HomeNewsBriefPowerful Mexico Crime Groups Grew by Extorting Avocado Trade: Report
BRIEF

Powerful Mexico Crime Groups Grew by Extorting Avocado Trade: Report

EXTORTION / 1 NOV 2017 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

A new report suggests that two organized crime groups in Mexico initially funded their criminal enterprises through extorting and kidnapping avocado farmers, shedding new light on how these now-powerful players got their start in the underworld. 

Throughout the 1990s, Mexico’s Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (Cartel Jalico Nueva Generación – CJNG) and the Cuinis criminal group pioneered the extortion and kidnapping of wealthy avocado farmers to fund their expansion, according to a report from the National Center for Planning, Analysis and Information for Combating Crime (Nacional de Planeación, Análisis e Información para el Combate a la Delincuencia – Cenapi) of Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office, Reforma reported on October 29. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Extortion 

The criminal groups reportedly had an “intelligence system” that targeted wealthy avocado farmers by using information obtained from records from Mexico’s now-defunct Agriculture Secretariat (Secretaría de Agricultura).

After being targeted, the farmers were then charged an extortion fee. If they refused to pay, the criminal groups proceeded to kidnap or kill the farmers and their families. This turned large-scale avocado producers into “parallel financial sources” that supplemented income from drug trafficking, according to the report.

InSight Crime Analysis 

The report provides additional insight into the different criminal activities that CJNG and the Cuinis — now two of Mexico’s most powerful organized crime groups — used to build their criminal operations.

In subsequent years, other crime groups, like the Knights Templar and Familia Michoacana, have used extortion of the avocado industry as a source of financing.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

This pattern underscores how organized crime in Mexico has been fueled by US demand for products other than illicit drugs. And the size of the growing industry suggests it will continue to be a target for extortion by criminal elements.

Avocado exports earned Mexico more than $1.5 billion in 2016. The embattled southwestern state of Michoacán, particularly the city of Tancítaro, is at the heart of this industry. The state is the world leader in avocado production and produced about 80 percent of the country’s avocados in 2016.

The United States accounted for nearly 80 percent of Mexico’s avocado exports in 2016. Moreover, imports and per capita use of avocados in the United States has steadily increased since 2000.

US Avocados

(Graphic courtesy of Newsweek)

Between 2009 and 2013, organized crime groups earned an estimated $770 million from Michoacán’s avocado business, around $154 million annually. In response to the extortion, vigilante groups of avocado growers have taken up arms to attempt to fend off criminal groups trying to capitalize on the lucrative industry.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

MEXICO / 19 JAN 2015

An ex-government employee who reportedly helped free the former leader of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman from prison…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 30 MAR 2011

According to a U.S. State Department cable released by whistleblower site, WikiLeaks, via La Jornada, the most lethal…

HEROIN / 17 FEB 2017

Over the last ten years, US anti-narcotics agencies have witnessed a heroin epidemic that tripled the number of heroin addicts…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…