The End of (Illegal) Marijuana: What It Means for Criminal Dynamics in Mexico

MARIJUANA / 6 DEC 2022

Marijuana legalization has expanded greatly across the United States, the primary destination for illicit drugs produced in Mexico. Today, two-thirds of the US population now has legal access to medicinal or recreational marijuana and the DEA says the majority of the marijuana its anti-drug officials seize is produced domestically. 

This has major implications for Mexico’s organized crime groups, who just 10 years ago were the main suppliers of marijuana to the United States. In the mountains of Sinaloa, long one of the country’s epicenters for marijuana production, a transformation is taking place. As prices have plummeted, small farmers are looking to other crops or leaving farming behind altogether and migrating to major urban centers. 

But the powerful organized crime groups operating in this region, most notably the Sinaloa Cartel, have adapted and turned to the mass production of synthetic drugs like methamphetamine and fentanyl. Not only that, but they’ve turned inward in an attempt to capitalize on Mexico’s growing -- and almost legal -- domestic market for marijuana. 

Chapter 1

Executive Summary and Major Findings

MARIJUANA / 6 DEC 2022

Today, most of the marijuana consumed in the United States is produced domestically, changing the game in the international drug market.

Chapter 2

The Chapitos’ Monopoly on Drug Sales in Culiacán, Sinaloa

CHAPITOS / 6 DEC 2022

Local drug sales in Sinaloa’s capital city are controlled by one of the most notorious and powerful organized crime families in Mexico.

Chapter 3

As Marijuana Fades, Sinaloa’s Organized Crime Does Not

MARIJUANA / 6 DEC 2022

The shift from plant-based to synthetic drugs has upended the relationship between small farmers and crime groups in Mexico’s Golden Triangle.

Chapter 4

Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations' New Marijuana Strategies

CHAPITOS / 6 DEC 2022

In response to changes in the international marijuana trade, Mexico-based drug trafficking groups have shifted their strategies.

Related Content

MEXICO / 9 DEC 2010

In a heated firefight this Tuesday, soldiers killed six gunmen in Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, Tamaulipas.

US/MEXICO BORDER / 19 JUL 2012

Drug traffickers are bribing workers and using oil and gas company roads and in southern Texas to avoid border checkpoints, presenting a…

CHILE / 16 SEP 2022

Chile has recently seized several new psychoactive substances (NPS), highlighting the growing diversity of its drug markets.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…

icon #SupportFreePress
image

Support Our Work

Investigating organized crime is an expensive and often risky enterprise. Reaching primary sources and getting the real story involve extensive fieldwork. Please donate. Every dollar supports our mission.

DONATE NOW image