Mexico seizes more than half a million fentanyl pills in raid on huge drug lab

Containers of fentanyl and methamphetamine seized by U.S. customs officers
U.S. authorities display containers of fentanyl and methamphetamine seized in Nogales, Ariz.
(Mamta Popat / Arizona Daily Star via Associated Press)

Mexican soldiers have seized more than half a million fentanyl pills in a raid on what the army called the largest synthetic drug lab found in the country to date.

The army said Wednesday that the outdoor lab was discovered in Culiacan, the capital of the northern state of Sinaloa. Sinaloa is home to the drug cartel of the same name.

Soldiers raided the lab Tuesday and found almost 630,000 pills that appear to contain the synthetic opioid fentanyl.


They also reported seizing 282 pounds of powdered fentanyl and about 220 pounds of suspected methamphetamine.

“This is the highest-capacity synthetic drug production lab on record during this administration,” the Mexican army said in a statement.

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Mexican drug cartels produce the opioid from precursor chemicals shipped from China and then press it into pills counterfeited to look like Xanax, Percocet or oxycodone. People often take the pills without knowing they contain fentanyl and can suffer deadly overdoses.

The bust came on the same day that the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the the huge number of U.S. fentanyl overdoses that occur annually, currently around 70,000.

The committee’s chair, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), called on Mexico to do more.

“This means asking Mexico to do more to disrupt the criminal organizations from producing and trafficking fentanyl, although a politicized judiciary and incidents of Mexican security forces colluding with drug cartels will make that difficult,” he said.