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Poppies replacing pot in Mexico’s drug fields

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Poppies

Poppies

In Mexico, opium poppy plantations located by the Mexican military are up 26% in just one year. Once a staple crop for drug traffickers, marijuana is giving way to the opium poppy.

Between 2016 and 2017, the amount of land on which opium poppy plantations were discovered and destroyed by the Mexican Army grew by 26%, from 55,944 to 69,736 acres.

During the same period, land on which marijuana plantations were located dropped 24%, from 5,395 to 4,086 hectares.

Profit is one of the main drivers behind the larger opium poppy production and its increase, Mexican military sources told the newspaper Reforma.

According to figures from the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR), drug traffickers earn US $80 per kilogram of marijuana, while the same amount of heroin — an opium byproduct — can be sold for $35,000 per kilogram.

Mexico is now the third largest producer of opium poppies in the world, behind only the Asian countries of Afghanistan (thanks for the U.S. turning a blind eye) and Myanmar, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Guerrero is the state with the largest amount of land dedicated to growing poppies, followed by the Golden Triangle states of Durango, Sinaloa and Chihuahua.

Military officials believe the states of Oaxaca, Michoacán, Nayarit, Jalisco and Sonora are red flag areas, given the growth seen in the number of opium poppy plantations over the last three years. Consequently, these are not areas in which tourism is safe.

The United States State Department acknowledged last April that it intended to fund a redoubled opium poppy eradication program after detecting a surge in recent years. So far, these efforts have not proved successful.

This comes at a time when the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 64,070 people died from drug overdoses in 2016. That’s a 21 percent increase over the year before. Approximately three-fourths of all drug overdose deaths are now caused by opioids — a class of drugs that includes prescription painkillers as well as heroin and potent synthetic versions like fentanyl.

It should be pointed out that even though drugs are grown in Mexico, the country has no opiod crises—but the United States does.

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