HomeNewsAnalysis'Marijuana Crops Smaller, Dispersed in Baja California'
ANALYSIS

'Marijuana Crops Smaller, Dispersed in Baja California'

MEXICO / 9 OCT 2012 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

Marijuana plots in Baja California, north Mexico, are reportedly becoming smaller and more difficult to detect, in contrast to the huge plantations previously found in the area, indicating that growers are under increased pressure from the security forces.

According to Mexico’s Defense Ministry (SEDENA), the number of discoveries of marijuana and poppy cultivations in Baja California state has shot up this year, with 301 marijuana plantations found by the security forces so far in 2012, compared to a total of 178 plantations discovered in 2011.

However, the plantations found so far this year are equivalent to just 50 hectares of marijuana, whereas last year 120 hectares was found in one plot alone. This is an indication that the crop is being grown in smaller plots and is more widely dispersed across the state, according to El Universal

The head of military operations in Baja California told the newspaper that along with being more dispersed, cultivations are increasingly being grown close to cities and along highways in order to avoid detection.

Baja California has been an epicenter of Mexico’s marijuana and poppy production since the early 20th century. Last year, the army discovered a mega-plantation of 121 hectares of marijuana in the state, which allegedly belonged to Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. At the time it was described as the biggest marijuana plantation ever discovered in Mexico, although there are records of an ever larger plantation -- a reported 540 hectares -- discovered in Chihuahua state in 1984. Some 134 tons of marijuana were seized in a single operation in Tijuana, Baja California, in 2010, in the largest reported seizure of its kind. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

The military sources quoted in the El Universal article state that Baja California’s marijuana plantations are not under the control of criminal organizations, but rather belong to small-scale drug traffickers who are “trying their luck in northern Mexico.” Most of the workers who tend to the marijuana plots come from other states, including Michoacan, Sinaloa, Nayarit and Guerrero, the report adds.

The criminal group that has traditionally dominated Baja California, known as the Tijuana Cartel or the Arellano Felix Organization, has been debilitated in recent years. The fact that marijuana plots are getting smaller offers concrete evidence that marijuana growers in Baja California may also be coming under pressure.

This same phenomenon has been observed in Colombia, where the average size of a coca field dropped from 2 hectares in 2000 to 0.67 hectares in 2011, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Coca growers in Colombia began cultivating the illicit crop in ever smaller fields -- or hidden among other crops -- in response to increased eradication efforts. 

According to estimates by the United States, marijuana production in Mexico increased in 2008 and 2009. However, the Mexican Army has said that marijuana production is now dropping due to a severe drought in the country. Wildfires and record low temperatures in some key growing areas are believed to have produced significantly reduced marijuana harvests in 2011.

Mexico is a producer of marijuana, heroin and synthetic drugs like methamphetamine, and a transit country for cocaine. Last year the government reported seizing 909 tons of marijuana and eradicating 7,478 hectares of the crop.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ARGENTINA / 26 OCT 2011

Reports indicate that Mexican drug cartels have set up clandestine air strips for drug shipments in isolated regions in northern…

LA FAMILIA MICHOACANA / 15 SEP 2011

In recent years Mexico's criminal groups have diversified from drug trafficking into crimes like extortion, a business which necessarily involves…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 27 SEP 2011

General Charles Jacoby, the new head of U.S. military's Northern Command, stressed the need for closer cooperation between U.S. and…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…