Mexican drug cartels are no strangers to heroin smuggling, although they have historically lagged behind other countries and organizations in production and distribution. However, a recent investigation by the award-winning Dromomanos journalism collective revealed the powerful Sinaloa Federation has overtaken Colombian and Asian drug suppliers in New York, and that the cartel now dominates heroin distribution across the United States.

According to analysis by, the DEA has indicated that 50 percent of heroin sold in the US is produced in Mexico, between 43 and 45 percent comes from Colombia, and the rest from Asian countries. Almost all of it is supplied by Mexican cartels. This is no surprise, considering the years of practice Mexican drug smugglers have under their belts.

The original opiate smugglers in Mexico were actually the Chinese, who brought the opium poppy across the Pacific in the 1860s while working on Mexican railroads. After the turn of the century, they started smuggling opium and heroin into southern California through Tijuana. Mexican criminal groups saw the profitability of the trade and started to take it over within a few decades. The US demand for morphine exploded during World War II, and there is evidence to support the notion that cross-border smuggling of the drug was sanctioned because of shortages for injured soldiers returning from overseas.

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