Mexico’s Defense Department said Tuesday that soldiers found over 1.83 million fentanyl pills at a stash house in the border city of Tijuana. The discovery came just one day before Mexico’s president claimed the synthetic opioid is not produced in the country.
The department said in a statement that soldiers staked out the house Sunday after authorities received a tip that the site was being used for drug trafficking.
After obtaining a search warrant, soldiers found the nearly 2 million synthetic opioid pills and 880 pounds of meth at the house, the statement said. No arrests were made.
The raid comes just weeks after Mexican soldiers seized nearly 630,000 fentanyl pills in Culiacan, the capital of the northern state of Sinaloa. Sinaloa is home to the drug cartel of the same name.
Mexican cartels have used the border city to press fentanyl into counterfeit pills. They then smuggle those pills into the United States.
The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration told CBS News that the Jalisco and Sinaloa cartels are the two Mexican cartels behind the influx of fentanyl into the U.S. that’s killing tens of thousands of Americans.
Developed for pain management treatment of cancer patients, fentanyl is up to 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the DEA. The potent drug was behind approximately 66% of the 107,622 drug overdose deaths between December 2020 and December 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And since 2018, fentanyl-laced pill seizures by law enforcement has increased nearly 50-fold.
The raid produced one of the largest seizures of fentanyl in Mexico in recent months and came only one day before President Andrés Manuel López Obrador claimed that fentanyl isn’t made in Mexico. He made that assertion in comments arguing that fentanyl is the United States’ problem, not Mexico’s.
López Obrador also claimed that his country is safer than the United States, a week after a kidnapping resulted in the deaths of two U.S. citizens and the rescue of two others in the border city of Matamoros.
López Obrador said U.S. travel warnings and reports of violence in Mexico were the result of a conspiracy by conservative politicians and U.S. media outlets to smear his administration.
“Mexico is safer than the United States,” López Obrador said Monday at his morning news briefing. “There is no problem in traveling safely in Mexico.”
Mexico’s nationwide homicide rate is about 28 per 100,000 inhabitants. By comparison, the U.S. homicide rate is barely one-quarter as high, at around 7 per 100,000.