HomeNewsBriefMexico Finds '1st Coca Plantation'
BRIEF

Mexico Finds '1st Coca Plantation'

MEXICO / 10 SEP 2014 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

Mexico's army announced that it had located the country's first known coca plantation, suggesting that Mexican traffickers could be seeking to produce cocaine at home -- a potential game changer for the drug industry.

On September 9, members of the Mexican army and border police found and destroyed 1,639 coca plants located on a plot of approximately 1,250 square meters in Tuxtla Chico, in Chiapas state near the Guatemalan border, reported Reforma

"We have information that this is the first plantation that has been located at a national level of this type of plant," Sergio Ernesto Martinez Rescalvo, the commander of the 36th Military Zone located in Tapachula, told Reforma.

The discovery followed the seizure a week earlier of coca leaf and plants at a nearby residence, where three suspects were detained, reported Reforma. 

InSight Crime Analysis

If the commander's statement is accurate, the discovery could indicate a strategic shift on the part of Mexican traffickers. 

Chiapas state is territory of the Zetas drug gang, which also has a strong presence in neighboring Guatemala and controls drug routes up the Gulf Coast. It is plausible that either the Zetas or another group could be testing the water to see whether growing coca at home is a viable option. 

SEE ALSO: Zetas News and Profiles

Virtually the entire world cocaine output comes from coca crops in the South American Andean countries of Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. Coca is generally grown on mountain slopes, but there has been increased coca cultivation in recent years in low-lying jungle regions such as Peru's Amazon. Coca plants produce the most cocaine at between 1,000 and 1,200 meters altitude, but they can grow successfully at sea level, given the right conditions -- warmth, good drainage, and lots of water. Tuxtla Chico, where the crop was found, sits around 320 meters above sea level.

There is nothing in theory to prevent Mexican groups cultivating coca in the tropical climate of Chiapas. A successful shift to coca production within Mexico would up-end the Mexican drug trade, which is built around the process of moving cocaine from South America to North America. If Mexico had substantial coca crops, Mexican traffickers could cut out their South American suppliers and Central American middle men, vastly reducing their costs.

Some have argued that Colombian traffickers made a similar strategic decision back in the 1970s to cultivate coca domestically so that they would not have to rely on crops from Peru and Bolivia.

It is unlikely that such a drastic shift will happen anytime soon, however. The Andes has a long tradition of coca farming, fueled by government absence and excluded populations. Nonetheless, the potential gain to Mexican traffickers means that any coca crops in the country are worth watching.

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

DRUG POLICY / 11 JAN 2013

The incoming Mexican ambassador to Washington called for renewed debate on drug prohibition and on gun control…

GUERREROS UNIDOS / 8 APR 2015

The Guerreros Unidos are a splinter group of the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) based in central Mexico. The group is…

MEXICO / 8 APR 2011

There was both optimism and pessimism at an anti-drug summit in Mexico. A U.S. official said rising violence is a…

About InSight Crime

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…

THE ORGANIZATION

Coverage of Fallen Paraguay Prosecutor Makes Headlines

20 MAY 2022

The murder of leading anti-crime prosecutor, Marcelo Pecci, while on honeymoon in Colombia, has drawn attention to the evolution of organized crime in Paraguay. While 17 people have been arrested…