Sunday, June 16, 2019

Mexican cartels shaking up the cocaine trade

According to Colombia's anti-narcotics chief, 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 far cheaper but just as risky to smuggle. Why the change? Ramirez attributed it to Colombian counter-narcotics efforts. Bogota began to restrict access to precursor chemicals needed to produce cocaine four years ago. Those efforts have slowly succeeded. Precursors are now easier to obtain and cheaper in Mexico.
Cops examine materials found in a drug lab in Sinaloa. Mexico's Pacific coast ports are major entry points for precursors from China, and fighting among criminal groups for control of those ports has increased exponentially. The 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.

It's reported some Mexican cartels are sourcing cocaine base directly from 'campesinos', or peasant farmers, cutting out Colombian middlemen completely. Shifting processing to Mexico is a way to lower costs and increase profit margins ... the same behavior expected of any business.