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Andrés Manuel López Obrador: Blame American parents, not drug cartels for fentanyl epidemic

Lopez Obrador added that the U.S. should turn to family values to fight the opioid epidemic that causes more than 70,000 deaths per year

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador | Shutterstock/Octavio Hoyos

March 10, 2023 6:42am

Updated: February 13, 2024 8:57am

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Thursday that the fentanyl epidemic was largely a U.S. problem and claimed that the calls for its military to use action against drug cartels in his country were “irresponsible.”  

The president's statements came as he met with Homeland Security Adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall to discuss fentanyl and arms trafficking. 

“Here, we do not produce fentanyl, and we do not have consumption of fentanyl,” Lopez Obrador said. “Why don’t they (the United States) take care of their problem of social decay?”

López Obrador added that the U.S. should turn to family values to fight the opioid epidemic that causes more than 70,000 deaths per year.

The president blamed single-parent families, parents that have kicked out their children of their homes, and individuals placing their relatives in old-age homes as problems that are leading to the consumption of the drug.

Despite López Obrador’s claims, the Mexican government has previously acknowledged that fentanyl is being produced in Mexico with chemicals from China and is then smuggled into the United States. 

Last month, the Mexican government announced one of its largest seizures of the synthetic drug during a raid of a drug lab.

During the bust, more than half a million fentanyl pills were found in an outdoor lab in Culiacan, in the state of Sinaloa.

“The president is lying,” said Mexican security analyst David Saucedo. “The Mexican cartels, above all the CJNG (Jalisco New Generation Cartel) and the Sinaloa Cartel have learned to manufacture it.”

“They themselves buy the precursor chemicals, set up laboratories to produce fentanyl and distribute it to cities in the United States and sell it,” Saucedo said. “Little by little they have begun to build a monopoly on fentanyl because the Mexican cartels are present along the whole chain of production and sales.”

The president’s comments come after four American citizens were kidnapped last week after they crossed into Mexico by a group of armed men near the town of Matamoros. Two of the Americans were found alive in a stash house, while two others were found dead. The Americans are thought to have been kidnapped by the Gulf Cartel.

The kidnapping prompted several Republicans to call for the U.S. military to take direct action in combating the cartels and fentanyl production. 

"This is a problem of mass poisoning of the citizens of the United States and the cartels are directly responsible," Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, who introduced a bill earlier this year to authorize military force against the cartels.

"My questions to you are the following: Why do you reject aid from the United States? Why do you protect the cartels? They are your enemy and the United States is your friend," he added.

Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he would introduce legislation re-designate the Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, allowing the U.S. military to take action against them. 

"We're going to unleash the fury and might of the United States against these cartels," Graham said at a press conference. "We're going to destroy their business model and their lifestyle because our national security and the security of the United States as a whole depends on us taking decisive action."

López Obrador called the suggestions “an offense to the people of Mexico,” adding that he would never “permit any foreign government to intervene in our territory, much less than a government's armed forces intervene."