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MEXICO — Mexico’s president said Friday that American families were to blame for the fentanyl overdose crisis because they weren’t hugging their children enough.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s comment caps a week of provocative statements from him on the crisis caused by fentanyl, a synthetic opioid trafficked by Mexican cartels that is responsible for around 70,000 overdose deaths a year in the United States .

López Obrador said family values ​​have collapsed in the United States because parents are not letting their children live at home long enough. He also denied that Mexico produces fentanyl.

On Friday, the Mexican president told an early morning press briefing that the problem was caused by “a lack of hugs, hugs.”

“There’s a lot of disintegration of families, there’s a lot of individualism, there’s a lack of love, brotherhood, hugs and hugs,” López Obrador said of the US crisis. “That’s why they (US officials) should dedicate funds to address the causes.”

López Obrador has repeatedly said that Mexico’s strong family values ​​are what saved him from the wave of fentanyl overdoses. Experts say Mexican cartels are making so much money in the US market that they see no need to sell fentanyl in their home market.

Cartels frequently sell meth in Mexico, where the drug is more popular because it supposedly helps people work harder.

López Obrador was stung by calls in the United States to designate Mexican drug gangs as terrorist organizations. Some Republicans have said they favor using the U.S. military to crack down on Mexican cartels.

On Wednesday, López Obrador called anti-drug policies in the United States a failure on Wednesday and proposed a ban in both countries on the use of fentanyl in medicine – even though few drugs make it from hospitals to the illegal market.

US authorities believe that most of the illegal fentanyl is produced in clandestine Mexican laboratories using Chinese precursor chemicals. A relatively small share of the illegal market comes from the diversion of medicinal fentanyl used as an anesthetic in surgeries and other procedures.

There have only been scattered and isolated reports of glass vials of medicinal fentanyl reaching the illegal market. Most illegal fentanyl is squeezed by Mexican cartels into counterfeit pills designed to look like other drugs like Xanax, Oxycodone or Percocet.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says lack of hugs caused US fentanyl overdose crisis

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