Drug cartels peddling sedatives to Juarez addicts

Border Report

Generic substitutes for Xanax sought by drug users coping with withdrawal symptoms; FDA warns combining sedatives with hard drugs may lead to death

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The use of potent synthetic substances is becoming so widespread in Juarez that drug dealers are now selling their clients sedatives to mitigate the after-effects, Mexican officials say.

Juarez police have reported several recent seizures of clonazepam pills from individuals arrested for public intoxication and drug dealers who also carried doses of crystal meth. Three such seizures took place on Dec. 30 and involved two addicts, a dealer, and 67 pills, according to Juarez police reports.

A Dec. 1 seizure involved a reputed member of La Linea drug cartel trying to sell 40 tablets of clonazepam in Downtown Juarez.

“We have detected the illegal sale of this controlled prescription medication to individuals who consume (hard) drugs […] and begin to experience a physical collapse after the effect of the drugs wears off,” Chihuahua Deputy Attorney General Jorge Nava told Border Report.

Alleged La Linea cartel member arrested on firearms and drug charges allegedly tried to peddle Clonazepam pills in Downtown Juarez. (photo City of Juarez)

Clonazepam is a benzodiazepine, which is a family of medications that include Valium and Xanax used to treat anxiety, insomnia and seizure disorders. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning against combining the medication with opioids – prescription drugs to reduce pain or illicit drugs such as heroin and fentanyl – and stimulants such as methamphetamine. Such a combination may result in respiratory depression, coma or death, the FDA says.

The sale of synthetic drugs has proliferated in Juarez in the past two years as the Mexican cartels sell in-house whatever methamphetamine or fentanyl they can’t manage to cross into the United States. This has brought on increased violence and rising addiction rates in border cities like Juarez, analysts say.

Nava said drug users are also consuming clonazepam to deal with withdrawal symptoms, especially when they run out of money to purchase their next “fix” of hard drugs. An internet search revealed that Juarez pharmacies sell generic brands of clonazepam for less than $6 for a 2 mg box of 30, but a doctor’s prescription is needed for sale.

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