The lime industry in Mexico has been hit by a new wave of cartel extortion, resulting in significant crop loss and higher prices. According to a report from Televisa citing harassed farmers, vast plantations of unharvested limes have been left abandoned across the western state of Michoacán owing to intimidation and extortion.
The cartels include powerful Mexican drug organizations like the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion – CJNG) and the Cárteles Unidos, who are currently engaged in a bloody turf war. The dangers have helped to drive a major reduction in fruit production throughout Michoacán.
Farmers are quoted as saying that the cartels demand a “war tax” for every shipment of fruit, which often doubles or triples the cost of getting goods to market. Michoacán is one of Mexico’s most important lime-producing states, accounting for more than 60% of the country’s output.
The cartels are also diversifying their extortion rackets to include other agricultural products like avocados, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
Dozens of people have been killed in Michoacan as a result of this turf war, including innocent civilians who have found themselves on the wrong side of the battle lines. The Mexican government has deployed thousands of soldiers to the state in an attempt to regain control, but the situation continues to deteriorate.
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