26 marzo, 2019

Juan remembers the first time he went to a poppy field as a young child with his dad. His father was taught how to farm the crop by Juan’s grandfather. Now Juan’s in his mid-50s, and his son has taken charge of the hectare of poppy plants that the family manages, an hour’s drive by all-terrain vehicle from their village in the mountains of Culiacán, Sinaloa.
Two or three times a year, the paste harvested from these plants is bought by middlemen working with the Sinaloa cartel that used to be run by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. They process it into heroin and send it north to the U.S. to feed the demand from addicts. But a changing tide in the drug trade is threatening what — ethics aside — is a tradition and way of life for humble farmers across Mexico.
Farmers harvest poppy fields in Mexico.
rise in the production of — and demand for — synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine and increasingly the deadly opioid fentanyl is damaging the market for drug crops farmers. Both can be made from precursors imported from China (or, in the case of fentanyl, simply imported ready-made from China) and then processed in clandestine kitchens before being sent north. This cuts out the pesky process of farming and harvesting for criminal organizations, which are driven by demand, profit and little else.
That means that huge swaths of rural Mexico are about to get even poorer than they already are. Between 1995 and 2015, Mexican authorities found and destroyed opium in 18 of Mexico’s 32 states, including places with no real tradition of drug production like Coahuila, Veracruz, Hidalgo and Puebla. Overall, opium was found in 34 percent of the total municipalities in the country, according to a report by the country’s defense secretary.

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