US, Mexico Team Up to Combat Fentanyl
The governments of Mexico and the US will launch a binational campaign to combat fentanyl trafficking and consumption. The Mexican government assured that a proposal by Republican Party representatives to carry out military intervention in Mexico was not discussed at this meeting because it was rejected before.
On March 9, 2023, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard met with US Homeland Security Advisor, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, to discuss possible strategies to deal with the fentanyl crisis in both countries. The meeting was also attended by the US Ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar; the Minister of National Defense, Luis Crescencio Sandoval, and the Minister of Public and Citizen Security, Rosa Icela Rodríguez.
"It will be a binational campaign, everyone will do their part. It is the largest effort ever made between Mexico and the US to provide information to young people and families," said Ebrard. The authorities announced that more details regarding the program will be released to the public soon.
The meeting came a week after US Republican Representatives Dan Crenshaw of Texas and Michael Waltz of Florida proposed solving the fentanyl crisis in the US by having President Joe Biden authorize military action against Mexican cartels. The proposal was presented in January 2023 and passed nearly unnoticed, yet re-entered the limelight due to a recent increase in fentanyl trafficking.
President López Obrador has criticized this proposal, saying that the US would meddle in internal affairs. He stressed that the US proposal was not discussed during the meeting because it was already rejected. "We are going to present a report to the US envoy, confirming our assistance and permanent support in the fight against fentanyl. But we do not accept threats. The proposal did not come from President Biden's administration, but from the Republicans."
In addition, Ebrard accused the Republicans of simply wanting to gain votes with the proposal and emphasized the underlying notion is based on misinformation since the fentanyl pandemic originated in the US, not in Mexico. Ebrard also stressed that the measure is a moot point as the country would never allow a US intervention since this would harm sovereignty and affect the binational campaign against fentanyl.
The fentanyl crisis represents one of the most critical healthcare issues for both Mexico and the US and is a key discussion topic for both countries. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid considered 30 to 50 times stronger than heroin and 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. In 2021, there were approximately 70,000 deaths in the US related to fentanyl. In 2022, fentanyl deaths accounted for 66 percent of drug-related deaths in the US. While the price of fentanyl is at its lowest point, its consumption is increasing in Mexico and the US, according to authorities.