Rise of ‘China White’: A new challenge for Mexico’s drug control efforts

Synthetic narcotics shift Mexico's drug trade dynamics, with 'China White' gaining prominence despite opposition from major cartels.

Over the years, the hegemony of drug trafficking cartels in Mexico has undergone multiple changes that relate not only to the region where criminal organizations are established but also to their criminal activities and the market of illegal substances they seek to control.

According to the latest National Survey on Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco Consumption (ENCODAT) carried out in Mexico, the most consumed narcotic in the country has been marijuana; however, with the unstoppable rise of synthetic drugs, there has been a gradual increase in the demand for illegal substances that are not of plant origin.

This premise has been used by criminal organizations operating in Mexico to start distributing synthetic drugs or compounds thereof, which have gradually begun to gain ground, as is happening in Guerrero with the so-called “China White.”

Salvador Rangel  brindó detalles sobre el control del mercado de drogas que existe en el estado de Guerrero (Captura de pantalla)
Salvador Rangel provided details about the control of the drug market that exists in the state of Guerrero (Screenshot)

Recently, the Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Chilpancingo – Chilapa, Salvador Rangel, gave an interview to the local media Quadratín Guerrero in which – among many other topics – he provided details about the drug market that organized crime groups dispute in the state of Guerrero.

The priest stressed that some of the criminal cells that have gained relevance in the state – such as “Los Ardillos” or the Southern Cartel led by Isaac Navarrete Celis, better known as “El Señor de la I” – do not agree with the distribution of crystal meth.

“Don Isaac and ‘Los Ardillos’ have told me this a lot: ‘We do not want the stone to be distributed, the ICE because it kills people then, Don Isaac was the enemy of ICE, the enemy of the stone because you will remember some time ago a woman there in Chilpancingo killed her daughter precisely drugged with this, then Don Isaac told me ‘Look, I distribute my marijuana but up to there nothing more‘,” shared the Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Chilpancingo – Chilapa.

Despite this, Monsignor Salvador Rangel noted that other criminals operating in the state – such as “Los Tlacos” – little by little displaced “Don Isaac’s” Southern Cartel and continued to spread drugs, specifically one that has been commonly referred to as “China White.

What is “China White”?

La droga conocida como "China White" es una combinación entre dos potentes opioides, uno sintético y otro natural (AP Foto/Carlos Jasso, Archivo)
The drug “China White” combines two potent opioids, one synthetic and the other natural (AP Photo/Carlos Jasso, File).

According to information disseminated by Infobae in 2018, the concept of “China White” or “China White” emerged in the United States as a way to differentiate the white-colored heroin that arrived from Colombia or China from the dark one that was manufactured in Mexico.

In their eagerness to enhance the effect of the narcotic and reduce its cost, traffickers began to mix it with other drugs, such as cocaine or fentanyl. This potent synthetic opioid has generated a public health crisis in the United States.

Wilfrido López-Ojeda, professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Central Florida, gave an interview to Rolling Stone magazine in which he explained that in its origin, “China White” could have been a mixture of the original fentanyl with some heroin and cocaine residues.

In other words, in essence, “China White” is a compound of two potent opioids: one synthetic (fentanyl) and one obtained from the poppy flower (heroin).

However, it is not excluded that drug cartels are adding other narcotics to the compound to potentiate its effects at a lower cost. This situation has raised the alarm among authorities, who are finding it increasingly difficult to control the expansion, manufacture, and trafficking of synthetic drugs throughout Mexico and across the border in the country of the stars and stripes.