“Sol Prendido” for Borderland Beat

Seizures went from 1,445 kilos to 598 from April to October, according to the Customs Office; Guzmán Loera’s heirs understood that they had to make concessions to the US government.

Seizures increased from 1,445 kilos to 598 from April to October of this year.

Fentanyl seizures at the southern border of the United States have plummeted steadily since last April when Joe Biden’s administration brought charges against 28 members of the Sinaloa Cartel, including the three sons of Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, for flooding the country’s streets with the drug.

According to figures from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), fentanyl seizures at border crossings dropped 58.6 percent in just half a year, from 1,445.5 kilograms seized in April to only 598 kilograms last October.

Just last April 14, the U.S. Department of Justice announced efforts to capture brothers Ivan Archivaldo and Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, as well as the now extradited Ovidio Guzman Lopez “for flooding the United States with fentanyl to supply addicts on the streets”.

Since the announcement of the U.S. authorities, the quantities of fentanyl seized by CBP have decreased unabated, and in the last six months there have been consecutive monthly drops in the number of seizures made at the southern border of the United States.

Official statistics report that in April of this year Border Patrol agents achieved the largest seizure so far in the fight against fentanyl with 1,445 kilograms of the drug; by May, security efforts resulted in the arrest of 1,202 kilograms and a reduction of only 243 kilograms from month to month.

For organized crime specialist David Saucedo, the reduction in seizures by CBP and the criminal group’s denial of its involvement in trafficking are part of a strategy in which “Los Chapitos understood that they had to make some concessions to the US government.

However, US pressures became more notorious in June when Anne Milgram, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), claimed that US law enforcement had infiltrated the Sinaloa Cartel and specifically the Chapitos’ operational network with access to the highest levels of the organization.

The Wall Street Journal even reported that in June, El Chapo Guzman’s sons decided to leave the fentanyl market for the United States. At that time, CBP figures reported a total of 971.5 kilograms seized from criminal groups, a 20 percent reduction from May.

The steady decline continued in July when the Border Patrol totaled just 796.5 kilograms in its effort to eradicate fentanyl trafficking and the first and only plateau came in August when CBP authorities totaled 804 kilograms.

September saw the biggest blow so far in the fight against fentanyl with the extradition of Ovidio Guzman Lopez to the United States to stand trial in US court for heading up the production and sale of the fentanyl that has killed 100,000 people every year since 2021.

The media coup of the extradition was accompanied by another reduction in the number of fentanyl crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, as CBP authorities only reported the monthly seizure of 636.8 kilograms.

After Ovidio was sent to a US prison, Los Chapitos began a public strategy with messages hung with banners prohibiting the fentanyl business in Sinaloa:

“The sale, manufacture, transport or any type of business involving the substance known as fentanyl is strictly prohibited.”

Following this warning, seizures in US territory were at their lowest level in the last 15 months, with only 598 kilograms of fentanyl seized from criminal groups. For David Saucedo, this notable reduction represents a clear sign of an attempt by Los Chapitos to withdraw from the fentanyl market.

“The Sinaloa cartel forced its franchises to stop selling, transporting and marketing fentanyl. I am not sure that they have completely eliminated the transfer of this drug, but we can perceive that there is a deliberate decrease in fentanyl shipments to the United States,” explained the specialist.

El Chapo Guzman’s sons have tried in various ways to create a narrative so that they are not blamed for the health crisis in the United States due to the death of almost 300,000 people since 2021 from fentanyl overdoses.

“It seems that Los Chapitos have several strategies: a public narrative that they are not responsible for the production of fentanyl; the concession of not fighting against the capture of Ovidio; the abandonment of El Nini so that he could be captured; and finally, reducing fentanyl shipments, I am not sure if it is an elimination, but I am certain that it is a unilateral reduction on the part of Los Chapitos,” said David Saucedo.