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Region of Concern: Mexico

Written By Marisol Negrete; Edited by Elena Alice Rossetti, Iris Hautaniemi Forsberg

Date: September 13, 2023

State of Michoacan, Southwestern Mexico[1]

Event: On September 11, Jalisco Cartel New Generation killed three lime farm workers in Tepalcatepec, Michoacan, Mexico.[2] On September 10, a drone with explosives attacked a farmers' meeting guarded by alleged members of the National Guard in La Ruana, Michoacan.[3] As a response to the drone attack, the Civil Guard and the Mexican army arrested three alleged members of The Viagras, the armed wing of Carteles Unidos.[4] Jalisco Cartel New Generation and Carteles Unidos are the two major Mexican drug cartels disputing the control of Michoacan.[5] In recent years, both cartels have extorted and attacked farmers to obtain financing.[6] The National Guard deployed 2,400 members to reinforce security across Michoacan since the beginning of September[7], and the army, police, and the National Guard permanently deployed 100 members in La Ruana after the drone attack.[8] Michoacan is one of the drug trafficking routes to the United States. Synthetic opioids like Fentanyl are legally imported from China through the Lazaro Cardenas Port in Michoacan, however, some of these could be diverted to organized crime.[9]

Significance: The ongoing armed attacks on farmers will unlikely cease despite the presence of the National Guard and the military, because of the current mandate given to them by the government. Cartels will unlikely stop extorting farmers to increase revenue, in the near future. High levels of impunity, corruption, and the cartels' extreme violence will very likely keep worsening the security and public safety in Michoacan. Cartels will very likely continue to dispute the control of Michoacan’s strategic geographical location and the trafficking routes, in addition to illegal mining and maritime access through the Lazaro Cardenas Port. Cartels will likely continue capitalizing on the Mexican government's insufficient capabilities to control Fentanyl precursor chemicals trafficked from China through Michoacan’s port. Insecurity and desperation will likely push local businessmen and farmers to organize armed self-defense groups. The lucrative US opioid market will almost certainly remain the cartels' major destination for trafficking illicit drugs from Michoacan and other Mexican supply routes. Political will and critical resource allocation from the US and Mexico to counter illicit narcotics will very likely remain insufficient before the end of Mexico's presidential term.

Recommendations: CTG recommends the Mexican government strongly increase its National Guard and law enforcement presence to provide security and protection to Michoacan's farmers. The Mexican government should improve control capacities to check chemical precursors' import and export and strictly monitor the distribution process, once imported through a National Drug System. Mexican authorities should implement legal frameworks to regulate uncontrolled purchases on the open market and invest in cutting-edge technology to seize smuggled chemicals and mislabeled shipments. The Mexican government should fully commit to intelligence sharing with the US to dismantle the financial infrastructure behind cartels and disrupt their drug supply chains. The Mexican government should increase security spending and professional development to counter the law enforcement, National Guard, and army's corruption. The US should implement public health, educational, community, and reinsertion programs to decrease the demand for illegal drugs in the US.


[2] Lime farm workers killed by CJNG in Tepalcatepec, Michoacan, Infobae (Translated by Marisol), September 2023

[7] Another 900 elements of the Mexican Army arrived in Michoacán, Infobae (Translated by Google), September 2023

[8] Security in La Ruana, under the control of federal and state security forces, Secretariat of Public Security of Michoacan (Translated by Google), September 2023

[9] Fentanyl enters Michoacán legally, Infobae,(Translated by Google), May 2023



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