Because of the troubled economy and high drug demand in the U.S., Mexican citizens who used to rely on farming and cattle raising to make a living now turn to one choice for survival: poppy farming.
“For us, the sowing of poppy is very important because in the mountain we don’t have another way to make a living,” said Rodrigo, a poppy farmer. “We don’t have livestock, pigs, chicken or corn.”
In 2014, a quarter of a million pounds of heroin were exported from Mexico into the U.S. All of the sap used to make the heroin came from illegal poppy farms and sold to drug dealers.
Yes, that’s a lot. Rodrigo, for example, has a poppy farm on 2.5 acres of land where he produces about 44 pounds of sap. Each of those pounds he produces earns him about $690, which amounts to $30,000 in just one season. That’s A LOT of money in Mexico where the dollar is worth 17 pesos, currently.
But it’s not that easy to cash in.
“Yes, it’s dangerous, because of the government. If they catch you in the plantation they will put in you in jail,” says Eduardo, another poppy farmer. “Imagine what happens when you finally have money to invest there and the government destroys your plantation. You’re ruined.”
Mexican soldiers have burned more than 24,000 football fields worth of poppy farms just in the last two years.
Yep, and it happens often.
But that’s not stopping anyone from building their farms back again.
According to Rodrigo, “It’s a lie that they eradicate. They only go to some places, and they aren’t able to fight it all,” he says. “The growers are smarter than that.” And as long as there is a demand for heroin in the U.S. and poverty in Mexico, poppy farms will continue to pop up.
Check out the rest of the video:
Don’t forget to share this story with your friends by clicking the button below!