Fentanyl reshapes DEA's Most Wanted list

The anti-drug agency now prioritizes the capture of Mexican drug traffickers and Chinese citizens key to the production and introduction of the opioid in the United States.

The fentanyl crisis has reshaped the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) list of most wanted criminals. In its latest update, the anti-drug administration has prioritized drug traffickers and hitmen from Mexican cartels who are smuggling the opioid across the border, as well as Chinese nationals key to making the drug, and supplying precursor chemicals from Asia to criminals. The agency pays special attention to the criminal group of the sons of Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, known in Mexico as Los Chapitos.

Stir over 'disappearance' of cartel leaders on DEA list

Among the faces that appear in first place at the moment in the list of the most wanted on the DEA website highlights the presence of Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, alias El Chapito, one of El Chapo's accomplices for which they now offer up to 10 million dollars. Although the update of the digital version of the list generated some stir, since several of Mexico's main criminals had disappeared, the agency confirmed that his older brother, Jesus Alfredo Guzman, Alfredillo, Despite not appearing among the first faces of the list published on the Internet, remains among their priorities, with a reward of the same amount.

The most relevant absences on this first page of the list of fugitives, but who continue to be sought and captured, are the new generation of leaders of the of the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels, Ismael Zambada García ($15 million reward), better known as El Mayo and Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, El Mencho ($10M), respectively.

Mexicans lead DEA's list of fugitives

Among those who do appear is the presence of Chapito's right-hand man, and head of the Sinaloa cartel's hitmen, Oscar Noé Medina González, alias Panu. According to the DEA – which offers $4 million for his capture – he is wanted for "continued criminal enterprise, conspiracy to import fentanyl, conspiracy to traffic fentanyl, possession of machine guns and destructive devices, conspiracy to possess machine guns and destructive devices and conspiracy to launder money." His functions include protecting fentanyl export routes, eliminating rivals from other organizations, conquering new drug trafficking hotspots, and harassing security forces.

Another illustrious member of this list is Liborio Núñez Aguirre, El Karateca. A member of the Sinaloa Cartel, he was able to introduce up to half a million doses in a single operation. Authorities accuse him of negotiating a shipment of more than 70,000 fentanyl pills belonging to Los Chapitos that were intercepted after crossing the border through San Diego.

San Diego is the main base of operations of Luis Javier Benitez Espinoza, El Catorce, he is being persued for having introduced thousands of doses into the country, and one of the main assets of the Sinaloa cartel. Also in California, in this case in Los Angeles, operates Alan Gabriel Núñez Herrera, another of those on the list.

Prioritize Combating the Fentanyl Triad

Although most of those present on the page are Mexican, there are also Chinese nationals who supply from Asia, the basic precursors necessary to prepare the lethal opioid, an example of the DEA's new strategy is attacking what is known as the Fentanyl triad. This is the case of Kun Jiang, (one million reward) who works at the pharmaceutical Suzhou Xiaoli, a company on the agency's radar since 2021 when it intercepted a shipment of 25 kilos of chemical precursors in Guadalajara, which the anti-drug office suspects were destined for the Sinaloa cartel.

Even higher is the reward ($5 million) offered by his compatriot Chuen Yip, for providing basic precursors to cartels and trafficking fentanyl. At the moment, Chuen Yip is considered one of the most important providers of anabolic steroids in the world.