Authorities in New York have indicted a suspected Mexican drug kingpin they say was responsible for trafficking enough fentanyl to kill 10 million people.
Authorities say the arrest of Francisco Quiroz-Zamora provides a window into how the powerful Sinaloa cartel moves drugs from Mexico to the United States. Quiroz-Zamora, a 41-year-old known as “Gordo,” or the Fat One, has been charged with operating as a major trafficker, first-degree sale of a controlled substance and second-degree conspiracy.
Quiroz-Zamora and five co-defendants will be arraigned in New York City on Tuesday.
Officials with New York’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor indicted Quiroz-Zamora. Officials allege he arranged for 44 pounds, or nearly 20 kilograms, of fentanyl to be shipped to New York — a haul of drugs that had the potential to kill 10 million people. Fentanyl is about 50 times more powerful than heroin, and just a few grains can kill.
Fentanyl, which is made in clandestine labs with cheap chemicals, has become a lucrative business for traffickers. It is often cut into heroin or pressed into counterfeit pills made to resemble legitimate prescription drugs, including OxyContin and Xanax.
For a high-level dealer, Quiroz-Zamora was extremely involved in every aspect of the process that gets drugs from creators to users, officials claim. He organized a pipeline that sent drugs from Mexico to Arizona and California through trucks, cars and drug couriers and authorized transactions between customers and dealers, according to authorities.
Mexican trafficking groups are attempting to turn New York into their distribution hub, and fentanyl is now their main product. The amount of fentanyl seized by the Special Narcotics Prosecutor in New York rose from 35 pounds in 2016 to 491 pounds last year.
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SOURCE: Chicago Tribune; The Washington Post, Katie Zezima