chemicals to Sinaloa from China,” one drug trafficker told VICE from Culiacán, Sinaloa.
Production of methamphetamine and fentanyl is still happening, he said, but at lower rates than usual.
“We haven’t stopped producing, but the price of meth is getting pushed up because of the scarcity of chemicals from China….transporting them this far is also getting much more expensive,” the cartel operative said.
The reality is that the Mexican drug cartel supply chain begins in China should honestly be hailed as one of the greatest achievements of 21st century globalised supply chain economics.
China has historically been the main supplier of precursor chemicals and illicitly manufactured fentanyl to Mexico’s cartels.
It is then supplied in bulk in cargo rather than via the postal service.
The chemicals are often mislabeled to conceal their true contents, and shipped to major ports such as Lazaro Cardenas in Michoacan and Mazatlan in Sinoloa.
I would go out on a limb and say this is one of the better things to come out of this worldwide pandemic but that would be slightly too sanguine. Addicts previously reliant on these illicit drugs may go unwillingly clean for a short while but this could also open an avenue for other less tried and tested and consequently, dangerous drugs to be used in lieu of methamphetamine. Also, addicts will likely return to the degeneracy of the drugs as soon as supply picks up again. Sad.