Guerrero State Considers Opium Cultivation to Curb Drug Violence
A Mexican official believes that legalizing cultivation of opium poppies for medicinal purposes could help the country's longstanding battle against the drug trade.
Guerrero Governor Hector Astudillo, a member of President Enrique Peña Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party, said that the government should consider allowing the cultivation of the plant.
"Let's do some sort of pilot scheme," Astudillo told Milenio television in an interview, as quoted by Reuters. "Provided it's used for medical issues ... It's a way out that could get us away from the violence there has been in Guerrero."
In September 2014, 43 trainee teachers disappeared in Guerrero, one of Mexico's most violent regions. The government believes that the teachers were massacred by a drug gang in connivance with corrupt local officials and police. The crime has stoked international criticism of the state of law and order in the country.
Opium poppies are also used to make heroin, morphine and other pain-killing drugs. The plant can be legally cultivated in countries, including Australia, India and Turkey.
Guerrero's Fight Would Not be Easy
The heroin trade is also lucrative in the state of Guerrero, which is mostly controlled by the Sinaloa cartel. By the end of 2015, Guerrero saw its homicide rate surge up to 56.5 per 100,000 residents, a number that was four times higher than the national average of 14.07 murders per 100,000, state-level data obtained by the Mexican government stated.
Astudillo said that Guerrero cannot solve violence on its own, adding that legal poppy cultivation could loosen the drug gangs' control over local farmers. The governor, however, didn't provide details on how such a scheme would work in Mexico.
Drug Cartels Taking Over Mexico's Tortilla Business
Drug cartels have been taking over the tortilla business in the southern state of Guerrero, Vice News reported. Mexico's tortilla industry is usually concentrated in poor barrios, which are places that are also populated by criminal groups.
The cartels, such as Guerreros Unidos and Los Rojos, want to use the tortilla shops as a route for expanding their drug activities. Controlling the business owners and the workforce could give them well-placed drug distribution areas, lookouts and street dealers under the façade of a legitimate business.
More than 100,000 people have died in Mexico caused by the feud between drug gangs and the state since the previous government issued a militarized crackdown against the cartels in late 2006.
According to the study published by the journal Health Affairs in January, male life expectancy rates dropped in all of Mexico's 31 states as violence related to the drug war escalated between 2005 and 2010, per Eurek Alert. Life expectancy for Mexican men is now slightly lower than 72 years, which is six months lesser than in 2005.
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