Mexican cartels expand beyond drugs into economic sectors: Report gnewsplus24

(NewsNation) — Mexican drug cartels are expanding their criminal enterprises beyond narcotics, infiltrating various sectors of the economy and daily life in Mexico and beyond, according to recent government reports and investigations.

The Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels, two of Mexico’s most powerful criminal organizations, have diversified their operations to include internet services, fuel theft, and extortion in the avocado, tortilla, and chicken industries.

In Michoacán state, authorities uncovered a scheme where criminal groups forced residents to pay for high-cost internet service under threat of death. A raid on three properties yielded antennas and internet repeater equipment, demonstrating the cartels’ reach into unexpected sectors.

Fuel theft, known locally as “huachicoleo,” remains a lucrative venture for cartels. The practice has caused billions of dollars in losses during President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration. Cartels employ sophisticated methods, including bribing employees of state-owned oil company Pemex and using modified tanker trucks.

Mexico’s avocado industry, the world’s largest, has become a prime target. In Michoacán, cartels demand monthly protection fees ranging from $135 to $500 per hectare. The U.S. briefly suspended avocado imports from Mexico in 2022 and 2024 after U.S. officials received death threats.

Cartels have also targeted tortilla businesses, a staple of Mexican cuisine. The National Tortilla Council reports that 14-15% of tortillerías face extortion, with weekly fees ranging from $135 to $190.

In the chicken industry, cartels like La Familia Michoacana have forced vendors to buy poultry at inflated prices. A Mexican investigation revealed some seized chicken contained harmful additives.

Despite this diversification, drug trafficking remains the cartels’ most profitable venture, albeit with slower returns compared to their other criminal activities.


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