MX: Hidden panels, counterfeit bottles, fentanyl: A year of buying drugs in Mexican pharmacies

The tag on her white lab coat read “professional pharmacist,” and the framed health and safety certificates lining the walls behind her gave the drugstore an air of legitimacy.

That pretense faded seconds later, when she was asked for controlled medications — and got on her hands and knees to pop open a hidden panel under the counter. She rooted around for a minute and emerged with two sealed bottles.

“These are from licensed laboratories,” she said. “The problem is when you’re buying from a laboratory that’s not certified.”

One of those bottles — sold as Adderall — tested positive for methamphetamine.

In pharmacy after pharmacy in this Mexican resort city, workers offered similar assurances, but time and again the pills proved to be fakes. There were oxycodone pills that tested positive for heroin and over-the-counter cough medicine, and Vicodin tablets that turned out to be fentanyl. Pills sold as Adderall were sometimes methamphetamine or caffeine, and sometimes simply an appetite suppressant.

Tags: Drug Trafficking

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