Pharmacies in Popular Mexico Tourist Destinations Frequented by Americans are Selling Fentanyl-Laced Pills: REPORT

By Published on February 3, 2023

The pharmacies often attracting American tourists in Mexico are selling pills advertised as popular pharmaceuticals that actually contain deadly drugs like fentanyl, according to a Los Angeles Times investigation.

Pharmacies in northwest Mexico, like Cabo San Lucas and Tijuana, are selling pills that are advertised as Adderall, Xanax, Oxycodone, but are actually laced with fentanyl, according to the LA Times. In conducting its investigation, the LA Times found that 71% of the 17 pills they tested contained more lethal drugs than what the aforementioned medications were advertised as.

“Whenever you have counterfeit products that contain fentanyl, you are going to have people use them and die,” UCLA researcher and the senior author of a similar study, Chelsea Shover, said, according to the LA Times.

Fentanyl is largely responsible for the more than 100,000 overdose deaths that occurred in the U.S. in 2021. The illicit form of fentanyl is predominately made by cartels in Mexico that use precursor chemicals from China, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

But the American customers dying in the U.S. may also be at risk south of the border.

“These places are close at hand, and Americans travel to these locations, and they are at risk in a way that wasn’t apparent before,” Democratic California state Sen. John Laird said, according to the LA Times. “And I think that as this story comes out and we learn further details we’re going to have to look to see if there’s any state legislation that needs to be looked at to follow up.”

The LA Times conducted its research by purchasing pills in local pharmacies and using testing strips to understand the make up of their purchases.

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They obtained the pills, which were often hidden out of plain sight, with no issues and no questioning from the sellers, according to the LA Times.

The LA Times’ investigative team told the pharmacies they were buying the pills to either split them for studying or partying. In some cases, the team didn’t provide any reason.

The sellers didn’t ask further questions and sold them the drugs, according to the LA Times.

Mexico’s data on overdose deaths doesn’t account for the full scale of the situation as only doctors can note drugs as the reason for a fatality on a death certificate, according to the LA Times, which cited Dr. David Goodman-Meza, an assistant professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, who recently co-authored a study that made similar findings.

“The default when you don’t have an explanation is to say that the person died of a cardiopulmonary arrest,” Goodman-Meza said, according to the LA Times. “But, I mean, we all die because our hearts stop.”


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