When Mexican soldiers raided a Culiacán warehouse last week, they had no idea their drug bust would be historic.
But “historic” is precisely how the government described the July 2 haul in a statement Thursday. In addition to nearly 2,000 pounds of fentanyl, the record seizure included 1,224 pounds of methamphetamines, 15 pounds of heroin, 68 pounds of cocaine and 156,528 pounds of processing materials.
“This is the largest seizure in history of this lethal drug,” said Assistant Public Safety Secretary Ricardo Mejía at Thursday’s press conference.
Officials estimated the fentanyl alone had a value of $200 million, according to Vice. A powerful synthetic opioid, fentanyl skyrocketed in demand as a result of the nationwide crisis plaguing the United States — and has been lucratively supplied by Mexico’s cartels.
While 10 people were arrested during the seizure by the Mexican Army and National Guard, their leader remains unidentified. Authorities confirmed the warehouse, which is in Las Palmas, has been regularly used as a gathering place for members of organized crime.
It certainly hasn’t eluded officials that Culiacán is the capital of Sinaloa state, where Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán built his empire and served as the Sinaloa Cartel leader until his arrest in 2016. A local source even told Vice that the drugs belonged to Guzmán’s children.
His sons are known as “Los Menores” or “Los Chapitos,” according to Vice. Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar, Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, Joaquín Guzmán López and Ovidio Guzmán López are believed to have taken the reins since their father’s incarceration.
Ovidio Guzmán López was even briefly captured in Culiacán by the Mexican Army in 2019, according to The Guardian. The Sinaloa Cartel responded by taking control of the city, taking soldiers hostage, and demanding López be released. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador acquiesced — and let López go.
The U.S. State Department issued a $5 million reward for anyone with information leading to the capture of Los Chapitos in December 2021.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 100,306 Americans died from drug overdoses between April 2020 and April 2021 — with fentanyl the primary synthetic opioid responsible. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin.