Mexico City, May 16, 2017 – The first National Fentanyl Conference for Forensic Chemists opened today in Mexico City. With it comes the recognition of the potential dangers of fentanyl, not only for users but also those responsible for detecting and managing the drug, as well as the need for continued collaboration between countries affected by the illegal trade in opioids.
During the two day conference, speakers from United States and Mexican law enforcement and regulatory agencies will share best practices for the detection, identification, analysis, and management of fentanyl with forensic scientists from states throughout Mexico. The extreme toxicity of fentanyl – it is 50 times more lethal than heroin – makes it critical that anyone who potentially comes into contact with fentanyl is aware of the technical protocols for its handling and storage. Forensic scientists play a critical role in identifying chemical substances and bringing traffickers of illicit drugs to justice.
Speaking alongside the Assistant Attorney for Judiciary and International Affairs, Alberto Elías Beltrán during the opening of the conference, United States Ambassador Roberta Jacobson recognized the impact of fentanyl and the need for strengthened efforts to combat trafficking in illegal substances. “In 2015, more than 33,000 people died in the United States from opioid-related overdoses. Current trends indicate that this figure will rise in 2016 and 2017. The United States and Mexico are committed to combatting the threat to our communities posed by illegal opioids like fentanyl through legislation and law enforcement. Halting the trade in opioids and other illicit drugs is a number one priority for my government, together with efforts to assist addicts.”
The first National Fentanyl Conference was organized under the Merida Initiative.
The Merida Initiative is a bilateral security cooperation agreement between Mexico and the United States. Through eight years of implementation, the Merida Initiative has led to greater cooperation between the United States and Mexico. It has provided tangible support to Mexico’s law enforcement and judicial institutions, helped to counteract the illegal trade in narcotics, and strengthened border security. To date, the Merida Initiative has delivered USD $1.6 billion in equipment, training, and capacity building assistance to the government of Mexico.