- Hubei is a major source of fentanyl precursors.
- China also supplies counterfeit pharmaceuticals.
- The US restriction of travelers from Mexico has become a major hurdle for Mexican drug traffickers.
The coronavirus epidemic is affecting the global economy in the most serious of ways, and the Mexican government is scrambling to contain its spread. Even though the country has yet to implement a full lockdown, the coronavirus epidemic is taking its toll on the economy. Mexican drug trafficking syndicates have not been spared either. Just like legitimate businesses, they are beginning to feel the pinch.
Limited Supply of Drugs Precursor Ingredients from China
China is a prime manufacturing powerhouse. As the epicenter of the coronavirus scourge, it was the first country in the world to go into lockdown. Since the outbreak, the country’s industries have had to scale back production to allow the epidemic to blow itself out. The result is a decrease in supplies to overseas companies.
Mexican drug cartels typically get precursors for opiates, such as fentanyl and meth, from China. The novel virus has, however, held up the supply chain. According to a recent Vice report, the Sinaloa Cartel, the most dominant cartel in the region has increased narcotics prices as a result.
Methamphetamine prices have been hiked by over five times. According to the investigative report, Mexican drug lord Ismael ‘El Mayo’ Zambada has ordered his dealers to increase the price of meth from $100 a pound to $600. Fentanyl prices have also soared from $35,000 a kilo to $42,000. The raw chemicals are a major export of Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic. The zone was among the first in mainland China to have its factories shut down.
Cindy Dodds 24-year-old son, Kyle, was found dead of a lethal drug overdose on the streets of Overtown in Sept. 2016. Kyle had a mix of fentanyl, carfentanil, cocaine and heroin in his system. Cindy is hoping to raise awareness about opioid abuse, and that lawmakers strengthen the Florida law punishing dealers who give out fatal doses of the drugs. Emily Michot Miami Herald
After years of battling addiction, Kyle Dodds collapsed on an Overtown street corner on an early morning, victim of an illegal drug usually used for tranquilizing elephants.
For Miami homicide detectives, holding a drug dealer accountable for Dodds’ death has proven a familiarly futile task.
His cell phone disappeared from the scene, so investigators found no text messages or calls that might lead to the possible drug source. No witnesses surfaced to say they saw Dodds buying at a particular dope hole. Detectives didn’t even find a baggie of drugs on Dodds, which might offer a clue to a distinct seller.
Six pharmaceutical executives who worked for Chandler, Ariz.-based Insys Therapeutics were arrested Thursday on charges that they led a nationwide conspiracy to bribe clinicians to unnecessarily prescribe fentanyl-based pain medication, according to the Department of Justice.
The government claims the executives conspired to bribe physicians and medical practitioners in several states, many of whom worked in pain clinics, to prescribe their pain medication called Subsys. This narcotic contains fentanyl, a highly addictive synthetic opioid, and is intended to treat cancer patients suffering intense episodes of breakthrough pain.
In exchange for kickbacks and bribes, practitioners allegedly wrote large numbers of prescriptions for patients, few of whom were diagnosed with cancer. The indictment also alleges the former Insys executives conspired to defraud health insurers that showed reluctance to approve payment for Subsys when it was prescribed to non-cancer patients. The defendants allegedly did so by establishing a “reimbursement unit” that obtained prior authorization directly from insurers and pharmacy benefit managers.
Here are the names of the defendants, all of whom are no longer employed by Insys Therapeutics, along with the respective charges they face:
- Michael Babich, former president and CEO: conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Law
- Alec Burlakoff, former vice president of sales: Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act conspiracy, mail fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Law
- Richard M. Simon, former national director of sales: RICO conspiracy, mail fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Law
- Sunrise Lee, former regional sales director: RICO conspiracy, mail fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Law
- Joseph A. Rowan, former regional sales director: RICO conspiracy, mail fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Law
- Michael J. Gurry, former vice president of managed markets: RICO conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy
Criminal charges are rarely pressed in cases involving pharmaceutical companies, and several agents noted the severity of the charges in statements.
Full Read – http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/legal-regulatory-issues/6-pharma-executives-face-criminal-charges-for-alleged-fentanyl-racketeering-scheme.html
By Ben Guarino
In one of the largest drug busts in Utah history, federal agents seized synthetic opioids in bulk and cash by the bagful on Tuesday. The home the agents raided contained a “pill press,” which they considered to be the source of thousands, possibly millions, of fentanyl pills. The drug producers falsely labeled the pills as Xanax or oxycodone and distributed the capsules in part by mail across the United States.
Multiple federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Guard, as well as the Internal Revenue Service, surrounded a house located in the city of Cottonwood Heights, in Salt Lake County. Authorities also searched another home, which the Salt Lake Tribune described as a “stash location.” At the stash location alone, the Tribune reported that authorities found 70,000 pills disguised as oxycodone and another 25,000 as fake Xanax.
Witnesses likened the scene at Cottonwood Heights to something “out of a science fiction movie,” as ABC4 Utah News put it, because agents donned oxygen tanks and protective gear before entering the home. Agencies were concerned that skin contact with fentanyl powder, which was reportedly present throughout the house, posed a danger.
Full Read – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/11/23/dea-raids-colossal-fentanyl-operation-in-one-of-the-largest-drug-busts-in-utah-history/