- Homicides are rising in Michoacán.
- The region is contested by the CJNG and Los Viagras drug cartels.
- The area is known for its thriving avocado industry.
Michoacán is among the most heavily contested regions in Mexico by drug cartels. Situated in west-central Mexico, the region borders the states of Jalisco and Colima to the west. It is estimated that there are over 20 distinct criminal groups in the region fighting over territory.
Now the women in the region are fighting back against the frequent cartel incursions which have led to an escalating homicide rate.
According to a new report by the Associated Press, the armed women have set up roadblocks and do regular patrols to deter cartels from coming into their territory.
They have also dug up trenches across major roads to prevent vehicles from getting in.
According to Blanco Nava, one of the women involved in the operations, the women of Michoacán are tired of having their husbands, sons, and daughters kidnapped by the drug cartels while the government does nothing.
Nava’s son, a lime picker, was kidnapped by members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and has not been seen since.
The CJNG organization has been trying to take over the region through violence and ramping up recruitment efforts. Many of the kidnapped men are either initiated into the cartel’s ranks as sicarios (hitmen) or killed.
The names of the dominant cartels in the zone have changed over the years and the stories of people living there similar to those of people living in other cartel-disputed territories across Mexico. The lack of government protection in these regions has left many of the inhabitants fearful and disillusioned.
Security in the Region
With Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador using the nation’s military for a wider range of tasks than his predecessors, they are currently stretched thin and unable to quell the emerging cartel threats such as those in Michoacán.
Michoacán is famous for its thriving avocado farming industry. Unfortunately, this lucrative resource has also triggered fights between cartels looking to control the billion-dollar trade.
Apart from avocados, it is also notorious for its marijuana and opium plantations. Their harvesting begun in the 1960s, but demand for them has waned in recent years. This is because Mexican drug cartels have moved towards synthetic drugs, such as amphetamine and fentanyl.
While the drug trade has diversified, the ports in Michoacán serve as entry points for the narcotics and precursor chemicals mostly shipped from China.
Today, the most dominant drug gangs in the area are the Los Viagras, and the CJNG. Civilians are often caught in the middle, and this has led to a high number of casualties. Some of the turf wars also involve local security forces that are aligned to the criminal syndicates.
What’s made things worse is that the local drug gangs also dabble in kidnappings and extortion, a situation that has made life there unbearable.