Fiji Time: 1:04 PM on Thursday 25 May

Fiji Times Logo

/ Front page / Features

Fight against opium

Reuters
Saturday, May 20, 2017

COYUCA DE CATALAN, Mexico - The Mexican army says its fight against surging opium production that feeds US demand is increasingly complicated by the rise of smaller gangs disputing wild, ungoverned lands planted with ever-stronger poppy strains.

The gangs have engulfed the state of Guerrero in a war to control poppy fields, turning inaccessible mountain valleys of endemic poverty and famous beach resorts into Mexico's bloodiest spots.

Colonel Isaac Aaron Jesus Garcia, who runs a base in one of the state's most unruly cities, Ciudad Altamirano, told Reuters on an operation to chop down poppies high in the Guerrero mountains that violence increased two years ago when a third gang, Los Viagra, began a grab for territory.

Bodies are discovered almost daily across the state, tossed by roads, some buried in mass graves.

In Ciudad Altamirano, the mayor was killed last year and a journalist gunned down in March at a car wash.

"These fractures (in the gangs) started two years ago, and that caused this violence that is all about monopolising the production of the drug," Jesus Garcia said.

From this frontline of the fight against heroin, Jesus Garcia sees a direct link between a record US heroin epidemic that killed nearly 13,000 people in 2015 and violence on his patch.

"The increase of consumers for this type of drug in the United States has been exponential and the collateral effect is seen here," Jesus Garcia said.

Heroin use in the US has risen five-fold in the past decade and addiction has more than tripled, with the biggest jumps among whites and men with low incomes.

Jesus Garcia said the task of seeking out poppy fields in one of Mexico's poorest and least accessible regions, rising above the beach resorts of Acapulco and Ixtapa, was practically endless.

His 34th Battalion and others send platoons of troops on foot for month-long expeditions every season. They set up camps and fan through treacherous terrain, part of a campaign that destroys tens of thousands of fields a year.

One such field visited by Reuters was deep in a lawless region six hours from Ciudad Altamirano through winding dirt roads thick with dust that rose into the mountains.

It was irrigated by a lawn sprinkler mounted on a pole that spritzed water over less than a hectare of poppies and fertilizer bags were piled nearby, basic farming techniques the soldiers nevertheless said were a sign of growers' new sophistication.








Fiji Times Front Page Thumbnail

Kaila Front Page ThumbnailFiji Times & Kaila Frontpage PDF Downloads

Use the free Acrobat Reader to view.

Westpac
Code Inward TTs Outward TTs
CAD 0.65220.6332
JPY 54.851351.8513
GBP 0.37360.3656
EUR 0.43350.4215
NZD 0.69610.6631
AUD 0.65080.6258
USD 0.48840.4714

from

$0.00

Exchange Rate updated on 25th, May, 2017

Today's Most Read Stories

  1. Civil service pay structure review
  2. Sex crimes rise
  3. Florist turns rags to riches
  4. Waveriders hit Biarritz
  5. No to village bylaw
  6. Plans to install chief
  7. Plea for assistance
  8. Climate funds
  9. North economy boost promise
  10. BRIEFLY

Top Stories this Week

  1. A-G sounds warning Sunday (21 May)
  2. Man wants house back Wednesday (24 May)
  3. Qoro on Pleass board Monday (22 May)
  4. Work cut out Monday (22 May)
  5. 'Past politicians' did not fix roads Saturday (20 May)
  6. Ratu Naiqama set to return as MP Friday (19 May)
  7. Toorak youths distraught over lost jerseys Tuesday (23 May)
  8. Henry's debt to mum Wednesday (24 May)
  9. Pillar of strength Wednesday (24 May)
  10. Thank you midwives Monday (22 May)