Mexican cartels are delivering vast quantities of the inexpensive and powerful synthetic drug fentanyl to New England, causing the highest rate of fentanyl-related deaths in the nation while creating a plague that the area’s top drug enforcement official describes as “like no other epidemic” he’s ever seen.
It’s a pipeline that often begins in China, winds through the cartels of Mexico, and flows into distribution cities such as Lawrence and Springfield, according to Michael J. Ferguson, the special agent in charge of the New England field division of the US Drug Enforcement Administration. There, it’s packaged and shipped off to remote towns and other urban centers. In a candid and often alarming 90-minute interview, Ferguson offered a detailed look at how fentanyl arrives in the region, and an unsparing perspective on the way the drug has destroyed families and threatened entire communities.
“Fentanyl is manufactured death,” Ferguson said. “Whatever can be likened to a weapon of mass destruction and the effect it has on people, it’s fentanyl.”
The Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels are chiefly responsible for the region’s fentanyl trade, said Ferguson. They typically procure fentanyl or its chemical components from China, process it in Mexico into powder and pills, and then ship the synthetic product to local distributors.