There is one benefit – a silver lining – to the coronavirus epidemic. The super rich, wildly violent Mexican dug cartels are also struck. Production is way down, supply chains are broken and prices for drugs have risen 400 per cent. The cartels’ multi-billion dollar business in the U.S. is in jeopardy.
Some 5000 illegal Chinese laboratories have closed or are turning out badly needed medical items instead of chemicals for drugs. The food stuffs, toys and automotive parts that are used to smuggle these ingredients for manufacture in Mexico are no longer making the trip across the ocean. What is a desperate cartel like Sinaloa, which sends 90 percent of synthetic drugs to the U.S., to do? To begin with, it got into a shootout with the rival Juarez cartel, leaving 19 dead.
American demand is in question. Hard put to pay for rent and food, Americans don’t have money for drugs, though lockdown and stress may cause them to reconsider. Some 69 thousand died from drug overdose last year which may well exceed the number succumbing to coronavirus this year.
There’s no silver lining, however, for Mexico. Homicides reached a record 2585 in March as the cartels switched to extortion and kidnapping and satisfied their pleasure of killing their fellow citizens in a variety of ways. Journalists, of course, are not immune. Maria Elena Ferral was shot dead in broad daylight in Papantla, a city under cartel control. She had been reporting on crime and corruption for the newspaper El Diario de Xalapa. Denied protection, she became the first journalist to be murdered this year. Ten were assassinated in 2019.
While at least temporarily inconvenienced, the cartels have been busy. A half- mile long tunnel containing some $30 million in drugs was just discovered running from Tijuana in Mexico to San Diego in California. It was well supplied with comforts – ventilation, lighting, an underground railway system. It’s one ingenious way among many to get drugs across the border, which despite all the talk, remains basically open to this deadly product.