Drug Importer Arrested In Major Win For Officials

On Monday, Mexican police announced the arrest of a Guatemalan man sought by US authorities on allegations that he helped the Sinaloa cartel import ingredients needed to manufacture fentanyl.

According to two anonymous officials from the Chiapas state prosecutor’s office, Jason Antonio Yang López was given over to agents at the Tapachula airport on Sunday by immigration authorities, who were not allowed to discuss the issue.

An official confirmed that Yang López was facing allegations related to organized crime as he was being processed.

López was sanctioned in January 2023 by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for aiding in the procurement and importation of fentanyl components into Mexico for manufacturing. According to American authorities, a Chinese chemical firm supplied the precursors.

There is no more lethal narcotic in the United States than fentanyl. In 2020, over 58,000 individuals died from overdoses of synthetic opioids like fentanyl; in 2021, that number rose to 71,000, according to the CDC.

Yang López was sanctioned in January 2023 by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for his role in facilitating the acquisition and trafficking of fentanyl precursor chemicals into Mexico for production, after which the finished product was brought to the United States.

Yang López’s assets and properties in the US were frozen along with co-conspirators Jose Angel Rivera Zazueta and Nelton Santiso Aguila.

Based in Culiacan, Sinaloa, and Mexico City, the drug production and trafficking operation of Rivera Zazueta had connections all over the world, according to the FAC office.

In 2021, the FAC office designated Shanghai Fast-Fine Chemicals as a Chinese chemical transportation company with which Rivera Zazueta had worked closely.

Zazueta smuggles vast amounts of cocaine out of Colombia and into nations like the US, Spain, Italy, Guatemala, Mexico, and the rest of Europe and Central America.

There was enough fentanyl in the 10,800 lb. of powder and 50 million tablets confiscated by the DEA in 2022 to kill more people than live in the US.

There were 106,000 documented cases of overdose fatalities in 2021, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the CDC. While heroin overdose deaths decreased by almost one-third, synthetic opioids like fentanyl accounted for two-thirds of those fatalities, an increase of 22 percent from 2020.