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

ARGENTINA / 3 FEB 2021

As workers across Latin America struggle to stay afloat amid economic strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, loan sharks offering…

COCAINE / 9 FEB 2021

In 1989, Los Angeles police transformed Europe's cocaine trade when they broke open a padlock guarding a Californian warehouse.

MEXICO / 23 MAY 2022

Mexico is seeing a rapid spike in oil theft across much of the country, with observers divided as to whether…

About InSight Crime

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…

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…