HomeNewsLime Crisis in Mexico as Cartels Target Farmers
NEWS

Lime Crisis in Mexico as Cartels Target Farmers

EXTORTION / 28 JAN 2022 BY HENRY SHULDINER EN

Lime farmers in Mexico have become the latest victims of cartel extortion, causing widespread crop disruption and skyrocketing prices.

Vast plantations of unharvested limes have been deserted across the western state of Michoacán due to threats and extortion targeting producers, according to a Televisa report citing affected farmers.

Among the groups allegedly involved are major Mexican drug cartels like the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación – CJNG) and the Cárteles Unidos, two groups currently locked in a bloody turf war that has rocked the western state.

Multiple lime growers in the area told Televisa they were displaced after cartels burned their orchards, looted their houses, and stole cattle and tractors. The threats have helped drive a drastic reduction in crop production across Michoacán – primarily affecting lime growers – with around 1,200 acres of farmland left unharvested in 2021.

Farmers in Michoacán harvested only half the amount of limes than during the previous year, according to data from Mexico's agriculture ministry.

SEE ALSO: Mexico's Cartels Fighting It Out for Control of Avocado Business

The limited harvest has contributed to a sharp increase in lime prices, disrupting the consumer market and allowing drug traffickers to dictate prices and charge farmers higher extortion fees. According to the Mexican government’s daily food price monitoring, the cost of limes increased over 235 percent since January 2021.

“They [the cartels] impose the price of the limes, they decide if it can be lowered or not, they dictate prices to producers, pickers, packers and transporters,” one industry worker told Reforma.

Lime farmers are not the first to be targeted by cartel violence in Michoacán, with powerful Mexican organized crime groups having long sought control of the state's lucrative avocado trade.

InSight Crime Analysis

While the plight of Michoacán's lime farmers marks a new venture for the country's criminal groups, the impacts largely mirror previous criminal attempts to extort the state's agricultural industries.

In 2019, InSight Crime reported that four competing cartels, including the CJNG, were extorting avocado farmers in Michoacán, kidnapping or killing those who failed to pay. In total, the Michoacán Governor's Office has identified 12 criminal groups operating within the state's borders, many of which vie for control of the state's coveted farmland and related extortion racket.

SEE ALSO: Powerful Mexico Crime Groups Grew by Extorting Avocado Trade: Report

This raging cartel violence in Michoacán and the Mexican Army's apparent inability to intervene has seen farmers take matters into their own hands. In the summer of 2021, avocado farmers and their families formed a self-defense group, known as Pueblos Unidos. To protect their crops, they armed themselves with machetes and firearms and erected barricades around fields of avocado trees and along connecting roads.

Lime producers quickly followed suit, creating a rudimentary self-defense group of their own, with some even preparing Molotov cocktails to see off the Viagras, one of the main criminal groups in the state.

However, it is uncertain if these groups have been able to make any sort of difference since reports from late 2021 showed that the extortion of remaining farmers was continuing unabated.

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.

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

BARRIO 18 / 26 APR 2019

Extortion in Guatemala City is rife, and it is mainly carried out by street gangs and copycat groups. Shops, large…

KIDNAPPING / 19 SEP 2011

The bodies of congressman Moises Villanueva and his driver were found in a river in Guerrero, southern Mexico, almost two…

MEXICO / 11 JAN 2016

The President of Mexico's Chamber of Deputies has called for a reopening of the debate on the "single command" security…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…