MEXICO CITY, April 10 (Reuters) – Members of Mexico’s security cabinet will be in the United States this week to meet with U.S. officials about the trafficking of synthetic opioid fentanyl, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Monday.
The meeting’s agenda will include other topics, including arms trafficking, the president said, without providing details on which U.S. officials would participate.
Some U.S. lawmakers have been calling on the Biden administration to take a harder line and ratchet up pressure on Mexico to crack down on the fentanyl trafficking. A handful of Republican legislators have even called for the U.S. military to bomb Mexican cartels and their labs inside Mexico.
Overdoses involving synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, killed more than 70,000 people in the U.S. in 2021, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
U.S. officials say almost all fentanyl on U.S. streets is mass produced by powerful crime groups on Mexican soil, a claim Lopez Obrador denies.
China last week responded to a late-March letter from Lopez Obrador asking for help on shipments of fentanyl, saying there is no illegal trafficking of the opioid between China and Mexico.
The letter and China’s response did not mention supplies of the precursor chemicals used to make fentanyl.
Lopez Obrador on Monday repeated that no fentanyl is synthesized inside Mexico, a claim the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) disputes.
“In Mexico fentanyl is not produced, the raw material for fentanyl is not produced. If China’s government says they do not produce it either, then it is interesting. Who is producing it?,” Lopez Obrador said during a regular news conference Monday.
(This story has been corrected to update the CDC data on fatalities to more than 70,000 in 2021 from all synthetic opioids, not more than100,000 in fiscal 2022 from fentanyl, in paragraph 4)