According to the Associated Press, Mexican authorities raided a meth and fentanyl lab last week capable of processing 11,000 pounds (5,000 kg) of raw material at a time, the country’s federal Attorney General’s Office announced on Sunday. The sheer size of the facility left authorities in shock.
“In the Attorney General’s Office, we have no record of any seizure of equipment of this size before,” said Felipe de Jesus Gallo of the federal Attorney General’s Office. He also said that the lab had two-story-tall chemical preparation vats.
Last week, the “mega-lab” was discovered on the outskirts of Mexico City, CBS News reported. A fake storefront advertising industrial cleaning products was used to conceal the warehouse in which the lab was located. The warehouse housed 265-gallon tanks containing precursor chemicals as well as stacks of drums. According to Gallo, these chemicals can be used for manufacture methamphetamines and synthetic opioid fentanyl.
In addition to this warehouse, other sites across the country were also raided as part of the operation that was code-named “Blue.” Some of these other sites were located in the states of Durango and Sonora in the north, other parts of Mexico City, as well as in the surrounding State of Mexico.
A raid at another property in Mexico City saw the arrest of an engineer and the seizure of a drum of what is thought to be a fentanyl precursor and instructions on how to go about processing it. The engineer supposedly constructed and operated labs for an organized crime group.
Furthermore, another raid at a lab in Sonora discovered 290 kilograms (639.34 pounds) of meth, some of which was intended for shipment to the United States, said Gallo. The batch was said to have “a high level of purity.”
Authorities suspect that the group running this drug operation is one based out of Sinaloa, evidence of which linked all these raids together.
The intelligence gathered by Mexican marines points to the source of the fentanyl precursors as China but imported through a Hong Kong company, per CBS News. A multi-container shipment of these precursors reportedly entered through a port in Baja California after being shipped out from a port in Japan, the marines said they had tracked.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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REPORT: China uses psychiatric institutions to suppress dissent
China has a vast network of psychiatric institutions that it uses to suppress dissent, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. The report compiled data found on 99 victims involved in 144 instances on involuntary hospitalizations in 109 institutions from 2015 through 2021. Of the 99 victims in the report, 80 were petitioners [i.e., those who file complaints against officials] and 14 were activists.
But this is hardly a new phenomenon. “China’s regime has been torturing, maiming, and killing dissidents and others in psychiatric facilities for seven decades,” said Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. “The only way to end the horrific abuse is to end the rule of the Communist Party.”
The report detailed especially harsh treatments, which include: forced medication (in 77 percent of cases), physical restraints on the bed (60 percent), beatings by staff or other patients (25 percent) and electroshock therapy (14 percent). Otherwise normally healthy people were given anti-psychotic and psychotropic medications, causing severe side effects like memory loss, insomnia and tremors. Electroshock therapy was often administered to the victims as they were fully conscious, rather than under anesthesia in small doses as would be clinically appropriate for certain patients. According to the report, “[Electroshock therapy] without anesthesia is not only unimaginably painful and frightening for the patient but carries serious side effects, including the risk of bone fractures, joint dislocation, muscle tears, disruption of the heart beat and lung damage.”
Family and friends are often used as weapons against the victims. They were not permitted to call or visit the victims in 76 percent of cases, which essentially makes these cases “enforced disappearances.” 11 percent of cases were committed with the assistance of family (either voluntarily or coerced by authorities). Family and friends who petition for the victim’s release are often faced with persecution, and involuntarily commitment themselves.
The peak of psychiatric detentions occurred from 2015 through 2016, which was around the same time as China’s “709 Crackdown” where the government persecuted hundreds of human rights lawyers.
Some of the detentions are rather draconian. As a petitioner who called for local authorities to investigate a robbery in his house, Zeng Jiping was detained for almost two years. For “live tweeting herself splashing paint over a portrait of Xi Jinping,” Dong Yaoqiong received 1 year, 4 months detention. Twenty-nine out of the 99 victims in the report were hospitalized more than once. In two-thirds of cases where data was known, the authorities did not perform a psychiatric evaluation, in direct violation of China’s Mental Health Law.
The report also gives the example of Andy Li, a member of the “Hong Kong 12” pro-democracy protestors, as falling victim to involuntary detention in Hong Kong’ Siu Lam Psychiatric Center in 2021. The report noted that, as Li’s family didn’t know about his detention, “Li’s cases appears to be a worrying sign that the political abuse of psychiatry practiced on the mainland is now being exported into Hong Kong…”
Those who are finally released from their involuntary committals face lasting physical and phycological pain, and stigma within their communities. People seeking damages for their treatment are often faced with doctors and attorneys who do not want to assist them for fear of retaliation from the government.
According to the report, China is using “peace and health asylums” and other healthcare institutions to “punish and remove activists and petitioners from society without the trouble of going through a trial.” While the report details various Chinese laws that are supposed to protect citizens from such involuntary hospitalizations, in reality Chinese authorities do not abide by these laws and the citizens are not protected. The policy of involuntary hospitalizations show the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party will go to suppress dissent.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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