Mexico Needs Updated Poppy Cultivation Data

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President Enrique Peña Nieto has yet to release updated numbers on the estimated land used to grow opium poppy in Mexico, data which would be of great interest to US authorities given booming heroin consumption rates in that country. 

A set of infographics in Mexican newspaper El Universal rely heavily on statistics dating back to the administration of President Felipe Calderon (2006-2012) to illustrate the extent of Mexico’s trades in heroin and in poppy, which is used to manufacture heroin. The infographics show the states with the highest rates of poppy production — Guerrero, Chihuahua, Durango, and Sinaloa — and track poppy eradication and heroin seizure rates during Calderon’s time in office.  

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In mid-September, the White House stated that the US is “particularly concerned” about Mexico’s poppy production, as Mexico is the primary supplier of heroin and other opium derivatives to the US.  

InSight Crime Analysis 

Mexico’s Defense Ministry has released figures on how many hectares of poppy were destroyed during the first 20 months of Peña Nieto’s government (over 27,000 hectares), which provides a sense of Mexico’s poppy cultivation. Notably, the amount of poppy destroyed in this period is only slightly higher than that eradicated during Calderon’s first two years as president: 25,249 hectares

Mexico should release an updated estimate on how much of its territory is dedicated to poppy cultivation, to put the eradication figures into context. The US State Department’s most recent International Narcotics Control Strategy report does not include this number, while the most recent United Nations estimate — that 12,000 hectares are under poppy cultivation in Mexico — dates back to 2011.

As the White House stated, much of the US heroin supply originates in Mexico. With heroin addiction rates surging in the US, it would be in both the US and Mexico’s interest to have an up-to-date estimate on how much poppy is being grown, and where the cultivations are concentrated.

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