Mexico president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has blamed U.S. gun makers for cartel violence in his country for years now, and his administration has even brought a lawsuit against firearms manufacturers in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts with the assistance of gun control lobby veterans like Jonathan Lowy. While that lawsuit was tossed by a judge last October, the government of Mexico has vowed to appeal, and López Obrador is hoping to enlist other countries to join in as well.
Mexico’s president trying to pass off responsibility for cartel violence on to U.S. gun makers isn’t new, but López Obrador is now absolving the cartels of any responsibility for the growing number of drug overdose deaths in the United States as well. On Thursday, he boldly (and falsely) proclaimed that Mexican drug cartels have nothing to do with the flood of illicitly-produced fentanyl that’s led to about 80,000 overdose deaths per year.
“Here, we do not produce fentanyl, and we do not have consumption of fentanyl,” López Obrador said. “Why don’t they (the United States) take care of their problem of social decay?”
He went on to recite a list of reasons why Americans might be turning to fentanyl, including single-parent families, parents who kick grown children out of their houses and people who put elderly relatives in old-age homes “and visit them once a year.”
López Obrador is wrong on both counts, though it’s probably fair to say that fentanyl use and abuse is lower in Mexico than it is in the U.S. When it comes to production, on the other hand, there’s no doubt that Mexico’s drug cartels are a major source of the illicit drugs.
In February, the Mexican army announced it seized more than a half million fentanyl pills in what it called the largest synthetic drug lab found to date. The army said the outdoor lab was discovered in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state.
In the same city in 2021, the army raided a lab that it said probably made about 70 million of the blue fentanyl pills every month for the Sinaloa cartel.
“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.”
Last month’s bust turned up 282 pounds of powdered fentanyl in addition to about 220 pounds of suspected methamphetamine. And as CBS News reported at the time:
Mexican drug cartels produce the opioid from precursor chemicals shipped from China, and then press it into pills counterfeited to look like Xanax, Percocet or Oxycodone. People often take the pills without knowing they contain fentanyl and can suffer deadly overdoses.”There’s a relationship between these Chinese chemical companies and the criminal cartels in Mexico,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram told CBS News last year.
López Obrador’s comments are stupidly simple to refute, but they’re in line with his soft-on-cartels rhetoric. “Hugs, not bullets” is his guiding philosophy when it comes to the cartels, and in 2020 he declared that the country would “fight them with intelligence and not force,” adding that Mexico would “not declare war” on the cartels. That strategy has been an abysmal failure, at least if the goal was to reduce the cartels’ power and influence. Mexico reported more than 30,000 homicides last year, but according to López Obrador it’s all the fault of American gun makers, not the cartels themselves.
While López Obrador’s comments may have primarily been intended for his domestic audience, he’s also doing plenty of outreach to some of his neighbors in the hopes of enlisting them in his fight against the firearms industry. This week Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley said his administration is “actively considering” joining Mexico’s lawsuit or filing one of its own.
Speaking at a public meeting in Barataria, the Prime Minister said : “We have to join that fight”. It will be a test case.
He said in America they had passed laws to prevent gun owners from being sued. “Those who are making those guns knowing where the guns are going and what they could do, have been insulated from lawsuits. But recently a couple of people had sued the gun manufacturers in America and won. So the dam has cracked,” he said.
He said Mexico had sued the manufacturers to hold them accountable for the guns coming out of America into Mexico. “We have the same issue here. They have lost the case but Mexico is intending to continue fighting and Mexico has approached Caricom asking us, as independent sovereign states with the same problem. (of gun violence) to join the fight to hold American gun manufacturers (responsible), to test it in the courts of America,” he said. The Prime Minister said Trinidad and Tobago was ” actively considering joining that to be able to test the legality of those who make those weapons of war that are destroying our society. We have to join that fight,” he said.
It’s a fight that they’ll lose, but it’s more politically expedient to go after U.S. gun makers than it is to remove the corrupt public officials who are enabling the drug-fueled violence or to target the cartels and criminal gangs themselves. It’s also a strategy that has the backing of the U.S. gun control lobby, as Bearing Arms contributor Ryan Petty recently outlined.
If the anti-gunners here at home want to crawl in bed with a fentanyl-denier and cartel-hugger like López Obrador, that’s their decision to make. But Second Amendment supporters aren’t going to be quiet about the gun prohibitionists’ international allies or their lies in defense of the drug cartels responsible for much of the violence in Mexico and tens of thousands of drug overdose deaths in the United States.