Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is calling for help from the Chinese communist regime to combat fentanyl smuggling – while also taking shots at “rude threats” from American lawmakers who have called for more aggressive action against drug cartels over the crisis.
The controversial Mexican president, who has falsely claimed that fentanyl is not produced in Mexico, said on Tuesday he has written to Chinese President Xi Jinping asking him to stop shipments of the deadly drug coming from Chinese shores.
He also referenced calls from U.S. lawmakers for Mexico to do more to address the fentanyl crisis as he read out the letter to the press.
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“I write to you, President Xi Jinping, not to ask your help on these rude threats, but to ask you for humanitarian reasons to help us by controlling the shipments of fentanyl,” he said.
Fentanyl, which is 50-100 times more potent than morphine, is responsible for over 70,000 deaths a year in the U.S. It is primarily made in Mexico using Chinese precursors and then shipped across the U.S. land border at the direction of the Mexican drug cartels.
The drug is frequently mixed into counterfeit pills, meaning that users are often not aware they are ingesting the drug.
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The fentanyl crisis has been at the center of a growing diplomatic dispute between the U.S. and Mexico as lawmakers in the U.S. have been pushing for a more aggressive approach toward the southern neighbor and the cartels within.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has said Mexico could be doing more to help the U.S. tackle the crisis, which he said is being “unleashed on purpose” by the cartels.
Republicans have called for the cartels to be branded Foreign Terrorist Organizations and have even suggested the military be used to take out the cartels’ drug labs.
“We’re going to unleash the fury and might of the United States against these cartels,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. told reporters last month. “We’re going to destroy their business model and their lifestyle because our national security and the security of the United States as a whole depends on us taking decisive action.”
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Graham’s remarks and similar ones from other lawmakers sparked a furious response from Lopez Obrador, who threatened to meddle in U.S. elections with an “information campaign” against Republicans.
He has also lashed out at a State Department report which criticized the government’s human rights records. He accused the U.S. of “lying” and trying to act like “the government of the world.”
On Tuesday, much of Lopez Obrador’s letter consisted of thinly-veiled swiping at the U.S. and blaming the northern neighbor for the crisis. He has previously attributed the crisis to a “lack of hugs” in the U.S., rather than the murderous cartels that have continued to flourish under his presidency.
“Unjustly, they are blaming us for problems that in large measure have to do with their loss of values, their welfare crisis,” López Obrador wrote. “These positions are in themselves a lack of respect and a threat to our sovereignty, and moreover they are based on an absurd, manipulative, propagandistic and demagogic attitude.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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