Mexican authorities carried out raids against some thirty so-called narco-pharmacies in the country. The establishments knowingly sold drugs containing fentanyl and other dangerous drugs, especially to unsuspecting tourists. The operation targeted the municipality of Ensenada, south of the Californian border, a particularly touristy area.
According to The Los Angeles Times, this is the third such operation carried out by Mexican law enforcement in coordination with the country's health authorities. Other areas targeted were Los Cabos and the Yucatan Peninsula, also regions known for tourism. In these two interventions, authorities made at least four arrests, in addition to the searches and closures of the establishments, which, for the most part, started out legal.
As early as the spring of 2023, U.S. health authorities, especially those in states bordering Mexico, warned travelers of the dangers lurking behind some Mexican pharmacies. Specifically, the Los Angeles County Public Health Service, for example, warned about unintentional overdoses in pharmacy customers who thought they were consuming drugs as common as acetaminophen, but were actually ingesting drugs containing fentanyl.
Los Angeles Times investigation
Last summer, several media outlets conducted an investigation into these narco-pharmacies, alerting authorities.
The Los Angeles Times analyzed 55 pills purchased legally in 29 pharmacies in eight different cities in Mexico. According to the analysis, more than 33% of the painkillers tested contained illegal fentanyl instead of the correct active ingredients. In addition, 12 of the 15 Adderall samples tested tested positive for other substances, such as methamphetamine and ecstasy. On some occasions, entire vials that appeared to be factory-sealed were contaminated, according to the report.