10 Key Numbers
1. Poppies have been cultivated in the Golden Triangle (Sinaloa, Durango, Chihuahua) for over 60 years, and for almost 40 in Guerrero. Over 4 generations of residents have been active in poppy production.
2. This activity is deeply integrated into society. In poppy-growing territories, between 70 and 95% of the population –men, women, and children– work in, or earn their living through, activities directly or indirectly related to opium.
3. Between 2003 and 2019, Mexico’s Department of National Defense (SEDENA) registered the destruction of poppies in 835 of the country’s 2,465 municipalities. The U.S. government affirms that in 2016 Mexico had 32,000 hectares of opium production, which increased to 44,100 in 2017.
4. Reports on eradicated surfaces in 5 municipalities exceed 20,000 hectares in a period of 17 years (in Sinaloa, Durango, Chihuahua, and Guerrero), while figures for other 253 report destructions of less than one hectare (2003-2019).
5. Only a few municipalities appear every year in SEDENA’s eradication database. From 2003 to 2019, only 15 are registered in every year, in contrast to 277 that were theaters for the destruction of plantations in only one of those 17 years.
6. Based on the magnitude of registered destructions and their recurrence, we identified a group of 59 municipalities that we denominate “poppy” municipalities (municipios amapoleros) - see maps in the dossier.
7. The opium gum extracted from the flowers is transformed into heroin in Mexico and exported –almost in its entirety– to the United States and Canada, where it represents around 90% of the consumption market.
8. The crisis of the poppy market between 2017 and 2020 (see Noria’s report No More Opium for the Masses, 2019), was in part due to the introduction of fentanyl (a much more potent and profitable synthetic opioid) into the US and Canadian markets. This has provoked a fall of over 90% in the per-kilo price offered to peasants over the period.
9. In mid-2020, prices recovered. In early 2021, our estimates of the average price offered to peasants per kilo of gum (in Mexican pesos) are:
$16,000/kilo at the national level ($770 USD/kilo): Sinaloa, $17,000/kilo ($820 USD/kilo); Guerrero, $15,000/kilo ($725 USD/kilo).
Variations are large within growing regions: in Guerrero (Mexico’s leading producer) prices range from $8,000/kilo ($380 USD/kilo) in the Montaña to $21,000/kilo ($1,000 USD/kilo) in the Sierra.
10. At the local level, the Covid-19 pandemic does not seem to have affected drug production and trafficking. Activities related to poppy cultivation continue without any specific contretemps. Yet, the social and economic impact within some of the most marginalized regions of the country are catastrophic, and far from being attend by the government.