MEXICO CITY (AP) — Police in northern Mexico said Thursday they raided a lab producing the synthetic opioid fentanyl, the second such lab detected in Mexico in the last four months.
Police in the northern state of Sinaloa said the lab was discovered in a house in a middle-class neighborhood of the state capital, Culiacan.
Carlos Hernandez Leyva, the state's assistant public safety secretary, said police were patrolling in an armored truck when they came under fire. Officers chased the assailants into the house, but they escaped through a back door, he said. Police requested a search warrant and founds tubs of chemicals.
In December, Mexican federal agents arrested four people in a raid on a fentanyl lab in Mexico City.
And in November 2017, soldiers found dozens of kilograms of chemical ingredients for making fentanyl at another lab on the outskirts of Culiacan.
Much U.S. fentanyl originates in China, but is often smuggled through Mexico, where it is often pressed into pills. Because of inexpert mixing, authorities have found deadly inconsistencies in the doses of fentanyl contained in the same batch of pills. Mexican cartels also produce the drug from precursor chemicals, mainly imported from China.
Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin and can be lethal even in small amounts. Music superstar Prince died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl in 2016, and that year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the drug and its analogues killed more than 20,000 Americans.