Monday, September 6, 2021

Mexican cartels shaking up the cocaine trade

Mexican cartels are taking a new approach to the cocaine trade, shipping coca base out of Colombia and processing it in Mexico. Coca base is cheaper but just as risky to smuggle. Why the change? Colombia restricted access to precursor chemicals needed to produce cocaine five years ago.
Those efforts have succeeded. Precursors are now easier to obtain and cheaper in Mexico.
Cops in a drug lab in Sinaloa. Mexico's Pacific coast ports are entry points for precursors from China, and fighting among criminal groups for control of those ports has increased. Cartels produce their own meth and fentanyl, and processing cocaine base is less technically difficult. Converting coca base to refined cocaine yields similar amounts, so there's no less bulk if smugglers ship powder cocaine or coca base. Some Mexican cartels are sourcing cocaine base from 'campesinos', or peasant farmers, cutting out Colombian middlemen.
Shifting processing to Mexico is a way to lower costs and increase profit margins ... the same behavior expected of any business.