Foreword by Eric Tallant

Typically, I only share information warfare related stories, or analysis. The following thesis by Michael Hotchkiss really jumped out at me, though. This young man has an eye for data, and “gets” the total concept of hybrid warfare. Since information warfare is part of hybrid warfare, Mr. Hotchkiss’s analysis does not diverge from the standard fare found on this website too much. Anywho, I hope you all find value and insight in the following thesis.

M. Hotchkiss

Since 2011, there has been an exponential increase in opioid and heroin related deaths in the USA (1). Many of these deaths can be traced to the rapid rise of fentanyl consumption – oftentimes in tainted heroin (2). Research shows most of this product comes to the US via Mexico, from clandestine factories in Mexico and China (2, 3).

Based on their use of the drug as an incapacitant, it has clearly occurred to Russian intelligence services that Fentanyl can be weaponized. It was first used publicly in the tragic 2002 Nord-Ost standoff which resulted in the deaths of many hostages (20% mortality or so) because of the government’s choice to use the tactic (4).

Estonia, which entered the Eurozone in 2011, is a classic a target of Russia’s hybrid war in its former sphere of influence (5). Estonia has one of the worst fentanyl epidemics in Europe, considered driven largely by production factories across the border in Russia (6, 7).

Intelligence services in the Caribbean have noted the close associations between Russian Mafia, Colombian, and Mexican cartels (8). There is a tremendous amount of research and evidence showing close collusion between Russian intelligence and Mexican and Colombian drug cartels in the US too. Some of the largest drug busts in US history highlight these connections – such as the seizure of the Svesda Maru in 2001 (9) and plots involving Soviet era submarines sold to cartels by Russian intelligence in the late 90s (10, 11).

Vladimir Putin was notably an advisory member of the SPAG Group which was PROVEN connected by German and Lichtenstein law enforcement to drug trafficking (12). Before his murder at the hands of the Putin regime, Alexander Litvinenko also made similar allegations about Putin’s direct connections to cartels in Colombia, and alleged the head of Russia’s equivalent of the DEA (Viktor Ivanov) was in on it (13).

If we ask ourselves, what kinds of geopolitical events might inspire an effort to “spike” overdose and addiction rates in America by the Russians in 2011, we get a clear answer: The Arab Spring (Color Revolutions) which continued the devolution of Russian power in former Middle Eastern spheres of influence, and resulted in the deaths of Kremlin-friends like Muammar Kaddafi (14). The official position of the Kremlin state media seems to be that the west is responsible for the instability and terrorism in the middle east as a result of these 2011 actions (15).

It must be acknowledged, that despite the easy availability of fentanyl for many years, the spike in deaths and abuse of the drug have correlated strongly with the amplification of Russian Hybrid War strategy which became pronounced around that same time. Russia has a history which includes weaponization of fentanyl, and may include attempts to destabilize regional neighbors with it. Russia’s close connections to South and Central American cartels which provide the bulk of heroin and fentanyl to US black market consumers may deserve more scrutiny in light of Russia’s general geopolitical games elsewhere.