Guerrero’s Cocaine Production Surges 1,271 Percent in Two Years

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According to data shared by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) with Mexican daily newspaper El Universal, coca leaf production in Mexico has grown approximately 1,271 percent in the states of Guerrero and Michoacán in the last two years alone.

While the state’s mountainous region was previously known for its coffee production, continually depreciating crop yields have turned local farmers toward another, more lucrative agricultural pursuit: coca leaves.

Since the Mexican Armed Forces first reported its discovery of coca leaf plantations in Guerrero back in 2021, the military has purportedly discovered 172 coca leaf fields – 87 percent of which were concentrated in the state’s Costa Grande region, land which is predominantly community owned – over the last two years.

Locals say that the Armed Forces’ efforts to destroy coca leaf production are in vain; according to one regional leader, farmers simply move the crop up the mountain once the military has conducted its raids, which supposedly barely make a dent into the true coca leaf output.

“The crop is going to stay,” Arturo García Jiménez told El Universal. “The destruction that the Army is doing is symbolic compared to the cultivated territory.”

Aside from coffee, Costa Grande communities previously tried their hands at growing cannabis and poppies. But as attitudes toward fentanyl in the United States continue to sour, the economic viability of growing coca leaf crops has only grown increasingly apparent to neighboring communities.

While a farmer can pull in 10 pesos per kilo of corn, or 200 pesos for a kilo of ground coffee, Mexican agriculturalists can presumably earn 5,000 pesos per kilo of coca lief produced – a massive income differential in impoverished communities. If farmers can not only grow the coca leaf, but actually process it into cocaine, the lucrativeness of the business only becomes increasingly clear; one kilo of cocaine allegedly costs approximately 237,000 pesos at current market value.

“Crime is positioning coca to encourage farmers to plant it,” added García Jiménez. “It is already being marketed. That’s why it’s very urgent for farmers to process it. They even brought in some Colombians to advise on the planting and processing stages. And they brought the seed.”

Still, the Armed Forces has reported that Mexican coca leaf production is still in its testing phase as local producers aim to meet the same quality standards coming out from Colombian coca fields. 

But with Guerrero, as Mexico’s first state foraying into major coca leaf production, expanding its coca leaf business exponentially with every passing year, it’s only a matter of time before Mexican farmers fine tune their coca leaf production and take Mexico’s internal cocaine production to new heights.

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