Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel controls more than 40 land, sea and air marijuana trafficking routes that run throughout Mexico and to various parts of the US and Europe, highlighting the extent of the organization’s control over the trade.
According to government documents obtained by La Jornada, the Sinaloa Cartel controls the majority of areas where marijuana is cultivated in Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Colima, Nayarit and Jalisco states, and also vies for power over cultivation in Oaxaca and Guerrero with the Zetas.
The majority — 90 percent — of the marijuana is moved by land, with routes originating in Guerrero and Oaxaca leading to the capital, and other routes moving south to north or inland to the coast. Land routes used to traffic marijuana to the United States include Tijuana to Los Angeles and San Diego, California; Ciudad Juarez to San Antonio, Texas; and Chihuahua to Douglas, Arizona and El Paso, Texas.
From the capital, marijuana flights leave bound for various US cities, including Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles, and for European cities such as Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Madrid, Spain, which are used as jumping off points for marijuana distribution in Europe.
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Mexico is one of the world’s biggest marijuana supplier countries, with North America as a whole accounting for 69 percent of global marijuana seizures in 2011 — the majority in the United States and Mexico, according to the United Nations’ 2013 World Drug Report.
The extent of the Sinaloa Cartel’s control over Mexican marijuana routes and production is not surprising, given various operations that have pointed to Sinaloa involvement in the past two years. In November 2011, US authorities took down a smuggling operation believed to have trafficked $2 billion in drugs from Mexico to Arizona, including 1,300 tons of marijuana, with the Sinaloa Cartel thought to be the source of the drugs. The largest marijuana farm ever found in Mexico as of 2011 — 120 hectares — was located in Baja California, a Sinaloa Cartel operational center.
What is perhaps most interesting is that the cartel is shipping marijuana to Europe. According to European police force Europol [pdf], most of the marijuana consumed in European countries does not come from Latin America but is either imported from North Africa, South-West Asia, the Middle East, the Balkans and sub-Saharan Africa or it is grown locally.