DEA Says Mexican Cartels Operate in All 50 States

The “most powerful and ruthless” Mexican cartels are operating in every U.S. state and have clashed in multiple American cities.

That’s according to a new report issued by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The report highlighted that the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels have come in heavy throughout major cities in the U.S., bringing not only dangerous drugs such as fentanyl and meth but also violence that they use to protect the turf they have.

As the DEA report outlines:

“The deadly reach of the Mexican Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels into U.S. communities is extended by the wholesale-level traffickers and street dealers bringing the cartels’ drugs to market, sometimes creating their own deadly drug mixtures. Together, the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels have caused the worst drug crisis in U.S. history.”

The DEA report, called the National Drug Threat Assessment, details the leadership structures of the cartels, the different areas they’re in control of, how the cartels operate as well as their global reach — beyond just the U.S. and Mexico.

Fentanyl is so attractive to the Mexican cartels is that it is synthetic — meaning made by man. It’s not only cheaper to produce and easier to transport than plant-based drugs, it’s more potent as well. This allows the cartels to more easily infiltrate U.S. cities to control every aspect of the drug trade — starting with production and going all the way to delivery.

The report says that the cartels have “effectively eliminated any competition in U.S. markets” and “dictate the flow of nearly all illicit drugs.” The DEA also highlighted that thousands of drug dealers linked to the cartels operate throughout the U.S.

In Florida, seven members of the Sinaloa Cartel were arrested in Florida, charged with supplying thousands of fentanyl pills made in Mexico, federal prosecutors said. Included among those suspects was Roque Bustamante, who is better known as the “Skittles Man.”

He got that nickname because of the huge supplies of fentanyl pills that he allegedly sold that were rainbow colored.

According to other documents, an undercover operation by law enforcement agencies busted up a group of cartel members that were in charge of arranging a Mexican weapons-smuggling operation. Among the weapons in this operation were many high-powered rifles.

The DEA said that, during that investigation, the agency was able to seize roughly 21 kilograms of pure fentanyl, 3,000 M30 blue fentanyl pills, 70,000 rainbow fentanyl pills, two kilos of cocaine, 243 pounds of crystal meth and 24 total weapons — six pistols and 18 rifles.

Another 12 traffickers who have ties to the Jalisco cartel received between 4.5 and 40 years behind bars in federal prison in late April following a 2021 bust in Del Rio, Texas. That group was coordinating a shipment of almost 200 kilos of liquid meth, which has an approximately value of $9.9 million.