No More Opium for the Masses
Part 1 – From the U.S. Fentanyl Boom to the Mexican Opium Crisis
This report analyzes the socio-political effects of U.S. fentanyl use on the opium and heroin economy in Mexico.
Drawing on fieldwork conducted in two poppy-producing regions of Mexico – one in the State of Nayarit, one in the State of Guerrero – this report shows that the dramatic upswing in fentanyl use in the United States is generating a parallel and rapid collapse in the price offered for raw opium in rural Mexico. This is already having very serious social and economic effects in the country’s poorest rural regions. Yet, this economic emergency – and the outstanding fact that growing drugs is no longer profitable – might open up a chance of wrestling Mexico’s opium-growing regions from the control of Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs). This report addresses several possible solutions including crop substitution or opium legalization for medicinal use, and evaluates how realistic they are in the Mexican context.
This report combines data-analysis and archives, with insights taken from original fieldwork conducted by the authors in Mexico. In so doing, it shines an unprecedented light on the local, socio-economic dynamics of the Mexican opium-heroin trade1, allowing us to go beyond most analyses and demonstrate that there is no one, miracle cure for Mexico’s ‘Opium Crisis.’