Smuggling Charges Against 'El Chapo' Sons

It was Guzmán's cocaine shipments that were the focus of his trial, but his sons' case exposes the inner workings of a cartel experiencing a generational change as it manufactured and sold fentanyl at the lowest price in the United States, according to the indictment unsealed April 14.

It is now estimated that fentanyl kills more Americans every year than the Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars combined, fueling arguments among politicians that the cartels should be branded as terrorist organizations and prompting once-unthinkable calls for U.S. military intervention.

Fentanyl, however, is a much more potent and versatile drug than heroin. Labs that could be hidden easily changed the game. With less than a decade's time, the cartel developed a network of fentanyl labs in the northern state of Sinaloa.

Every day, a cartel cook can press fentanyl into 100,000 counterfeit pills to trick Americans into thinking they are taking Xanax, Percocet, or oxycodone.

The cartel makes huge profits even by wholesaling the drug at 50 cents per pill because fentanyl is so cheap to produce.

The "Chapitos," as the sons are known, have turned to grotesque violence in order to protect and expand their business. Some of the cartel's products are tested in the lab, but more grisly tests are conducted on kidnapped rivals or addicts who are injected with the drug until they overdose.


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