Money, money, money: Big profits drive cartels’ fixation on fentanyl

Fentanyl was created in the 1960s as a legitimate drug to treat pain in cancer patients and others.

Yet over the past decade, an illicit form has shown up in the U.S. drug supply as Mexican cartels convert precursor chemicals, often from China, into synthetic opioids and mix it with other drugs.

Fentanyl made in clandestine labs has proven to be highly deadly and is increasingly found in a range of drugs beyond heroin, including cocaine and fake prescription pills. 

Still, it prompts the question: Why would suppliers be willing to kill some of their customers?

The answer comes down to money.

Synthetic opioids like fentanyl are “cheaper to produce, don’t rely upon the climate, can’t be spotted, and are easier to smuggle,” said Regina LaBelle, who served as director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy during President Biden’s first year in office. “All in all then, it’s a
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